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Today marks the first issue of Paul Allor’s four issue run on G.I. Joe, and he goes in a little bit of a different direction than we saw Fred Van Lente throughout the first eleven issues.

While much of  Van Lente’s run focused on the mainstream G.I. Joe team with lots of all out action, Allor’s first issue is decidedly Cobra themed, with more than its fair share of exposition.  A very interesting dichotomy from the first eleven issues.

Ultimately, how successful is it?  The full review is below.

G.I. Joe (Season 3) #12

Writer: Paul Allor
Artists/Pencils: Alex Cal, SL Gallant, Atilio Rojo, Nicole Virella
Artists/Inks: Marc Deering (for SL Gallant)
Colorists: David Garcia Cruz, John-Paul Bove
Letterer: Shaun Lee
Consulting Editor: Carlos Guzman
Editor: John Barber
Special Thanks: Max Brooks

Interesting that this issue comes into play so shortly after Mike Costa’s “Cobra Files” wrapped up, because I think there are some very similar elements to the way this issue plays out and how the whole Cobra Files dynamic unfolded.

First and foremost, the focus of this issue is primarily on Cobra, and in fact, there isn’t a single appearance by a G.I. Joe team member throughout the entire issue.  The new Cobra contractor Siren spends the bulk of the issue with the Baroness plotting a new Cobra marketing ploy.  Part of that marketing ploy plays into Cobra’s longevity, which is expressed in the issue by a look back at various Cobra Commanders through the years.

When IDW first explored the whole Cobra Commander is a “rank” not a “person” concept I’m not sure I was entirely sold on the idea, but I will say looking back throughout the ages in this issue builds a pretty interesting framework of how Cobra exists now and where it originally came from.  The idea of the whole Cobra/Illuminati philosophy seems pretty strongly at play, as Cobra’s influence has been evidently felt throughout every stage of human history.  We see them as pirates in the early 18th Century, we see them in Great Britain in 1915, and on what is termed as “Cobra Island” in the 1960s.

I find Allor’s storytelling to be remarkable, as he manages to weave a fascinating story throughout every one of these timelines and is able to build characters we care about in only a few pages.  I found the middle story to be extremely effective with Thom and his only son being very powerful storytelling instruments, framing the ruthless nature of that particular Cobra Commander.  Each stage of history tells a certain story that plays into the overall arc of the issue seamlessly and doesn’t seem to be done purely for the sake of doing it.  They all made a lot of sense.

I’m a huge fan of Alex Cal and SL Gallant both, and enjoyed seeing both of their work contained in this issue, and really liked how different artists established different stages of history.  Virella’s work on the 1960’s story was excellent as well, and I must admit the Cobra Commander twist there was one of the most interesting.  Rojo did the artwork for “The Debt”, which is the 1915 story that I thought was the most crisply written, and his realistic and impactful style lent the perfect foundation for Allor’s great script.

I will admit I wasn’t sure what Allor was going for with the whole look back at Cobra Commander’s history, but in reading the issue, the jumps back and forth in time work excellently, the writing is crisp, clean and focuses quite nicely on exposition that flows normally.  While there are four distinct artists with extremely different styles, they all work nicely together and separately, and the result is a very fun and engaging issue.

A great sign of things to come over the next three issues.  Welcome to the stable of G.I. Joe writers, Mr. Allor, so far so good.