Changing Colors

From IDW Hasbro Wiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
G.I. Joe: Cobra: Special #2
"The Last Laugh"
"Changing Colors"
Publisher IDW Publishing
First published September 29, 2010
Cover date September 2010
Written by Mike Costa
Art by Antonio Fuso
Colors by Filippo Flores
Letters by Robbie Robbins
Editor Andy Schmidt

After defecting from Cobra, Erika Le Tene must now prove her loyalty to G.I. Joe.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Having left Cobra behind, Erika Le Tene's new hosts at G.I. Joe have taken everything that almost made her old job worthwhile. While once she lived an exciting, glamorous life traveling the world, dining and partying with the rich and powerful, she's now a prisoner, stuck in an orange jumpsuit and eating slop in the same dreary setting every day of her life. And for another part of her routine, she's escorted into the same interrogation room with the same older woman who's been asking her the same questions she has been for weeks now. Despite how many times she tells Firewall the story of her childhood, the details never change.

Erika was born in Chon Thành District of Vietnam, somewhere that wasn't too bad a place to live once the war had ended. Growing up on a former rubber plantation as the daughter of European aristocrats, she lived a comparatively privileged life to the other, native children her age. Her mother was gone nearly all year, only visiting once every few months, and she never got to see her father. Because of this, the task of raising young Erika fell to the groundskeeper Pham, who cared for her deeply. It was his affections that let her blend in and be accepted by the locals. While her mother was away, Erika would be regaled with tales of her mother's glamorous, high-society life and how she would one day be able to join her. When she turned 8, Erika was shipped off to an international boarding school in Hong Kong. During her time there, her mother only came to visit once. A year after that visit, Erika received word that her mother had been killed. Once she graduated, Erika made her way to Europe and it was there that she was discovered by Cobra.

After thirty weeks of this, Firewall arrives claiming she has a gift for Erika and shows her, through the two-way mirror, her mother in an interrogation room. As it happened, she had managed to survive the explosion that she supposedly died in and ever since had been laying low in Poland with distant relatives. Firewall explains that they arrested her on suspected terrorist connections, but even G.I. Joe can't make a phony charge like that stick to a rich, powerful woman like Erika's mother. Eventually, they'll have to let her go, but before they do, her name is going to be dragged through the mud and her reputation ruined by those accusations. And given Erika's history and who her next closest living relative is, there's a very good chance that this poor old woman's name coming up in connection with terrorism would end up being fatal for her. Disgusted, Erika demands to know what Firewall wants of her.

In her office, Firewall explains the Joes have discovered a secret Cobra facility underneath a hardware store in Baltimore. While it would be a trivial matter to send a full team of Joes in to bust the place up, they'd then risk letting Cobra know that they're on to them, to say nothing of the high risk of civilian and property damage. Instead, they're going to send Erika in to get whatever data she can off their servers. Though Erika explains she was blacklisted the second she left Cobra, the Joes aren't planning to send her in. They're sending the Baroness instead! Erika scoffs at the idea, as there are plenty of countermeasures like retinal scans that their physical resemblance can't fool, but Firewall insists that she just needs the right attitude, as the Baroness wouldn't deign to such things. When Erika asks what she's supposed to do if attitude isn't enough, Firewall plainly states she'll just have to resort to shooting her way through. Though Erika has never actually killed anyone before, she still agrees for the sake of her mother.

When she arrives at the facility, Erika has a surprisingly easy time getting through, Firewall's claim that it's all a matter of attitude panning out. The people at the facility are all universally terrified of the Baroness, and sticking a gun in their face or making an angry enough complaint is all she needs to get right into the server room. It's all going smoothly, until a Crimson Guard who's "familiar" with the Baroness approaches her in the server room with a bottle of wine. After getting punched out and tied to a chair while she continues working, the Crimson Guard realizes he knows Erika as well. The Baroness talked about her sometimes, and he knows why she brought Erika into Cobra in the first place. Taunting her with this information, the Guard explains that Baroness wanted her around as a reminder of her old life, one last connection to where she came from. As he explains that he knows the Baroness well enough to know she has things she won't let anyone, even herself, know she cares about, Erika asks if the Crimson Guard really was actually close enough to Baroness to have had a relationship with her. When he says yes, Erika shoots him in the head and leaves.

Three days later, Erika still feels sick from her first kill and is throwing up into her cell's toilet when Firewall comes to visit. Pleased with her work, Firewall informs Erika that her mission was a complete success and Cobra has no idea what actually happened, especially since Erika wiped the security files before she left. Because of her good work, Erika's being moved into better lodging and is allowed to see her mother. As Firewall mentions the latter reward though, Erika begins thinking back on the last time she and her mother met...

In her darkened dorm room, Erika's mother addresses her from the doorway. She informs Erika that she will not be rejoining her family when she completes her schooling, though she will be given a substantial trust fund and will be free to go wherever she likes from there. When Erika asks why, her mother reveals that her husband is not Erika's father. When she was young, Erika's mother was forced into an arranged marriage and, as someone who had taken an interest in the burgeoning feminist movement, came to rue those who'd forced her into this life. So, in a self-described act of vengeance against her husband, her family, and the aristocratic society she was part of, she cheated on her husband with the "nobody" who was Erika's father. Now that she's older though, Erika's mother feels differently and values the life she and her husband have built enough that she doesn't want to risk her secret, illegitimate daughter ruining it. With tears in her eyes, Erika asks what her mother meant by "revenge". She answers by saying that Erika was her revenge and then leaves, saying they will never meet again.

Though this memory is one reason Erika turns down Firewall's offer to let her meet with her mother, the other reason is that she knows full well that woman she was shown is not her mother. Even fifteen years since their last meeting, Erika can recognize her mother, and that middle-aged actress most certainly was not her. She's spent the past five years of her life in the business of using what people love against them and can recognize G.I. Joe for the amateurs they are. If they knew what she knew, they'd know they didn't need to use blackmail to get her to go on that mission because she has her own reasons. But she'll let them think they know how to control her, that they know who she is. What nobody ever understood about her is that she can be whoever she needs to be. And as she's formally inducted into the Joes, her new codename, taken from a recently departed agent, reflects this fact. She's a Chameleon.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Characters in italic text appear only in flashback or in photos.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

G.I. Joe Cobra Others

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"I hate this woman. I hate that everyone I've ever known has only seen me as something to be used. A tool. A bargaining chip. A weapon. I hate that they would think I'm so stupid, they could hire some middle-aged actress to play my dead mother and I wouldn't know the difference. A girl doesn't forget her mother, even after fifteen years. In the "Use What Somebody Loves Against Them" game, these people are amateurs. There are things I know they will never understand. They don't understand I would have done it anyway. They wouldn't understand my own reasons. Let them think they scared me. Let them think they can use me. G.I. Joe. Cobra. Everyone is a tin soldier to them. They look for the key that winds you up, then set you down on whatever path they choose. They never think to look inside at what really makes you go. They'll never know. I've been playing this game all my life. They'll never see the real me. I can be whatever anyone looking at me needs to see."

-Erika Le Tene Chameleon

Notes[edit | edit source]

Continuity notes[edit | edit source]

  • Erika defected to Cobra back in Cobra II #4 after realizing she could no longer take being in the employ of such an openly malicious organization. In that same issue, the original Chameleon quit the Joes, freeing up the codename for Erika to take at this issue's end.
  • While they still don't say it outright, it continues to be very, very, very heavily implied that Erika and Baroness are sisters. They were first established as having some kind of relationship back in the first issue of Cobra II. Throughout the rest of the series, Xamot would continuously egg Erika on about her relationship whenever the subject of family would come up between them, likening her and the Baroness' relationship to the one between himself and his brother.
  • Further adding credence to Erika and Baroness being sisters is that Erika's mother resembles the Baroness' as seen in G.I. Joe: Origins #12. In that issue, Mrs. DeCobray met her end at the hands of her legitimate daughter when she blew up their home.

G.I. Joe references[edit | edit source]

  • Just in case you need more evidence that Erika is Baroness' sister, she takes on the codename Chameleon in this issue. While the first use of that name in Joe fiction was as a "swamp-skier" vehicle that came packaged with Zartan, it would later be applied to a rerelease of the original Baroness toy in 2000. To explain the name change, the toy's filecard bio stated that Chameleon was the half-sister of Baroness who had disguised herself as Baroness as part of a deep-cover mission for G.I. Joe. That gels pretty nicely with Erika's actions in this issue!
  • Though there hasn't been a toy that bears the name, Firewall was used as a codename in the G.I. Joe comics published by previous license holder Devil's Due. There, however, Firewall was "Michelle LaChance", a young Asian-American hacker as opposed to an older Caucasian administrator.

Other notes[edit | edit source]

  • This issue is solely credited to Mike Costa without usual co-writer Christos Gage.

Covers (2)[edit | edit source]

  • Cover A: Erika peaking out from around a corner, by Antonio Fuso.
  • Cover RI: Erika's silhouette in front of a grid of her and Baroness' faces, by Antonio Fuso