Snakes and Tigers, Part 1
Yes, this is still the same franchise with a hammy villainous leader in a goofy snake costume.
|"Snakes and Tigers, Part 1"|
|First published||April 10, 2013|
|Cover date||April 2013|
|Written by||Mike Costa|
|Art by||Antonio Fuso|
|Inks by||Emilio Lecce|
|Colors by||Arianna Florean|
|Letters by||Shawn Lee|
|Editorial consultant||John Barber|
As the G.I. Joe intelligence unit does its best to break even, Chameleon struggles with her recent trauma.
Every man that Chameleon has ever been with, she states, is dead. Her therapist is unfazed by her provocative introductory statement, but she continues to brush off his inquiries with sarcasm and jokes until he stops asking questions and lays out the facts they are dealing with: originally a member of Cobra, Chameleon met an undercover agent of G.I. Joe and exposed him to her superiors, eventually resulting in his death. Defecting from Cobra shortly after and joining G.I. Joe, she is now working alongside one of those superiors: Tomax Paoli, whom she specifically fled Cobra to get away from. While a member of G.I. Joe, she has been cornered twice by members of Cobra who have attempted to kill her, and was recently taken captive in the building where Cobra tried to have her killed and forced her to escape. The therapist believes her to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and thinks that her provocative statements and jokes are trying to cover up her pain... but when he asks to talk about that, Chameleon makes her excuses and leaves. As she descends to the Gemini casino beneath the G.I. Joe intelligence unit's headquarters to be alone, Chameleon reflects that she has experienced how both G.I. Joe and Cobra treat the emotionally damaged — in Cobra, they simply execute them, while in G.I. Joe they are pitied and resented... and she has decided that she prefers the terror of life under Cobra to the shame of life under G.I. Joe.
On a mission to Vietnam, rescuing slave labor from a Cobra munitions factory, Lady Jaye muses to Flint that the intelligence unit operating out of a casino could be symbolic of how everything they do is a gamble. After taking out hostiles with sniper fire and blowing up the factory buildings, Jaye pessimistically notes that the rescued people are likely to be captured and enslaved in another sweatshop; even with Flint clarifying that he's requested that the United Nations receive them as refugees, Lady Jaye is still feeling bad about their lack of progress — not least because of the "evil genius" who owns their casino.
In Las Vegas, Tomax Paoli — the evil genius in question — greets computer specialist Clockspring with false warmth. After a little negging over Clockspring's lackluster personal life, Paoli gets to the "favor" he's requesting: he needs to see all of G.I. Joe's files regarding the Pacific Northwest. Even with the favors that Clockspring has been manipulated into providing already, this is a bridge too far, even when Paoli reminds him of the fact that he's leaked classified information to Cobra revealing the location of a team in the field. Even if Tomax revealed the truth, Clockspring insists, Flint and Firewall would understand that it was a tactical risk to save the team's lives... but as Paoli points out, though they might understand, Chameleon certainly wouldn't.
Some time later, a very, very drunk Clockspring spots Chameleon on the casino floor and runs over to see her, stumbling over his words as always. Despite the unimpressed Chameleon's evident dislike for him, Clockspring ends up blurting out that he wants to protect her and keep her safe... because he loves her. Before the startled Chameleon can react, an angry Firewall comes storming in, ordering the intelligence agent to get back upstairs for a briefing and the shamefaced Clockspring to sober up. Upstairs, Tomax reveals to the team their newest target: Frank "Copperhead" LaMarche, the former leader of Cobra's amphibious Water-Moccasin assault units. Having gone missing after the death of Cobra Commander, LaMarche has since retired in Seattle with a private underwater salvage and rescue business. Though there shouldn't be much resistance, Flint is still wary, unsure how to try and bring in a man who used to work for their enemies, leading to Tomax's suggestion: show him a familiar face, in the form of Chameleon.
While Flint waits in a car outside, Chameleon enters LaMarche's house, and seemingly surprises him as he goes to his fridge — but Chameleon instantly sees that he isn't startled or scared, only buying time. Trying to quietly persuade him to come with her, Chameleon explains that there's no team surrounding the house, just her and her driver... but Copperhead's smirk and the twitch of his hand, holding a kitchen knife, remind her of her experiences with Black-Out and Firefly, and so she shoots him dead on the spot. As she tries to calm down, she realises that somebody is standing behind her: Copperhead's son, tearfully clutching a shotgun. Chameleon believes that she is about to die, but she is saved by Flint, who enters the building and calms the boy down, assuring him that the Joes are the "good guys".
Back at the Gemini, Tomax taunts Chameleon over her shooting of an unarmed man and how she is powerless to do anything against him, forced to rely on him as a source of intel with Copperhead dead and Cobra Commander's son in a coma. After Paoli leaves, Flint tells Chameleon not to listen to him; the intelligence agent is thankful for his presence, and sees Flint as a "good man", willing to put himself in the way of a bullet to save her and able to talk the boy down after what she did. In the heat of the moment, Flint and Chameleon kiss... but as they embrace, a vital signs monitor starts to beep loudly. Billy Kessler-Latta has woken up, and he wants to know where he is!
Characters in italics appear only in flashback. (Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"This unit's been operational for months and we've made almost no progress. Because the owner of our particular casino is an evil genius... and the house always wins."
- —Lady Jaye
"I hope you have something a bit more substantial for us this time, Tomax."
"Ah. Well, I'm sorry that liberating enslaved children wasn't a noble enough goal for you. Next time, I'll see about including some trapped dolphins and a wounded fawn."
- —Flint and Tomax Paoli
"Don't let yourself be haunted by ghosts. You did what you had to do. You're strong and capable and you proved it in there. I would have done the same thing."
"No. You wouldn't have. You're a good man."
- —Flint and Chameleon. In a comic as bleak as this, this counts as romantic.
- Chameleon's therapist helpfully recaps her involvement in all of IDW's Cobra stories: exposing Chuckles in G.I. Joe: Cobra, fleeing the organisation in Cobra II, being cornered by Black-Out during "Cobra Civil War", and facing Firefly and the Oktober Guard in Cobra vol. 2.
- Clockspring's infatuation with the oblivious Chameleon has been a running subplot in Cobra vol. 2 since his debut in issue #13.
- At Clockspring's request, Tomax alerted Cobra to the location of the Joes' field team in issue #21.
- Billy Kessler-Latta was rendered comatose by Blacklight in Cobra vol. 2 #16.
G.I. Joe references
- Flint's taken to wearing his trademark beret (the defining element of his outfit) again, having gone without it during Cobra vol. 2.
- Copperhead is a classic G.I. Joe character, the pilot of the Water Moccasin attack boat; here, though, it seems like the "Water-Moccasins" are instead a unit that he commanded, rather than a vehicle. His real name, "Frank LaMarche", is new to IDW; it's a nod to his two cartoon voice actors, Frank Welker and Maurice LaMarche.
- Chameleon's newly-sparked romance with Flint seems to be a deliberate subverting of expectations — traditionally, Flint's romantic partner has been Lady Jaye, and many assumed that them both being part of the core cast of Cobra vol. 2 was building up to that. Not so!
- While The Cobra Files is pretty much just a continuation of Cobra vol. 2, it was also intended as a jumping-on point for new readers, hence the conspicuous recap at the start of this issue.
- Cover A: Chameleon and the spectre of Cobra, by Michael Lark and Bettie Breitweiser.
- Cover B: Our heroes (and Tomax) in silhouette, by Antonio Fuso.
- Cover RIA: Know Your Vipers, by Tom Whalen.
- Cover RIB: Wrap-around cover of our heroes, by Jamal Igle and Romulo Fajardo, Jr..
- Ottawa Comiccon exclusive cover: Our heroes with appropriate mood lighting, by Antonio Fuso.
- Subscription cover: The Baroness, by Brandon Peterson.