Pick of the Week
What did the
I think it’s safe to say that G.I. Joe: Cobra was my favorite and most unexpected mini-series in the past year. I mean, who saw that coming? Who could have imagined that the series would come from out of nowhere, and garner several Pick of the Week honors, and leave us all wanting more? Fortunately, the fine folks at IDW saw the success of the series, and got us some more of it. I was very pleased to find G.I. Joe: Cobra Special #1 was more of the same greatness, but with a twist.
When we left off with the mini-series, it had been revealed to Chuckles that he’d been dealing with Xamot all along. Or was it Tomax? I forget. Either way, Xamot took one in the face from Chuckles, and now he’s the one with the scar. You and I might remember Tomax and Xamot from the cartoon series/toyline, and if you’re like me, you’ll remember that you never liked the twins at all. They were all effete, had no cool weapons, and their affectation was the creepy way they finished each others sentences and the lingering fear that they were even closer than you were willing to imagine. So, when it was revealed that the Cobra version of the Barbie twins was the villain in the book, I wasn’t all that happy. But it only lasted a moment, and the unhappiness was completely obliterated by this special issue.
In the issue, we get a tour through the world, mind, and history of Xamot and Tomax. Very recently, in light of the dictators giving speeches, and more importantly clogging up all the traffic in Manhattan, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about what sort of things go through the mind of a despot. Do they think they’re doing the right thing? Are they sadists? Do they regret? Is there self-doubt? This book took a very respectable stab at coming up with what might be going on inside the head of such a person, and what we get is a character, sort of similar to Alan Moore’s Ozymandias, but if he had an identical twin and they went into the Foreign Legion (WITH silly hats), and then went on to be the heads of a global corporation, specializing in all sorts of atrocious activities, all with the purpose of making vast sums of money, and gaining power. That is, they genius twins realized, the way to attain true freedom.
Yet, there is a crack in their plan, because that scar on Xamot’s face represents a schism, and it is the way this issue is set up that really makes it a special Special. The issue is divided into mirror images, the first half, Tomax’s version of evens, and the second Xamot’s. It’s visually a mirror image, and halfway through the book, the narration changes from blue to red, and the last page mirrors the first, as it becomes entirely clear what they’ve been leading up to. It was remarkably successful, and flipping back through it once more, I’m blown away by the elegance of this book that, once again, no one expected to be any good at all. Yet here are Mike Costa, sans Christos Gage this time, and Antonio Fuso doing top of the line, fantastic comic books about Xamot and Tomax of all things.
Speaking of Antonio Fuso. This does not work without the artist at all, and he’s bringing the thunder again. From the really wonderful alternate black or white covers to the moody and unique interiors, from page one, Fuso has established a visual style that sets this book out from the pack. It doesn’t look like anything else on the stands, and it certainly doesn’t look anything like your assumptions of a G.I. Joe book might look like. It’s not that he’s blowing us away with eye-rending visuals as much that he’s establishing one hell of a tone and mood. At the end of the day, I’ll trade that for an impressive splash page 10 times out of 10. He’s not flashy, and it’s perfect. I’m pretty sure the man drew a H.I.S.S. Tank in here, and it didn’t feel out of place. That is talent!
I’ve become wary and jaded to the point that when I like something a lot, I’m able to accept that there’s only so much, and to press on would just pale in comparison to what came before. But with this special, and even without Gage, who co-wrote the mini-series, we’ve seen that there is more gas in the tank in the style of G.I. Joe: Cobra, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m even willing to say that you could feel relatively comfortable just reading this one-shot, and if you like it, you’ll want to go back and get the prior issues, if we haven’t already convinced you. In the meantime, I’m going to go over the extremely well-crafted issue a few more times, and just soak in all that comic book skill.
Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era?