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|G.I. Joe character|
Fred VII is a fictional character in the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic book, a member of the Crimson Guard, the elite Cobra combat and covert operations/infiltration force. He has appeared only in the comics, the battle armor he is noted for was in toy form but worn by the Cobra Commander character.
Fictional character biography
Fred VII is, as his name implies, the seventh member of the Fred Series of Crimson Guards. Each member of the series looks identical due to plastic surgery. Many are sent out into everyday life to gain political clout and other resources for Cobra. Fred operates a small auto repair shop, which was also the site of a hidden cybernetics lab.
Fred VII is perhaps the most famous Crimson Guard, due to his prolonged impersonation of Cobra Commander.
While on the run, Cobra Commander discovers his son Billy has been badly wounded in a mysterious altercation. He has lost an eye and a leg and is in a coma. The Commander takes Billy from the hospital to see Fred, whom he asks to build a prosthetic leg for his son. Fred also presents the commander with a suit of samurai like battle armor.
Killing Cobra Commander
Shortly thereafter, Billy awakens from his coma, and, despite a temporary case of amnesia, makes a more or less full recovery. His new leg works wonders and is seemingly as good as a real leg. But despite this, Billy has no loyalty to his father, whom he hates as the leader of Cobra. When Billy walks out on his father and abandons him, the Commander vows to earn his son's love back, and says that he will never again be Cobra Commander. Fred VII and his associate, Raptor, are none too happy about this, as Raptor will go to jail for a number of white collar crimes without Cobra's support, and Fred has dedicated his life to Cobra, and cannot bear to see its founder simply walk away. In a fit of rage, he picks up a nearby pistol and shoots the Commander in the back. After a moment, he realizes what he has done, and picks up the helmet of the newly designed battle armor, and comments that the great thing about the armor, is that anyone could be inside.
Raptor and Fred bury the body of the Commander, and Fred makes plans to take the place of the Commander, using the battle armor, and seizing the reins of power. Leaving Raptor behind, he takes the Pogo to Texas, where he rents the services of Captain Minh to take him near Cobra Island. As they near, the ship is attacked by two helicopters. At this point, Fred dons the battle armor and boards the Pogo, taking off to fight the choppers and leaving Captain Minh to his death.
After a brief firefight, Fred lands on Cobra Island, and proclaims himself to be Cobra Commander. He spends hours answering questions from Serpentor and other Cobra officials, who are trying to determine if he is the real deal or not. As the situation grows tense, the Baroness arrives by chopper from New York, at which point the Baroness says to Zartan that she knows what the Commander's face looks like, and she can identify him.
Boarding the chopper, and away from prying eyes, Fred reveals himself to the Baroness, who immediately realizes he is an imposter. He explains himself to her, but rather than reveal the deception to all, she choose to go along with it, realizing that she can use this to her advantage by manipulating Fred and controlling Cobra from behind the scenes. She proceeds to announce to all that Cobra Commander has returned to them, much to the chagrin of Serpentor.
With the help of the Baroness, Fred oversaw a number of missions and projects that Cobra was to carry out. While Fred did express some leadership skill every now and then, he was largely helpless without the Baroness to guide him, and bungled more than a few missions, including the Terror Drome project, which the Commander himself had put a considerable amount of effort into developing ever since 1982.
An important event occurred in early 1988, during a festival on Cobra Island. An abduction attempt on the part of the Oktober Guard became interwoven with an attempt to apparently fake the death of the Commander by Dr. Mindbender and Serpentor. All of this resulted in the two learning that this man was not Cobra Commander after all. During these events, Fred was unconscious, and therefore was unaware that the two knew his secret.
In addition to his failures, Fred also faced problems due to his constant bickering and growing rivalry with Serpentor. The two hated each other intensely, and this animosity came to its breaking point in 1988, after the Terror Drome project was ruined. Dr. Mindbender had developed a highly advanced Strato Viper, which he renamed the Star Viper, to infiltrate the new G.I. Joe Headquarters in the deserts of Utah. He was to steal the Black Box from the USS Defiant, the G.I. Joe's space shuttle.
The black box was successfully stolen, and a huge welcome ceremony was prepared for the Star Viper. However, feelings of jealousy due to Serpentor's success in this venture, as well as some jabs by him and Mindbender directed towards Fred and the Baroness, caused an argument to break out between the two would-be rulers of Cobra. Soon, things collapsed and the argument came to blows. This conflict resulted in the Cobra hierarchy, and the troops and factions each member commanded, taking sides, and soon a full-scale war, known as the Cobra Civil War, was raging on Cobra Island.
Cobra Commander had the support of the Vipers and most of the Cobra hierarchy, while Serpentor commanded the B.A.T.s and the Crimson Guard. Realizing that they were outnumbered and their chances of success were dismal, Serpentor and Mindbender threw whatever plans they had for the Black Box out the window, and decided to put it to a more immediate use; they would offer the highly sensitive device to the U.S., in exchange for military support against Cobra Commander's forces. This gamble paid off, and the G.I. Joe team soon entered the conflict on the side of Serpentor, who the U.S. government saw as the lesser of the two evils.
The support of G.I. Joe turned the tide in favor of Serpentor, and victory for him seemed assured. In a further defeat, the Baroness was abducted by Serpentor's forces. Zartan ended the war by assassinating Serpentor with a single arrow to the eye. The conflict was over, and Fred agreed to let the G.I. Joe team leave the island in peace.
As the conflict ended, the man who brought Fred to Cobra Island, Captain Minh, was revealed to be alive, and had been hiding out on the Island, plotting against Fred, seeking revenge. He ambushed Fred and attempted to remove his helmet, which would have set off the explosives contained inside without the access code being entered first. Fred cut a deal with Minh and gave him a boat, letting him leave the island.
At this point, Dr. Mindbender reveals that he knows Fred's secret, and that he will keep silent, as long as he is given permission to keep Serpentor's body on ice, for "purely scientific reasons."
After this, Zarana, and later Destro, gained an increasing amount of power in Cobra, and Fred was featured somewhat less in the story lines, although he was still present. There were a few missions carried out under Fred, such as the attempted theft of plans for an orbital laser cannon, an attack on Zartan, and an attack on Destro's castle in Scotland. None of these missions were successful, however, and the latter of the three resulted in Destro taking control of Cobra, with Fred and the rest of the Cobra hierarchy in executive positions.
A huge shock, and the end of Fred's deception, came in 1990, when it was revealed that Cobra Commander was alive. Apparently, he had been shadowed by his own personal guards during the events of 1987, and after Fred had buried him in the woods, these guards retrieved the Commander's body. He was badly hurt, but alive. Now, he had returned to take back Cobra. Fred's story comes to an end, as he, along with many other "traitors", such as Billy, Raptor, Croc Master, Mindbender, and Zartan, were buried alive in landlocked freighter overwhelmed by a volcano. Months later, the cavern they were buried in was unearthed by Vipers, and they learned that almost all of the victims, including Fred, had died as a result of botulism.
Fred has had little exposure outside the comics. He never appeared in the cartoon series, and the figure sporting the battle armor that Fred wore in 1987 was marketed as Cobra Commander, and Fred is never mentioned on the filecard that comes with the figure. In 2005 a Fred VII toy was finally released, a reissue of the 1987 figure with a new head and removable helmet. Fred VII also received a figure in the re-engineered 25th Anniversary line in 2008.
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #59
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #61
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #64
- G.I. Joe Yearbook #4 (1988)
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #72
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #73-75
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #98
- G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #114
- Fred VII at JMM's G.I. Joe Comics Home Page