Writer: Larry Hama
Artist(s): David Hueso, Gabe Eltaeb (c)
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
As “World War III” begins in the pages of G.I. Joe, the former G.I. Joe and Cobra ninja known as Storm Shadow continues his solo adventures. This issue marks the beginning of a new story, a stand-alone issue, and also debuts a new fill-in artist as Storm Shadow’s involvement in “World War III” is yet to be determined. In fact, there has not been much reference, if any, to “World War III” in the pages of this book and that is one thing that makes this book unique. Usually when a publisher is having a big event, that publisher will usually try and tie all their books related to that event into the grander scheme of things. For example, DC will put “A Countdown tie-in” on theirs while Marvel will usually put a header with the events name on the cover. However, this series is seemingly taking place at the same time as “World War III” and I absolutely love the way that it completely ignores the event for the time being. Not only does it focus more on the story being scripted by the legend, Larry Hama, but it also gives “World War III” a greater sense of covert intrigue, a war that is not yet public.
After the inaugural storyline of this series which established Storm Shadow’s complete “bad-assness” and what are essentially mercenary activities, I half expected this issue to go more in depth into Storm Shadow’s past. This issue doesn’t do that though, at least not on the surface. After reading this issue, I have an interpretation on something that Hama seems to be doing. With this issue, as well as the first story-arc, Hama revealed things about Storm Shadow’s past very subtly. They seem to be coated in stories of the Ashrikage ninja clan, of which Storm Shadow belongs, but these stories are also clues to Storm Shadow’s past. While Hama reveals these small tidbits, he does a great job maintaining the mystery and allure behind the ninja mercenary. But there’s something else great about this issue, it’s one hell of a fun read.
Theses days everyone loves zombies. Over the past two years, the undead have really risen in popularity, after all, Marvel prints “Zombie Variant” covers for book that have nothing to do with zombies. Zombies may fizzle away after a while, but there are two things that always capture someone’s attention; robots and ninjas. The cover of this issue shows readers just that, a ninja and a robot. But wait, it gets much better. Apparently the robot is a ninja as well. See, I told you this issue is fun.
Basically, Storm Shadow is brought in by the German equivalent of the FBI to investigate a string of murders. The reason Storm Shadow is brought in is because of the way the victims are killed, ninja style. As Storm Shadow investigates these murders, Hama reveals a great deal of information about the trials and tests a ninja must go through, particularly with a sword. As the investigation intensifies, there is some great action that unravels like a “Bourne” film or a quality espionage/action movie. Hama has always been the master of scripting action scenes and there are moments in this issue reminiscent of G.I. Joe #21, the famed “silent issue” and first comic book meeting between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes. The action scenes involving Storm Shadow and the killer, which is revealed to be the robot on the cover, are really well done.
The story is very well crafted and it’s very involving. The subtle information dropped about ninja trials and ultimately Storm Shadow’s past are revealed very well that you really don’t realize how important that information is until the end of the issue. There’s a great deal of international intrigue that I can’t help but compare this issue to the “Bourne” films or the underrated George Clooney flick “The Peacemaker.” Hama keeps a fantastic pace between action and drama as he keeps the investigation moving and keeps it balanced with plenty of ninja action. Also the sheer coolness of the ninja move that the killer robot uses is really fun to think about. Okay, so it’s a bit violent, but this issue is worth the read just to learn about the “Long Priest Robe Cut” and how it leads to “the wind whistling through the Great Bodisattva Pass.” Seriously, it’s wild.
The fight scene between Storm Shadow and the robot at the end of this issue is a lot of fun. If you have any liking towards ninjas or killer robots, it’s really great. What also elevates this fight scene is the actual conversation Storm Shadow and the robot have with one another. It seems a bit preposterous, but the robot is autonomous and trained to be a ninja. Similar to the idea of having robot soldiers, the idea behind this robot is to have cybernetic samurai. It’s a great scene and the way that Storm Shadow disposes of the robot is absolutely perfect for the story.
David Hueso and Gabe Eltaeb take over the artwork for this issue and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s much different from Mark Robinson’s style in the first four issues and it has a much more animated quality to it. In fact, the artwork really looked like a well-done Saturday morning cartoon that is more for adults than children. As I stated, Larry Hama is a true master of comic book action scenes and David Hueso captures the action perfectly, Eltaeb’s colors only add to the overall quality of the artwork in this issue.
There’s so much to like about this issue. It may seem a little far-fetched but if you consider some of the things that can be done in the real world, it’s not that far from reality. Hama does an excellent job dropping subtle hints about the trials and life of a ninja, as well as subtle hints into Storm Shadow’s past. If you like international espionage, great action, a fun story, ninjas and in the case of this issue, killer ninja robots, this title is an absolute must read.
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