Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: Mark Robinson
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
While Cobra has taken hold of the United States in G.I. Joe, the underworld of international intrigue continues to be explored in Storm Shadow. The legend that is Larry Hama lives on, and he continues to push readers into stories that expand beyond self-indulgence and put the entire world in perspective. This series, still in its infancy, has started out rather interestingly. Focusing on not only the main character but the world and the international scene that surrounds him, whether it be the mob or ninjas. The first couple of issues were strong and different, a mix of what you would find from both a major publisher and a small press publisher. There were one or two issues that weren’t as spectacular and were a bit confusing but stayed true to the overall course of this series. Last issue was phenomenal, a simple yet intriguing tale of ninja master vs. machine. This issue returns to the seedy underbelly of the international world as Storm Shadow’s past begins to find its way towards him, an omen that Cobra cannot be too far behind.
There is a certain arrogance to this title that works extremely well. Storm Shadow has never been the most humble of warriors and while this title does not revel in its own self-worth like many character-driven comics of today, the general attitude and vibe that Storm Shadow gives off is one of confidence. This issue begins with the introduction of an old friend of Storm Shadow’s named Anibal. Anibal’s involvement in this story is very important primarily because he serves as a gateway into part of Storm Shadow’s past. It appears Anibal was a mercenary who met Storm Shadow while learning the techniques of the ninja from Storm Shadow’s master. This, of course, would also connect Anibal to Snake Eyes but that is something just to keep in the back of your mind. Anibal essentially tells Storm Shadow that agents from various groups Storm Shadow has been involved in are after him. The Spetsnaz, the Night Creepers and the Red Ninjas have all learned of Storm Shadow’s whereabouts. I would assume they have learned through Cobra Commander’s takeover of the United States, after all, the Night Creepers have been on Cobra’s payroll numerous times over the years. For some reason I could not figure out Anibal’s motivation and scheme. The only way to cut the link to Storm Shadow’s past and to stop him from being hunted is to kill Anibal. While the motivations of this issue are initially unclear, readers are finally treated to a glimpse into the past of Storm Shadow. Hopefully, Hama continues to reveal more and more as this series progresses.
The motivations behind this predicament are not what really shines through in this issue. Storm Shadow’s handling of each group of characters out to kill him is phenomenal. The three incidents covered in this issue really show what this series is all about, what Storm Shadow is capable of and proves that Larry Hama knows how to tell a great story. The aura of cockiness resonated by Storm Shadow really passes every test as he confronts the Spetsnaz, Night Creepers and Red Ninjas. He’s a reformed assassin, so the less killing he does the better, but he still wages an excellent psychological war on the three groups. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s a really entertaining read and some of Hama’s best work thus far on this series. There’s some comic relief with the Russians, followed by a display of pure intelligence when Storm Shadow goes up against the Night Creepers, and finally, there is the pure ninja that takes on the Red Ninjas. Speaking of which, the entire scene with the Red Ninjas is awe-inspiring. Just the image of an empty beach and the Red Ninjas walking to shore through the water was incredible.
The ending is very intriguing as Storm Shadow makes his way back to Anibal. Apparently he’s learned the true motives behind Anibal’s request and Storm Shadow, being the reformed killer he is, offers Anibal a way out. It’s an interesting scene and a compelling dynamic that will no doubt make you think and look back at this issue a little more closely. I have a feeling Anibal is being used as a pawn to draw Storm Shadow into “World War III” and essentially back into the hands of Cobra. It will be interesting to see if this series does in fact play into “World War III”.
Mark Robinson returns to artistic duties for this issue. He has a very unique style that I honestly wouldn’t care for if it were on a book with a different genre or theme. Robinson’s art is very well suited to the world around Storm Shadow. There’s something about his work that really does justice to this title. I mentioned back in an earlier review that I couldn’t put my finger on it, but his artwork just works here.
Overall, another strong delivery from Larry Hama as this series continues to grow and explore the always popular Storm Shadow. As more and more is revealed to Storm Shadow’s past, I have little doubt that his past will throw him onto the frontlines of “World War III” and the ultimate choice between G.I. Joe and Cobra will be made. This series continues to deliver a higher level of action and international intrigue that I highly recommend.
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