|First appearance||Kobra #1
|Created by||Jack Kirby|
|Alter ego||Jeffrey Franklin Burr
|Team affiliations||Strike Force Kobra
|Notable aliases||Lord Naga|
|Abilities||Incredible hand-to-hand combatant, Genius intelligence, Excellent planner and tactician. Also possesses longevity through the use of lazarus pits|
Kobra is the name used by two fictional supervillains published by DC Comics. The Jeffrey Burr Kobra and his brother Jason first appeared in Kobra #1 (February 1976), and were created by Jack Kirby. Jason Burr debuted as Kobra in Faces of Evil: Kobra #1 (March 2009) by Ivan Brandon and Julian Lopez.
Both Jeffrey and Jason Burr were created by Jack Kirby for a proposed DC Comics series called King Kobra, the first issue of which was both written and drawn by Kirby. This first issue then sat in DC inventory for over a year, during which time Kirby left the publisher to return to Marvel Comics.
Eventually the concept was handed over to writer Martin Pasko with orders to make a series out of it. Pasko was unimpressed with King Kobra, feeling it to be a throwaway idea churned out by Kirby as he was preparing to leave DC, and tried to make the best of the assignment by whiting out all of Kirby's original dialogue, rescripting the issue, and having Pablo Marcos redraw some of the art. Now titled simply Kobra, the first issue of the series appeared in late 1975 (cover-dated February 1976). It was cancelled after seven issues, though the contents of the unpublished Kobra #8 saw print in DC Special Series #1. Pasko later reflected, "I wrote all of Kobra with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek—it was a preposterous exercise dumped in my lap, and it helped pay the rent on a very nice place in the Village."
Fictional character biography
Jeffrey Franklin Burr
Kobra is an international terrorist and mad scientist who has crossed paths with the majority of Earth's costumed heroes during his attempts to usher in the Kali Yuga (an age of chaos). His real name is Jeffrey Franklin Burr, and he was born part of a set of siamese twins, but was stolen at birth by the Cult of the Kobra god, since a prophecy claimed he would lead them to rule the world. Under their teaching, he became a dangerous warrior and a sadistic criminal mastermind. He led the cult into using advanced technology to menace the world. Followers of Kobra would frequently address their master as "Naja-Naja", "naja naja" being the binomial name for the Indian Cobra. This later became "Nāga-Naga", a meaningless title which translates from the Sanskrit as "snake-snake". Whether this change was intentional or an error is not known.
However, unknown to the cult, he had a psychic link to his twin brother, Jason, who knew nothing of Kobra. As a result, one felt what the other felt, including pain. Because of this, his brother was recruited by an international agency to help them combat Kobra. At first, Kobra was unable to even hurt or kill his brother; eventually, however, he used a device that "shut off" the psychic link, and gave him the chance to kill Jason. However, Kobra was subsequently haunted by visions of his brother. Whether it really was his ghost or just Kobra's imagination was never revealed.
In subsequent years, Kobra would clash with assorted superheroes, including Batman, whom he first met over a Lazarus Pit of his own creation. Kobra had learned to build modified Lazarus Pits, which allowed him to control the minds of those he killed and resurrected. Kobra is the only person in the DC universe ever to decipher the formula for the Lazarus Pits. Kobra had special concerns about Wonder Woman and sought to ensure her death, first by hiring a cartel of international assassins led secretly by corrupted UN Crisis Bureau chief Morgan Tracy (also Diana Prince's boss), then by kidnapping and irretrievably damaging environmental activist Deborah Domaine, forcibly transforming her into a new Cheetah, and ultimately, facing her in combat in Egypt, faking his own demise after being defeated by the Amazon Princess. A short while later his various Strike Force Kobra teams would fight two different incarnations of Batman's Outsiders. Kobra also fought the third Flash, the Suicide Squad led by Amanda Waller, the original incarnation of Checkmate, Captain Atom, a Superman whose personality had been swapped with Ambush Bug's by exposure to red kryptonite, and others. Kobra is one of a very small number of individuals that has the capability of defeating Batman in hand-to-hand combat, and actually did so on one occasion.
The only organization ever to rival Kobra in the old DC Universe (Pre-Crisis I) was SKULL. There were frequent recorded clashes between the two groups, the last occurring in Outsiders Annual #1 story "The Skull...The Serpent...and The Outsiders".
After the betrayal of his lover Eve during the Strike Force Kobra fiasco, she split Kobra in two and established her own splinter group. In the Power Company: Sapphire #1 the Justice League rushes to San Diego to prevent disaster as two rival factions of the Kobra Cult prepared to go to war. One faction was led by Eve; the other was led by Kobra himself.
He kidnaps the former hero Air Wave and uses him to seize control of the world's media and satellite resources, intending to destroy a number of major world cities. However, in a demonstration of his power, he incidentally kills Terri Rothstein, Atom Smasher's mother, ensuring the Justice Society of America's involvement. (Mrs Rothstein's life would later be saved through time travel; Atom Smasher replacing her with the villain Extant).
He appeared again in JSA #45, which featured his trial. He shrugs off claims of terrorism, claiming to be an enlightened soul (a bodhisattva) trying to free souls from their karmic debt by random acts of violence. Following this, his followers threatened to kill the media outside the courthouse with bioengineered suicide bomb implants. Holding everyone hostage with this tactic, he was allowed by the JSA to escape, leading to an outraged Black Adam and Atom Smasher, who both subsequently choose to leave the team. In JSA #51, Atom Smasher, Black Adam, Northwind, and Brainwave track Kobra down to his headquarters in the Himalaya Mountains. After killing his guards, Black Adam rips his heart out and he is dead instantly.
Jeffrey's twin brother Jason is re-animated by the Kobra Cult in Faces of Evil: Kobra #1 (March 2009), possibly through the use of Kobra's Lazarus Pits. This involves the death of an entire facility of Checkmate agents, including several of Burr's old friends. Within the one-shot Jason reveals that he is re-structuring the organization and killing off all the old members. Before revealing himself as the new Kobra, Jason spent some time undercover as a Checkmate agent learning their secrets.
- The Kobra organization survived Jeffrey Burr's death, and has been gaining converts. In Identity Crisis, it was revealed that DCU prisoners (such as Slipknot) sometimes convert to the cult of Kobra, to the general disgust of the DC's supervillains.
- Like Ra's al Ghul, Kobra owned a hidden network of very specialized Lazarus Pits.
- Kobra apparently entertains many specialized sub-sections. One such section was the Blackadders, a group of ninja-like fanatics. In the past, Kobra operated an aggressive metahuman research and recruitment program. This program that gave birth to both known versions of Strikeforce Kobra.
- Kobra is currently active in the DCU as a terrorist organization with a religious bent. Upon the death of Jeffrey Burr, it underwent a power-struggle, with would-be leaders including King Snake, and (unwillingly) a schoolfriend of Tim Drake who apparently fitted the prophecy, but this has apparently settled: a new leader has emerged (possibly Eve who had split off with half of the old school Kobra). Under her, the organization now seeks to fulfill 'the prophecies of Kali Yuga'. It is actively being fought by the super-spy agency known as Checkmate.
- The new Kobra seems to be ranked by serpent type, low level members are Lanceheads, higher level members are called Nagas (Checkmate vol. 2 #4), the highest level shown are the Bestowed, mystics who specialize in Blood Magic (Checkmate vol. 2 #24).
- Following the resurrection of Jason Burr, he has seized control of the organization and is reorganizing it. (Faces of Evil: Kobra #1).
In other media
- A future version of Kobra (or, at least, his organization) appeared in four episodes of Batman Beyond where its members are variously voiced by Corey Burton, Kerrigan Mahan, Gary Anthony Sturgis, and Keith Szarabajka. Its members appeared not to be warriors, but scientists who have an obsession with reptiles. They also made virus tests on people who were kidnapped. They in turn became reptilian creatures that obey Kobra's every command. Little is known about the origins of Kobra, but they had long admired the power of the dinosaurs. They envisioned them as the only life form capable of ruling the world once again. So, for years Kobra sought a way to splice human genes with dinosaurs' DNA. Until they could achieve their main goal, Kobra used cutting edge technology for robberies, extortion and terrorism, which led them to clash with Batman (Terry McGinnis) on a few occasions. Kobra was ruthless and unforgiving. Every member of Kobra was expected to have complete allegiance and devotion to the organization, and any protocol breach was punished with a gruesome death in a pit of vipers. Among their interrogation techniques, Kobra used a sensor that turned one's thoughts into pictures. This way they could weed out traitors among their ranks (however, this instrument was proved to be fallible, as a young kid deceived it by sheer force of will as seen in "Unmasked"). There were several Kobra branches around the world, and each cell seemed to have its own Main Operator. The hierarchy of Kobra was depicted by color and garments. The ones on the bottom were foot soldiers, identified by their green spandex uniforms. They responded to members who donned an orange variation of the same spandex uniform, with golden bracelets on their forearms and forelegs, and a green exomis or hooded cloak. There were also scientists, technicians, or assistants who wore these garments. However, Main Operators usually had a chin beard. Within the infantry there were assassins that ranked above the rest. They were trained in specific fighting techniques, or armed with special weaponry, such as electrical flail or edge weapons. Altogether, these combatants were more dangerous and deadlier than the average foot soldier. Kobra's first appearance was in "Plague", where it continued executing fiendish schemes to gain an edge and thrive. In the episode, they had developed a deadly super virus capable of complete biological devastation. They hired a criminal named False-Face to smuggle the virus from Saint Denis to Gotham City, and then broke into Gotham Plastics, where they planned to coat millions of cred-cards with the virus, thus transmitting it by hand-to-hand contact. In case that plan failed or the government resisted their demands, Kobra secretly turned False-Face into a virus carrier. Kobra planned to demand a ransom of 10 billion credits. Their actions were eventually intercepted by the NSA that had enlisted Stalker to track down and retrieve the virus. Kobra's plans were foiled by an unlikely alliance between Stalker and Batman. In the "Curse of the Kobra," it's revealed that despite having a resolute goal, Kobra lacked cohesive leadership. Therefore, they decided to genetically engineer the perfect Kobra leader. In the long run, they created Zander (voiced by Alexis Denisof) to be their leader. They carefully monitored and controlled his gestation, striving to create a healthy and resilient makeup. Right from early infancy, Kobra started to groom Zander to become the perfect leader. They brainwashed and trained him in military strategies and tactics. When Zander finally reached adolescence and was ready to assume his leadership, Kobra could finally move on with their plan. They stole a vial from Dr. Padu Banjahri, a paleontologist who had been recovering dinosaur DNA, and used its contents to help splice their lackeys into dinosaur hybrids. However, there was still the problem of adaptability: Dinosaurs were cold-blooded, so they could only survive in a tropical environment. In order to raise the planet's temperature, Kobra had stolen the R12 thermal bomb from the Nova Research Center. They planned to plunge it into a dormant volcano standing on a rift that went down to the Earth's core. This would start a chain reaction that would raise the temperature of the whole planet. However, thanks to the combined efforts of Batman, Max and Kairi Tanaga (Zander's martial arts teacher and a former fellow student of Bruce Wayne's own sensei), Kobra's supreme goal was brought to naught, and in the process they lost their perfect leader.
- The version of Kobra seen in Batman Beyond appears in an episode of Static Shock. In "Future Shock", Kobra carried on with their tactics, and eventually acquired another leader. They also secretly moved in to a location known as Platform 247, and used it as their new headquarters. In an undocumented occurrence, the police arrested the unnamed Kobra Leader (voiced by Lance Henriksen). Thus, Kobra designed a plan to imprison Static and then negotiate a trade. They forged a holographic message from Static's friend Gear so as to lure Static into Platform 247, where he was ambushed, subdued and imprisoned in a stasis field. The negotiation, however, was never in Kobra's plans, as they never truly intended to give up the captive hero. It was but a ruse to provide their leader with an escape opportunity, while he was being transported to the exchange. After breaking out, Kobra Leader headed off to Kobra's headquarters to kill Static. However, Batman and Static's younger self broke in and took on Kobra's Leader and his soldiers. Static released his older self from the stasis field, who single-handedly defeated a battalion of Kobra worshipers with a single jolt. Kobra's fate afterward remains unknown.
- The Kobra organization appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster" with the Kobra Leader voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. They are shown as a cult where they planned to sacrifice a woman in order to prepare for their world domination only to run afoul of Batman and the Outsiders (consisting of Black Lightning, Katana, Metamorpho, Geo-Force, and Halo). Though they managed to defeat Kobra and save the woman, Batman learned that the Outsiders forgot to blow up the bridge that was to prevent other Kobra soldiers from arriving.
- The Jeffrey Burr version of Kobra (alongside his cult) appears in the Young Justice episode "Drop Zone" voiced by Arnold Vosloo. The cult is in conflict with Bane over the production of the drug Venom and ultimately revealed to be combining it with the Blockbuster Formula to create a more powerful and permanent transformation for the Light. With the inclusion of some unnamed members, Kobra is served by Mammoth (who was created from the Venom/Blockbuster formula) and Shimmer. He and his cult ended up fighting Bane and Young Justice at the time when the Light's operative Sportsmaster came to pick up the formulas. He does fight Robin in the climax of the episode, but manages to get away.
- Jason Burr appears in the Beware the Batman episode "Safe" voiced by Matthew Lillard. He is depicted as the inventor of the Ion Cortex that would help with the world's power. Batman had to protect him when the League of Assassins targeted him so that they can get the Ion Cortex. Tatsu Yamashiro worked to protect Jason Burr from Silver Monkey. Though Jason Burr did grow attached to her to the point where he tended to her wounds after Batman repelled Silver Monkey. After Silver Monkey's mission was a failure, Lady Shiva told Silver Monkey not to go after Jason Burr again for they will obtain the Ion Cortex another way. In "Control," Jason Burr invites Katana on a date at the time when Cypher is sent by the League of Assassins in their next attempt to control the Ion Cortex. Cypher ends up controlling Jason Burr and Katana when it comes to fighting Batman. During the fight on the subway where Batman disconnects the cars, Batman damages the controls to the subway which causes Cypher to break his control over Jason Burr and Katana. When Batman is freed by Katana while Cypher takes control of Jason Burr again as he tries to cut the connection to him. With help from Katana, Batman is able to free Jason and defeat Cypher. Jason Burr is later seen recuperating in the hospital where part of Cypher's control is still in Jason. In "Instinct," Jason Burr analyzes the residue that Katana gave him had contained the phosphorus of African Toads which explodes upon heat where the residue was planning to be used by Professor Pyg and Mister Toad to bomb the yacht. After a call from Katana, Jason is shown to still be controlled by the League of Assassins as he speaks with Lady Shiva. In "Fall", Jason finishes the Ion Cortex and is ready to hand it over to the League of Assassins. He also bombs his lab in an attempt to kill Bruce Wayne and Tatsu, but fails. Batman and Katana track Jason down to a secret lair, where he confronts them. Tatsu frees him from Cypher's control once more, and he attempts to help them shut down the Cortex. However, Lady Shiva uses the Soultaker Sword on him before he is able to finish.
- Kobra appears in issue #16 of the comic book tie-in to Young Justice. He plotted to perform a ritual on his twin brother Dr. Jason Burr by having Mammoth and Shimmer abduct him. The ritual was crashed by Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, and their protégés. In issue #17, Kobra had to prick his brother's finger in order to step up the ritual despite the interference. After feeding some of Jason's blood to a snake, Kobra drank the Blockbuster formula and some of the blood in order to finish the ritual. Jason was absorbed into the dagger as Kobra gains snake-like abilities. After the mutated Kobra was pricked with the dagger, the mutation was undone and Jason Burr was restored. Unfortunately, Kobra was nowhere to be seen.