Comics: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie Prequel #4
The Joes rush to NORAD to intercept a Cobra infiltration. Roadblock puts his newfound Arashikage/Battle Kata skills to the test while Snake Eyes faces his former sword brother, Storm Shadow. John Barber and Salvador Navarro bring us this closing chapter to the Retaliation movie prequel
I felt this was the weakest chapter in the Retaliation prequel miniseries. From beginning to end, this was an action-packed story that moved quickly. But this issue lacked much of the character development that was the strength of the last two issues, or the fun Easter Eggs that popped in the first issue. Snake Eyes and Roadblock cutting and shooting their way through numerous Red Ninja while Scarlet practices her "laptop Kung Fu" did not really hold my interest.
The ending had a Hollywood action-movie feel to it: explosions, martial arts, gun play, villains failing at the last minute while the heroes (even the dead ones) save the day...and nothing much deeper than that. Perhaps it is unfair to expect more out of the prequel miniseries than what I expect from the movie itself. However, Barber's writing tends to be stronger and fresher than this. What we got was a confusing and ultimately pointless battle.
We see Storm Shadow's first prequel interaction with Snake Eyes, and some interesting scenes come out of that. Most notably, Storm Shadow feels betrayed by his sword brother for not standing by him in a time of need. There's a lot of speculation about the role of Storm Shadow in the upcoming movie, and this hints that how Storm Shadow perceives past events may be different than how Snake Eyes and Blind Master remember them.
Indeed, another hint about a change in the role of Storm Shadow in the movie was the emphasis on how he did not seem to enjoy the needless killing, especially of a woman, which was in direct contrast to Zartan's glee in the carnage. That was quite an overt move to establish the nobility of Storm Shadow.
My complaint with Salvador Navarro's art is the same as I've mentioned in these previous issues. As static images, his art is fine: he can draw the human form and military accessories very well. As a dynamic storyteller, though, Navarro comes up lacking. Once again, I am lost whenever an action sequence starts (which, in this case, was the beginning of the issue). The above mentioned scene between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow confused the heck out of me visually: the two fight with swords; Storm Shadow swipes at his opponent, which apparently disarms Snake Eyes, although an Uzi somehow appears in the air two feet above his head. Then, the two apparently stop fighting while Storm Shadow holds an unknown object behind his back. The next panel, Snake Eyes is unloading this floating Uzi into the Red Ninja. I've read over this scene (and others like it, like Sgt. Stone's entrance into NORAD) several times, and I am no closer to understanding how the action flows from one panel to another.
Apparently, Snake Eye's vow of silence includes keeping quiet while Red Ninja get the drop on his partner, Roadblock. Remind me to opt out if I'm ever offered a mission with Snake Eyes.
While this was the weakest of the four issues, overall the miniseries was pretty good; its overall strength relies on the background information we got in the second and third issues. As a stand-alone issue, this is a Pass, but as the final chapter in the prequel, it is Recommended.