Comics / Spotlight

IDW Unveils the Cobra Civil War

By Beth Davies-Stofka
January 20, 2011 - 08:00

The funerals in Tucson are finished. Christina-Taylor Green, the little girl who wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues. John Roll, the judge who stopped to say hello to a friend. Dody Stoddard, the retired construction worker who died shielding his wife from a hail of bullets. Six dead, fourteen wounded.

The first and foremost target of shooter Jared Loughner’s unfathomable attack, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, may go home from the hospital soon. Thanks to the quick thinking and fearlessness of a number of unarmed people, Congresswoman Giffords has survived the bullet that ripped through her brain.

Every one of these stories is incredible. It’s natural, I think, to wonder about what went down that day. IDW has an idea:

But for the very real and very deadly shootings at a Tucson shopping mall, this might have been just another splash page from just another adventure comic. Now it brings to mind the pain and grief of people who have nothing to do with IDW. To put it charitably, the timing is unfortunate. It is an unpleasantly graphic representation of one man’s fantasy and another woman’s suffering.

During a press conference about the upcoming changes for Cobra and the Joes, I asked G.I. Joe’s editor, Andy Schmidt, if he had a comment about the unhappy resonance of the Tucson shooting and the death of Cobra Commander. “It’s not good, there’s no way around it. But the publishing schedule was set. That happens,” he said.

That happens? I’m struggling with this.

IDW certainly can’t be held responsible for Jared Loughner.  None of IDW’s employees or comic books had anything to do with the shootings that left six dead and fourteen wounded, and a young public servant fighting for her life after a bullet violated her brain. Schmidt’s points can’t be argued.

But here’s what I find disappointing. Comics and the real world intersect. They interact. Comics live in the real world, and reflect it, even when providing their readers with escape. When Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, wasn’t there even the slightest ripple of discomfort in the G.I. Joe creative and editorial team? Didn’t Hasbro stop to think about the effects of this image on readers? The press conference provided a perfect opportunity to say something thoughtful, reflective, and even sensitive about the timing of Cobra #12. It was a chance to show readers something of the character and heart of the G.I. Joe team. It was a chance to build relationships through a shared sensibility that it is hurtful and even worrying when comic book images come alive in cruel and frightening ways, no matter how unexpected. It was a golden opportunity to reflect on the horror of violence beyond our control. It was probably not the time to dismiss the question.

These are the reasons why I won’t be reading upcoming issues of G.I. Joe. But there’s another. Cobra #12: The Death of Cobra Commander is not a reboot of the series. It’s the beginning of a new storyline.  

It will be followed in April by G.I. Joe: Cobra Civil War #0. This is a kick-off issue, one that will let new readers with no background jump on board.

Then in May, three new series will launch: G.I. Joe #1, Cobra #1, and Snake Eyes #1. These three new books will be more interconnected than before. The universe is tightening. The death of Cobra Commander will have lasting ramifications that will impact all three series.  

The driving force of the all the stories will be the Cobra Civil War, a competition to become the new commander. Whoever can kill the most Joes wins. And so there will be three covers per issue, because of the number of candidates vying to become Cobra Commander. The variant covers will feature the candidates.

At $3.99 per issue, does this make sense? It depends on just how much you like the G.I. Joe series, I think. Schmidt says IDW is conscious of your budget concerns, but is this the way to show that?

The good news is that IDW promises to close out the storyline within 12 months. A new Cobra commander should be in place before the end of 2011.

Ordinarily I would tell you that IDW is the comics publisher I most admire. But this is not the company’s finest moment. Far from it! I suggest getting on board with some of its other brand-new undertakings, ones that look very promising and aren’t as interested in separating you from your money. Try the enticing Infestation, or Fallen Angel: Return of the Son, or the absolutely phenomenal Dr. Who Vol. 2.

If you have spare money to spend, don’t blow it on three copies of the same book.  Go ahead and spend it with IDW, but save it for Yoe! Books’ Amazing 3-D Comics, collecting the best of early 3-D stories and samples by artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bob Powell, Al Jaffee, Russ Heath, Milt Stein, and Alex Toth.  Now that stuff will blow your mind for years to come. It’s an investment that will continue to reward you, long after a superficial event like Cobra Civil War lies forgotten.

Rating: 5 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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