Comics: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow #16

January 7, 2013

It's Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow versus a den of Vipers as Storm Shadow's assassination attempt on the Cobra Commander goes wrong. Meanwhile, Krake turns to Serpentor to help him build a new army.

I've been enjoying this latest story arc of Snake Eyes more than any previous story in this series, and this issue didn't disappoint. It had the required amount of ninja-action, but more importantly, it's building up to something that could have significant consequences for the Joe universe. Chuck Dixon has been using this title to explore Cobra characters (Krake, Zartan, Serpentor), and it's a welcome change that adds depth to the story.

Regarding the main plot (Snake Eyes' attempt to destroy the Arashikage from within), the story is moving slow, but it is moving forward. Snake Eyes is running out of people between himself and Storm Shadow to kill, so the showdown between these two characters seems fairly imminent. I'm not sure where Dixon is taking us with this story, but I'm enjoying the journey so far.

About a quarter of this arc explores the origins of Snake Eyes, particularly his training with the Arashikage Clan. In this issue we meet Soft Master. The Marvel Soft Master was corpulent man, jolly and kind-hearted. The IDW version could not be any more different; his task, it seems, is to erase the softer emotions, such as pity, empathy, and loyalty, from his students. Ninja, first and foremost, are assassins, and while Hama's Soft Master was an interesting character in his own right, he never seemed to fit in with that idea. I applaud Dixon for re-inventing the Hard and Soft Masters, teachers of assassins, as characters that make sense within that context.

The art, by Robert Atkins and Atilio Rojo, is outstanding, per usual. Rojo did the flashback sequences for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation prequel series; it's a little ironic that once again, he is penciling and inking Snake Eyes training at the hands of an Araskikage master. Much of that style of art is copied for this series (heavy inking, muted coloring), although Rojo is adding an element of sinisterness to the atmosphere. Well done.

I must admit, I was happy to see Rika go; I was tired of that oft-repeated "What does your silence hide, Snake Eyes?" line.

Another strong issue in a series I had almost given up on. Recommended.

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