Pick of the Week

May 23, 2012 – Cobra #13

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.9%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Mike Costa
Art & Cover by Antonio Fuso

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

The old story on the G.I. Joe: Cobra series is that it defied explanation, and was really the book that should not have been. From the time the first series hit, it seemed to defy logic, and be much better than it had any right to be. Then, when something is good, the people in charge of that thing want to continue, and they extended what had once been limited. There was a second mini-series, and then an ongoing series. And other than some bumps in the middle, it’s always been a very good comic book. It’s a good comic book both because of and despite being a licensed property with the G.I. Joe brand. It survived editorial changes, and a befuddling non-impressive feature film. Even though it sort of followed in the footsteps of its more mainstream sibling series, it was always accessible on its own, and it got to the point where all there was left to say was, “Yeah, that was good again.” I’d enjoy an issue, and mention that I wanted to talk about it on our podcast, and then when it was my turn, I’d find I didn’t really have much to add. Now, with issue #13, a solid jumping on point if there ever was, it’s once again got me excited.

It might just be that whatever formula IDW, Mike Costa, and Antonio Fuso have cooked up just does it for me. It’s melodramatic, military, a little bit overwrought, and yet very subtle all at the same time. This book walks on the razor edge of contradiction, and sticks the landing every time. Even now, years after it’s been coming out, it still feels a little silly to be talking about a G.I. Joe comic book like this. Hell, that might be part of the attraction.

Anyone can read this, regardless of your status as a fan of the toys or whatever. That’s almost a non-issue. Cobra and G.I. Joe have both been messed up and reconfigured. There was one Cobra Commander, and he was killed, and then there was another one, and a coup, and no one trusts anyone, and that’s where we are. The shades of grey on this title are fantastic. None of the good guys seem much better than the bad guys. Everyone is very capable, and at any point, the world can tilt on its axis, and reset all the pieces on the board. That’s where we are at the start of this issue. Chameleon (code name) is a former Cobra agent, now working for the Joes, and she’s shown the new Joe base, smack dab in the middle of a Las Vegas casino. Meanwhile, we’ve also learned that Hawk is out, and Duke is the new guy, and this other guy, Flint has shown up too. It’s fan service to a tiny extent, because it’s completely grown up, and not in a gratuitous way. I can’t tell you why it works where so many other things have failed in this arena, but it’s quite a feat.

One of the things I really like about this series, as exemplified in this issue, is Costa’s eschewing the incessant need to have everyone explain everything and talk constantly to explain their motivations. Dialog and exposition are terse. There’s a multiple page sequence of a girl with a katana blade dispatching Cobra agents. You might or might not know who she is or why, but you get the gist, and there’s this purified version of storytelling taking place where you’d least expect it. If they do have pages with a lot of dialog, it’s always well punctuated and balanced with other quiet pages, and that’s where the action and major beats take place. It just feels consistently well balanced, and rarely forced.

It needs to be said that this series doesn’t work without Antonio Fuso. He’s been the main artist on this book from the get go, and his understated style has only gotten more sophisticated as time goes on. Again, this doesn’t feel or look like a G.I. Joe book. Fuso has grounded it in a quiet calmness, regardless of what action is happening on the page. That silent sequence with the sword? It looks like dance. It looks like choreography. You can play the movie version of it in your head, and it’s in slow motion, with very little sound. It’s beautiful, Ronin’s leaping and slicing occurring in circles that take up half the page, that you can’t quite see, but know they’re there. Then he uses this wonderful little insert panels of asymmetrical sizing to play with pacing. And it’s unfortunate that no one seems to be talking about how good this guy is, probably because he’s on Cobra of all titles. But not me man. I want to beat the Antonio Fuso drum, because he’s doing some of the finest work on the stands today, and he’s been doing it for a while.

I don’t care if you don’t like G.I. Joe. I don’t care if you weren’t old enough, or you were too old to watch the cartoon, or read the comics, or play with the toys. I don’t care if you think properties based on those kinds of things are inherently dumb. If you like good comics about secret espionage and good guys and bad guys who don’t really seem like they’re either, this is a book you need to try. If you’ve ever liked a Nick Fury story, this is for you. If you liked 24, do this. If you read issue #13, and you like it, but don’t know everything that’s going on, go back and get more. It’s damn near a sure bet. The craft is that high. Again, I understand your hesitation. I would have it too, but I’ve been shown the light, and Cobra is just plain good. And the first one of you to come up to me after its canceled, and telling me that you finally tried it, and that I was right all along? You’re going to get such a talking to.

Josh Flanagan


  1. I had loved the original stories with Chuckles (the original 4 issue mini and the poorly named Cobra II), but hopped off after Cobra Civil War. Will likely get back on the snake train now, thanks to your typically solid review. What a pain in the asp!

  2. drop this awile ago nice to know its still around.

  3. i didn’t know this was still being published. you learn something new every day.i drop this when they had the civil war. i havent heard any one really talk about it for awile. good review though.

  4. Finally, finally, finally, the iFanboys come around to Cobra! Great choice for the Marvel-heads who seems to dominate this site – step outside of your comfort zone a little bit, people – there are great books out there without Wolverine in them.

    • You mean other than the multiple Picks of the Week and Book of the Month and Book of the Year finalist nomination that the first mini-series got?

    • marvel heads im sorry but doesnt snyder and batman or bkv saga dominate this site most weeks.

    • like is it our fault we lost interest once the book got renumber. this site is diverse you have marvel dc and indie fans. i for one loved the first cobra mini then drop it once the cobra civil war started. so im sorry if me reading my marvel books pidd you off.

    • Yeah, those 15 seconds that Saga got on the last podcast was truly obnoxious…enough already!

    • saga and batman always have the highest potw percentage.

    • Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Because they’re great books. Nothing wrong with that.

    • i agree batman and saga are very good. so i will explain my point. formerpoetlauereate said this site is full of marvel heads who need to pick up a book that doesnt have wolverine in it. my point is that this page is diverse and the 2 books that always have the highest potw arent marvel or have wolverine in them.

    • All I know is, this industry is hurting when a GI Joe book is considered “outside the mainstream,” regardless of good it is.

    • could it just be that people got turned off by the civil war event . the same way fans get turned off by marvel or dc events.

  5. Civil War and the Cobra Command crossovers were kind of a bummer, but now that this series is (hopefully) free to do it’s own thing again it should be back on track.

  6. This new batch of Gi Joe’s has been consistently fun. One of my favorite comic book series available. I totally agree with Josh on this…To those hesitant because they are holding on to the 80s cartoon memories. This is its own thing and doesn’t really try to be a throwback. Its grown up enough, but still keeps the core of the characters and universe. Great stuff.

  7. I think you covered this in an article or even on the podcast – but I’ve wanted to get into the IDW GI Joe for awhile…

    but don’t know the order of the trades and all, if the series’ are tied together, etc etc. Anyone care to point me towards some things?

    • I bought the issues. I assume the trades are numbered, but I’d look them up on Amazon or Wikipedia the same way you would. You can read Cobra all on its own. After that, I’d check out GI Joe Origins, and just read those trades in order.

    • It’s rough because it’s been relaunched several times. Start with the trade simply called “GI Joe: Cobra.” Then move on to “GI Joe: Cobra Vol. 2” After that is “Serpent’s Coil” and then “Vol. 4”

      After that, the many Joe series started crossing over, but those first four Cobra trades are self-contained in relation to the other Joe books.

    • I’ve also only been reading Cobra, and I never felt too lost.

    • if you go to the IDW site, they kinda sorta have a chronology up. I remember it was tricky when i was trying to figure out what was what. They definitely could do for a really definitive list.

    • @B – Thanks, man. I’d heard about this series a while ago too, but honestly, the vague & many different titles threw me off. I’d heard Cobra was the one to follow – so this precise list helps a lot, man. Gonna go check em out.

  8. This reminds me that I need to finally buy that new Chuckles figure on Ebay.

  9. As a long time Joe fan, I’ve kept up with all of the series since IDW took over the license. I don’t think there are any books I look forward to more than these every month. Even the Hama series has been a blast for old Marvel series readers. While it seems a lot of readers have complained about the crossovers in the last year, each book still maintained its voice through those crossovers. Each can be read on their own, but you get a larger picture when reading them together.

  10. I thought this book had gotten canceled forever ago. My pick was Batman Incorporated #1. This was great and the fact that it came out during the Night of the Owls crossover which has been somewhat of a letdown makes it even better. As much as I love Snyder on Batman, Grant Morrison showed why he is still the best.

  11. Well this sounds like a great issue.

    If you want some good G.I. Joe then read this! Cause you remember G.I. Joe: Retaliation? No you don’t! Cause it’s going to pushed back to 2013! So I might get back into this series now that the movie is pretty much over.

    • im so piss they push that film back i was so excited about it.

    • @nasty: They said that they want to convert it to 3-D….

      Now it took Titanic 60 weeks to convert everything to 3-D so they have an excuse. But honestly, are we really going to believe that? A sequel to a movie, which was terrible to begin with, and it doesn’t have ANY problems with it writing wise?

      Even if the 3-D was the real excuse it goes to show just how idiotic this trend is. If all movies went this route at the last minute then nothing would ever be released!

    • What?!

      This is the worst thing to ever happen! Why do studios want to convert big films to 3D? Especially when they can charge more per ticket and make more money?! Grrr, It just doesn’t make sense! And what’s worse is that it’s a private enterprise so you really have no right to feel some weird entilted sense of indignation about it!!

      It’s obviously a personal attack directed at you, TNC.

      and if they converted every film to 3D they would still be released, just later… like this one

  12. I picked up the first Cobra trade based on iFanboys recommendation and loved it. I really need to read the other trades.

  13. Trusting the Picks usually pays off for me. The cartoons and toys were after my time and I’ve always been a bit put off by them. But like Bryce31 I picked up the first trade based on the rec and much enjoyed it. That was true with this issue too–very nice story telling. Don’t know if I’ll stay on but will certainly keep it in mind.

  14. I was gonna grab this too for some strange reason and put it down, might have to get on this one. I’m curious about the Snake Eyes ongoing too and how the title changes went back n forth with Snake Eyes, Cobra, Civil War and back but think I see where they all fit after looking at the trade vols.

  15. I’ve loved Cobra for a while, but was at my wit’s end with it. I got so lost during the recent crossover that I was ready to give up on the series altogether. In fact, it has been weak for a little while now. When picking up my pulls this week, I told one of the guys behind the counter that I was done and didn’t want Cobra anymore. But he told me that this issue is great, and he gave it to me for free; he told me to pay him next week if I end up liking it. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but needless to say, I’m intrigued.

  16. Hell yeah digging all these IDW Joe books.

  17. I’ve been reading this series by trade, having missed the first couple of minis and wanting to get caught up. And I couldn’t agree more about how good this is!

    I love the fact that – despite the bits of the fantastical here and there – Cobra is treated like they could be a real threat. But what’s more is (as Connor notes) that nothing is clean here. People live, people die, sides are switched. It adds a layer of gritty reality over G.I. Joe that makes it a thrilling read.

    Yo, Joe!

  18. “If you like good comics about secret espionage and good guys and bad guys who don’t really seem like they’re either, this is a book you need to try. If you’ve ever liked a Nick Fury story, this is for you. ”

    And that’s the line that got me. These days I’m more likely to enjoy reading about highly competent, sometimes morally conflicted people struggling to do the right thing than some guy who can breathe in space. Sounds as if this book might be right up my alley.

  19. I read this religiously and dip in and out of the other two joe books. One thing I’d add is this has a certain tension to it, a sense of doom maybe, that makes it almost real. Love this book and agree with everything Josh says about it.

  20. Dammit. I had just dropped this. I guess I better start picking it up again. Everytime I try to leave, they pull me back in.

  21. They knew the movie was gonna tank at the box office, so that’s why it’s pushed back, they’re hoping to release it in spring when there is no other competition at the box office.

    • Actually, I’m more excited to see this one than the first one. The Joe team gets decimated? They’re on the run? With The Rock at the helm? Oh, I’m in.

  22. It works because it takes characters that many of us grew up with and tells a story with them that we can enjoy as adults now.

  23. Every time you guys mention this book on the podcast or website you make me feel guilty. This is the ONLY Joe book that I do not pick up. Yeah, it started out good with Chuckles, but when it went monthly I got lost with the “Cobra cult” and Serpentor stuff. I have no plans on picking the book up monthly, maybe I will grab the trades once they start coming out for the new series.

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