BLACKJACK: SECOND BITE OF THE COBRA

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Blackshaw

Blackjack: Second Bite of the Cobra was originally published in 1996 by Dark Angel Productions. It was noted at the time for having a strong African-American character in the story’s protagonist Arron Day. So how does it fare 20 years on in this re-publication brought to us by the wonderful people at Dover Publishing?

Set in the 1930s, Blackjack shows the playboy lifestyle of Arron Day, who is disturbed by the news that his old nemesis, the Cobra, has returned and is wreaking havoc and terror upon Cairo, Egypt. Day returns to the city where he grew up, and it’s in the Egyptian capital where he hooks up with Silas, a friend of his father’s, in order to gain information on the Cobra. Eventually Day is drawn towards the beautiful Maryam, who helps to investigate the Cobra further. However, is the Cobra simply biding his time for the arrival of Arron Day before he strikes?

Blackjack grips the reader with an exciting and nostalgic narrative. The 1930s-set globetrotting adventure conjures up rip-roaring adventurers such as Indiana Jones - all you have to do is swap in Arron Day as the all-American hero who is fighting exotic villains. Meanwhile, staying with the 1930s, the artwork is extremely reminiscent of pulp comics of that era; it brings in the violence and the more terrifying images which made that period’s publications memorable, and Blackjack is certainly paying homage to that.

However, with all of the tributes that it pays and its excitement in parts, the story lacks somewhat because it is predictable; it is sadly exciting because it is familiar. We see the playboy character being summoned due to an emergency (ala a certain Dark Knight) and in Cairo just when you think a trap is set to be sprung on our faithful hero... it does! Consequently, the predictability takes away the element of surprise that comics can have but is sorely missed in this case.

Nevertheless, Dover Publishing is right to recognise Blackjack as a piece of significant writing; these days the comics industry is looking to diversify its range in order to diversify and attract new readers and fans, and Blackjack is a step in the right direction. Whilst the narrative is predictable, it doesn’t stop it being enjoyable.

BLACKJACK: SECOND BITE OF THE COBRA / WRITER: ALEX SIMMONS / ARTIST: JOE BENNETT / PUBLISHER: DOVER CHILDREN’S / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 28TH

 


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