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Logo of Cobra
Devil's Due Publishing
|First appearance||G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero|
|Created by||Larry Hama|
|Type of organization||Terrorist military group|
|Leader(s)||Commander: Cobra Commander
Weapons Supplier: Destro
Director of Intelligence: Baroness
Chief of Science: Doctor Mindbender
|Agent(s)||Crimson Guard Co-leaders: Tomax
Crimson Guard Co-leaders: Xamot
Ninja Bodyguard: Storm Shadow
Primary Field Commander: Major Bludd
Anti-Armor Specialist: Scrap-Iron
Dreadnoks Leader: Zartan
Dreadnoks 2nd in command: Zarana
Dreadnoks 3rd in command: Zandar
COBRA Command, commonly referred to as Cobra, is the fictional nemesis of the G.I. Joe team in the Hasbro action figure toylines G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, as well as their related media.
Cobra was introduced when G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line was launched in 1982. The toyline was accompanied by a Marvel Comic series written by Larry Hama, and an animated television series by Sunbow and Marvel Productions. Each medium to feature G.I. Joe has had its own continuity and, as such, the origin and portrayal of Cobra has differed in each of them.
Marvel Comics invented Cobra, with the concept and name coming from Archie Goodwin: when they were brought in, Hasbro hadn't thought of doing a villain for the toyline, and were reluctant to make villain toys as they believed villains didn't sell. As Jim Shooter put it, "later, by the way, villains became 40% of their volume."
Though the members of the Cobra organization are all fighting against G.I. Joe, there are many internal power struggles.
- Cobra Commander - The leader and founder of Cobra. His face is almost always obscured either by a hood with only his eyes visible or by a featureless, high tech battle helmet with various security features integrated into it. In the Sunbow cartoon, this concealment was to hide inhuman disfigurement, as well as the later retcon that he was an advance agent from a race of reptilian serpent people known as Cobra-La. In the comic it is merely to maintain the secret of his civilian identity. He is regarded as the most dangerous man on Earth, because he can draw followers to him. Only Baroness and Destro have seen his face.
- Serpentor - The Cobra Emperor, created through a breakthrough in cloning research by Doctor Mindbender from the DNA extracted from the remains of the most ruthless and effective military leaders in history, including Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Attila the Hun, Vlad Tepes (cartoon only), Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Genghis Khan as well as Sgt. Slaughter (in the comics, Storm Shadow is the tenth and only live source of DNA instead of Sgt. Slaughter). In addition to his genetic disposition to greatness, an early experiment also gave him access to the brain patterns of G.I. Joe HALO jumper Ripcord, allowing him to use their strategies against them. He was seemingly killed by Zartan only to be revived later by a splinter group known as "The Coil" and later killed by Cobra Commander.
- Destro or James McCullen Destro XXIV - A Scotsman who always wears a metal mask (in the cartoon the mouth of his mask moves, explained by a form of nanotech/liquid metal in later comics). He has often tried to take over leadership of Cobra. Destro is an arms dealer and his number one client is Cobra. He is the hereditary leader of M.A.R.S. (Military Armaments Research Syndicate) and uses his personal army the "Iron Grenadiers" to start conflicts in order to sell weapons to all of the combatants' parties. Destro has a warped sense of honor and a grudging respect for his G.I. Joe foes.
- The Baroness or Baroness Anastasia DeCobray - The daughter of European aristocrats, who in most continuities turned to terrorism after the murder of her brother, a relief aid worker that had been taken hostage and died when a group of Army Rangers attempted to rescue him. In the original Marvel comics she blamed Snake Eyes for his death. She serves as Cobra's Director of Intelligence and is romantically involved with Destro.
- Doctor Mindbender - A mad scientist and former dentist. He has several mind-control devices. He is also quite accomplished with genetic manipulation. He is responsible for the creation of Serpentor, the Cobra B.A.T. as well as responsible for perfecting the Brainwave Scanner. Though he is quite muscular, Mindbender is somewhat cowardly, preferring to avoid physical confrontations.
- Tomax and Xamot - Twin brothers that lead the Crimson Guard and are the respectable corporate face of Cobra. When not engaged in dangerous field missions, Tomax and Xamot are in suit and tie managing Cobra's business affairs. The brothers share an empathic connection. While this is often useful, as it allows them to communicate wordlessly and finish each other's sentences, it is also a liability, as they feel each other's pain during fights. Tomax and Xamot are mirror images of each other, except Xamot has a scar on the right side (cartoon) of his face (left side in the 1985 action figure). The twins run a corporation called Extensive Enterprises and are known more for their skills in the boardroom than on the battlefield.
- Storm Shadow or Thomas "Tommy" Arashikage - A ninja trained in martial arts who serves as both an assassin and bodyguard for Cobra. His origin varies depending on the source material: in the various cartoons, he is a cold-blooded villain and unrepentant killer while in the Marvel comic (which reveals that he served in the US Military in Vietnam with Snake-Eyes and Stalker), he only joined Cobra in order to gather evidence to clear his name after he was framed for murder by Cobra. Storm Shadow ultimately left Cobra and became a member of G.I. Joe, leading to Cobra Commander capturing him and brainwashing him to once again serve Cobra, before he ultimately breaks free and rejoins G.I. Joe. In the Sunbow/Marvel cartoon, instead of Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow was reassigned Spirit and later Quick Kick as his rival.
- Zartan - The leader of the Dreadnoks as well as a master spy and assassin. He is a master of disguise able to be anyone anytime he wishes, often literally morphing into the exact physical form of the person he seeks to impersonate (an ability attributed to a series of mysterious genetic experimentation Zartan endured). In most continuities, Zartan is also capable of changing his skin color to blend in with his background. This special ability is disrupted by sunlight.
- Major Bludd - Major Sebastian Bludd is an Australian mercenary with extensive combat experience who worked for Cobra from time to time. He is a master tactician, expert in all known weapons. He is usually portrayed as Cobra's infantry commander. Major Bludd is best known for the assassination of General Flagg, the original leader of the G.I. Joe team and for the running gag that Bludd writes very bad poetry.
- Firefly - The world's greatest saboteur, Firefly's background is a mystery. A mercenary and assassin, Firefly offers no guarantees or refunds. He is an expert in all types of explosive ordnance and demolition materials. He is the Faceless Master of the Koga ninja clan.
- Doctor Venom - A Cobra scientist who played an important role in the first two years of the comic book. He was killed in action and eventually replaced by Dr. Mindbender.
- Kwinn - An Inuit mercenary who only appeared in the first year of the comic book. A mercenary with a strong code of honor, he had previously worked for the CIA, Mossad, MI6, and the KGB, and worked with Cobra in Sierra Gordo. He would later renounce his life as a mercenary, only to be betrayed and killed by Dr. Venom. A hidden grenade then slays Venom.
- Fred VII - A soldier in the Crimson Guard who temporarily impersonated Cobra Commander after fatally shooting him (or so he believed). He was killed when the real Cobra Commander made his triumphant return.
- Blackout - Sniper Thomas J. Stall was rejected by G.I. Joe for failing his psychological exam and was suspected of being involved with the disappearance of his sister. After being imprisoned, Thomas broke out of a brig at Fort Huachuca during an attack by Cobra, to whom he surrendered willingly and subsequently joined.
- Dreadnoks - Led by Zartan and his siblings Zandar and Zarana, the Dreadnoks are a gang of militarized bikers who pull jobs for Cobra when finesse is not required and brute force is needed. Zartan used them for backup and brought them with him when he joined Cobra, with Zarana in particular becoming a top ranking agent of Cobra under Fred VII.
Rank and file
The vast majority of Cobra is made up of legions of uniformed soldiers, nearly all of them masked to appear anonymous and widely diversified according to specialties and functions. Some of the more prominent include:
- Cobra Troopers - These are the original "blueshirt" common grunts introduced in 1982, basic infantry soldiers equipped with conventional military gear (as opposed to the more hi-tech accouterments of the later Vipers), with Cobra Officers as the field leaders. They are prominently featured on both the cartoon and comic series.
- Crimson Guard - Led by Tomax and Xamot, these elite soldiers were introduced in 1985. Their filecard indicates that in addition to intense military training, they are required to have a degree in either accounting or law (later filecards say they are required to have a non-specific college degree), and are often used in deep cover operations, posing as civilians and politicians. Later toys expanded on the Crimson Guard concept with the release of figures such as the Crimson Guard Immortals and Commanders, as well as group-specific vehicles. As another part of their deep cover operations, many Crimson Guardsmen undergo plastic surgery in order to adopt identical features in case one "Seigie" (the phonetic pronunciation of "C.G") is required to replace another in a public cover. The Crimson Guard also maintain Cobra's legal business fronts.
- Cobra Vipers - Introduced in 1986 as a replacement for the Cobra Troopers, these infantry soldiers complement the Cobra Troopers in both the cartoon and comic series. The concept, originally introduced in 1985 with the introduction of "Tele-Vipers" (communication experts) quickly evolved into a catch-all suffix for all future Cobra troops (such as Air-Viper, Ice-Vipers, Desert-Vipers, Techno-Vipers, etc.). With regards to the original adjectiveless Vipers, Hasbro has often alternated between establishing the Vipers as the entry level position into Cobra or for them to be the elite of Cobra's ground troops as far as them being equal to or above the regular blue shirt troops.
- B.A.T.s - The Battle Android Troopers were introduced in 1986 and are used extensively in the cartoon series, since they could present an army that the heroes could gun down without killing living beings. Intended as an alternative to living soldiers, the androids are hazardous to both friend and foe according to their filecard due to poor eye sensors.
- Python Patrol - Although their origin differs from cartoon to comic, the Python Patrol is an elite unit of Cobra units hand-selected by Cobra Commander (or in the comic, his imposter). What makes this group stand out is their use of revolutionary stealth coating technology, masking their vehicles and uniforms from most forms of electronic detection.
Cobra maintains a number of bases around the world. In several media incarnations, Cobra’s primary base is Cobra Island. In the Marvel Comics series, Cobra is said to have bases, underground cells and even whole communities scattered across the globe. Following are several specific locations with names:
- Broca Beach - After the destruction of Springfield, Cobra created another town as their secret base of operations in America. This one was transformed from an abandoned seaside town. Former residents of the destroyed Springfield town were relocated here.
- Castle Destro - Destro's fortress in Scotland. Training ground for the Iron Grenadiers. It was destroyed by Cobra Commander, and a new castle was presumably reconstructed some years later.
- Cobra Citadel also known as the Silent Castle - Cobra's base of operations in Eastern Europe, located in Trans-Carpathia. Owned primarily by Destro, he incorporated many secret passageways and features into the castle's design including the ability to shift its configuration (through a complex series of levels, pulleys, and gears) into a near-exact likeness of Castle Destro - both internally and externally. Although he initially gave up the rights to the castle to Destro, Cobra Commander later decided he wanted it back as it was rather close to his operations in Darklonia. Its design was first featured in "The MASS Device" TV miniseries.
- Cobra Consulate - A high-rise in New York City used by Cobra as an embassy and base of operations after Cobra Island was declared a sovereign nation. Its upper levels were destroyed in a battle with G.I. Joe, and the building was abandoned by Cobra for some time (save for a few late-night top-secret meetings). In the Devil's Due comics it was rebuilt and used once again.
- Cobra Island - The primary base of Cobra operations. It was created after a massive man-made earthquake. Cobra lawyers, well-prepared, moved in and had it declared a sovereign nation. It was the battlefield for the Cobra civil war, and the battle against 'the Coil'. After Cobra disappeared for several years, the island was seized by the U.N. It then came under the control of the Coil, then Cobra, and was finally destroyed by a nuclear warhead, which also killed every member of the Coil.
- Helicarrier - also known as the Cobra Air Ship - A flying aircraft carrier from the Sunbow cartoon series. It served as a mobile base for Cobra until it was lost in a battle over a matter-antimatter device, in which it rammed G.I. Joe's conventional aircraft carrier. Both carriers sank to the bottom of the sea. Another helicarrier was commissioned, but was also destroyed over the skies of Liberty Island in New York City.
- Millville - A steel town that fell into economic ruin after the closing of the local plant. When Cobra descends literally en masse on them one day, the residents are swayed by Cobra Commander's promise of quick wealth and prosperity to submit to his rule. However, Cobra immediately subjugates the town via a brainwashing device, leading to the formation of a local resistance. Combat with numerous Autobots and Decepticons result in Cobra ultimately abandoning the townbase and its citizens.
- Monolith Base - A massive mountain complex located in Badhikistan. It served as Cobra's main base but was taken over by an all out assault from G.I. Joe.
- Springfield - A small anonymous town in the U.S., which Cobra secretly operated as a base. The town was poor and desperate when the man who would become Cobra Commander arrived. He became the town's savior and it was there he started Cobra. Many covert operations were held there, including the creation of Serpentor, which in turn directly led to the town's population being evacuated to Cobra Island when the Joes confronted Cobra there. In the 2-part Sunbow-produced episode "There's No Place Like Springfield", the town existed on an island and was known as "Temple Alpha". Springfield was actually a facade for an underground Cobra training facility. However, unlike the comics, the town above ground was populated primarily by synthoids.
To hide certain aspects of its operation, Cobra maintains a number of legitimate business fronts (in addition to the town of Springfield itself and its encompassing businesses) nearly all of which appear to be anagrams of the word "cobra".
- Naja Trading Corp and its likely subsidiary, "Naja Hanna Video Corp", is the first of these fronts to appear in the comics. It has offices in both San Francisco as well as Rio Lindo in the Republic of Sierra Gordo. Cobra used it to smuggle MX missile guidance chips out of the country inside video games. Dr. Venom was in charge of the Rio Lindo office. "Naja Hanna" is Hindi for "King Cobra".
- Arbco (AKA ARBco Regional) is the largest and most prominent Cobra front in the Marvel RAH comics. Although it apparently started in Springfield, it grew to have offices in at least 10 major U.S. cities including Denver.
- Arbco Furniture Company: Cobra maintained a secret testing lab within for a deadly plague toxin in Springfield, Vermont.
- Arbco Moving & Storage (AKA Arbco Moving): Cobra uses moving trucks with "Arbco" stamped on the sides to transport H.I.S.S. tanks covertly into Washington D.C. for an attack on the U.S. Treasury. They were also used to transport sensitive spy equipment for reassigned undercover Crimson Guardsmen. Cobra Commander maintains a mobile office in an Arbco Moving truck.
- Arbco Bros. Circus: Billy learned that Cobra uses the circus as a cover to transport HISS tanks and FANG copters (mistakenly referred to as "SNAP copters") around the country.
- Carbo Plumbing: A surveillance team of Tele-Vipers eavesdrop on a military inquest from a plumbing van outside the Pentagon.
- Robca Realty
- Broca Bros. Carnival
- Orbac - Cobra troops were moved into the Safeco Field Stadium in Seattle using trucks with this name on the side. Zartan used an Orbac truck as a mobile HQ as well.
- Extensive Enterprises - This global company based out of the twin Enterprise Towers in Enterprise City existed primarily to serve Cobra's administrative needs with Tomax and Xamot as the corporation's CEOs. Its first appearance was in the third G.I. Joe miniseries and then in the regular TV series in the episide "Red Rocket's Glare". Although the company existed primarily in the TV universe, it would later be adapted by Devil's Due for use in the comics continuity as well. In the IDW comic continuity, it is a pre-existing, corrupt multinational firm that is absorbed into Cobra.
- M.A.R.S.- Military Armaments Research Systems/Syndicate - a legitimate weapons manufacturing firm headquartered in Callender, Scotland. James McCullen Destro XXIV is the current owner and CEO.
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Cobra Command had its beginnings when the financially ruined man who would become Cobra Commander settled in an American town called Springfield. Blaming the federal government and big business for his misfortunes, he conceived a plan of forming a secret organization to acquire wealth and power and thereby wreak his revenge on the world. Springfield was a perfect place to start the organization as the town itself had fallen on hard times and the population was disillusioned. Soon, the organization was growing with the entry of like-minded individuals from all over the country. Much of Cobra’s early funding came from pyramid schemes and other semi-legitimate business plans initiated by Cobra Commander. A soap-selling pyramid scheme is what got Cobra Command started in Springfield, allowing a gradual and intense takeover.
In a very short time, Cobra evolved from a business into a paramilitary movement. Motivated by greed and power, the group soon expanded all over the country, operating in secret, engaging in terrorism to achieve their objectives. By the time the U.S. government recognized Cobra as a threat, the organization had already gained footholds as a powerful private army and terrorist organization around the world.
Many of its members (especially those in the elite Crimson Guard units) lead seemingly normal lives, supporting Cobra covertly. Cobra attracted members with the promise of fast financial rewards and power for those willing to be ruthless enough. It also offered a world of order and strength, with its 'model community' of Springfield being one example of the Cobra ideal.
Cobra would eventually achieve a temporary legitimacy by the artificial creation of Cobra Island, which was recognized as an independent nation by the international community, much to the dismay of G.I. Joe. This allowed Cobra to have diplomatic facilities in the United States via the Cobra consulate.
During Serpentor's tenure Cobra's primary source of income came from arms sales to Third World nations. This led to a clash with Destro's M.A.R.S. Organization, which provided Cobra with much of its arms.
For a comic series predominantly aimed at children, Cobra was a relatively realistic depiction of a highly successful terrorist organization. With its strong symbolic imagery, charismatic and ruthless leader, and fanatical hierarchy, the fictional group is similar to other fictional terrorist and fascist organizations such as SPECTRE of James Bond fame and the similar Marvel Universe organization HYDRA.
Larry Hama depicted Cobra troops as being motivated by money, power, and a sense of brotherhood. However, they are not fanatical to the point where they would fight to the last man and to the last breath. If all is lost, they would willingly surrender or run away had they the chance, something their leaders rarely let them do. The brutal training depicted in the file cards of the troopers are very much characteristic of ritualistic hazing.
The only instance that has shown Cobra as a suicidal fanatical organization was in issue #8 where the troopers willingly let themselves blow up on a boat after their loss.
In the United Kingdom, G.I. Joe was marketed under the name Action Force. The original antagonists in the Action Force series were the Red Shadows. The Red Shadows were a terrorist organization led by Baron Ironblood and his lieutenant the Black Major. Prominent members included artillery expert Red Laser and tank commander Red Jackal. The latter disguised his scarred visage with a steel mask.
The Action Force series was eventually written to more closely match the American G.I. Joe universe; the 'World Enemy No. 1' storyline in the Battle Action Force comic had Ironblood betraying the Red Shadows, abandoning them to die pointlessly, and going into hiding. When he emerged once more, he had organized a new group and renamed himself as Cobra Commander. The Red Jackal tracked down Cobra Commander after an arduous journey with the intention of killing him to avenge the treachery Cobra Commander performed. On the brink of throttling the Commander, Jackal succumbed to stun gas and passed out, not quite completing his sentence declaring his intention to destroy the former Baron Ironblood. Admiring his tenacity and resourcefulness, Cobra Commander elected not to kill the man, instead allowing him to continue to serve. To remind Jackal that, in the end, he failed to eliminate Cobra Commander, the leader renamed him 'Destro'—the last word he spoke as his former self.
When IDW Publishing purchased the rights to G.I. Joe in 2008 one of the three books they announced was the G.I. Joe: Cobra mini-series. Starting in March 2009, and written by Christos Gage and Mike Costa with art by Antonio Fuso, it stars Chuckles going undercover into the organization.
Cobra is a shadowy, rumored organization at the start of the series, led by a man only known as "the Commander"; however, there have been other Commanders in the past, elected into 'office' by the faceless body known as the Cobra Council. The Baroness refers to it as " an old organization... ensconced in its own traditions"  and the next issue would show Cobra has existed for centuries. The Council's identities are unknown.
Other high ranking agents include Xamot and Tomax (corporate leaders), Crystal Ball (psychological tactics master and internal affairs), Major Bludd, Captain Vicuna (submarine commander), and the chief scientists Dr Mindbender and Copperback.
It has its own secret communications network, the Cobranet, unconnected to the regular Internet. Terrorist groups across the planet are somewhat aware of Cobra, and scared of it. Cobra Special #1 reveals that Cobra convinced Tamox and Xamot to merge their Extensive Enterprises organisation with them; G.I. Joe Origins #20 reveals they also have an aid company that's a front, and they use a psychological test to identify potential, loyal recruits. Cobra #5-8 also reveal that a large cult, the Coil, is also part of Cobra's organization. As per #16 and #17 of the ongoing, they have a prison called Section Ten and later issues reveal a base on the Moon.
The first Cobra mini-series reveals in #4 that Cobra's standard method is to (covertly) further destabilize an already unstable nation, using both terrorism and shell companies to hit the economy; they then (openly) hire out their Crimson Guard soldiers to that country, and slowly make the population trust Cobra more than their government. One operation involved manipulating a small war in Africa, forcing the attacked nation to sell off its national assets.
Mainframe first stumbles across the global Cobra conspiracy by accident, and was believed to be crazy by General Hawk. Determined to reveal the organization, he went AWOL. Later, Snake-Eyes goes AWOL looking for Cobra too.
The Joes later hear the word "Cobra" mentioned after busting one of Destro's arm shipments in #0 of the regular series, but are unaware of what it truly is or that Destro was shipping to the organization. Duke believes the organization is just a myth and Hawk now believes it is the codename for an operation, but by this point Scarlett believes Cobra is a real, large-scale threat. As a result, she kept unauthorized contact with Snake-Eyes about it. Meanwhile, Chuckles is sent to infiltrate an organization which is soon found to be Cobra (Cobra #1-4).
In order to avoid being executed for the information leak, Destro both captured the Baroness (Cobra's assassin) and intended to bribe them with data stolen from the Joes and the M.A.S.S. Device, a teleporter engine. Cobra simply stormed Castle Destro, took it all, and captured him, enslaving him as a researcher for them. When he failed to be of enough use, he was sent to Section 10 but was able to seize command of it from Major Bludd. As a result, he was given a command position in Cobra.
Thanks to Mainframe and Snake-Eyes, Cobra is revealed to the Joes. At the same time (chronologically, but printed earlier in #4 of the first Cobra mini-series), Xamot and Tamox reveal they knew Chuckles was a spy all along, and they've been using him to feed selective information to the Joes in order to intimidate them. Chuckles goes rogue in order to bring the organization down.
Now aware of Cobra, the Joes begin targeting its cells and operations, gain a Cobra defector named Erika la Tene, and attempt to prevent the completion of the M.A.S.S. Device. However, Cobra is also aware of the general location of the Joe base, the Pit and, with the abduction of scientist Gerry Orizama, they complete the MASS in #15. By #16, Cobra had established a moon base, Sabine Base, and sent an investigatory team to the Pit's location in #18 (which was killed). G.I. Joe retaliated with a raid on the island Manatua, which was the source of money-laundering activity on the CobraNet, but failed to stop a nuclear bomb being detonated on a nearby faultline; all the data on the island was destroyed, though the Joes did manage to capture Cobra's sub Dreadnaught and kill Captain Vicuna.
In #26-28 and Cobra #12-3, Cobra is hideously damaged in two separate conflicts with the Joes. In the former case, their enemy use the M.A.S.S. Device to reach Section Zero itself, and agents Snake-Eyes and Helix cause the loss of the base, many technicians and Vipers, and the Device; Sabine Base is left isolated and helpless with the loss of teleportation. Worse still, Joe infiltrator Chuckles - whom Cobra Commander believed was being successfully 'turned' into a Cobra - shot the Commander through the head and caused the nuclear obliteration of another base.
The Cobra Council responded by creating a contest to determine who'd be the next Commander - whoever murdered the most Joes. A slaughter was kicked off, including the death of almost the entire Ninja Force. Baroness, despite being in the running, doesn't believe the Council would make her the Commander as she's a woman and Cobra would never accept a female leader.
The Sunbow cartoon did not explore how Cobra began. It was only in G.I. Joe: The Movie that it is revealed that the organization was a front runner for a 40,000 year-old underground civilization called Cobra-La, whose snake-like inhabitants were driven underground by the advent of humankind. Cobra Commander was, in actuality, a member of this underground race. He was tasked with creating an organization that would overrun the world at large. This revelation, though, contradicts what was established in the first season of the series. Also revealed is that the creation of Serpentor was an initiative by Cobra-La; through the use of a biological mind controlling device, they implanted the idea into Dr. Mindbender's mind as an act of discipline against Cobra Commander.
The creation of Cobra-La was an unintentional side effect of Hasbro's demand that the heretofore unintroduced Cobra Emperor Serpentor be inserted into the series, despite the fact that Cobra Commander had long been established as the one-and-only head of Cobra. Series story editor and writer Buzz Dixon offered two possible storylines to make it work: One had the senior Cobra leadership, fed up with Cobra Commander's constant failures, deciding to literally build a better leader. The other presented Cobra as being a front for a vast, secretive, and far more sinister organization whose leadership finds Cobra Commander lacking and sends Serpentor as a replacement. Hasbro, liking both ideas, had the series writers combine both concepts.
The writers despised the name "Cobra-La" and had only originally intended to use it as a working name to be replaced by a "real" name in the finished product, but were overruled by Hasbro. Buzz Dixon originally had a much different idea for the origin of Cobra. In a story entitled "The Most Dangerous Man in the World", it was to be revealed that Cobra was originally organized around the political theories of a Karl Marx/Friedrich Nietzsche-type figure, whom Cobra Commander locked away when the Commander began corrupting the Cobra philosophies away from its original principles. A first-season two-part episode, "Worlds Without End", portrays an alternate-reality in which Cobra has established control over the United States (and apparently all of the world). Although Cobra's reign is totalitarian, it does not use its power to promote any ideology beyond glorifying its leadership, and there is no sign of Cobra-La or other inhuman backing.
None of the senior Cobra leaders, except Destro and the Baroness, likes the others. During the encounter with the Gamesmaster, for example, Zartan accuses Destro of kidnapping Cobra Commander; Destro refuses to bargain for Zartan's release by G. I. Joe, and regards Cobra Commander with contempt; the Baroness disbelieves Cobra Commander's promise that he will send help after escaping via helicopter, and prefers G. I. Joe member Lady Jaye to use the vehicle; and Cobra Commander only trusts himself. Even after Cobra's complete victory in "Worlds Without End" distrustful rivalry between Cobra Commander and Destro persists, bringing the regime to the brink of civil war.
Sgt. Savage and the Screaming Eagles
Several of the prominent members stated above, such as Cobra Commander, Destro, the Baroness and Zartan are featured prominently in the series. Many of these members are given some form of cybernetic enhancements. The Sigma 6 version of Cobra maintains B.A.Ts as the primary bulk of their army with human personnel acting mostly as technicians.
Here Cobra is presented as Cobra Industries, a company involved in communications, pharmaceuticals, and military technologies. The government has long suspected them of criminal activity, but has no evidence. The Joes, here framed as criminals for their attempt to discover the truth, attempt to find evidence of Cobra's plans of world domination. Cobra Commander, Baroness, Destro, Doctor Mindbender, Major Bludd, Storm Shadow, Zartan, and Firefly all appear.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Despite its title in the live-action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the Cobra Command does not appear as such, instead M.A.R.S. Industries, owned by James McCullen, are presented as the main antagonists. While McCullen built up his company and convinced NATO to fund his Research & Development projects to build more advanced weapons, motivated by his family's heritage, he conceived of an elaborate plan to take over the world: To create an enemy that would inspire fear on a global scale, and make everyone turn to the most powerful individual in the world. To this end, he assembled a small team of specialists and turned MARS' virtually unlimited resources to espionage and terrorism. While not present, there are major hints of what will become the Cobra Organization. M.A.R.S. Industries elite warriors are called Neo-Vipers, soldiers who were enhanced with nanomites who both attack and rewire the subject's central nervous system making the subject completely under the absolute control of their controller a solution derived from the Venom of the King Cobra. Near the end of the movie, the Doctor declares himself as the Commander stating: "the time has come for the cobra to rise up and reveal himself" while escaping in a submarine branded with the familiar Cobra logo on its side. The Commander and Destro are imprisoned in the USS Flagg, while Zartan appears at the end impersonating the U.S. President.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
While the Commander and Destro are still imprisoned, Cobra reappears with the sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation, under the leadership of the U.S. President (secretly Zartan) recruits Ex-Joe, Firefly and Storm Shadow to free the Commander, but leaves Destro in prison.
In popular culture
- An international terrorist organization called "Cobra" guest-starred in the "Island of Doom" episode of the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla animated series on December 1, 1979. The Hanna-Barbera Cobras also had blue uniformed troops, tanks, artillery, and its own air force. A few of the characters were similar to ones in Cobra Command. This episode appeared three years prior to the 1982 launch of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toyline.
- In season 3 of the Transformers animated series, a character known as 'Old Snake' who wears a silver mask with a single eyehole over his face (similar to Cobra Commander's mask) and sounds like Cobra Commander, appears in the episode "Only Human". At the end of the episode he says "they simply don't make terrorists like they used to" and shouts "Cobra!" in the manner of Cobra Commander. He appears to be a much older, semi-retired version of himself, as his shout of "CO-BRAAA!" is followed by harsh coughing and wheezing.
- Pro Wrestler CM Punk has a tattoo of Cobra's logo on his right shoulder.
- On Hey Arnold!, a bully named Wolfgang has a Cobra Organization logo on his shirt.
- The Cobra Organization appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Joint Point". In a documentary segment in the style of The Office, each certain member explains their job in the Terror Drome ranging from Major Bludd serving as a bridge between the "blokes at the top of the ladder" (like Cobra Commander and Serpentor) and the "peons at the bottom," a Cobra Cloning Machine operator, Cobra logos placed on their products, a reference to the Weather Dominator exploding, Baroness explaining why inter-office romances are forbidden, and Doctor Mindbender running a class to train the Cobra Organization's New Recruits.
- At the end of the I'm in the Band episode "Izzy Gonna Sing?", Burger is wearing a red T-shirt with a blue Cobra logo.
- A fictional team in All Pro Football 2K8 called the Carolina Cobras play in Extensive Enterprises Stadium.
- The UK national emergency response committee is known by the acronym C.O.B.R.A
- Fletcher, Dan (2009-08-07). "A BRIEF HISTORY OF G.I. Joe". Time. Retrieved 2010-03-03.
- jimshooter (2011-07-06). "The Secret Parts of the Origin of G.I. Joe". Jim Shooter. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "Comics Interview #36-7 interview with Larry Hama". web archive. 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 91. ISBN 0-87341-301-6.
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #12
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #14
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #16
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #30
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #32
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #99
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero v2 #36
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero v2 #37
- "G.I. Joe A Real American Hero" #10 (April 1983)
- "Blood For The Baron!!!". Blood For The Baron!!!. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Richards, Dave (2008-10-08). "Marching Orders: Schmidt talks G.I. Joe". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- "G.I. Joe enters the Cobra Civil War". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Cobra: Civil War #1
- G.I. Joe: Cobra Civil War #0
- "G.I. Joe Interview - Buzz Dixon". Joeheadquarters.com. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Hidalgo, Pablo (2009). G.I. Joe vs. Cobra: The Essential Guide 1982-2008. Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-51642-8.
- Bellomo, Mark (2009). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3.
- Cobra Command on Joepedia, an external wiki
- Cobra Command at JMM's G.I. Joe Comics Home Page
- Cobra Hierarchy at The Inner Sanctum fansite