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Once again running about a week behind, but I just can’t help it with all of the IDW awesomeness that comic stores are getting hit with on a weekly basis!  To this point I believe I have reviewed every installment of the Cobra Command series, and here is a helpful little rundown of all of those reviews:

I’ll be honest, it’s been a great ride, but obviously every story arc is only as good as the last memory of it.  So how does Cobra Command shake out?  Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below for the details.

Cobra #11

Writer – Mike Costa
Artists – Alex Cal & Beni Lobel

So here it is…the big payoff.  It’s interesting because it feels like a lot of the main combat already happened in previous issues and this issue is kind of there for “wrap up” duty, but to be truly honest I can’t think of someone I’d rather have wrap up a 9 issue story arc than Mike Costa.  Besides Larry Hama himself I can’t think of many writers who’ve had such a sustained level of great writing with the G.I. Joe property, especially considering what a unique take he has on it.

Now I will admit for the Cobra Command installments, he has drifted more towards the middle when it comes to action tales, yet somehow Costa has retained the core of that Cobra emotion.  It’s pretty amazing the way he’s been able to put his own unique twist on the story, yet still fit it seamlessly into an ongoing arc with a writer of completely different type and style.

Like one might expect we start this issue looking in on the Cobra side as The Baroness attempts another high profile assassination of a Cobra council member.  She appears on the verge of success until the original chameleon shows up and the two throw down.  Baroness ends up escaping, and her prey ends up dead, with Chameleon barely surviving a poison attack (by tongue-kissing The Baroness, naturally).

Back in Nanzhao, Cobra Commander is expressing his displeasure with the majority of Cobra high command as Serpentor faces off against Major Bludd.  If everyone remembers that little team up that happened last issue between Bludd, Tomax, and Serpentor?  Yeah, not so much.  Bludd is double crossed, and the Baroness chases him into the jungle, where he narrowly escapes and essentially turns himself over to UN Troops.

Cobra Commander gets the rundown, then proceeds to burn all of Nanzhao’s loot and prepare for Cobra’s next conquest.

Now this is the way to end a story arc.  All too often I hear complaints that the ending is “rushed” and everything comes together much too easily.  Well, I think IDW, Dixon, and Costa did a great job spreading this story out for 8 issues, essentially having a long protracted battle, which culminated in parts 7 & 8, and left part 9 as “Clean up”.  We get a very nice wrap up issue written to our expected standards from the great Mike Costa.  Everything is told from the Cobra perspective as we would expect, yet it still feels like the story was wrapped up effectively and the end goal was established.

The whole inner turmoil between Baroness, Serpentor, Major Bludd, and Tomax was fantastic, and I loved that Serpentor used some sort of falsified DNA story to draw them in, as a tie back to his own strange past history.  The dialog was magnificent, and the main action sequences proceeded effortlessly.  Major Bludd comes out of this issue as a big time favorite of mine, seeing him lash back at Cobra, make a narrow escape, and the shocking way he forced his own arrest by UN troops.  Serpentor cooley plays both sides of the fence, while Cobra Commander looks very much the threat that he should.  Fantastic writing.

As we’ve come to expect over the past 8 parts, Cal and Lobel hit home runs in the art department as well.  Moody and atmospheric where it needs to be, but some fantastic action “flow” in all the right places, too.  Sometimes it’s just the minor things, like the scene of Baroness kicking Chameleon, but that one panel just shows a great sense of movement, storyboarding, and impact.  All in one small frame.

Throughout the entire issue we get great bits and pieces like that.  Serpentor and Tomax casting unassuming glances at each other…Bludd darting out of harm’s way, blasting his way into the jungle.  It all comes together extremely well.

I know IDW had marketed the Cobra Civil War as the story to end all G.I. Joe stories, but to me, Cobra Command was a far better, more enjoyable multi-part arc.  Great characterization, good plot, excellent action, and pretty flawless execution in story and art.  Great job by all concerned, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go from here.