This summer saw the release of the Snake Eyes movie, which served as both as a spinoff and a reboot for a G.I. Joe film franchise that always seems to be hanging on by a thread. With an uncertain future towards the movies, at least IDW is doing some interesting things, whether it’s the terrific limited series G.I. Joe: World on Fire or getting one of the most controversial artists in comics today doing a story about the franchise’s most popular ninja.
Given he is no stranger to co-creating ninja-like characters equipped with swords and so many pouches, artist Rob Liefeld said that Snake Eyes was a “bucket list” series for him to draw. In the five-issue miniseries Deadgame, he’s been given the opportunity.
What starts out as a typical Joe mission to save the original G.I. Joe, General Colton, from the clutches of Cobra, Snake Eyes must confront his secret past when the Arashikage clan revives Kirigun, an ancient ninja wizard who was presumed dead during more than a thousand years ago.
Having conceived the story alongside co-writer Chad Bowers, much of the visual storytelling relies on Liefeld’s art, which has consistently been divisive over the years, largely coming down to how he draws human anatomy. To his credit, Liefeld has certainly improved in how he draws figures, which is a benefit when it comes to drawing action as you have Snake Eyes fighting various types of enemies, not just other ninjas. That said, there are places where the art can be inconsistent, where some characters don’t look right, while the numerous inkers involved can make the book look rough around the edges.
Because so much of the book relies on the action, there isn’t much in the way of characterization. Despite a few interactions with fellow Joes and baddies from Cobra, Bowers’ script is more about using inner monologues for a number of characters, who offer their own take on the eponymous hero. The problem is that we still don’t know all that much about Snake Eyes, who has always maintained an air of mystery, and thus the book rarely expands on him.
Unfortunately, Snake Eyes: Deadgame doesn’t quite know if it wants to be a “Joe versus Cobra” story or its own thing, and is all over the place. Along with the main villain Kirigun, who just looks like another bland Liefeld creation, there is a dose of Norse mythology that ties in with Kirigun’s origins, but this leaning towards fantasy can feel out of place.
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