Saturday, July 3, 2010

This is Cobraaaaaaaaaa !

[He wants you (and not in a relationship way]

To be a leader means that one should be fair in judgment and just in dealing with people - and the best villains of the 80s totally reflect the exact opposite of this, and that's what's made them so memorable, so cool. You've got Skeletor, Mumm-ra, Megatron, Mon-starr and more.

However, none of them lead an army as huge and as domineering as Cobra Commander.

The title of Cobra Commander has been reused over the subsequent years, however, the best and most memorable holder of that title was the baddie from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero of 1982

Not much is known of the background of the man called the Cobra Commander. Cobra Commander is obsessed with creating political and social conflict in as many number of areas possible. He demands that his minions swear absolute loyalty to himself and Cobra. Being ruthless and totally obsessed, the Commander also likes to personally oversee vital projects himself, even engaging in military combat himself on occasion.

During the run course of the Sunbow animated series subtitled A Real American Hero, Chris Latta voiced the dramatic Commander - infamous exploits of this megalomaniac included a Cobra temple and an Arena of Sport for his amusement. He even had Destro build a MASS Device for him that enabled his men to capture a spy satellite for his own use.

Although only Cobra Commander's eyes are ever openly exposed, it is clear from this partial view that he is a blue-eyed Caucasian. His reason for wearing the mask was not expressly divulged, but in one episode, Destro interrupts his unmasked privacy during a meal and is repulsed at what he saw (which is not shown on-screen). Upon noticing Destro's presence the Commander so humourously muses, "It takes a strong stomach to watch me eat, eh, Destro?".

In G.I. Joe: The Movie it is revealed that he is in fact a many-eyed, blue-skinned snake-man from the ancient civilization of Cobra-La.

Cobra Commander frequently leads assaults of combat himself, but often falls into being a coward at heart whom is usually the first to retreat whenever the battle turns sour. 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.

[A Commander is one who knows where to point]

The Cobra organization 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 Commander to the status of a 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. Cobra Commander, through an opportune moment, manages to save the life of Serpentor from a Joe attack and, thereafter, Cobra Commander seems to be employed as the organization's primary field commander.

[A Commander is someone who knows how to steal movie lines]

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.

Following on from the movie, the DiC animated series re-starts with Cobra Commander left in a snake form, and being kept as a "pet" of Serpentor (who took great enjoyment in taunting and torturing the former leader and kept him in a cage). During this time, some members of Cobra were finding themselves disillusioned with Serpentor's leadership. In particular, The Baroness (recently rejected by Destro for Zarana), was finding herself no longer in Serpentor's good graces, and sought the means to oust him from power.

Opportunity presented itself in a scientific study she found suggesting the mutagenic properties of the Dragonfire energy. Seeing her chance, she, with the help of newly-joined Dreadnok Gnawgahide, released the captive Commander (still a snake) and took him into a cave believed to be a major source of Dragonfire power. Once there, the Baroness and Gnawgahide performed a ritual to unleash the Dragonfire. Their efforts bore fruit, as the Commander was returned to a more humanoid form (albeit green and reptilian in nature). After evading capture by the Joes, the Baroness and Gnawgahide provided Cobra Commander with an old battle suit of his and went about beginning the next phase in the Commander's plan to retake his organization.

Contacting Destro, Baroness surprised him by showing him the Commander in his new humanoid form. This caused Destro to immediately join their cause (and dump Zarana). As this was happening, Cobra Commander was also regaining the loyalty of some of his men, if not in some cases by force. Using the Dragonfire energy (again), he created a new fleet dubbed the Python Patrol, which he then used to overtake Serpentor and regain control of Cobra. In classic Cobra Commander fashion, he wasn't happy with simply defeating his usurper. In a final display of ruthlessness, he turned the Dragonfire energy against Serpentor, mutating him into a pig for Gnawgahide to keep as a pet.

A Real American Hero original figure line of 1982 featured Cobra Commander - fashioned with a light blue helmet with silver faceplate and red Cobra insignia on chest. This would probably be his most memorable representation.

This figures accessories included a small, black laser pistol with round, grilled muzzle.which could be stored in an impression in the figure's back.

The hooded version of Cobra Commander, released in 1984 used the same body mold as the 1982 original but with a new head and was on available as a mail-in direct-to-order.

Subsequent releases of Cobra Commander diverged from his original representation to be more functional themed - such as Battle Armor or the interesting Impostor character. A fun fact to add to your retro knowledge: over 40 versions of the Commander were released between 1982 to 2009 (inclusive of the movie line releases) making him one of the most re-issued and re-modeled characters of the Joe universe next to Snake Eyes.

[A Commander is someone who can stare at you for hours]

Another fact for you: the comics were very careful to differentiate between Cobra Commander's helmet and his hood which was only for ceremonial occasions, while the helmet was worn whenever he was in the field or in danger of facing combat.