Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra #1

Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Paolo Villanelli
Colors: Joana LaFuente
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Carlos Guzman

How is it possible that I can be a G.I. Joe fan for over 30 years and really not have any attachment to its flagship character, Snake Eyes? One of the great things about the G.I. Joe brand is the depth of the cast of characters, so even if the focal point of the entire mythology isn't someone I'm invested in, there's generally others waiting in the wings to fill in those gaps.
So if I'm relatively uninterested in the continuing adventures of G.I. Joe's resident mute ninja, you can understand my trepidation when I heard of this title's planned release.
Really? Another solo Snake Eyes book? Really? Snake Eyes turns traitor again? This isn't the first time the Snake Eyes as enemy agent plot has come about, and heck, its even already happened in the IDW continuity. So what's new?

What's new is that Mike Costa is writing this title, and yes, that absolutely makes a difference, and that fact alone put this book on my must read list. Costa made quite the name for himself (alongside Christos Gage) for their work on the Cobra series when IDW launched their reinvention of the G.I. Joe brand. I lamented the disappearance of the Cobra title as Costa felt he had told that story to its conclusion. So, when he was announced as the writer of this comic, regardless of its focus on Snake Eyes as a main character, I immediately became interested.
Now that the first issue is in my clutching fingers?

I'm even more interested.

Don't let the book title fool you, this is not just a Snake Eyes book. In fact, the first issue spends most of its time diving into the character of Destro, who has been amazingly under-utilized in the IDW continuity. It seems as if every new writer feels a burning desire to twist their own take on The Baroness, and just leaves Destro (and other key characters) flapping in the breeze. I'm extremely thankful Costa is digging into Destro, as he takes what was already an intriguing concept (man stuck in an entire suit of metal) and adds the kind of depth of character that he is so adept at exploring. Destro comes across better in this single issue than he has in almost the entire IDW continuity to date.

But the exploration of Destro is only a small part of what I'm enjoying about this book. Yes, Snake Eyes is prevalent, as one would expect, and yes, he is apparently fighting on the side of Cobra (more specifically Destro, whose wants may not be in such alignment with Cobra at large). But in all other ways, this book feels more like an extension of the previous Cobra title. Putting Snake Eyes in the lion's den allows Costa to continue to explore things from the other side of the fence, which is something he's already proven to be very capable of...and without spoilers, another character makes an appearance that immediately connects this title with Costa's previous work.

The art is really well done, too. Vilanelli has a great style that is somewhat murky, but not nearly as murky as Fuso's work on Cobra. Each panel is somewhat dark and muted, but the action is portrayed exceptionally well with a great sense of perspective and motion. The sequence with Snake Eyes rescuing Destro flows very nicely from panel to panel and that makes a huge difference in my enjoyment of this book.

I can't say enough good things about the first issue of Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra. Even with such a focus on a character I don't care a whole lot about, Costa has managed to tell a very intriguing tale that ties back to his excellent work with Cobra and The Cobra Files. Granted, this has its own unique spin on the idea, too which leaves this very interesting. Normally I would think that a Snake Eyes as Cobra traitor story would be iminently predictable, but with Costa involved, all bets are off, and I'll be right there along for the ride.

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