Serpent's Shadow, Part 1

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Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow #13
SnakeEyes-13 cvrA.jpg
Publisher IDW Publishing
First published May 30, 2012
Cover date May 2012
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Robert Atkins
Inks by Juan Castro
Colors by Simon Gough
Letters by Neil Uyetake
Editor John Barber and Carlos Guzman

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, together again to battle a mutual foe... but not everything is as it seems.


Long ago, two boys — one dressed in black, the other in white — hang by their arms from a rope, high above a gorge containing a torrential river. Their master urges them to learn patience of mind and body, as they must learn to wait if they are to be ninja, but the boy in white is already struggling to hold on...

Storm Shadow's helicopter, carrying himself and Snake Eyes, lands on the roof of Arashikage Castle, a skyscraper in Tokyo. With Snake Eyes back as a member of the Arashikage, Storm Shadow plans to bring down Zartan, and then Cobra and its Commander. The clan's agents have tracked Cobra's shapeshifter down, and Snake Eyes will lead the mission to kill him; as nobody outside of the clan knows of Snake Eyes' defection, they will not reveal their treachery to the Commander by doing so. First, though, Snake Eyes is to rest, and he lays down to sleep on the hard floor of his room... but that night, a woman sneaks into his room, and tries to take his sword from where it lies beside him. Snake Eyes jerks awake and throws her into the wall, only for Storm Shadow to enter and reveal that the woman, Rika, is a member of the clan who has volunteered to serve him. Storm Shadow dismisses Rika, before revealing to Snake Eyes that he killed her husband in Nanzhao... but she holds no grudge towards him, only shame that her husband failed to kill him.

Above the gorge, the hands of the boy in white begin to slip. He begs the other boy, "Heitai", to help him, but he begins to fall... until the silent Heitai lets go of the rope with one hand to catch him, swinging the other boy back up onto the rope and using his own belt to tie his friend's hand to it. As their master looks on disapprovingly, the boy in white says that in saving him, Heitai has dishonored them both... and that he is more ninja than Heitai is, because he would have let the other boy fall if their positions were reversed.

In Shanghai, Zartan reassures representatives of the People's Republic that Cobra will honor its promises and leave China's connections with their ports in Rangoon untouched, though the men do not understand the reasoning behind Cobra's actions. Zartan boards a luxury train to Beijing, while Snake Eyes and five other ninja lie in wait... but Snake Eyes, still planning to bring the clan down from within, kills his retinue and breaks into the train alone. The ninja fights off the train's guards and hunts down Zartan, but when he seems to catch him, it is a different man in the same outfit... or so it appears, as once Snake Eyes is chased off the train, the man's features shift back to Zartan's favored face. Snake Eyes breaks back in through a window further down the train, but Zartan has detached the rear carriages, and manages to escape as the train pulls away. Back in Tokyo, Storm Shadow is saddened to find that Snake Eyes has failed and that his Arashikage brothers are dead, but pledges to rethink his strategy with Rika's help... unaware that Rika has seen through Snake Eyes' ruse and is growing suspicious of him.

The Hard Master is deeply disappointed in the two youths; though "Heitai" saved Storm Shadow's life, his life has no worth to the Arashikage beyond the skills he can provide, and if Heitai had died saving him the clan would be weakened twice over. Later, he speaks with Heitai, acknowledging the boy's sense of honor but explaining that it has no place in the life of a ninja; but the youth only replies with a sullen glare. The master muses that perhaps "Heitai" is not the name for him... instead, he should go by "Snake Eyes".

Featured characters[edit]

Characters in italics are shown only in flashback. (Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Arashikage Cobra Others
  • Chinese government representatives (8)
  • Train staff (9)


"The new Commander betrayed the Arashikage. He must pay for that. For the first time in too many years we share the same enemy, my brother. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow together. Let all under the heavens tremble, eh?"

Storm Shadow performs a title drop

"Looking for Zartan? What? Nothing to say? That is right. You are the silent Joe. Then perhaps you can just wave you farewell, Joe. Heh heh heh!"

Zartan is kind of a huge jerk


Continuity notes[edit]

  • Snake Eyes was first implied to have a history with the Arashikage in G.I. Joe: Origins #3, and revealed to be a former member of the clan during the "Cobra Command" story arc, but this issue is the first to explain the details: he grew up in the clan from childhood, a departure from his Marvel Comics backstory, in which he joined the clan as an adult after serving alongside Storm Shadow in the army.
  • The Hard Master is shown to be a member of the Arashikage; last issue established that Snake Eyes helped him escape after his feelings on the clan turned sour.

Covers (3)[edit]

  • Cover A: Storm Shadow has two swords, by Robert Atkins and Simon Gough.
  • Cover B: Snake Eyes has a sword and a knife, by Robert Atkins and Simon Gough.
  • Cover RIA: Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow vs black-clad ninja, by Steve Ellis.
  • Cover RIB: Uncolored version of cover RIA, by Steve Ellis.