Comics: Cobra Annual 2012
Written by Chuck Dixon and art by SL Gallant, Cobra Annual 2012 explores the origins of the winner of the Cobra Civil War and the new Cobra Commander, Krake.
Dixon craftily plays with the reader's head with this issue. On one hand, we are presented a fairly comprehensive origin story for this IDW-created character. We start with his birth, aptly in the middle of a battlefield. We witness the murder of his mother and his own first kill. Through his skills and ruthlessness, we watch as he advances up various criminal organizations until he captures the attention of Cobra itself.
On the other hand, as comprehensive as this origin story is, we still know nothing of the man himself. He is referred by nicknames only: Tiger Eyes and Krake. We see his face clearly growing up, but he has it altered at the end (and he kills the only witnesses, the surgeons). We don't even know what his ultimate goal is in joining Cobra. At the end of the day, the only thing we do know of the man currently behind the Commander mask is that he is very ruthless and very capable.
Dixon does a great job making Krake likable and sympathetic at the beginning of the issue. The first time he kills a man, it's completely justified. As subsequent kills go from self-preservation to vindictiveness, one never loses respect for the man.
The Baroness and Major Bludd play large parts in this story, which makes the end of Cobra Civil War that much more interesting. It was Bludd who indirectly recruited Krake into the Cobra organization, and it was Krake who stole The Commander position away from Bludd. The Baroness and Krake have a very antagonistic relationship, which make Krake's rescue of the Baroness from the Joes that much more meaningful. If that last panel's foreshadowing is any indication, Dixon undoubtedly has much more up his sleeve for the Baroness and Krake.
Gallant's art is as strong as always throughout this issue. I'm not one to shy away from gore, but I always appreciate artists who can suggest a gory scene without actually depicting it. That is a test of both skill and imagination, and with the body count in this book, it takes a large amount of both. Gallant, as always, pulls it off masterfully.
Now knowing where Krake was born and grew up, part of me wonders if that has anything to do with Cobra's ultimate plan for Nanzhao in Cobra Command.
While admittedly one can certainly get by without reading this issue, Dixon tells a great story of the making of a man with nothing to lose. Highly Recommended.