Rob Liefeld shows that he can still draw one hell of an action sequence in Snake Eyes: Deadgame #1, which is non-stop guns, blades, and ninjas with guest appearances from other G.I. Joe characters like Scarlett and Roadblock. I’m not super familiar with the G.I. Joe franchise except for catching the first Channing Tatum movie on cable a while ago. However, that isn’t a problem as Liefeld and scripter Chad Bowers set up all the life vs death, immortal vs mortal, good vs. evil, and best of all, ninja vs ninja context and fixings you need throughout the story. Throw in Adelso Corona’s enhancements to Liefeld’s disciplined linework and bulky, yet restrained figures, and Federico Blee’s spot-on colors, and Snake Eyes is a popcorn action flick in a summer sadly bereft of them because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But back to the comic! People shit on Rob Liefeld’s art style (Especially his anatomy) everywhere from Tumblr to fly-by-night YouTube channels, but they forgot that comics aren’t about photorealism or perfectly rendering the human form: they’re about storytelling. And Liefeld is one hell of a storyteller, especially when it comes to dynamic, boisterous action layouts. (See his collaboration with Mike Mignola on X-Force #8.) This is evident from the first page of Snake Eyes where two immortal beings face each other with Blee using a scarlet background to hint at the mayhem to come. Utilizing a single page, Liefeld and Chad Bowers establish the main thrust of the plot and the MacGuffin before getting to the good stuff: Snake Eyes wordlessly infiltrating a secret base. Liefeld uses a variety of types of shots to show him breaking in before unleashing his inner martial arts filmmaker and using tight close-ups as Snake Eyes takes down the baddies using a full page pin-up shot to let the story breathe and give some the old Wizard reading fans something to smile at.
Rob Liefeld doesn’t use double page spreads until later in the story when Snake Eyes fights against the series’ Big Bad. Everything has been a walk in the park up to this point, and the wide screen layouts coupled with Federico Blee’s red and black and Bowers’ taunting dialogue raise the stakes for Snake Eyes. Also, Snake Eyes whips out his dual pistols for the first time giving his enemy a little taste of the 21st century. The variety of combat techniques keeps the fights interesting as Snake Eyes’ opponent shows a little bit of a horror side to go with the bloody katanas, guns a-fucking-kimbo action of the majority of the comic. He’s connected to Snake Eyes’ past, but not in an annoying way, and mostly his purpose is to show that this badass ninja might need a little help from his bros, er, the Joes moving forward.
In a reversal from a lot of comic book reviews, I feel like I’ve focused a lot on the Snake Eyes’ visuals and want to discuss Chad Bowers’ skill at capturing the voice of a character, who doesn’t have vocal cords. Bowers’ captions never overwhelm Liefeld, Corona, and Blee’s art adding just the right amount of flavor and context to Snake Eyes’ actions. In fact, they remind of a less verbose Chris Claremont in the first Wolverine miniseries that with Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein’s art truly established him as both a force of nature and a noble warrior. Snake Eyes has a mission to fulfill (That might be connected to destiny and all that fun stuff.), and he only commits acts of violence in service of that mission, which is actually a rescue to start out with. The full balaclava and visor get-up that he wears reinforces this efficient, non-sadistic approach as Snake Eyes is a smooth killer and not raging out all over the place. In contrast, Bowers writes quippier dialogue for the other Joe’s more in line with a traditional action movie.
In the final analysis, Snake Eyes: Deadgame #1 is a damn good ninja comic, a showcase for Rob Liefeld’s action storytelling, and in my case, a strong introduction to the G.I. Joe universe. This first issue shows Snake Eyes’ strength as a solo act, and I’m interested to see what Liefeld, Chad Bowers, Adelso Corona, and Federico Blee do with an ensemble cast in subsequent issues.
Story/Art: Rob Liefeld Script/Dialogue: Chad Bowers
Additional Inks: Adelso Corona Colors: Federico Blee
Letters: Andworld Design
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
IDW provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review