While most of the concepts spinning under DC's "Faces of Evil" non-event event seem half-baked, this issue is well worth the price of admission. A worthy inheritor of the espionage legacy carved out by Greg Rucka's "Checkmate," this book follows the resurrection of Kobra. Except this isn't the Kobra you know. Well, unless it is the Kobra you know. You know?
Ivan Brandon's story gives us a first person narrative as the cult of Kobra welcome their alleged leader back to the land of the living. Within the span of this single issue, we are treated to three stages of Kobra's development: "Birth," "Acceptance," and "Execution," each one a chapter within these twenty-two pages. The story told within is not for the squeamish, nor the easily impressionable. Brandon slithers inside the head of Kobra and shows us how a cult should be properly run within the DCU. He does so quite believably, as we see that Kobra vexes even the Man of Steel with his schemes.
As to what those schemes are, well, Kobra wants to make it clear to all that there is only one god and that "Faith to the Kali Yuga" must be given priority. Blasphemers will not be tolerated. The deeds performed by Kobra and his henchmen are vile and despicable, to the point where some must occur off camera or masked by other visual effects. What's more, Brandon sells Superman's seething anger that is directed towards this serpent of sin. It's not often that the Man of Tomorrow gets pissed off, but it sure happens here.
The visuals provided by Julián López are a perfect match for this tale. Gritty and realistic, with direct camera play, it is not difficult to imagine this story is but a collection of storyboards for "Kobra: the Series" set to air on one of the networks soon. Lopez carries pieces of Steve Lieber, Neal Adams, and José Luis García-Lopéz in his renderings. There are, however, instances where Farmers inks carry some panels into a virtual resemblance of Alan Davis, obviously through the close association those two have shared. One disappointment, and truly it is rather a tiny nit to pick, is the lack of cobras present in the legion of serpents that slither through this issue's visuals. That is something I am willing to get over rather quickly, as I found this story chilling and compelling regardless of species represented.
The colors are earthy and real, except when they become handsomely garish in the costumes of Superman and his Justice League compatriots. Arcas was a smart addition to this crew and Rachel Gluckstern should be commended for corralling this collection of talent into this story.
While I have been both openly critical of this "Faces of Evil" marketing ploy and downright disappointed by a number of DC's efforts of late, I am equally impressed with this offering, so much so that tomorrow I'll be stopping by the comic shop to try and dig up those old 1970s "Kobra" issues blatantly referenced in this issue. While "Solomon Grundy" was an unabashed advertisement for the pending mini series, this issue has me hoping for a "Kobra" mini series.