Serpent's Shadow, Part 3
|First published||July 25, 2012|
|Cover date||July 2012|
|Written by||Chuck Dixon|
|Art by||Robert Atkins and Atilio Rojo|
|Inks by||Juan Castro and Atilio Rojo|
|Colors by||Simon Gough and Joana Lafuente|
|Letters by||Neil Uyetake|
|Editor||John Barber and Carlos Guzman|
With Zartan brought down, the Arashikage confront their true foe: Cobra Commander!
Snake Eyes has betrayed the Arashikage, but their leader Storm Shadow refuses to believe Rika when she tells him. Despite Snake Eyes having knocked Rika unconscious and left her for Cobra or the Tokyo police to find, Storm Shadow's faith in his bond with the other ninja leads him to, hypocritically, accuse him of having her judgement affected by her husband's death. He does, however, agree to seek Snake Eyes' side of the events when he returns from his pursuit of Zartan.
Ahead of a class of Arashikage students, the Hard Master gloats over his basket of rare, delicious dragon fruit. As the master's best student, Snake Eyes is chosen to guard the dragon fruit that night, but another boy sneaks in behind him and steals an armful of the fruits... but before he escapes, Snake Eyes manages to tear his cloth mask away, revealing him to be Storm Shadow! The next day, the Hard Master beats Snake Eyes with a bamboo stick as punishment for his failure and his unwillingness to name the thief to the Hard Master, holding his sense of honor and loyalty to the other boy over his loyalty to the Hard Master; something a ninja should never do, as they are creatures of deceit and guile. And so Storm Shadow, no longer having cause to hide himself, smiles, revealing the dragon fruit stains on his teeth.
Above the Tanami Desert in Australia, Zartan angrily rants to his guards about Cobra Commander's betrayal of him, and his intent to seat himself atop Cobra's throne... but he doesn't get the chance, as at that moment, the bomb that Snake Eyes placed detonates, sending his plane crashing into the outback. But despite all odds, Zartan has survived the crash... and as he crawls from the wreckage and falls unconscious, he is found by a trio of Australian bikers: the Dreadnoks.
When Snake Eyes returns to the Arashikage, Storm Shadow welcomes him with open arms, but the mood soon turns sour when Cobra Commander contacts the clan to inform them of Zartan's "death" — which, he claims, was on his orders. Angered, Storm Shadow arranges to meet with the Commander, while Rika writes a letter to her son, warning him of the danger that Snake Eyes poses and asking him to avenge her if she fails; when Rika and Storm Shadow arrive at the Commander's headquarters in Khamiristan, Storm Shadow makes his move at the first opportunity, stabbing Cobra's leader through the chest in revenge for the murder of his oyabun. But he has miscalculated; the Commander that sat before him was a mere dummy, with the real one nowhere nearby, and now Storm Shadow is surrounded by Vipers with their weapons trained on him. The Commander had wanted Zartan dead to heal the rift between Cobra and the Arashikage, but instead, it has brought them into open conflict.
The Hard Master has taught the young Snake Eyes all he knows; he is unequaled among the master's students in martial arts. But his sense of honor and morality prevents him from being a true ninja, and so, the Hard Master is sending him to a new teacher: the Soft Master, who will teach him of guile and manipulation, and render his heart stone-like — able to watch his own brother die without doing anything to stop it.
And as Storm Shadow stands surrounded by Vipers, Snake Eyes secretly watches from a window above...
Characters in italics are shown only in flashback. (Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Still breathing. He's one ugly dero."
"Could be worth a few dollars to somebody, Buzzer."
"Torch is right. Might pay to be bringing him along."
- —Buzzer, Torch and Ripper don't think much of Zartan
"You see, I wanted Zartan eliminated for a variety of reasons. Chief among them was a wish that his death would heal the rift between Cobra and the Arashikage. Instead, it caused you to reveal yourself, Storm Shadow. I suppose I should have anticipated treachery from a ninja. But your naiveté was not expected."
- —Cobra Commander monologues
- Zartan calls Cobra Commander "Krake" — his codename from before he was Cobra Commander.
G.I. Joe references
- The Dreadnoks arrive! The Australian and/or Cockney biker gang have a long history in G.I. Joe as Zartan's personal team, but this is their first appearance in IDW continuity despite Zartan's many appearances.
- This issue claims the existence of a Retailer Incentive cover that was apparently instead released as cover B to the following issue.
- Cover A: Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow reflected in Cobra Commander's visor, by Andrea Di Vito and Laura Villari.