Review: Snake Eyes – Agent of Cobra #1

The title intrigued me but the main problem wasn’t really obvious until I started reading.  First things first, I love Snake Eyes.  Maybe love is too strong, but I grew up with Snake Eyes, he was often spoken in the same sentence as Wolverine when it came to friendly discussions about fictional badasses.  His action figure was coveted, it was more valuable and versatile a commodity than a carton of Malboro’s in a prison.  Ownership of that little 3-3/4 inches of plastic conveyed status both socially and financially.  The only thing that made it better was when he was teamed with deadly rival Storm Shadow, his Cobra counterpart.  They were like Ryu and Ken.  Yin and Yang.  Peanut Butter and jelly.  Oil and water.  None of those similes go together because that’s how complicated their relationship was.  They were both unmovable diametric opposites and simultaneously perfectly complimentary like a Schrodinger’s cat of awesome.  It was an unspoken kid law that you didn’t have them switch sides and only the most confident of social rebels would openly defy this by having them team up in the sandbox where we all dumped our Joes.  If you had such inclinations you saved that kind of chicanery for when you were alone!  Where nobody could see you! I say all that to pad my word count properly convey how shocking that title was to me when I saw it and how I immediately wanted it.  I was shocked and nearly offended that no one else had claimed such an obviously superior comic.  It was Snake Eyes!  It was Snake Eyes and he’s working for Cobra!  What fell word majik could produce such a sentence?  I had to see for myself what could cause this.  As some kind of portent to the contents within there was a Liefeld cover attached and by gods it was decent!  Hot damn, suddenly it was ’92 again!  Snake Eyes was a badass and Rob Liefeld was drawing covers for badasses!

SnakeEyes_AOC01-cover 1-21-15Then I saw the problem.  Snake Eyes doesn’t talk.  I don’t remember if he actually CAN’T talk or if he chooses not to.  I know he got BBQ’d with jet fuel but I don’t know if getting jet fuel’d removed his vocal cords or just made it too difficult to speak.  Either way, the dude is taciturn.  He makes Ron Swanson look “chatty”, a cloister of Trappist monks looks like a hair salon gossip session by comparison.  He’s quiet is what I’m saying and that includes inner monologue.  The guy’s a cypher, a sphinx if you will, and are Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2.

Luckily we have Destro which is coincidently also where this issue opens.  Destro is talking about his transformation into, apparently, a more metal being and I’m not talking about Rob Halford.  It’s actually quite a good monologue that continues throughout his rescue at the hands of Snake Eyes.  Snake Eyes just shows up and wrecks house, including using our boy Destro as a bullet proof shield.  The sequence in on par with any movie action scene as he disables Destro’s guards, throws him into a river, gives him a breathing apparatus and forces him to walk along the bottom to shore.  While Snake Eyes doesn’t talk the art and the writing definitely convey a fun relationship between the two characters that I look forward to seeing develop.

The rest of the story is set up.  We get a peek into Destro’s childhood that’s quite interesting, enough exposition to make me want to read the next issue and Snake Eye’s showing allegiance to Destro by taking a mission for him to find something stolen from the Joe’s.  I don’t really know everything that has happened up until this point, all we get for new readers, like myself, is the semi helpful prologue about Storm Shadow leading an attack on the Joe’s HQ and that Snake Eyes has been missing, presumed dead, ever since.

They do a good job setting up the premise and the characters.  I’m intrigued by what’s going on and am interested in seeing where this is going.  The only hesitation I have is because Snake Eyes is so quiet it now means every other character gains prescient loquaciousness.  Characters have to speak on behalf of our silent protagonist and in all cases, in this issue, has meant an unrealistic level of intuition that nears precognition and one-sided conversations where one character does the talking of both.  It gets annoying and brings my enjoyment down but what’s the alternative?  Entire issues dedicated to frustrated hand signals and confused reactions?  There’s enough good here to make me come back next month.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Mike Costa Artist: Paola Villanelli Colorist: Joana Lafuente Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/21/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital