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So, let me get this straight.  Mike Costa and Christos Gage have actually introduced and used the characters Croc Master, Golobulus, Serpentor, and Venomous Maximus before Storm Shadow even makes an appearance in the IDW universe?
It’s hilarious…it’s awesome…and it’s a testament to the quality of these writers because they make it work.
To avoid spoilers, click the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for the full review.

G.I. Joe: Cobra started out as a very realistic, gritty, down to earth Joe story that put a focus on character and a film noir style, and it was wildly successful.  With this non-limited series follow up, Costa and Gage stick to their familiar formula, but have really started to branch out into the strange and extreme.  Promising to introduce Serpentor really made some folks scratch their heads, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.  As we begin peeling back the layers of “The Coil”, an international cult of pseudo-science religion, we really get a very cool look at some of Cobra’s stranger creations, and tries to explain it away.
The crazy thing is, it really works.  Serpentor, while not the genetically engineered super leader that he was in the 80’s, is still a very charismatic “emperor” of sorts that retains a lot of the great personality that he had back in the Marvel comic.  Golobulus certainly isn’t the leader of an ancient race of creatures who are responsible for the formation of Cobra, but he has the iconic snake tail and makes for a great metaphor for a serpent god and ties into the Cobra mythology in a pretty unique way.
Then there’s Venomous Maximus.  I will say without hesitation I’m probably one of the only fans of the Venomous Maximus character.  Back in the Valor Vs. Venom days I absolutely loved the whole genetic engineering backstory, and the Venomous Maximus figure was a very interesting, unique looking action figure that really added something new.  For that reason, I’m really enjoying how Costa and Gage are using him here.
Interesting…I’ve written three paragraphs and haven’t even talked about this specific issue yet.
Issue #8 shifts perspective a bit to Skullbuster, a Cobra trainer who is responsible for creating the Range-Viper corps, Cobra’s wilderness survival experts.  Skullbuster looks considerably different than he did in the toyline (or in the Devils’ Due story) but is equally captivating.  As we watch a Range-Viper progress through the brutal and intense training session, we get a deeper and deeper look into just how crazed you have to be to following the Cobra cause.  However, as crazed as you might be, this very cool look into a faceless Cobra Range-Viper shows us that even the most dedicated Cobra operative can still have morals.
Even as Scoop slowly seeps deeper into the control of The Coil, this mysterious Range-Viper looks to be the one to try and pull him back to reality.
As we’ve come to expect with Mike Costa and Christos Gage, the pacing, dialog, and overall writing style is intriguing, captivating, and almost depressing.  I initially wasn’t necessarily sold on Scoop’s place among this intricate history, but as the story has progressed, his place seems firmly set in the Joe mythos, and following along with the film noir methodology he is an absolutely perfect fit.  He really slips into the 50’s era Private Eye mold excellently and seeing him get drawn into The Coil has been a fascinating ride so far.
I’m a huge fan of obscure Cobra characters, so obviously this look into the Coil has been terrific to me.  The writing and art blends very nicely together, and while Antonio Fuso certainly isn’t the most realistic artist out there, his art style works excellently with how Costa and Gage are writing this story.  Granted, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Chuckles and Cobra Commander go face-to-face once again, but I have enjoyed this peek in The Coil much more than I anticipated.

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