Cobra Commander

Cobra Commander
G.I. Joe character
Cobra commander.jpg
Hooded Cobra Commander
Art by Tim Seeley.
Cobra Commander
Affiliation Cobra
Specialty Founder and Leader of Cobra Command
File name CLASSIFIED
Birthplace CLASSIFIED
SN CLASSIFIED
Rank Commander
Primary MOS Intelligence
Secondary MOS Ordnance
(Experimental Weaponry)
Subgroups Battle Corps, Star Brigade
Voiced by Chris Latta (Sunbow/Marvel & DiC series)
Scott McNeil (DiC series, 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)
Year introduced 1982

Cobra Commander is a fictional character from the G.I. Joe franchise. He appears in the toyline, animated series (the 1985 and 1989 incarnations, the Sigma 6 and newest Renegades series), comic books, video games, and movie as the usual principal antagonist. He is the supreme leader of the terrorist organization Cobra, and archnemesis of the Joes. The character was created by Marvel Comics writer Larry Hama.

Cobra Commander (who is named Rex Lewis) is portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the 2009 live-action film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Contents

Toys

Vintage

Cobra Commander was first released as a mail-in figure in 1982.[1] Wearing a light blue uniform and his signature Battle Helmet, early production runs were marked with a prototypical Cobra sigil, nicknamed the "Mickey Mouse" emblem for its overly round shape. In 1983, a swivel-arm version of this figure, with a proper Cobra sigil was released on a card for mass market. In 1984, the Commander was offered again as a mail-away, this time in a darker blue, with the iconic hood that he wore prominently in the Marvel comics.[2] This figure continued to be available as a mail-away until the line ended in 1994.

In 1987, a new Cobra Commander figure was designed, this time outfitting him in full-body Battle Armor.[3] Cobra Commander was given another overhaul in 1991, wearing a blue and black ceremonial uniform, with an ornate redesign of his original Battle Helmet.[4] In 1991, Hasbro released a Talking Battle Commander figure,[5] featuring a blue and yellow uniform inspired by the admiral's jacket and hood worn by Cobra Commander in the comics since Marvel #1. This figure was repainted in black, with silver accents, for 1993's Battle Corps subset. A 12" version of the Commander wearing the same uniform (blue with yellow accents) was released in 1993 as well.

Finally, Cobra Commander was suited up for space combat in 1994, as part of the Star Brigade. 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.[6]

Comic Series

Marvel

Cobra Commander first appeared in 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 an 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]

Taking Springfield

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 dubious staffing 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.[7]

Versus Billy

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.[8] 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.[9]

During a failed assault on the Pit, the secret headquarters of G.I. Joe, Cobra Commander and Destro were trapped underground, presumed dead.[10] 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-spectacled sunglasses and a long slender mustache. Though this motif was presented as nothing more than a convenient disguise at the time, this civilian look resurfaced on subsequent unmaskings and flashbacks to before he wore a Cobra uniform (while Destro appeared differently in later unmaskings).[11]

'Death'

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, and lay in a coma ever since. 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.[12] 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.[13] 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]

Hands-on killing

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.[14] 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.[15]

Devil's Due

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.

After the Marvel series ended, Cobra forces fell to a unified assault organized by the G.I. Joe leader, General Hawk. Cobra Commander managed to escape, becoming an international fugitive as the remnants of his organization retreated into hiding. He spent the next seven years sheltered in non-extradition countries, rebuilding his organization from the shadows.

By the time he had fully restored the terrorist group, however, he was usurped by Destro's illegitimate son, Alexander, who hoped to impress his father by eliminating his old rival and leading Cobra to victory. Alexander was defeated by the G.I. Joe team, and Cobra Commander was freed by Storm Shadow, retaking his organization soon after. He then proceeded to attack Destro, believing him responsible for Alexander's coup. Destro shortly cleared himself of such suspicions and offered to atone for Alexander's actions by serving Cobra again.

Cobra Commander quickly proved himself deadlier than ever, smuggling a nuclear warhead into the United States, and using a decoy ship as a means for Storm Shadow to infiltrate the G.I. Joe base and assassinate Hawk. Unfortunately, both plans ended in failure, with the Joes capturing the warhead and Snake Eyes arriving to stop Storm Shadow. (It is hinted that it was Storm Shadow himself who informed Snake Eyes of the assassination attempt.)

Not long after, Cobra Commander was betrayed by Zandar, who brought him to Cobra Island and presented him to his new leader, Serpentor. Serpentor's army, the COIL—which also included another Cobra traitor, Dr. Mindbender—struck out at the world. During their campaign, a group of Joes that included Snake Eyes were captured and thrown in the same cell as Cobra Commander. The prisoners managed to escape along with Cobra Commander, while G.I. Joe and Cobra attacked the island. The Commander came across Serpentor, who took him captive and ordered the Commander to remove his helmet. The Commander did so, handing it to Serpentor, but his face was still concealed by a balaclava worn beneath the helmet. Cobra Commander then activated an explosive in the helmet and landed a kick that sent Serpentor falling out a window to his death.

Cobra Commander then contacted Storm Shadow, and together they sought out the Red Ninja Clan for protection. The two were tracked down by a G.I. Joe team but managed to escape while the Joes battled the Red Ninjas. Cobra Commander then made his way back to the U.S.

The Commander wasted no time in returning to Cobra Island, which Tomax and Xamot had bought back. Following Destro's capture by G.I. Joe, Cobra Commander led a rescue operation. During the operation, he managed to severely injure General Hawk, but was betrayed by the Baroness. It was revealed Destro had cut a deal with the U.N. in exchange for his freedom. The Commander would spend weeks in custody before being freed by the Dreadnoks. Zartan had traded places with Cobra Commander, allowing the Commander to learn Destro's true plans and watch as the Coil joined Cobra in the wake of Serpentor's death. In a swift coup, Cobra Commander regained his organization and appeared to kill the Baroness.

Destro had been after the Tempest, a device built by Dr. Mindbender that could seed clouds to cause rainfall. Once back in control of the Cobra and Coil forces, the Commander moved all Cobra personnel to the Monolith Base in Badhikstan. The Coil forces were to remain on Cobra Island. The Jugglers had alerted Cobra to the U.S.'s plans to drop a nuke on the island. The entire Coil force was killed in the strike.

In Badhikstan, Cobra Commander unleashed the Tempest, armed with a flesh eating bio-engineered virus known as "Deathangel", upon the country. A G.I. Joe team led by General Phillip Rey (Hawk's temporary replacement) managed to track Cobra to their new base, where they defeated Cobra forces and destroyed the Tempest. Although Cobra Commander was able to elude capture, he became a target of the Red Shadows, a secretive organization that sought to eliminate G.I. Joe and Cobra alike. A Red Shadow operative named Dela Eden tracked down the Commander and shot him.

America's Elite

A year passed after the Red Shadows are defeated by G.I. Joe, and Cobra Commander has been written off as dead. While most accepted this as fact, Hawk and Duke believed he was alive and still dangerous. Hawk sent Spirit in search of the Commander, and after a long hunt the tracker found his prey but was captured by Cobra Commander and imprisoned.

Duke is captured by Battle Android Troopers. The androids were under the control of a former Crimson Guardsman who had a grudge against the Commander and wanted him dead, planning to launch a missile at his position. Duke managed to free himself and to stop the missile's launch, learning its target location from a computer screen: Washington, D.C.[16]

In Washington, a group of presidential advisers ask to speak to the President, but he tells them to take it up with his Chief of Staff—Garret Freedlowe. The men are shocked when they open the door to find Cobra Commander in the office. The Commander informed the men that he had taken Garret Freedlowe's place with Zartan's masking technology and that he would kill them, replacing them with his own operatives. Cobra Commander then proceeds to tell the President that the abilities of the G.I. Joe team are lacking, and organizes his very own Elite Anti terrorism team, the Phoenix Guard, led by one time G.I. Joe commander General Rey. He then sent the team to destroy numerous Cobra cells around the world, a step ahead of the Joe teams own efforts. He then accompanied the President on a tour of the secret G.I. Joe base, the Rock, where Colton reveals to them that they have the Baroness secretly in custody. After the trip, Cobra Commander sends new orders to the Phoenix Guard, sending them to the Rock to replace G.I-Joe as America's anti-terrorist force.

During the attack, the Phoenix Guard became too ruthless and reckless for Rey's liking. He soon learned his team were secretly members of Cobra. Several members of G.I. Joe were captured while Kamakura, Scarlett and General Colton made it to Colton's hidden radio to contact the White House. The president was shocked to find Garret Freedlowe's decaying corpse in the Chief of Staff's office and a video recording of the Cobra Commander. On the recording, the Commander revealed he had been using the Chief of Staff position to learn everything he could about the United States' strengths, weaknesses and secrets.

The Phoenix Guard was ultimately defeated and most of its members imprisoned. At a secret Cobra base, the order to every sleeper cell went out, announcing Cobra was once again active. The Commander was seen looking down at an infant boy, the son of Destro and the Baroness, whom he planned to mold into the physical manifestation of his ideals. However, he would ultimately trade the child to his parents, in return for Destro's family arms dealing empire, MARS.

Eventually Cobra Commander would amass his vast terror network and allies again for a final "World War" against G.I. Joe. Using prototype stealth technology from MARS labs, and his special "Plague" unit, Cobra Commander was able to launch an all out offensive on many of the most powerful nations in the world. The attacks were unprecedentedly successful, with Cobra Commander deposing the President of the United States and the Royal Family of Great Britain, while forcing France and Russia to capitulate. Eventually, G.I. Joe was able to break Cobra's stealth technology with the help of Destro, and after a brutal series of battles across the globe, Cobra's conventional forces were crushed. Refusing to admit defeat, Cobra Commander made a last stand (where Cobra began) in the Appalachian mountains. Cobra Commander would confront his son Billy for a final time, shooting him with toxic bullet and hanging his corpse from a flag pole, breaking the last tie he had with his former life. In the final battle, Cobra Commander wounds General Colton, but is blindsided by jet pack wearing General Hawk while attempting to escape. Finally captured, Cobra Commander is imprisoned in a special facility at the bottom of the ocean. While claiming others will rise up to carry out his vision, Hawk admits to the possibility, but states Cobra Commander will have no further role in it.

UK continuities

Battle Action Force (IPC)

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".[17]

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)

In Action Force Weekly, Cobra Commander is a featured character starting from issue 1. In said issue, he is bald.[18] Destro believes Cobra Commander's excesses are the greatest risk to Cobra's success.

IDW Comics

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.[19]

The first Cobra Commander seen was a well-known, famous businessman, operating as the Commander in secret.[20] 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.[19]

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.[21] Baroness, however, doesn't believe the Council would make her the Commander as she's a woman - not that this stops her killing Joes.[22]

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 and was expected to be the origin of IDW's Cobra Commander. However, he last appeared in Origins #5 and it's not been specified since if the two are related. (Also of note is that he started the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s) [23]

Cartoon

Sunbow/Marvel

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 raspy voice was provided by Chris Latta,[24] who also provides the voice for Starscream in Transformers.

Although only Cobra Commander's eyes are openly exposed, it is clear from this partial view that he is a brown-eyed Caucasian. His reason for wearing the mask was not expressly divulged, but in the episode "Lights! Camera! Cobra!", Destro interrupts his unmasked privacy during a meal and is repulsed at what he saw (which is not shown on-screen), prompting the Commander to wryly muse "It takes a strong stomach to watch me eat, eh, Destro?", implying that he may have some unsightly deformity.[25] This is later confirmed in G.I. Joe: The Movie, where he is revealed to be a member of a lost civilization of highly evolved reptilian humanoids who evolved alongside humans, though hidden in deep caverns. These beings developed technology much like humans, though based their machines and tools on organic material manipulated by genetic engineering. Cobra Commander was a bald-headed scientist from this tribe whose face is shown to have been horribly disfigured as the result of a laboratory mishap involving a weapon composed of "genetic mutating spores", resulting in several extra eyes to sprout onto his head in random places, forcing him to wear special masks so he could see clearly without disorientation. Despite his deformity, he was chosen by Cobra-La's ruler, Golobulus, to venture out into the world, "raise a mighty army", and destroy the so-called human civilization which had driven them into exile.

Cobra Commander frequently led assaults himself, but often vacillated between being a coward at heart, usually the first to turn tail in retreat whenever the tide of battle shifted unfavorably, or pushing his troops to seize victory at all costs, berating them when they turned to retreat. Impatient and frequently hysterical, he was prone to fits of rage when things went badly, often launching into extended rants. He was also greedy and egotistical, often mistreating his own troops to the point of mutiny, and on multiple occasions saw his plans foiled by his own arrogance.

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. (In fact, when Destro found out about the moon carving, he shouted why were millions of dollars wasted on "this... cosmic graffiti!?") As such, he was less of an evil genius and more of a psychotic egomaniac. 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.

Season 2 opened with the 5-episode mini-series Arise, Serpentor, Arise! in which Doctor Mindbender, Destro, and Tomax and Xamot decides that after Cobra Commander had repeatedly failed to bring them victory, they should literally create a new leader. 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 the organizations 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

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, there he was instructed to establish an army for the razing of human civilization, allowing Cobra-La to retake the planet.[26]

Cobra was this army, but in light of their 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 encouraging 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, foiling Serpentor's attack, allowing Falcon to defeat Serpentor and Golobulus and save the world.[26]

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.

DiC Series

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, 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, upon being outfitted with his battle armor, Cobra Commander once again appears to be a caucasian male. His inhuman origins are never mentioned again, and he is never shown to have reptilian features again.

Back in human form, his attempt to overthrow Serpentor is nearly foiled when his newly created Python Patrol is too scared to attack, but with the help of Low-Light (in disguise as a Viper), Serpentor is captured. Gnawgahyde provides his Iguana for use in the pythonizing ray and it is unclear if Serpentor (now an iguana) is dead or is a pet (of course it was mentioned that Serpentor's Iguana form was last heard being chased by Gnawgahyde). He tries to get the Dragon Fire energy but G.I. Joe has foiled his plans again.

Through that, he took over Cobra once again with Destro rejoining as his second-in-command alongside Baroness and later Major Bludd. He also joins forces with Eco Terrorist Cesspool, whom he immediately plans to double cross. The Commander is still as hysterical as before, but seems far more in control of his organization with Serpentor no longer around, and other potential adversaries like Dr. Mindbender gone and The Crimson Twins no longer in Cobra's high command. He also spends much of his time trying to regain his lost fortunes, and states numerous times that Cobra is more or less broke. His subordinates also make reference to this, as he apparently does not pay them much if anything at all. In the first season he wears the battle armor, and in the second season he regains his hood and blue military uniform.

His personality and creative schemes are now far more dangerous than the last time, including schemes such as creating a fake General Hawk to make the Joe lax ("A is for Android") or creating an ozone creme that he forces the masses to buy to protect themselves. So far, he is seen far braver than the previous seasons, and now Destro has renewed loyalty to him they attempt to defeat the Joes once and for all. With his leadership, Cobra almost defeats the Joes several times ("Victory at Volcania" parts I & II, "D-Day at Alcatraz" I & II, "Long Live Rock N Roll" I & II), and he is even captured once (in "Shadow of a Doubt") but escapes with the help of Storm Shadow (who is now a G.I. Joe). At the end of the series, Cobra and G.I. Joe are still waging war, and he is still attempting to gain his first real animated victory.

He was voiced by Chris Latta for a time during this series, but eventually Scott McNeil, who had a very similar voice, took over the role for the remainder of the show's run.

Transformers

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, several details make it clear enough 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. Most tellingly of all, the episode concludes with Old Snake lamenting that "they simply don't make terrorists like they used to", raising his fists in skyward exaltation with the familiar "Cobra!" battle cry breaking prematurely into a hacking cough.

Old Snake appears to be wearing the gauntlets of Serpentor (in black rather than Serpentor's dark green). This is contrary to the series' production bible, which notes that his bare fingers should be visible through torn gloves, and that his skin is scaly, like that of a real snake (the animation of this Transformers episode, as with a good half of season 3 episodes, is not stellar, so this costume detail may be simple misinterpretation). Due to all of the G.I. Joe series being connected in one continuity line, it is possible for this to be Cobra Commander after the events of Sigma 6 which took place in 2006 as did Transformers season 3 and the series G.I. Joe: Extreme.

This version of Cobra Commander was commemorated with the unlicensed "Snake" toy produced by Headrobots, limited to 300 pieces.[27]

Sgt. Savage and the Screaming Eagles

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 is voiced by Scott McNeil (who voiced Cobra Commander for a time during the DiC series) 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

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

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.

This version of Cobra Commander displays far stricter control over his organization, having the loyalty of all his troops and being both feared and respected; he is no longer a coward or a hysterical madman. However, like his earlier cartoon counterpart, he has a flair for grandiose and insane schemes, such as unleashing a giant robot to destroy a city or using a high-powered laser cannon to cut the East Coast off the United States to form "The Cobra Coast". While he mainly operates from behind the scenes, he has been shown to be highly proficient in combat, having battled Duke one-on-one three times, and actually having beaten him once. In the final episode of the series, all of the members of the Cobra high command are captured by Sigma Six, but the Commander escapes.

G.I. Joe: Resolute

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. 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 (with the Commander having Moscow destroyed as a show of force). The Joes destroy Cobra's primary weapon, but Cobra Commander unveils a second smaller HAARP array on an islet in Micronesia, and a second lesser particle cannon hidden in the town of Springfield, a major Cobra installation. By the time Duke makes his way to him with the Joe holding off his forces, Cobra Commander has slaughtered his men after having them set the particle cannon to fire at Washington, D.C., and locked himself inside a breach proof safe room within the control center. Unable to stop the countdown, Duke resets the coordinates to have the directed-energy weapon fire on its own location after ensuring that Cobra Command can not escape from his safe room. Though apparently caught in the blast, the Joes find no sign of Cobra Commander's body in the bunker's ruins. Cobra Commander was voiced by Charlie Adler.

G.I. Joe: Renegades

In the series G.I. Joe: Renegades, Cobra Commander is reinterpreted as a corporate businessman known as Adam DeCobray, head of the legitimate Cobra pharmaceutical corporation 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 knowing his true appearance. Among those being his right hand Baroness and Doctor Mindbender, whose research Cobra Commander funds in hopes to achieve immortality. In the episode "The Enemy of My Enemy," Cobra Commander receives a giant cobra from Mindbender that he calls Serpentor which he uses to deal with weak links in his organization. During McCullen's negotiations, Cobra Commander was made aware of the businessman's attempts to have Doctor Mindbender captured by G.I. Joe and retaliated by taking full control of M.A.R.S. Industries and placing a metal mask on the renamed Destro.

During the "Homecoming" two parter, the Joes learn of Adam DeCobray's true form when they stole a console at a Cobra Industries Christmas Party. Eventually after the Joes save Ripcord, turned into a Human/Bio-Viper hybrid, Cobra Commander came close to having Mindbender killed until being reminded that he still needs the scientist alive to preserve his own life. In the season finale "Revelations" Two Parter, learning that the Joes infiltrated the underground facility under his mansion, Cobra Commander dons a mechanical armor suit to deal with them while recapturing Ripcord. However, the fight ends when Duke manages to knock Cobra Commander into the vat of molten down Bio-Vipers as the Joes escape before the wormhole consumes everything. Cobra Commander is shown to have survived the destruction of his mansion, more horribly deformed from exposure in the vat, vowing to take revenge on the Joes for what happened.

Live-action movie

G.I. Joe character
JosephGordonLevittTROC.jpg
The Commander (Cobra Commander)
Affiliation Cobra
Specialty Founder and Leader of Cobra Command
File name Richard "Rex" Lewis
Birthplace America
SN Unknown
Rank Commander
Series G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Year introduced 2009

Cobra Commander appears in the live action G.I. Joe movie (here called The Commander), 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."[28] 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.[29]

Movie plot

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 Rex Lewis, the younger brother of Ana Lewis (later The Baroness) 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 and was left for dead. But in reality, 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 severely scarred, both physically and mentally, Rex learns from Mindbender and perfects the nanomites, using 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 him to the nanomites and making him a slave like the Neo-Vipers. By then, Baroness overcomes her programming and saves Duke. Escaping 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 supercarrier the USS Flagg, Cobra Commander's master plan had only begun with Zartan disguised as the President of the United States.

Video games

Cobra Commander is one of the featured villains in the 1985 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero computer game.[30]

Cobra Commander appeared as a 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.

Other works

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".[31] The commander's business ventures and identity issues are discussed in the non-fiction book 'Powerplay'.[32] His works with secret bases is discussed in the paperback 'Saturday Morning Fever'.[33] His general background is examined in the non-fiction 'The End Of Victory Culture'.[34] The merits of Destro versus Cobra Commander is discussed by Iraqi soldiers in the autobiography by veteran Matt Gallagher.[35]

In popular culture

  • Cobra Commander is occasionally parodied in Robot Chicken voiced by Seth Green.
    • In the episode "Toyz in the Hood" showed Cobra Commander with Skeletor, Mumm-Ra and Lex Luthor in a sketch about going to work and being caught in a traffic jam that included their respective heroic enemies—Flint, He-Man, Lion-O and Superman. The heroes mocked and tormented the villains.
    • In the episode "More Blood, More Chocolate," the "Inside the Battlefield" segment retells Cobra Commander's plot to take over the world with the Weather Dominator. In the final fight, G.I. Joe planted an American flag in Cobra's butt both metaphorically and literally in one unusual case. Duke mentioned that Cobra Commander went to jail until Zartan busted him out with a wicker basket and a remote-controlled snake.
    • In the episode "P.S. Yes In That Way," Cobra Commander accepts a sniper named Calvin (who had been called "Fumbles" and mistreated by G.I. Joe) and codenames him "Trousersnake" after the pants he was wearing. After he and the other Cobra members saw Calvin snipe the G.I. Joe members, Cobra Commander congratulated "Trousersnake" only to be told by Calvin to call him "Fumbles" (which Calvin has finally accepted as a codename).
    • In "The Ramblings of Maurice," Cobra Commander views his Wall of Fallen Villains and notices not many names on it. He then shoots a Cobra Cadet named Wilson in order to add a name to the Wall of Fallen Villains.
    • In "Cannot Be Erased, So Sorry," Cobra Commander takes Baroness, Destro, and Major Bludd to a drive-thru restaurant where Cobra Commander's hissing noises causes problems for him when he makes an order in the intercom.
    • In "Schindler's Bucket List," Wild Bill (disguised as Storm Shadow) plans to ruin a roast for Cobra Commander, only to get shot by him.
  • Higgins Ultra Low Track Glue Funk Hits 1972-2006, a 2002 album by breakcore artist Venetian Snares features a track called Cobra Commander which features heavily distorted samples from G.I. Joe: The Movie.
  • Comedian Hal Sparks dressed as Cobra Commander on the VH1 special I Love Toys in a segment called "Cobra Commander's Day Off", where he would commit 'evil' deeds such as stealing newspapers and toilet paper, cheating at chess and vandalizing a coworker's desk.
  • 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 is what then led to the conflict between Peter Griffin (who is against the censorship of television) and the FCC.
  • In the Mad episode "Pooh Grit/Not-a-Fan-a-Montana," Cobra Commander hosts his own daytime talk show.

References

  1. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 95. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  2. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 100. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  3. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 112. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  4. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 133. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  5. ^ Santelmo, Vincent (1994). The Official 30th Anniversary Salute To G.I. Joe 1964-1994. Krause Publications. p. 140. ISBN 0-87341-301-6. 
  6. ^ "Cobra Commander/Laser-Viper two-pack". http://www.yojoe.com/action/01/cardedimages/cobracommanderlaserviper.jpg. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  7. ^ "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" #31-32 (Jan.-Feb. 1985)
  8. ^ "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" #33 (March 1985)
  9. ^ "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #43 (January 1986)
  10. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #53 (November 1986)
  11. ^ "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" Number 55 (January 1987)
  12. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #55 (Jan. 1987)
  13. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #61 (Jul. 1987)
  14. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #100
  15. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #145
  16. ^ "America's Elite" #7-10 (2006)
  17. ^ "The File on the Baron". http://www.bloodforthebaron.com/comics/baf/093/index.html. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  18. ^ "Action Force" #1 (March 1987)
  19. ^ a b "G.I. Joe enters the Cobra Civil War". Comic Book Resources. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=30420. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  20. ^ G.I. Joe: Cobra Civil War #1
  21. ^ G.I. Joe: Cobra Civil War #0
  22. ^ Cobra: Civil War #1
  23. ^ G.I. Joe: Origins #1-5
  24. ^ "Roll Call". G.I. Joe Roll Call. Joe Headquarters. http://www.joeheadquarters.com/rollcall_cobra.shtml. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  25. ^ "Lights! Camera! Cobra!". G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
  26. ^ a b G.I. Joe: The Movie (Motion picture). De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. April 20, 1987. 
  27. ^ "Headrobots Snake Exclusive Recolor - Transformers News". TFW2005. http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-news/other-news-20/headrobots-snake-exclusive-recolor-169616/. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  28. ^ Derrik J. Lang (2009-04-17). "Gordon-Levitt Plays Cobra in 'G.I. Joe' Film". Military.com. http://www.military.com/entertainment/movies/movie-news/gordon-levitt-plays-cobra-in-g.i.-joe-film. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  29. ^ "Toy Spoiler Possibly Reveals G.I. Joes Cobra Commander". http://www.shockya.com/news/2009/02/14/toy-spoiler-possibly-reveals-gi-joe%E2%80%99s-cobra-commander/. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  30. ^ Roberts, Matt. "G.I. Joe for Personal Computers". YoJoe.com. http://www.yojoe.com/archive/games/joepc.shtml. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  31. ^ Casablanca, Rayo (2008). 6 Sick Hipsters. Kensington Publishing Corp.. p. 61. ISBN 9780758222831. 
  32. ^ Fleming, Dan (1996). Powerplay: toys as popular culture. Manchester University Press ND. p. 108. ISBN 071904717X. 
  33. ^ Burke, Kevin (1998). Saturday Morning Fever:Growing up with Cartoon Culture. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 172. ISBN 978-0312169961. 
  34. ^ Englehardt, Tom (2007). The End of Victory Culture: cold war America and the disillusioning of a generation. Univ of Massachusetts Press. p. 283. ISBN 9781558495869. 
  35. ^ Gallagher, Matt (2010). Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. De Capo Press. p. 207. ISBN 9780306818806. 

External links


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