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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enthusiastically following the G.I. Joe: Cobra ongoing series, even as it deviates from the more standard Cobra coverage and goes into the Coil’s more “cult like” tendencies.  I really enjoy this dynamic between the underground almost supernatural cult angle and the polished brick & mortar corporate structure, and somehow make them all mesh together in a seamless way.
I’m not sure they quite pulled it off by the end of this arc, but they did tell a pretty interesting tale.  I’ll be honest, though, I’m ready to move along and see what Chuckles has in store for us starting again with issue #10.
To avoid spoilers, I will continue the review after the jump.
G.I. Joe: Cobra #9
A Serpent’s Tale
Written by Mike Costa and Christos Gage
Art by Sergio Carrera
Even though we’ve gone away from Chuckles, Chameleon, and the Cobra organization proper, Costa and Gage seem to have carried the dark and dismal nature of the series without missing a beat.  Instead of seeing the grimy underbelly of the corporate world, we now get immersed in the seediness of a secret cult, which also serves as a recruiting base for Cobra’s more dedicated members.
The first few issues introduced us to these new Range-Vipers, a vicious and evil branch of Cobra Wilderness Troopers, as well as put an interesting twist on Cobra La, Venomous Maximus, Croc Master, and  even Crystal Ball.  As someone who loves the more obscure angles of the Joe mythos, this has all been music to my ears.  But I will fully admit that the story of Leonard “Scoop” Michaels did pretty much run its course, and I think it was ready to wrap.
This issue ties things up with a dramatic escape by Scoop and a Range-Viper from this Cobra cult…but an escape that they don’t both make unscathed.  Scoop ends up on the streets, using every resource he has to try and bring light to the Cobra cult.  But it seems no matter where he turns, he runs into dead ends.  Finally, exasperated, and just as Hawk returns his call, Leonard Michaels takes drastic steps to try and get his life back.  The end result is tragic and surprising.
I’m a little torn on this one.  The book continues its relentless dark and dismal nature, but there really wasn’t a whole lot of action here.  Much of the issue revolved around Michaels wandering around the streets, talking to his ex-wife, to a random homeless person, and to the police.  Everywhere he goes, he hits a roadblock.  But really, that’s what a lot of the pages are.  Random wandering and dramatic language are all good and everything, but I don’t know, I don’t mind a little action now and then.
Certainly the story remained gripping, and you could almost see Scoop falling slowly back down the rabbit hole, panel-by-panel, but the end revelation was still a shocking, tragic twist.  I find it interesting that this story actually sort of ties into the Operation: Dragonfire mini-series (where Scoop supposedly betrayed the G.I. Joe team and joined the Cobra forces), but the ending was obviously not the bright and cheery one that the DiC universe portrayed.
The artwork also maintains the same style that we’ve gotten used to with Antonio Fuso, which may be a good or bad thing.  The gritty style fits the pacing and plotline, though a lack of detail and the somewhat rushed look of the art style has rubbed some fans the wrong way.
This is something we’re used to with the G.I. Joe: Cobra series, and the wrap up retains the gloomy, gritty atmosphere that we’re used to.
All told, this was a story that was light on action, but heavy on depth and intrigue.  In the end, it wasn’t as satisfying as previous arcs, but managed to maintain the same atmosphere while exploring a whole different side of the Cobra organization.  Still the best title in the G.I. Joe library, though I certainly eagerly anticipate Chuckles and Cobra Commander in issue #10.

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