Serpent's Tale Part Five: Viper's Nest

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G.I. Joe: Cobra #9
"Serpent's Tale"
"Serpent's Tale Part Four: Viper's Nest"
Publisher IDW Publishing
First published September 15, 2010
Cover date September 2010
Written by Mike Costa & Christos Gage
Art by Sergio Carrera
Colors by Wil Glass
Letters by Neil Uyetake
Editor Carlos Guzman

Leonard escapes from The Coil and threatens to expose their secrets to the world... but is anybody going to listen?

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

As he escorts him out, Leonard Michaels' Viper rescuer asks him to act natural, but Leonard isn't sure he wants to go. Making it up to the kitchen, the Viper smacks him in an effort to snap him out of his brainwashing but, as he does so, Crystal Ball walks in... and wordlessly walks past the two of them as if they weren't even there. They make it outside The Coil's compound and Leonard asks what they're going to do next but the Viper tells him it doesn't even matter. Crystal Ball saw them escaping and their fate is sealed. Even drugged up, Leonard can't see what the big deal is, but the Viper is inconsolable. Pulling out his pistol, the Viper declares he's not going to let that crazy shaman get a hold of him and commits suicide.

Alone in the world, Leonard wanders the streets of Los Angeles in a drug fueled haze, not sure of where he is, what's going on, or how much time is passing... But, eventually, he wakes up in an alley one morning and he's back to normal. After taking the Viper's gun, he starts his war on the Coil by returning to where he last left his car and finds it with the window broken and his radio stolen. Fortunately though, his spare key is still there and he takes a drive to visit Gracie, the ex-girlfriend of his old roommate that he keeps in touch with for times like this when he needs to lay low. While she hesitates to let him in, she relents and gives him something to eat. However, she doesn't have much patience for him and is only letting him stay for the one night. But that's all the time Leonard needs to write up the story that's going to blow The Coil wide open for all to see.

Barging into the offices of his old newspaper, Leonard heads straight towards his old editor Phipps' office and begins pitching him on his story, raving about how he can connect the Coil to mind control, murder, and a secret, vast terrorist organization. Phipps, however, only asks that Leonard stop embarrassing himself in front of the entire office so that he still has some semblance of dignity among the old guard that still remembers who he was. But when he starts screaming in Phipps' face about how he didn't undergo the traumas he did to get turned away like this, the police arrive and take Leonard into custody for the unlicensed pistol he was packing. He pleads with the officer to take a look at his files but the cop only mocks him for his "crazy conspiracy theories". At the station, he passes Hendel's office and tries to convince him as well but finds him equally unsympathetic. After spending the night in jail, he gets out when Gracie clears out his bank account to post bail and then refuses to talk to him. With her ignoring him and his files ripped to shreds by the police, Leonard is back to square one. He tries calling up what few friends he has on a payphone but doesn't get any answers. He tries to get in touch with Hawk but can't and there's no telling when or if he'll get back to him. During all this, it occurs to Leonard how little he really had and how small his life had become. Now, he's not sure he even has anything anymore.

After spending the night sleeping on the street, he decides to risk returning to his office and finds it exactly how he left it. Staring at his Pulitzer, Leonard feels a crushing depression as he realizes he used to mean something... followed by an even more crushing feeling that he's not sure he actually did. The only messages on his phone are bill collectors and a lawyer telling him his P.I. license is suspended. He doesn't have anybody else to go to anymore. No friends, no family... he's driven them all away. And worst of all, he's grown so old that starting over again is completely unfeasible. For all intents and purposes, he's worthless. Just then, his phone begins ringing but Leonard doesn't answer it. Letting it go to voice mail, he hears Hawk coming through on the other end begging him to stay put while he sends a team to retrieve him. But Leonard doesn't care. He never really mattered to Hawk. The only people he ever mattered to he left behind... but he's going back to them now.

Returning to the Coil's compound, Leonard is greeted by Stephen Minasian himself, who welcomes him back with open arms. After being given something to eat, Leonard gets back to work on writing the story of Serpentor and the Coil and hands his finished manuscript to Venomous Maximus. Venomous applauds Leonard's work and lets him know how happy he is to finally have Leonard as part of their family again. Now that his work is done, it is time for Leonard's most important contribution not only to the Coil, but to the world...

Deep inside the catacombs, those most loyal to the Coil have gathered before Serpentor and in the warm embrace of Golobulus to bear witness to a most special and holy event. It is their duty to refresh their god in accordance to the lunar calendar and now the day has come that one of them must make the ultimate contribution to their cause. Serpentor calls out to his audience and from them steps Leonard Michaels. Serpentor assures Leonard that Golobulus loves him, as do all of his brothers and sisters in the Coil, and none of them shall ever forget what he has done here tonight. With tears in his eyes, Leonard tells his leader that he knows and strips down before laying down atop the altar. As Leonard thanks him, Serpentor cries out to Cobra-La and drives a knife into Leonard so that his blood may sate Golobulus once more...

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

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

G.I. Joe The Coil/Cobra Others

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"Hendel! Hendel, it's me, Leonard! The Coil! They really are dangerous! I just barely escaped from there!"
"I can't help you, Leonard. Not this time."
"I've got evidence that—"
"I told you—no more favors. You accost a judge, assault your old editor... while you're armed! You did this to yourself, Leonard. Besides, these Coil people have friends. Powerful ones, who sue at the drop of a hat. We don't need the grief."

-Leonard finds Detective Hendel unsympathetic to him.

"I have nowhere to turn. Never realized how few friends I had to count on until I needed them. Never realized how small my life had become. That the loss of a few things meant the loss of everything. Never realized how easily I could come to a place like this. Nowhere."

-Leonard reflects on where fighting The Coil has brought him.

"My name is Leonard Michaels. I was a reporter and investigator. I discovered and assembled facts. For that I was celebrated, then despised. But facts are not truth. And only truth has meaning. This will be the most meaningful thing I've ever done. My blood is frozen in revelation... and the scales fall from my eyes"

-Leonard Michaels' final thoughts and the words that bring this story arc full circle.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Continuity notes[edit | edit source]

  • Crystal Ball is back! The mad monk had been seen earlier in Cobra II's first story arc where his intimidating stare very nearly broke Erika Le Tene as bad as the poor Viper here.
  • Detective Hendel had run out of favors for Leonard back in the first issue of this arc. Leonard is also arrested for his unlicensed gun by the same cop who nearly arrested him for getting into a fight with the cheating husband in the same issue.
  • Leonard asked Hawk to make sure his P.I. license stay in order as part of his terms for investigating the Coil for him, but Hawk told him that wasn't his problem. Looks like he really meant it!
  • The ending of this issue mirrors the first page of the first part of Serpent's Tale, with Serpentor standing over an altar and crying out to Cobra-La with narration boxes speaking of blood frozen in revelation and scales falling from eyes.

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

  • As mentioned previously, "Cobra-La-la-la-la-la!" is something of a catchphrase for Serpentor. Historically it was more of a battle cry than something cried out during human sacrifice, though.

Real world references[edit | edit source]

Other notes[edit | edit source]

  • As with issues #5 and #6, this issue has the same subtitle as the the previous issue. What makes this even stranger is that last issue actually had the subtitle printed on a page in the issue itself, rather than just on the credits page.

Covers (2)[edit | edit source]