Writer Mike Costa and artist Paolo Villanelli try to make "G. I. Joe: Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra" #1 a compelling read from the opening page. The creative team succeeds in imbuing this comic book with high-octane action suitable for the big screen or a summer drive-in theater but is almost certain to leave the readers wanting more of Snake Eyes.
The issue is surprisingly Destro-centric, which works in this case since Costa needs a foil to keep readers out of Snake Eyes' head, as the silent, deadly former Joe is best left with more than a bit of mystery about him. By choosing to merge the paths of Snake Eyes and Destro, Costa invites readers to judge actions and attitudes through Destro's filter. After all, Snake Eyes can't have totally turned bad, right? Here is the brilliance in Costa's story, as Destro brings along his own set of Samsonite, overloaded and fit to burst.
Part of that baggage is shared with readers as Costa opens the wayback machine and peeks into Destro's childhood but, at this point, that sequence looks like a detour no matter how significant it turns out to be later in this series. We know Destro is morally gray at best and downright evil at worst. Also, his name isn't the one on the cover.
In the moments where Snake Eyes does appear, he steals every scene. Cool and collected, silent and deadly, he pulls no punches and earns Destro's reserved trust. Villanelli keeps Snake Eyes cloaked in shadow throughout, which amplifies the ambient mystery of the character. The story's characters who aren't Snake Eyes or Destro are fine but, whenever either of those two appear, they absolutely steal the scenes.
Villanelli makes some bold design decisions in this comic but never at the sacrifice of story. Every panel is clean and transitions from scene to scene are seamless. In addition to the heavy use of shadows, the artist adds some flair to Snake Eyes' appearance, such as two oddly placed ribbons that really want to belong to a teenage turtle. I'm not sure what to make of the ribbons dancing behind Snake Eyes in many of the panels and, while it is a cool visual, it also becomes a ridiculously impractical tail for a ninja warrior. Working with the clean art, Joana Lafuente's colors are on target throughout, occasionally setting the mood in a cinematic manner akin to using a color gel on a spotlight, but she never overdoes any of the hues.
"G. I. Joe: Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra" #1 is a fun, action-packed tale with a mystery jammed inside an adventure. Costa and crew give readers just enough of a tease to keep them captivated and promises plenty more in the issues to come. I'm a little fuzzy on the "how" and the "why" of Snake Eyes' current post, but I'm definitely interested in reading more.