Faces of Evil: Kobra

Written by Ivan Brandon
Penciled by Julian Lopez
Inked by Mark Farmer
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

As part of DC Comics’s "Faces of Evil" promotion—where the titles of the company have cover portraits and a special focus on the villains—a handful of one-shots also shipped, each focusing on a different villain. But out of all of the books, I have to admit that one of them really mystified me. In the case of Faces of Evil: Kobra, I found myself really wondering just what the purpose of this comic was.

The international terrorist organization known as Kobra recently lost its leader, Lord Kobra, the self-proclaimed spirit of Kali Yuga. Now they’ve resurrected Kobra’s dead twin, Jason Burr, who had died trying to stop Kobra. And in Jason, it seems that Lord Kobra is about to live again.

Here’s the thing that I must admit I really don’t get about Faces of Evil: Kobra. The idea seems to be to put a new Kobra into play, one that is dangerous and ready to strike at any given moment. But when it’s all said and done, did there really need to be a new Kobra? Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that Ivan Brandon didn’t simply bring the old Kobra back to life and call it a day. But to instead bring back his long-forgotten dead brother who originated back in the 1970s? I’m not entirely sure that’s much more interesting, and all it really means is that one dead Kobra was swapped for another dead Kobra. And I have to admit, as someone who actually read the story a few years ago where Kobra was killed off (JSA #51, as it turns out), I didn’t remember the character was dead. Why go through such a convoluted revival when the original could have sufficed?

I think the reason why this sticks out like such a sore thumb is that Brandon has Jason Burr shift from, "I don’t believe in any of this, leave me alone" to "I am Kobra" in literally two panels. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it, any logic behind the sudden shift from innocent to homicidal maniac. (And as Batman explains later in the book, Jason died trying to kill Kobra, which makes Jason’s sudden change of heart all the odder.) The hoops that Brandon has his main character jump through in order to have him as the head of Kobra just feels a little, well, unbelievable.

On the bright side, once we finally get to the end of the comic, the new Kobra is certainly creepy. Brandon does a good job with bringing the madness and terror across, even if the ending is more than a little predictable. David Lopez and Mark Farmer’s art is also nice, drawing a very classic, handsome Superman when it comes to the heroes. When it comes to the villains the new Kobra is definitely unsettling as he walks around with his logo painted in blood on his chest. Even the reaction shots of the innocents caught up in Kobra’s schemes are well done; I think the expressions on people’s faces sells the story more than anything else.

When it’s all said and done, Faces of Evil: Kobra seems like an extraordinary amount of work for something that could have just as easily been done in a page or so with the old Kobra. I really don’t feel like the new Kobra needed such a large introduction; if Brandon and Lopez are going to be working on an actual Kobra mini-series or series, I’d rather they just jumped into the thick of things and didn’t even bother with this. It feels like too much introduction, not enough forward movement, and that’s too bad because I think Brandon and Lopez certainly show a lot of talent once they’re able to finish all that unnecessary set-up. But for now, this just stands out as something that should have been a lot better from the very first page.

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