Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In Season 1, Cobra Commander is the leader of Cobra, described in the show's theme song as "A ruthless, terrorist organisation determined to rule the world". His face is always covered, either by a cowl which covers everything but his eyes, or a featureless chrome mask which covers his entire face. He always wore a blue military Cobra uniform, and occasionally wore a cape and carried a scepter, depending on the occasion.
Season 2 opened with the 5-episode miniseries "Arise, Serpentor, Arise!", in which the Cobra organisation decided that, after Cobra Commander had repeatedly failed to lead them victory, they should literally build a new leader. Cobra's scientists used the DNA of the world's greatest military leaders to genetically engineer Cobra Commander's replacement, Serpentor , who took control of Cobra and reduced Cobra Commander to the status of "Lackey". At the end of the episode arc Cobra Commander managed to regain some degree of control over the organization from Serpentor when, in a rare moment of competence, he appears at the last minute wielding a flamethrower and single-handedly managed to save the Cobra forces from defeat at the hands of the Joes. Cobra Commander spent most of Season 2 trying to regain his former power, forming his own secret society called The Coil.
After being de-evolved into a snake-creature in GI Joe: The Movie, he was ressurected to human form at the start of Season 3 using a mysterious element called "Dragonfire".
Although we can only see Cobra Commander's eyes, it is clear that he is caucasian with brown eyes. Why he wears the mask is not mentioned explicitly, but at one point Destro walks in on him eating, prompting him to say "It takes a strong stomach to watch me eat, eh, Destro?", implying he may have some deformity. Some of this was later contradicted in GI Joe: The Movie.
Cobra Commander frequently led assaults himself, but was a coward at heart and was the first to begin running when the tide of battle turned. A fairly hyper fellow, he frequently descended into fits of rage whenever things went badly for him, often going into extended rants.
He was voiced by the late Chris Latta.
Not much is known of Cobra Commander's past, but in his early career he was a used car salesman. While struggling to keep his business afloat, he learned a car crash had taken the life of his older brother Dan, who had suffered a breakdown after serving in the Vietnam war.
Cobra Commander became obsessed with finding someone to pay for Dan's death. The other car which Dan had hit contained the family of the GI Joe operative codenamed Snake Eyes, and Cobra Commander began to blame him, eventually tracking him to a Japan, where he was a member of a ninja clan, and hiring a mercenary called Firefly to kill him. Firefly knew he was no match for Snake Eyes, so he referred Cobra Commander to another assassin, Zartan , who infiltrated the clan and shot Snake Eyes with an arrow he had earlier stolen from another ninja, Storm Shadow. However, it was not Snake Eyes who was hit, but the clan's leader and Storm Shadow's uncle, Hard Master . Storm Shadow was blamed for the murder and fled, along with Cobra Commander, and both vowed revenge against Snake Eyes.
Cobra Commander returned to his normal life, but after his wife gave birth to a son, Billy, she found out about what had happened in Japan. He took Billy and left his wife, becoming increasingly paranoid and blaming all his problems on "the system". He travelled across America with Billy, finding people who shared his desire to bring down big business and the government, and using money he'd earned by running pyramid schemes to attract even more followers.
He then moved to the town of Springfield, where the businesses were struggling and the people had become dissillusioned the way America was being run. He used his power to corrupt the town and eventually control it. Within the town, he founded a clandestine terrorist group called Cobra. Billy, realising his father was now totally insane, fled and joined an anti-Cobra underground organisation, but Cobra Commander cared little.
Cobra's agents spread throughout the world, overturning or subverting unstable third world governments. During 1980s nuclear standoff, Cobra fought against both American and Soviet forces. Eventually, Cobra became so large that Cobra Commander could not control it on his own, and hired a cadre of arms dealers, assassins and bodyguards to aid him. This led to frequent internal power-struggles within the organisation, and ultimately The Baroness and Major Bludd hired an anti-cobra fighter to assassinate Cobra Commander. The boy they hired turned out to be Billy, and he was captured before he could kill his father. Cobra Commander had become such a raving lunatic by this point that had no qualms about torturing his own son, but Billy refused to reveal who had hired him. This impressed Storm Shadow, who now worked for Cobra, so he freed Billy and they both escaped to New York, where Storm Shadow taught Billy ninjitsu. Billy was later involved in fight between Cobra and a group of Ninjas, and a missile attack blew his leg off and left him in a coma.
After several failed world domination schemes and the creation of Serpentor by Doctor Mindbender , Cobra Commander found out about Billy. He found him and promised he would now try to be a better father, and brought Billy to the Crimson Guard soldier Fred VII, a mechanical genius who built Billy a new robotic leg. Upon seeing that Fred VII had also constructed a suit of battle armour for Cobra Commander, who once again planned to take over the world, Billy walked out on his father. Cobra Commander realised the folly of his ways and also began to walk out, but Fred VII was so angered to see his commander throw away what he had dedicated his life to that he shot Cobra Commander in the back, apparently killing him.
Unaware that he was being watched, Fred VII buried his body. The body was exhumed by another Crimson Guardsman, Fred VIII, who discovered that Cobra Commander was not dead after all, and managed to revive him. Cobra Commander was assumed dead by the rest of Cobra, so he began to form a new organisation in secret. Dr Mindbender went to Cobra Commander's supposed grave to harvest DNA in order to create a new leader, but of course found the grave to be empty. Cobra Commander eventually returned to control of Cobra, this time even more insane than before, filled with rage at Billy for attempting to kill him, and at himself for thinking about abandonning Cobra. He gave up all traces of morality and humanity, and re-built a new Cobra "high command" by brainwashing Destro, The Baroness, Zartan, Storm Shadow and Billy into serving him again.
Cobra Commander's GI Joe Filecard reads as follows:
- COBRA COMMANDER
- Code Name: Enemy Leader
- File Name: (classified)
- Primary Military Speciality: Intelligence
- Secondary Military Speciality: Ordinance (Experimental Weaponry)
- Birthplace: (classified)
- Grade: Commander in Chief
- Absolute power! Total control of the world... its people, wealth and resources - that's the objective of COBRA Commander. This fanatical leader rules with an iron fist. He demands total loyalty and allegiance. His main battle plan, for world control, relies on revolution and chaos. He personally led uprisings in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other trouble spots. Responsible for kidnapping scientists, businessmen and military leaders, then forcing them to reveal their top level secrets.
- "COBRA Commander is hatred and evil personified. Corrupt. A man without scruples. Probably the most dangerous man alive!"
There are presently 17 different versions of Cobra Commander in 3" action figure form.
Version 1 - 1982
Version 2 - 1984
Dark-blue Cobra uniform and cowl. Came with a laser pistol. Mainly a repaint of Version 1, but with a different piece for his head.
Version 3 - 1987
Had aquamarine and silver samurai-style 'battle armour' which revealed the top-half of his face. Came with a pistol, backpack and mouthpiece.
Version 4 - 1991
Blue & black ninja-esque uniform with a golden helmet and red veil covering his face. Came with a submachinegun , glider and a launcher for the glider.
Version 5 - 1991
Blue Cobra uniform with yellow trimmings and cowl. Came with a rifle and a missile-launching backpack. The backpack had four buttons which caused him to say either "I'll get you!", "Vipers attack!" or "Cobra!" depending on which button was pressed. The fourth button produced a 'combat' sound effect.
Version 6 - 1993
Black Cobra uniform with silver trimmings and cowl. Came with four guns, a spring-loaded missile launcher, two missiles and a figure stand. Repaint of Version 5, but with a retooled back.
Version 7 - 1994
Aquamarine, blue and black "Star Brigade" armour which left the entire top of his head uncovered. Came with a rifle, helmet and a device which allowed him to 'crawl'.
Version 8 - 1997
Blue and silver futuristic armour which covered his face. Came with a pistol and figure stand. Repaint of Version 3.
Version 9 - 2000
Black Cobra uniform with silver trimmings and cowl. Came with a rifle, missile launcher, two missiles and a figure stand. Repaint of Version 5 without the backpack.
Version 10 - 2001
Silver and blue futuristic armour which covered his face. Came with an uzi, backpack and figure stand. Repaint of Version 3.
Version 11 - 2002
Blue & grey Cobra uniform with cowl. Came with three guns. Had a T-crotch instead of the usual "o-ring".
Version 12 - 2002
Black & red Cobra uniform with cowl. Came with three guns. Repaint of Version 11.
Version 13 - 2002
Blue & grey Cobra uniform with cowl. Came with a backpack, harpoon rifle, pistol and a golden staff in the shape of a snake. A retool of Version 11 with an o-ring.
Version 14 - 2003
Blue Cobra uniform with red trimmings and chrome faceplate. Came with two guns, a cape and a golden snake-staff.
Version 15 - 2003
Black Cobra uniform with red trimmings and cowl. Came with a backpack, harpoon rifle, pistol and a golden staff in the shape of a snake. Repaint of Version 13.
Version 16 - 2004
Black & silver Cobra uniform with red trimmings and chrome faceplate. Came with staff, cape and two guns. Repaint of Version 14.
Version 17 - 2004
Blue Cobra uniform with gold trimmings. Came with two guns. Retool of Version 2 with a new head piece.
There was also a 12-inch Cobra Commander released in 1992 with a removable cowl as part of the "Hall of Fame" subset. His face was revealed to be that of a normal looking caucasian male in his 30s-40s with blue eyes and black hair, but his mouth is covered by a kind of scarf.
In 2002, when Hasbro renewed the GI Joe vs. Cobra toyline, 12-inch versions of the GvC characters were being made in addition to their 3" counterparts. A 2002 version of the figure came with a jumpsuit, a blue-colored torso, an armored vest and various weapons. His cowl was molded to his head this time. A repaint of this figure with a black outfit was released in 2003 as a Toys R'Us exclusive.
In 2004, a third 12-inch Cobra Commander figure based on the Battle Helmet version of the character was released as part of the Venom vs. Valor line. This version came with a royal uniform (including cape) and a removeable helmet, although the faceplate was molded to his head.
GI Joe: The Movie explained Cobra Commander's origin in full, although it contradicts some of the original cartoon. Cobra Commander is revealed to be a former scientist / nobleman from the ancient, pre-human society of Cobra-La. He is humanoid in appearance, but has completely white skin, no hair, and eyes with cat-like pupils. Prior to the formation of Cobra, there was an accident in his laboratory when a strange plant he was studying exploded and disfigured his face (he grows multiple, asymmetrical eyes all over his face), explaining why he must wear the mask. He was then sent forth from Cobra-La and told to raise an army that would destroy human civilisation, allowing Cobra-La to retake the world. This, of course, failed, and Golobulous , ruler of Cobra-La, punished him by using mutating spores to devolve him into a snake. This was a slow process, though, and he spent the final hour of the movie rasping "I wasss once a mannnnnn!" and slowly going insane until he became a snake completely. Cobra Commander spends many of his final hours as a human accompanied by the G.I. Joe operative Roadblock, with the two of them alternating between trying to survive the harsh Himalayan environment together and trying to kill each other out of frustration. In the end, the mutated Cobra Commander appears briefly during the final battle, attacking and eating one of Serpentor's snakes just as it is about to kill Falcon, giving Falcon the opportunity to defeat Serpentor, fight Globulus, and save the world.
His inhuman appearance, both before and after his lab accident, goes against what was seen of him during the animated series. As Cobra-La is an ancient, inhuman civilisation, Cobra Commander could potentially be thousands of years old.
As in the animated series, his voice was provided by Chris Latta.
The evil of Cobra Commander has not just been limited to menacing the G.I. Joes - he has had several encounters with the Transformers, primarily in their respective comic book universes.
The most notable appearance of the Commander in a Transformers story, however, took place in the third season of the Transformers cartoon, in the episode "Only Human". An aged Cobra Commander (the series is set in the then-future of 2006), going by the alias of "Old Snake", is approached by crime lord Victor Drath, who wishes to purchase synthoid technology, as seen in some episodes of the G.I. Joe cartoon series. Cobra Commander transfers the minds of Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Arcee and Springer into synthoid bodies, leaving their robotic shells for Drath's use in his crimes.
Although he is never actually identified by name, it is clear that "Old Snake" is Cobra Commander. He is voiced by Chris Latta (with the voice of Cobra Commander), wears the character's distinctive mask, and has visible traces of his blue uniform underneath his trenchcoat. He is identified as the former leader of a terrorist organisation that used synthoid technology, and, most interestingly, appears to be wearing the gauntlets of Serpentor (although which Serpentor's are dark green, "Old Snake"'s are black). However, the series cast list notes that we should be able to see his bare fingers through torn gloves, and that his skin is scaley, like that of a real snake. The animation of the episode is not stellar, so we may be misinterpreting this view as gauntlets. Most tellingly of all, of course, is that at the conclusion of the episode, as Old Snake laments that they don't make terrorists like they used to, he lifts his fists into the air and begins to scream "COBR-!" before bursting into a coughing fit.
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