Or – “When Did Kobra Turn Into A Hot Chick???”
Waaaay back in the 1970’s, DC was experimenting with odd bits of comic production, including a series for The Joker, the Secret Society of Super-Villains series, and launching Kobra, the story of two brothers (Jeffrey and Jason Burr) who shared a psionic link, one of whom happened to be a master criminal with a thing for snakeskin.Â Though Jason was murdered by Jeffrey, and Jeffrey then murdered by Black Adam, Kobra The Organization soldiers on, with their latest activities putting them on a collision course with the original super-team.Â Five bucks on the bunch with Power Girl and Flash…
Previously, JSA Vs. Kobra:Â Founded by Jason Burr on a vaguely Hindu mythology, theÂ cult of Kobra has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, terrorizing the Flash, Batman, the JSA, and more.Â Â During the run of the late, lamented Checkmate series, Black Queen Sascha Bordeaux and White King Mr. Terrific took great pains to finally get a mole inside the organization, using magic, sleight-of-hand and some downright evil methods to cover the intentions of their sleeper agent.Â Once in, though, Pawn 501 ceased communications.Â Checkmate moved on to other threats, and during the events known as Final Crisis, Sasha Bordeaux’s life was gravely endagered, thanks to the OMAC virus and the whole universe-shattering blah dee blah, and Mr. Terrific watched as his beloved’s life ebbed away, seemingly to die…Â Of course, as the multiple post-FC miniseries have shown, rumors of the Crisis’ finality were somewhat exaggerated.
We open in an underground bunker, as Mr. Terrific helplessly watches the Black Queen’s life seemingly ending, pounding his fists in frustration.Â Doctor Mid-Nite tells him that Sasha is still alive (thanks to her biomechanical implants) but that hee needs to step out and refresh his perspective.Â Out on the street, Mr. Terrific is approached by a man who wants to talk to him about God, and reveals a bomb strapped to his waist.Â Terrific tries to save him, but the man detonates himself, crying “Faith to Kali Yuga!”Â Mr. Terrific is caught in the blast zone, and ready to be pulped into pudding when a familiar crimson blur catches him.Â “Good old Jay,” thinks Mr. T, “always there when you need him.”Â The entire JSA quickly joins their hubcap headed and faceless-masked members, and Green Lantern and Power Girl deal with fallout from the bomb.Â The Justice Society calls an emergency meetingand chairperson Power Girl calls for motions.Â Terrific says that Kobra is obviously behind the attempt, and that Checkmate has it under control.Â “What message does it send to every other mask, meta or hired gun out there if we let them hit us where we live?” asks Power Girl.Â “The Society will handle it.”Â
Hawkman identified bomb fragments as derivative of Thanagarian Nth metal (the alloy that allows him to fly) and the JSA sets out for answers.Â A street-sweeping team consisting of Hawkman, Wildcat, Mr. Terrific, Doctor Mid-Nite and Damage (a nice grouping for this sort of activity, actually, with street-smarts, wisdom, tactical, and ass-kicking the watchwords) rattles cages to find a Kobra sect.Â Checkmate arrives to interrogate the smugglers about their Kobra connections, but nobody talks until Mr. Terrific whispers something in his ear.Â The cultist spills the beans, and Mr. T reveals that he’s part of a Checkmate initiative called Mirage-9, where they capture minor henchmen, implant hypnotic suggestions, and let them go.Â With a word, they can be compelled to spill all that they know.Â Another Kobra sect takes over a church, each one armed with another bomb, but the Justice Society’s full power (the magic of Thunderbolt and Green Lantern, the energy powers of Stargirl and Damage, the speed of the Flash, the fists of Mr. T, Wildcat, Power Girl, and the rest) puts that threat to rest with a quickness.Â As the cultists are taken into custody, their mysterious leader smiles, and an unidentified man watches the whole thing with bemusement.Â “The sacrifice of pawns, in order to expose the weakness of kings…Â A good start to the game.”
Writer Eric Trautmann knows his game here, having been co-writer on the Checkmate series that set these dominoes in place a couple of years ago, and he crafts a taut story around Mr. Terrific and his double life as superhero and superspy.Â The balance cannot and should not be easy for him, as the tenets of both jobs are in conflict.Â The art is VERY well handled by Don Kramer, and the whole affair feels like the continuation that Checkmate SHOULD have had instead of the Mary Sue-ish inanity of the Chimera storyline.Â Honestly, I suspect that’s what this series actually is, and, even worse, that the book might have survived had they let it play out there.Â Still, the issue is a good one, with a nice show of character from Mr. Terrific, some righteous indignation from Power Girl, and a brilliant piece of strategy in the Mirage-9 program.Â JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith #1 earns a really well-done 4 out of 5 stars, even if I’m not sure where or when it all takes place…