By Mike Costa, Antonio Fuso
There are many reasons why a book gets renumbered to feature a shiny “1” on the cover. Outside of the sales boost it will likely generate, a title may renumber to signify a new direction, a complete reboot, or simply to reflect a rebranding within the company. Similar to how many Marvel titles have kept previous continuity despite featuring that new numbering, Cobra Files is not really a fresh start.
Possibly signified by retaining the same creative team with the title, G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files is a continuation of Mike Costa’s previous Cobra story. For fans of that series, the title is a must buy and it delivers on what they have come to expect. For readers who are new to the Joe universe, jumping on with the Fred Van Lente led relaunch, this will be difficult to follow.
Costa attempts to bring readers up to speed. Through a therapy session with the title’s lead, Chameleon, readers learn what has come to pass for this character. Having previously been an agent of Cobra, Chameleon has defected to the good guys, now acting as a double agent, working undercover within Cobra and the very people she fled.
The story does well to develop and introduce Chameleon and her history so far. The amount of dialogue that Costa relies on to accomplish this task, however, is excessive. Though the intent may have been to show just how ironic and complex Chameleon’s new position may be, following this information is difficult. Add in that the seemingly biggest threat, identified as Tomax, is occupying the same space as the Joes, and new readers will definitely be left scratching their heads as to how this ‘bad guy’ is walking around the Joe’s headquarters as though he is part of the team.
Costa’s writing overall is strong. Though it does feel drawn out at times, the language is impressive, most significantly in how the book first opens. Antonio Fuso’s art fluctuates in the issue. At times, panels are fascinating to stare at. There are moments, though, that leave much to be desired in the way of skimping on detail.
Readers looking to jump into a new universe may struggle to find their footing here with Cobra Files #1. To really dig into this story of espionage, it might be necessary to go back to what has come before. Whether it is in Costa’s plan to acclimate new readers as the series continues or focus primarily on writing for fans of the previous series is unclear after the first chapter. A strong first issue, adding this title to the pull list will depend a lot on where individuals stand with the Joe universe.