Cobra Commander

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Cobra Commander
G.I. Joe character
Cobra commander.jpg
Hooded Cobra Commander
Art by Tim Seeley.
First appearance 1982
Voiced by Christopher Collins (Sunbow/Marvel & DiC series)
Maurice LaMarche (DiC, Operation Dragonfire)
Scott McNeil (Sgt. Savage and His Screaming Eagles)
Michael Dobson (G.I. Joe Spy Troops & G.I. Joe Venom vs Valor)
Marc Thompson (Sigma Six)
Charlie Adler (Resolute & Renegades)
Affiliation Cobra
Specialty Founder and Leader of Cobra Command
File name CLASSIFIED
Birth place CLASSIFIED
SN CLASSIFIED
Rank Commander
Primary MOS Intelligence
Secondary MOS Ordnance
(Experimental Weaponry)
Subgroups Battle Corps, Star Brigade

Cobra Commander is a fictional character from the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toyline, animated series (including the 1985 and 1989 incarnations, the Sigma 6 and Renegades series), comic books, video games, and movies. He is the supreme leader of the terrorist organization Cobra, and is the principal antagonist and archenemy of the Joes. The character was created by Marvel Comics writer Larry Hama. Hama envisioned the character as "being in love with the sound of his own voice," and drew inspiration from famous conservative pundit William F. Buckley.[1]

Profile[edit]

Cobra Commander is a fanatical leader who rules with an iron fist and demands total loyalty and allegiance. His objective is total control of the world's people, governments, wealth, and resources, brought about by revolution and chaos. He is believed to have personally led uprisings in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other trouble spots, and responsible for kidnapping scientists, businessmen and military leaders, forcing them to reveal their top level secrets. Cobra Commander is considered to be a man without scruples, and given his level of evil and corruption, is probably the most dangerous man alive.[2]

Toys[edit]

Cobra Commander was first released as a mail-in figure in 1982.[3][4] Wearing a light blue uniform and his signature battle helmet, early production runs were marked with an early version of the Cobra sigil, nicknamed the "Mickey Mouse" emblem for its more rounded shape. All of the original sixteen figures from 1982 were released with "straight arms". In 1983, the figure with the proper Cobra sigil was released on a card for mass market with "swivel-arm battle grip", which made it easier for figures to hold their rifles and accessories.[5] In 1984, the Commander was offered again as a mail-away exclusive, this time in a darker blue, with the iconic hood that he wore prominently in the Marvel comics.[6][7] This figure continued to be available as a mail-away figure until the line ended in 1994.

In 1987, a new Cobra Commander figure was designed, this time outfitting him in full-body battle armor.[8][9] Cobra Commander was given another overhaul in 1991, wearing a blue and black ceremonial uniform, with an ornate redesign of his original battle helmet.[10][11] Also in 1991, a "Talking Battle Commander" figure was released, featuring a blue and yellow uniform inspired by the hooded Cobra Commander figure.[12][13] This figure was repainted in black with silver accents, for 1993's Battle Corps subset.[14] A 12" version of the Commander wearing the same uniform (blue with yellow accents) was released in 1993 as well. In 1994, Cobra Commander was suited up for space combat as part of the Star Brigade.[15] Wearing a teal and purple spacesuit, the Commander's domed helmet was removable, revealing a masked head underneath. This face is similar to the sculpt which lay under the hood of the 12" figure, with dark hair, and a half mask covering his nose and mouth.

After the line was canceled in 1994, Hasbro made several attempts to resurrect A Real American Hero through repaint series. In 1997, Cobra Commander was released as part of the "Cobra Command Team" 3-pack, utilizing the 1987 Battle Armor mold in a dark blue. In 2000, the Talking Battle Commander mold was repainted (sans talking backpack) in an even darker blue, with silver highlights, with a new character "Chameleon" (a Baroness doppelganger created to sidestep copyright problems). A second repaint of the 1987 figure was made available in 2001, in a muted version of its original color scheme. It was also a double-pack with the 'Laser-Viper' figure.[16]

A version of Cobra Commander with no accessories came with the Built to Rule Cobra H.I.S.S. in 2004. The figure featured additional articulation with a mid-thigh cut joint, plus the forearms and calves of the figure sported places where blocks could be attached.[17]

Comics[edit]

Marvel Comics[edit]

Cobra Commander first appeared in the Marvel Comics series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 (June 1982).

Much of Cobra Commander's early origins, such as his birth name and childhood, are unrevealed. By all appearances he was born a North American citizen sometime in the mid-twentieth century, his only known relative an older brother named Dan to which he had a strong attachment. Dan enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War and volunteered for repeated tours in order to spare his younger sibling from being drafted (federal policy being that only one sibling per family could serve in combat). During this time, the man who would become Cobra Commander worked as a used car salesman struggling to keep his business afloat. When Dan returned from Vietnam, he displayed deep psychological trauma caused by his war experiences, and took to drinking heavily and engaging in self-destructive behavior, especially reckless driving. This ended tragically when Dan crashed head-on into another car, killing himself and a family of three. Devastated by the loss of his brother, the future Cobra Commander refused to see any responsibility on the part of Dan for the accident (and by extension, any guilt for himself for being the ultimate cause of Dan's condition). He perversely blamed the family in the other car and their only survivor, another war veteran who the family had been traveling to the airport to pick up when they were killed by Dan. Becoming obsessed with this soldier, the young Cobra Commander formed elaborate revenge schemes against him.[volume & issue needed]

Cobra Commander managed to track the former soldier to Japan, where he was training to become a member of the Arashikage ninja clan. The Commander approached the mercenary Firefly for the job, but Firefly realized he was no match for the target and instead referenced Cobra Commander to another assassin, Zartan, who took the job and infiltrated the clan. Zartan retrieved a personal arrow shot by Storm Shadow to serve as the murder weapon and conceal his involvement. Forced to shoot blind, Zartan used a sound amplification scope to target his victim's distinctive heartbeat. However, at that moment the soldier was meeting with Storm Shadow's uncle, the Hard Master, who was demonstrating a secret technique to mimic the soldier's distinctive heartbeat. As both the true target and the Hard Master were obscured from Zartan's vision, the Hard Master was mistakenly stricken and killed by the arrow. Though Storm Shadow saw Zartan fleeing the scene, no one else did. Storm Shadow was blamed for the murder and fled in search of the killer. The soldier eventually left the ninja clan to live in seclusion in the Sierra Nevada mountains, until enticed to return to service on the G.I. Joe team as Snake Eyes.[volume & issue needed]

Cobra Commander attempted to resume his domestic life, returning to his wife and newborn son Billy. However, when his wife found out what had happened in Japan, she threatened to go to the authorities. Denouncing her perceived betrayal, Cobra Commander abandoned his wife and took Billy with him. Living on the road and earning a living by increasingly illicit scams and con jobs, the soon-to-be Commander became egotistical yet paranoid, blaming all his problems on what he perceived as the corrupt American system that always crushed the little guy, and began to harbor great ambitions of wreaking vengeance upon it. He traveled across America with Billy, seeking out people who shared his desire to topple big business and the government, using money earned from pyramid schemes to attract followers. It was during these early meetings that he first began wearing a blue hood to mask his civilian identity.[volume & issue needed]

Springfield[edit]

He then moved his nascent organization to the town of Springfield, where the economy had failed and the population had become disillusioned. Using his criminal skills and charisma to create immediate prosperity he soon had the population's gratitude and loyalty and took absolute control of the town. Building his base of followers into a disciplined organization he established the paramilitary group Cobra, a cartel that promised personal wealth and power to its members in exchange for unquestioning loyalty to its goals and using terrorist tactics to achieve them. For reasons and in ways unknown, Billy left his father about this time and joined the anti-Cobra resistance in Springfield. Storm Shadow's search for his uncle's killer eventually led him to Cobra, which Storm Shadow joined, pledging loyalty to Cobra Commander as his personal bodyguard in order to get close to him and find the real assassin of the Hard Master.[volume & issue needed]

Cobra's agents spread throughout the world, overturning or subverting unstable third-world governments in order to establish criminal networks and a profitable arms trade. The organization also explored dangerous and experimental technology, including such wonder weapons as mind-scanners and battle robots; not coincidentally, this was also the time when Cobra Commander began wearing his distinctive featureless silver hi-tech battle mask (elaborately booby-trapped to prevent unmaskings). Cobra became a significant international threat, prompting the United States to form the elite G.I. Joe team in order to combat it. Recruiting new members from many nations and controlling assets across the world, Cobra became so large that Cobra Commander could no longer control it on his own and created a "High Command" of his most skilled (if not trusted) lieutenants, which included Zartan, Baroness Anastasia DeCobray, the Scottish arms dealer James McCullen Destro, and Australian mercenary Major Sebastian Bludd. This led to frequent power-struggles within the organization, and ultimately the Baroness and Major Bludd enacted a plot to assassinate the Commander, and seize control of Cobra.[18]

Versus Billy[edit]

In a twist of fate, the conspirators unknowingly recruited Billy to carry out the assassination, but he was intercepted by Destro before he could accomplish his task.[19] Cobra Commander had become such a rabid megalomaniac that he had no qualms about torturing his own son to unearth the conspiracy, yet Billy refused to surrender any information identifying who had sponsored the hit. Such tenacity impressed Storm Shadow, so he freed Billy and they both escaped to New York, where Storm Shadow trained him in ninjitsu. Billy was later caught in the crossfire between the Soft Master (Storm Shadow's other uncle) and Cobra agent Scrap-Iron, resulting in an explosion which seemingly killed Billy and several others.[20]

During a failed assault on the Pit, the secret headquarters of G.I. Joe, Cobra Commander and Destro were trapped underground, presumed dead.[21] The two escaped with a tunnel-creating machine. Assuming a civilian disguise in order to travel incognito, Cobra Commander was shown unmasked for the first time in the comic series, though only after he had donned obscuring accessories such as sunglasses and a false mustache. He was depicted as an average, physically fit Caucasian with a pony tail, large round green-spectacle sunglasses, and a long slender mustache. Although this was presented as nothing more than a convenient disguise at the time, this civilian look would resurface on subsequent unmaskings, and in flashbacks to before he wore a Cobra uniform.[22]

Stealing a Corvette from a used-car dealership, Cobra Commander and Destro were stopped by a police officer checking out the dealer plates. The officer recognized the Commander from a picture carried by an accident victim lying in a coma in a local hospital. This turns out to be the Commander's son Billy, who survived the explosion, but lost a leg and an eye. Unnerved by the discovery, the Commander emotionally broke down and swore to take responsibility for Billy's condition, and promised to be a better father.[22] Seeking out the Crimson Guard agent Fred VII, a mechanical genius, the Commander set up shop in Denver, where Billy eventually awoke from the coma, though with acute amnesia. Fitted with a motorized prosthetic leg built by Fred VII, Billy unwittingly stumbled upon the Blind Master (yet another Arashikage ninja) and Jinx (Storm Shadow's cousin), an encounter which restored his memory, especially of the many horrible things his father had done as Cobra Commander. Seeing that Fred VII had constructed a suit of battle-armor for Cobra Commander, who was forgetting his promise and once again entertaining thoughts of conquest, Billy walked out on his father. The incident led Cobra Commander to reflect on how little his ambitions had left him with personally, and finally declare that he was done with Cobra and abandoning the organization he had founded. Fred VII was so angered to see the man he had dedicated his life toward throwing it all away that he shot Cobra Commander in the back, apparently killing him.[23]

Return to power[edit]

Fred VII then donned the armor and began a long charade as the Commander himself, returning to Cobra Island to vie for control of Cobra with Serpentor. The apparent assassination of the original Cobra Commander was not commonly known of, and Fred VII filled the role for several years. However, unknown to Fred VII he had been under surveillance by another Crimson Guardsman when he buried the Commander's body. It was exhumed by this agent, Fred VIII, who discovered that Cobra Commander was not dead yet and brought him to medical aid clandestinely. With Fred VII masquerading as him in Cobra (and conveniently taking up all of G.I. Joe's attention) the Commander began to form an underground network within Cobra from loyal agents and rebuild his personal fortune and influence. When Doctor Mindbender went to harvest DNA from Cobra Commander's body for the genetic creation of a new leader, he instead discovered the empty grave, upon which the original Cobra Commander revealed himself.[volume & issue needed]

Cobra Commander took that opportunity to return to Cobra openly and in force. The last vestiges of his compassion burned away by the double betrayal of Billy and Fred VII, he was even more maniacal and ruthless than before, filled with wrath and unwilling to tolerate any traitors (real or perceived). His first act was to imprison those who had betrayed him (those who tried to murder him or come to know of the act subsequently): Fred VII, Raptor, Firefly, Dr. Mindbender, Zartan, Billy, and numerous Cobra troops, all of whom he had buried alive within a volcano on Cobra Island.[24] He relinquished all traces of morality and humanity, and rebuilt a new command structure by instituting a brainwashing program to compel allegiance from those around him, including repeatedly brainwashing Destro, the Baroness, Zartan, Storm Shadow and Billy.[volume & issue needed] He also became much more willing to kill, rather than relying on others to kill enemies for him, even personally executing two returning characters, the Borovian rebels Magda and the White Clown.[25]

Devil's Due[edit]

Among the few revisions Devil's Due instituted was the expansion of Cobra Commander's origin. After his brother's death, the future Commander sought out the surviving son of the family killed by Dan. He found the soldier, Snake Eyes, at a bar, where the Commander saved him from an oncoming truck and the two became friends. They traveled from state to state, acting as vigilantes. One night, Cobra Commander took Snake Eyes to the house of a corrupt Judge who he blamed for the hardships they had both experienced: years before, the judge had presided over a case involving Cobra Commander's brother Dan, who ran a veteran's hospital. The hospital had been burned down by a patient, but the judge ruled that it was insurance fraud; Dan lost everything and turned to drinking, which led to the crash that took his life and the lives of Snake Eyes' family. Realizing where his anger had taken him, Snake Eyes refused to kill the man and walked away. Cobra Commander killed the judge himself and vowed revenge against Snake Eyes for having turned on him.

UK continuities[edit]

Battle Action Force (IPC)[edit]

In the UK Battle Action Force comic, Cobra Commander was originally known as Baron Ironblood, leader of the Red Shadows, a ruthless terrorist organization. The Red Shadows were legions of brainwashed fanatic soldiers armed with sophisticated, high-tech weapons. The group was declared the single greatest threat to world security by the UN, with Ironblood being labeled "World Enemy #1".[26]

Ironblood betrayed the Shadows, leaking information about their bases and intentions to the UN. While the Shadows were wiped out, Ironblood went into hiding and constructed a new identity for himself, becoming Cobra Commander, creating Cobra in secret.

Action Force (Marvel UK)[edit]

In Action Force Weekly, Cobra Commander is a featured character starting from issue 1. In said issue, he is bald.[27] Destro believes Cobra Commander's excesses are the greatest risk to Cobra's success.

IDW Comics[edit]

In IDW's series, "the Commander" is a title and rank, not an individual, and there have been numerous Commanders in the past: they've been elected and placed in power by a ruling body called the Cobra Council.[28]

The first Cobra Commander seen was a well-known, famous businessman, operating as the Commander in secret.[29] His uniform was a suit and tie, with gloves and variation of the silver face mask. Rather than having an army helmet over the blank face plate mask, the lower portion of the mask around the jaw line has fangs engraved on the mask.

Unlike other incarnations of the character, this version of Cobra Commander - usually just called "the Commander" - is extremely reclusive and his existence is only known to only select high profile Cobra subordinates (such as the Crimson Twins Tomax and Xamot and Baroness). Cobra Commander's personality is also much more passive-aggressive and introspective; having captured the G.I. Joe spy Chuckles, Cobra Commander refused to allow Tomax and Xamot to kill the spy, opting instead to attempt to personally recruit Chuckles by taking him into his confidence and promising him revenge against Xamot.

In issue #12 of "G.I. Joe: Cobra", Xamot attempts to set up Cobra Commander to be killed and Chuckles to be blamed, only to learn the Commander knew about this and has outmanouvred him, giving Chuckles the chance to kill him. Ironically, Chuckles does kill the Commander instead, shooting him through the head. This is the first time a Commander has been killed in action, and a competition erupted in Cobra to find who will be the replacement, directed by the Cobra Council.[28]

The contest turned out to be who could kill the most Joes: Cobra agents Baroness, Dr. Vargas, Major Bludd, Oda Satori, Tomax, Krake, and Raja Khallikhan were all in the running.[30] Baroness, however, doesn't believe the Council would make her the Commander as she's a woman - not that this stops her killing Joes.[31]

In the end, Krake wins the competition, largely by revealing that he had killed and replaced one of his rivals with Zartan, doubling his kill score and showing the initiative to break the rules to win. Krake's origin would be given in Cobra Annual 2012: born in Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle during a battle and named Tiger Eyes, he grew up as a child labourer and later child soldier for drug gangs. He was named Krake by Major Bludd, who was impressed when he told Krake he had a spy in his gang and the man responded by killing every other member; Krake was invited in Cobra, initially resisting but later agreeing and providing the means to take over several Chinese triads.[32]

Writers Chuck Dixon and Mike Costa have said that while the previous Commander allowed his subordinates "pursue their own goals so long as they kick back to him" and was content to "profit invisibly", Krake "wants to be known and wants to be powerful, and wants to rule the world in the most supervillainy sense... With his leadership, Cobra shifts from a sneaky, shadowy cabal to an actual military presence." [33]

The first action Krake took as Commander was to openly invade the Southeast Asian nation of Nanzhao and steal its gold reserves. During the invasion, he destroyed heroin poppy fields so it would initially look to the world like Cobra were overthrowing a brutal regime and fighting the drug trade; it would also drive up the price of heroin, a drug Cobra dealt in.[34] The Cobra Council were slaughtered by Krake's agents, giving him full command of Cobra.[35]

G.I. Joe: Origins involved a psychotic ex-stock broker who murdered his family and several law enforcement officers when his crimes were discovered. Calling himself "the Chimera" and gathering a militia around him, he was one of the first villains G.I. Joe faced. Larry Hama intended him to be Cobra Commander, but this idea was dropped with the introduction of the Cobra Council and has not been seen since Origins #5, and it's not been specified since if he was indeed the Cobra Commander that Chuckles murdered. (Also of note is that he started the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s) [36]

Cartoon[edit]

Sunbow/Marvel[edit]

In the first season of the original 1980s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon, Cobra Commander is the leader of Cobra, described in the show's opening theme as "A ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world". His face is always covered, either by a featureless chrome mask concealing his entire face or by a hood with eyehole cutouts. He wears a blue military uniform, occasionally sporting a cape and carrying a scepter, depending on the occasion. His distinctively shrill, raspy voice was provided by Chris Latta,[37] who also provided the voice for Starscream in The Transformers.

He had a knack for concocting creative schemes for world domination - including cloned dinosaurs, giant amoebas, miniaturized troops stowed away inside Christmas presents, and using a superlaser to gleefully carve a picture of his face on the moon - plans which his immediate subordinates, particularly Destro, often blasted as ridiculous. The writers later commented that they only found Cobra Commander's personality when they stopped writing him as an Adolf Hitler-type and started writing him more in the vein of Yosemite Sam.[citation needed]

Season 2 opened with the 5-episode mini-series Arise, Serpentor, Arise! in which elements of Cobra decide to literally create a new leader to replace Cobra Commander. Under the guidance of Dr. Mindbender, Cobra's scientists combine DNA samples retrieved from the tombs of history's most notorious despots (along with DNA from current G.I. Joe member Sgt. Slaughter) to genetically craft Cobra Commander's successor, Serpentor, who immediately assumes charge of Cobra and deposes the erstwhile Commander to the status of "lackey."

Fortunately for the Commander, G.I. Joe managed to interfere with the gene collection to deny Serpentor the critical inclusion of Sun Tzu's essence and with only a little of Sgt. Slaughter's. The absence of that ancient military strategist's influence evidently makes Serpentor prone to impulsive foolhardiness that shows when he immediately orders a full-scale attack on Washington, D.C. While the operation is initially successful, it soon turns into a complete fiasco at the hands of G.I. Joe's reprisals. Cobra Commander is able to convince Dr. Mindbender to free him from his handcuffs because he knows how to use a weapon and Cobra needs all the help it can get. During the battle, Cobra's vehicles began to run out of fuel, except for one Night Raven, which would take the high command back to Cobra Island. A sudden burst of fire cuts the Joes off from Serpentor. The high command is shocked to learn Cobra Commander saved them. Serpentor orders the high command to the Night Raven while he deals with the Commander. In a rare moment of brilliance, Cobra Commander is able to convince Serpentor that he needs him for a scapegoat.

Thereafter, Cobra Commander seems to be employed as Cobra's primary field commander, while Serpentor leads mostly from the Terrordrome. Serpentor even allowed Cobra Commander to be the organization's second-in-command, a decision tolerated by the rest of the Cobra High Command. Cobra Commander spent most of Season 2 trying to reclaim his former glory from under Serpentor's domineering shadow, assembling his own secret society called The Coil to that end.

G.I. Joe: The Movie[edit]

G.I. Joe: The Movie explained Cobra Commander's origin in full, but it contradicted material seen in the animated series. Cobra Commander is revealed to be a former scientist and nobleman from the ancient, pre-human society of Cobra-La. Although humanoid in appearance, he has pale blue skin, no hair, and eyes with cat-like pupils. The nobleman was disfigured in a laboratory accident while studying a strange plant which sprayed his face with mutative spores, causing him to grow an array of eight additional eyes over his face, thus explaining why he wears a mask. Despite this deformity, his ambition was recognized and he was selected by Cobra-La's ruler, Golobulus, to venture from their isolated Himalayan kingdom into the outside world. He was instructed to establish an army for the razing of human civilization, allowing Cobra-La to retake the planet.[38]

Cobra was this army, but in light of its constant failures, Golobulus decides to put the Commander on trial and punishes him by forcing his further exposure to the spores, whose effect begins to devolve him into a snake. Escaping with Joe member Roadblock, Cobra Commander's "humanity" begins to slip away as his body transforms and the faceplate on his helmet falls off. Soon he is left mindlessly hissing that he was "once-ssss a man...". In the end, seeking vengeance for his deteriorating condition, he tries to lead a Joe offensive into Cobra-La. Roadblock encourages him to retain his humanity: "Which way now, man? You hear me, man?"—but ultimately becomes mentally unresponsive as his continuing metamorphosis fully changes him into an over-sized snake. He briefly slithers to Lt. Falcon's rescue during the final battle and foils Serpentor's attack, allowing Falcon to defeat Serpentor and Golobulus and save the world.[38]

This origin stands in contradiction to background information previously hinted at in the cartoon: in the episode Twenty Questions, the Commander told an interviewing journalist that he was responsible for spearheading a mutiny at his military academy in his youth. In other episodes, aforementioned reactions to off-screen unmaskings or glimpses of the Commander's features are not in keeping with the inhumanly blue-skinned figure portrayed in the movie.[original research?]

DiC series[edit]

After the movie as seen in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Cobra Commander is still seen in his snake form and he is kept as a pet by Serpentor. However, Baroness steals him and restores him partly to a semi-human form—through exposure to an ancient primordial energy called Dragonfire, which is the focal point of the first five episodes of the new series—because she had been rejected by Destro in favor of Zarana, and was seeking revenge. The basic shape of his body is humanoid, his skin and features are reptilian and he retains a taste for flies he catches with his prehensile tongue. However, his intellect is fully restored and upon being outfitted with his battle armor, Cobra Commander once again appears to be a humanoid male. His inhuman origins are never mentioned again, and he is never shown to have reptilian features again.

Chris Latta returned to voice Cobra Commander for the duration of the DIC series, credited in both seasons as Christopher Collins.[39]

Transformers[edit]

Cobra Commander as "Old Snake".

Cobra Commander appeared in the third season of the Transformers episode "Only Human". Set in the then-future year 2006, a trenchcoated underground weapons dealer going by the name "Old Snake" is approached by crime lord Victor Drath, who wishes to purchase synthoid technology (as seen in a few episodes of the G.I. Joe cartoon series). Old Snake transfers the minds of Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Arcee and Springer into synthoid bodies, leaving their robotic shells for Drath's use in criminal activities.

Although it is never explicitly stated that "Old Snake" is actually an aged Cobra Commander, his raspy voice is again provided by Chris Latta, he wears the character's distinctive silver mask, and has visible traces of his blue uniform underneath his trench coat. He is identified in dialogue as the former leader of a terrorist organization that used synthoid technology. At the end of the episode, Drath and his men are arrested, and Old Snake, being able to evade the authorities, laments about terrorists not being what they once were. He raises his fist skyward and starts to give the rally cry of Cobra, but breaks prematurely into a hacking cough.

This version of Cobra Commander was commemorated with the unlicensed "Snake" toy produced by Headrobots, limited to 300 pieces.[40]

Sgt. Savage and the Screaming Eagles[edit]

Cobra Commander appears briefly in the pilot episode of Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles, having a video conference with General Blitz concerning the relationship between Cobra and Blitz's I.R.O.N. Army. He wears the uniform used on his 1992 figure. He was voiced by Scott McNeil in this appearance.

General Blitz threatened to destroy Cobra if they interfered with Blitz's mission (the Commander did not seem intimidated). Blitz referred to ties between the two groups, and stated he had helped create Cobra.

Spy Troops and Valor vs. Venom[edit]

Cobra Commander appeared in the direct-to-video CGI animated movies G.I. Joe: Spy Troops and G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom, voiced by Michael Dobson.

Sigma 6[edit]

In G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, Cobra Commander's profile has been modified, stating that he considers himself a warrior king. This rendition of the character possesses snake-like eyes as well as full battle armor. He wears a helmet that resembles a snake's head and covers his face with a hood. The snake staff he carries contains a number of hidden weapons systems. The Commander was voiced by Marc Thompson.

G.I. Joe: Resolute[edit]

In the miniseries, Cobra Commander is portrayed in a darker incarnation than the one in Sigma 6, revealing the attributes of cowardice and hysterics to have been only a mask for weeding out traitors and such among his organization, as well as to motivate his followers to think for themselves. He executes a plan to achieve world dominion through the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program with a prototype particle beam weapon to hold the world hostage. He is portrayed as utterly ruthless, calmly destroying all of Moscow just to demonstrate the beam's power and killing anyone in his organisation who shows cowardice or threatens his command, such as Sebastian Bludd. Cobra Commander was voiced by Charlie Adler.

G.I. Joe: Renegades[edit]

In the series G.I. Joe: Renegades, Cobra Commander is reinterpreted as a corporate businessman known as Adam DeCobray, CEO of the legitimate Cobra Industries, a Multinational conglomerate which masks his terrorist organization. He is egotistic, but nowhere as arrogant and pompous in his promotional speechmaking as some of his other incarnations. Suffering an disfiguring terminal condition that resorts to him wearing a full breathing mask covered by plastic shielding wrap, Cobra Commander is forced to appear to the public as a normal-looking virtual simulation over video screens with only a few like Baroness knowing of his true appearance. However, only Doctor Mindbender knows the full truth of his condition as Cobra Commander funds the scientist's research in hopes to achieve immortality. Charlie Adler reprises the role of Cobra Commander for this series.

Film[edit]

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra[edit]

Commander (Cobra Commander)
G.I. Joe character
"Cobra commander Retaliation".jpeg
Cobra Commander's appearance in G.I. Joe: Retaliation
First appearance 2009
Portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)
Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Robert Baker (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, voice only)
Affiliation Cobra
Specialty Founder and Leader of Cobra Command
File name Rexford "Rex" Lewis
Birth place America
SN Unknown
Rank Commander
Series G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Cobra Commander appears in the movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt wore a mask and prosthetic makeup underneath. Upon seeing concept art of the role he was being offered, Gordon-Levitt signed on because; "I saw the designs and drawings of the way they interpreted my character for this movie - the costume, the whole getup - and I was like, 'Oh, wow. I get to be that guy? Fantastic. Sign me up. Please. Thank you.'"[41] Gordon-Levitt described his vocal performance as being half reminiscent of Chris Latta's voice for the 1980s cartoon, but also half his own ideas, because he felt rendering it fully would sound ridiculous. The hood was not used in the movie, due to concerns that it would resemble the hood used by the KKK.[42]

For most of the movie, he is referred to as "The Doctor", a scientist working with James McCullen concerning his research on nanomites. It is revealed that he was Rexford "Rex" Lewis, the younger brother of Ana Lewis and once a soldier alongside Duke. Rex was presumed dead, after a building Duke sent him into was hit with a premature air strike called in by Duke. But prior to the explosion, Rex saw McCullen's early experimental research on nanomites conducted by the real Doctor Mindbender, and was in awe of the sight. Surviving the incident, yet scarred both physically and mentally, Rex learns from Mindbender and perfects the nanomites. He uses his own sister as a test subject in creating the Neo-Vipers, as well as having a vendetta against Duke for leaving him to die. When Duke is captured, Rex reveals himself as he attempts to subject Duke to the nanomites and make him a slave like the Neo-Vipers. But the Baroness overcomes her programming and saves Duke, so Rex escapes with a badly burned McCullen. Rex uses specially made nanomites to heal the man's face, but also encases it in a living, silver-like metal. Dubbing him Destro, Rex puts on a mask and tells McCullen to call him Commander. Though under arrest and placed in a high security prison aboard the USS Flagg, Cobra Commander's master plan had only begun, with Zartan disguised as the President of the United States.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation[edit]

Cobra Commander returns in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, played by Australian actor Luke Bracey and voiced by Robert Baker.[43] Director Jon Chu suggested in a March 2012 interview that this Cobra Commander is not the same character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Rise of Cobra,[44] but in May of 2012 confirmed that the Cobra Commander of Retaliation is indeed still Rex Lewis.[45][46] He features an altered appearance from the first film, more similar to his helmeted look from the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon.

For the first part of the movie, Cobra Commander has been transferred from the FLAGG to another high-security prison in Germany alongside Destro, where he is being force-fed a paralyzing drug whilst floating in a water chamber. Soon enough, he is broken out by Storm Shadow, but leaves Destro for dead as his ninja and Firefly destroy the base, leaving Storm Shadow injured. After sending him off to the Himalayas, he retreats to his own base of operations where he rendezvous with Zartan (still disguised as the President). It is he (through Zartan) that ordered the annihilation of several Joes. They develop Project Zeus, a superweapon activated by the real US President's DNA that utilizes kinetic bombardment and targets several prominent cities, demonstrating the magnitude of the weapon's power in front of the world's leaders by demolishing London. However, the Joes are able to stop Cobra Commander before he unleashes the full power of Zeus, but the terrorist leader escapes after the death of Zartan and the betrayal of Storm Shadow.

Video games[edit]

Cobra Commander is one of the featured villains in the 1985 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero computer game.[47]

Cobra Commander appeared as the final boss in the 1991 G.I. Joe video game, in 1992's G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Konami's G.I. Joe arcade game.

In the video game G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, he is the fourth and final boss, who is fought towards the end of the "Cobra Base" act. Joseph Gordon-Levitt reprises his role.

Other works[edit]

Cobra Commander's figure is briefly featured in the fiction novel 6 Sick Hipsters. In the story, the character Paul Achting spent four years collecting G.I. Joe figures to set up a battle scene between the Joes and Cobra. As he imagined the characters in his head, he observed the "core of Cobra Command" atop an oak toy chest, high above the thick shag carpet, and "the hooded Cobra Commander, looking like a blue klansman, was loading his black laser pistol and making small talk with Destro".[48]

The commander's business ventures and identity issues are discussed in the non-fiction book 'Powerplay'.[49]

His works with secret bases is discussed in the paperback 'Saturday Morning Fever'.[50]

His general background is examined in the non-fiction 'The End Of Victory Culture'.[51]

The merits of Destro versus Cobra Commander is discussed by Iraqi soldiers in the autobiography by veteran Matt Gallagher.[52]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Comedian Hal Sparks dressed as Cobra Commander on the VH1 special I Love Toys in a segment called "Cobra Commander's Day Off".
  • In the Family Guy episode "PTV", Cobra Commander makes a cameo as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He orders his subordinates of the FCC to "censor television" following the David Hyde Pierce incident during the Emmy Awards, and he flies out through the ceiling in a Cobra 'Trouble Bubble'. His actions are what then led to the conflict between Peter Griffin (who is against the censorship of television) and the FCC.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Root, Tom (May 1998), "ToyFare Q&A: Larry Hama", ToyFare 1 (9): 38–43 
  2. ^ Hama, Larry (1987). Howard Mackie, ed. G.I. Joe Order Of Battle. Marvel Entertainment Group. p. 47. ISBN 0-87135-288-5. 
  3. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  4. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 95. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  5. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  6. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  7. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 100. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  8. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  9. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 112. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  10. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  11. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 133. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  12. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  13. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 140. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  14. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  15. ^ Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  16. ^ "Cobra Commander/Laser-Viper two-pack". Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  17. ^ Cobra H.I.S.S. w/ Cobra Commander at YOJOE.com Retrieved 2012-04-25
  18. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #31-32 (Jan.-Feb. 1985)
  19. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #33 (March 1985)
  20. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #43 (January 1986)
  21. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #53 (November 1986)
  22. ^ a b G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #55 (Jan. 1987)
  23. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #61 (Jul. 1987)
  24. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #100
  25. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #145
  26. ^ "The File on the Baron". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  27. ^ "Action Force" #1 (March 1987)
  28. ^ a b "G.I. Joe enters the Cobra Civil War". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  29. ^ G.I. Joe: Cobra Civil War #1
  30. ^ G.I. Joe: Cobra Civil War #0
  31. ^ Cobra: Civil War #1
  32. ^ Cobra Annual 2012: The Origin of Cobra Commander
  33. ^ "Dixon and Costa Reveal G.I. Joe's New Cobra Commander". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  34. ^ G.I. Joe (vol.2) #9: "Cobra Command Part 1"
  35. ^ Cobra (Vol.2) #10: "Cobra Command Part 6"
  36. ^ G.I. Joe: Origins #1-5
  37. ^ "Roll Call". G.I. Joe Roll Call. Joe Headquarters. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  38. ^ a b G.I. Joe: The Movie (Motion picture). De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. April 20, 1987. 
  39. ^ "The Voices of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1989, Animated Series) - Voice Cast Listing at Voice Chasers". Voicechasers.com. 1989-09-02. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  40. ^ "Headrobots Snake Exclusive Recolor - Transformers News". TFW2005. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  41. ^ Derrik J. Lang (2009-04-17). "Gordon-Levitt Plays Cobra in 'G.I. Joe' Film". Military.com. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  42. ^ "Toy Spoiler Possibly Reveals G.I. Joes Cobra Commander". Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  43. ^ Manning, Michelle (2012-07-28). "Robert Baker Interview on G.I. Joe and Lone Ranger (Video)". Popsugar.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  44. ^ The Huffington Post (2012-02-13). "Jon Chu On Why 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' Will Be Nothing Like 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra'". Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  45. ^ HissTank.com (2012-05-01). "John Chu Clears Up Speculation- Cobra Commander In Retaliation IS Rex Lewis". Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  46. ^ Manning, Michelle (2012-07-28). "Robert Baker Interview on G.I. Joe and Lone Ranger (Video)". Popsugar.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  47. ^ Roberts, Matt. "G.I. Joe for Personal Computers". YoJoe.com. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  48. ^ Casablanca, Rayo (2008). 6 Sick Hipsters. Kensington Publishing Corp. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-7582-2283-1. 
  49. ^ Fleming, Dan (1996). Powerplay: toys as popular culture. Manchester University Press ND. p. 108. ISBN 0-7190-4717-X. 
  50. ^ Burke, Kevin (1998). Saturday Morning Fever:Growing up with Cartoon Culture. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-312-16996-1. 
  51. ^ Englehardt, Tom (2007). The End of Victory Culture: cold war America and the disillusioning of a generation. Univ of Massachusetts Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-55849-586-9. 
  52. ^ Gallagher, Matt (2010). Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. De Capo Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-306-81880-6. 

External links[edit]