Black Cobra: Retribution #0 Review
Black Cobra: Retribution #0 Review
Story: Bill Rauup
Art: Luis Rivera
Letters: Alex Scherkenbach
Colors: Federico Sioc
Editor: Karen Brandreth
Additional Art: Bonkz Art
Publisher: Grok Comics
If you’re a fan of the Black Panther, Static Shock, and Bronze Tiger, then behold Grok Comics’ newest hero, Shamir Moore, aka Black Cobra. His origin story is reminiscent of Peter Parker’s spider-bite encounter, but instead of a spider, Shamir was bitten by a deadly cobra. The venom altered him forever, and now instead of saving souls through the word of God, he saves their lives alongside a pantheon of other Grok Comics heroes.
If Green Lantern’s light also had a venomous effect, that’s how I would describe Shamir’s power set. But he’s a very athletic individual, so when he’s unable to use his venomous constructs, he relies on his hand-to-hand combat to incapacitate his foes.
If you’d like to know more about Black Cobra or check out more of Grok Comics, click here.
Fast forward, and Shamir is seen with Dr. Sonya Riverdale, another enhanced individual and resident psychologist. After some time delay, Shamir has PTSD after an intense encounter with the same being he sparred against during his holo training at the beginning of the book.
The book ends with a montage series of images showing our hero becoming the best version of the Black Cobra he can be with the help of prayer, training, and dieting, foreshadowing some inspiring quotes from Corinthians.
I’m not a fan of breaking up the story in such a way that it leaves much to be desired, but Bill Raupp has written over several dozen books, so what I want or would do differently is beyond relevant because he’s successful the way he does it. Leaving some ominous events out of any story begs others to crave the finish line.
In comics, sometimes you have to structure it that way to keep it interesting, save money, and keep the readers coming back. It’s a great first appearance from the new lad sporting the cobra logo, but what will his future be like in the coming years? I can’t say for certain, and I doubt that Bill would let me in on the secret just yet, but I hope to see more of Black Cobra in the future.
I would consider following The Remnant series to learn more about Black Cobra and stay up-to-date on the Grok! Comic Universe as a whole. Most of the characters in the compendium of supers from Grok seem to revolve around The Remnant series.
Black Cobra’s Most Meaningful Moment
Some people initially get confused when learning storytelling because they don’t understand that moving the story forward doesn’t mean Bruce Willis has to press the detonator to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth. You don’t have to climb atop a pile of metal rubble to use your adamantium-infused skeletal claws to stabilize the woman you love, who’s the vessel of a cosmic destructive force.
You don’t have to fight a Mortal Kombat list of ex-girlfriends & boyfriends to win the affection of your current love interest. Those are over-dramatic interpretations of character choice that usually fall into critical beat moments or events that pivot the story.
Whenever I read a story or watch something, I always think about the meaningful moments because they’re often overlooked and not often talked about. These are often referred to as emotional beats. Maybe Bill is aware of them, and maybe he isn’t. However, he struck out in this touching moment between Shamir and Dr. Sonya.
The moment in the series of panels in the above image shows our hero wrestling with his mental affliction, and at that moment, he has an epiphany that leads to a montage-heavy ending highlighting his road to recovery. You really need Remnants to understand Shamir’s aftermath because it aligns with horror stories from Vietnam for those lucky soldiers who survived or escaped POW camps. It was a very inspiring moment, and the words that unlocked his door to understanding were simple.
This moment is most meaningful because the strongest thing a person can do above all else when changing, transforming, or recovering is simply say yes. Give yourself permission to love again. Give yourself permission to fight again. Give yourself grace when you fail, and give yourself forgiveness when you come up short. Life is too short for some people to stumble into the pitfalls of depression, but it happens.
Most importantly, ask for help. Even if you don’t know what that means or looks like. It can be scary to reach out, but we must embrace the unknown because it is where our future resides. If we want to reach that future, we climb the stairs of adversity with faith that every step is one moment closer to our best version.
Shamir showed courage in saying yes and realizing his change. I’m not a big fan of montage exposition, but if there was no story to tell and only Shamir recovering, then I believe it would be less enthralling to visit that journey of 1990’s version of Tony Stark visiting alcoholics anonymous.
It was a touching moment that deserved the spotlight.
Black Cobra Do’s and Don’ts!
Do not be the villain the Remnants are gunning to bring to justice. It doesn’t look like you’d get very far if the training simulation is anything to take seriously. Do take a selfie when you can because that suit is on fire. I wouldn’t be able to fit in it, but the design is really original. I feel like the closest thing that I attribute the symbol of a cobra to in fiction would be the use of the cobra logo in GI Joe, but that symbol is far from the simplistic black color logo from the 80s. Don’t tell Shamir I said that.
Do tell him about this awesome blog I wrote on his behalf. I’ve got some action figures in my collection I’d love to photograph in comparison to Black Cobra; that would make for some great face-off posts. Don’t bring a copy of Liam Neeson’s Taken to Remnant’s movie night at Taskforce HQ; it might trigger an episode that leaves you accidentally temporarily paralyzed.
I didn’t talk about the villain a bunch in the initial breakdown, but this is Nephalim IV, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, these comics are very much in the vein of Christian religious and historical themes. Nephalim is referred to, in the bible, as fallen angels. In other spectrums of recorded history, they were fallen angels, but they were giants, much like the ones in the story of David and Goliath. I suggest you pick up the Remnants books because it gives us that chunk of the story we’re missing in this book, and it gets pretty heated and very hopeless for a while.
I chose these action panels because they showcase the angry side of Black Cobra’s character,
which you don’t see in the other stories. I won’t go into why he’s angry because that’s where you’ll have to become a fan of Grok! Comics to learn more, but our third panel will illustrate why in a quick flashback that’ll give you an idea.
Look how far he sinks those wrist blades into the skull of Nephilim… geez! He’s almost as furious and relentless as Logan on a good day. Notice the venom-tricity arcing from the blades. I really want some clarity on that specific ability. If you’re as old as me, you might recall a movie called Mighty Joe Young. Towards the end, the bad guy gets knocked out by the same rare spider venom as the good guy at the beginning because the venom causes a visceral knockout effect. Remember the fruit in The Rundown? I watch way too many movies, lol.
Well, Bill, does the venom-tricity knock out its victims? Does it cause a burn or an electric effect similar to Miles Morales’s electro-webs? I want to know more D$%#!! It’s just an extraordinary ability. If Static Shock crossed capabilities with Iron Fist, THAT is what I attribute the skill set towards. Either way, you must admire how the artist Luis Rivera captures that back-to-front facing flip.
I miss those effects from older Batman and Flash comics. I know modern-day editors abandon those effects to save on space and be more cinematic, but there is just a nostalgia to the technique of allowing those movements to prosper in real time that makes a reader focus on the page. Getting stabbed in the head looks like it hurts a lot, especially with venom-tricity laced onto the blade. It adds a whole new level to that phrase intellectuals ask, “Can I pick your brain?”
FREEZE, Cobra, this is not a simulation!
I’m not sure about that title for this panel choice, but I was thinking of The Mask when Lt. Kelleway told Mask (Jim Carey) to freeze after he distracted the entire New York Police, forcing them to do the mambo. Idk know why, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one; maybe someone is giggling right now, and that seems worth it to me. This last panel choice is a significant reason to pick up the Remnants books. Yes, it’s a flashback.
Does anyone else but me think those shades are awesome? They probably wouldn’t vibe well with all this Italian facial hair, but those are cool. Notice Black Cobra freezing in fear; that captures the tone. It’s really talented to say so much in one panel.
Do you really need me to tell you why Shamir might need therapy? I love the definition of Shamir’s face, and I feel his facial features are consistent in this panel. Shamir looks somewhat aged compared to his younger appearance at the beginning and end of the book. In other larger snapshots, he also appears very youthful. The shading is well done, and the hair is very closely accurate.
I hear all the time from artists and even black artists that black hair is one of the hardest things to draw because it has so much character and style that most hairstyles are tedious to render, given the detail that goes into it. Nephalim IV is giving our beloved Black Cobra the Juda sweet accommodations and enjoying every second of it.
This scene is the scene that will make you hate this bad guy for sure, and when you’re writing stories like this one, you have to sell your bad guy. If you fail to sell your villain, your hero will look weaker or boring because the villain’s attributes don’t compare to or exceed that of the heroes.
This is one of the most difficult tasks for writers in the superhero/heroine genre. Black Cobra returns later this year so stay up to date with Grok Comics. Stay geeky, share the network, and don’t forget to catch the latest on Fueled By Weird.
Michael J. Florio
A true storyteller who sharpened his wit proudly at Full Sail University, holding a bachelor’s & master’s in creative writing for entertainment. After Michael became a Comics Experience alumni, he created his first independent creator-owned titles, Wild Oni & Iron Jaguar.
A member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Writers Guild, where he lives & works tirelessly on his future published works. Michael is a father of four, three boys & one girl, whom he loves very much.