By: Chuck Dixon (writer), Paul Gulacy (art), Aburtov & Grafikslava and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. (colors) and Neil Uyetake (letters)

The Story: Crush Depth concludes….will anyone get to take the sunken Cobra money?

Review: This is not good.  As I was reading this comic, I tried to think of reasons could be so poor.  But, rather than dive into excuse-making for creators, let’s talk about why this issue (and series so far) have been a total waste.

The story is highly-problematic.  Whereas the main GI Joe title and Cobra Files are doing some very subtle, intricate storytelling that appears to be heading somewhere, this “Crush Depth” story has gone nowhere–literally.  In issue one, we learned about how Baroness had a plan to reclaim some money that was on a sunken Cobra ship.  Scarlet and her special team of Joes set off to interdict her and “tag” the money so they could monitor Cobra’s activites.  We’ve had some danger and fighting along the way, but the end result is that the money was sunk back to the bottom of the ocean.

So it was just a failed operation for all involved: Baroness didn’t get the money, Scarlet didn’t get to tag the money and even Serpentor’s troops screwed up their mission against Baroness.  So, nobody has the money.  It is right back where it was.  Nobody died.  Baroness is still somewhat outside the power structure of Cobra.  Is that worth buying four issues at $3.99?  I think I had more involved GI Joe stories where I was a kid and played with my Joe figures in the backyard.

The art is also lousy and I think blame is shared between Paul Gulacy and the colorists.  The main thing problem that the issue suffers from is pretty basic: depth, perspective and lighting.  If I had to speculate, I’d bet that Gulacy is turning in some pretty rough pencils and the colorists are just turning up the contrast on the pencils and then coloring from there.  There are a few panels that look like some proper inking took place, but they are the exception.  The problem with this technique is that most of the depth and lighting effects are coming solely from the colorist whereas the penciler is suggesting perspective.  Unless the colorists are really scrupulous with their process, you’re going to end up with a lot of artistic non sequiturs where the linework suggests one thing and the shading suggests something else.  You can really see this in just about every image of the Baroness because she wears shiny, black leather that gets highlighted to show lighting and also body contours.  It looks really screwed up, and that is a major problem when Baroness is one of your main characters.  In fact, I’d contend that there really isn’t much point to Baroness’ character if the artist can’t make her look better.  She’s a femme fatale and “ugly femme fatale” is an oxymoron.

There are a lot of other problems with the art too.  The basic storytelling is screwed up in a few places and the action never communicates anything more sophisticated than, “They are fighting.”  There’s a real lack of facial expressions too.

Somebody at IDW really needs to look themselves in the mirror and come up with a reason why this title exists.  If THIS is the best you can do for an opening story arc, the comic probably doesn’t need to exist (unless you have some sort of contractual commitment to Chuck Dixon or something).

Conclusion: Avoid like the plague.  This storyline didn’t advance anything and the art was poop.

Grade: D-

– Dean Stell