Current Reviews


Cobb: Off The Leash #3

Posted: Tuesday, September 5, 2006
By: Kevin Noel Olson

Writer: Beau Smith
Artist: Eduardo Barreto

Publisher: IDW

On the set of the movie Lone Wolf McQuade, Chuck Norris told David Carradine, “You’re about as good a martial artist as I am an actor.” Kind of a light-hearted jab at Carradine, but later it became serious when Carradine’s people sued for breach of contract. In the contract for the movie, David was not to lose to Norris or die onscreen. The lawsuit failed when it was decided Norris spent more time on the ground than Carradine, and Carradine’s character was blown up offscreen, the film showing only the explosion.

What does this have to do with Beau Smith’s Cobb #3? Well, for starters, there is never any question who wins the fight. If someone dies, we see them die. No soap-operatic "Well, Theodore didn’t really die" here. That’s not to say everyone dies, either. Cobb’s truly a man of fair play. He’s not some serial-killer anti-hero out to whack everybody he can justify whacking. Like certain other characters who shall-not-be-named, Cobb fights for concepts now considered outmoded by some like truth, justice, and the American way. It’s refreshing after years of deeply psychotic and super-powered individuals going around slaughtering in the name of the law. Is that to say Cobb’s not a little off-kilter? No. The difference is he has a code beyond "I did it because I could." Cobb’s not out to kill people, although he’ll give people what they are asking for. He’s generous that way. No, Cobb wants to make sure the bad guys get their just desserts in whatever gelatin flavor that comes in. Sometimes that means killing them, but he’s not filled with blood-lust to the point he can’t let them live in their suffering.

Another refreshing aspect of Cobb is the fact that he doesn’t have superpowers aside from a comfortable bit of extreme training and possible engineering. He doesn’t even have "Cobb-a-rangs" to throw about. There’s no "Cobbmobile" or "Cobbcycle." Yes, he has backup in a close team of people, but he doesn’t have "sidekicks." He surrounds himself with strong and trustworthy who can defend themselves to the fullest and will never act unexpectedly. Cobb expects from the people he trusts what they can expect from him: loyalty and trustworthiness.

Case in point: Murphy’s granddaughter Molly. Now, here’s a girl who's been kidnapped by Yuri and his gang of Russian thugs. She takes control of her uncontrollable situation. One of Yuri’s men tries to take advantage of her and lives to regret it, although not very long. Just long enough to bleed out a major artery in his neck. Cobb could have rushed in and rescued her, but it turns out she’s made strong by the company she keeps.

Yuri, the Russian Mafiso holding Molly offers an exchange for his girlfriend Nikita. Of course, he’s planning to get the drop on Cobb & friends utilizing a hired killer called Cossack, who is unknowingly backed up by a female killer named Natasha. Well, not backed up so much as she is planning to stab him in the back after he kills Cobb.

Cossack’s trained to be like Cobb. They slug it out, but discover a type of respect for each other. Of course, Cossack’s unhappy with Yuri’s betrayal of him as well. It’s an intriguing interplay between Cobb and Cossack. The interplay between all the characters is rich and well-developed.

In the Cobb series, Beau Smith has brought to us something not seen in a while. Although Cobb can be violent, he is always fair. The level of violence he measures out is never above that which is sent against him. Sometimes, it is far less. When a bat suffices in the face of automatic weapons, he uses a bat. When the moment calls for a pistol, he uses those. As violent as Cobb can be, he is in the truest sense a hero. It’s always good to see one of those.

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