In the ever-evolving landscape of comics, there are simply some things that should not have happened. In Retcon This, we examine some of the more questionable aspects of our beloved characters’ sordid histories.
Throughout the history of villainy, few evil masterminds have left a more indelible mark on the collective subconscious than Cobra Commander. Yet, why? What has he done? And what’s his deal? This week, we take a look back at the many permutations of Cobra Commander in the hopes of cobbling together a single viable character. Where better to begin, then, than…
The Origin of Cobra Commander
Marvel/Devil’s Due Comics - In the early days, the Commander’s origin was firmly established. Originally a used car salesman, the head snake became fed up with America when life stopped going his way, and decided he’d raise a terrorist army from the ground up. Sure. Who hasn’t done that.
TV - The cartoon version of the commander had no origin - until the animated film revealed he was a hyper-evolved snake man sent into man’s world to conquer it on behalf of his fellow countrymen. Ummmm… right.
IDW - A former military operative, the individual now known as Chimera suffered a psychotic break and began a bid for wealth and power that ran him afoul of the newly formed Joe team.
THE WINNER - IDW. This was an easy choice. While the Commander’s story starts to wander into the ridiculous beyond this initial jumping off point, this is the only even remotely viable origin story.
The Look of Cobra Commander
Battle Armor - I did say “nigh-always.” Eventually in the comics, the real Cobra Commander was replaced by an impostor wearing a silver suit of battle armor and a ridiculous helmet that made him look like a reject mob from The Legend of Zelda. This look even made it to the cartoon, where CC donned the armor after… ummm… being re-evolved from snake… to… uh, man. Ugh.
Sigma 6 - The Sigma 6 take on Cobra Commander was slightly different, trading in the military uniform for body armor and combining the helmet and hood for a single, unified look. It may all make more sense from a tactical standpoint, but at the same point, seems about as plausible as Fred’s duds.
GI Joe: Resolute – This time out, CC has a more muted blue/grey military uniform that’s slightly tweaked to create a more retro look. He carries a saber with him, and unlike Destro in his Iron Grenadier days, the Commander quickly shows he knows how to use it. Plus, the combination of the dress coat and cape/shawl give him a somewhat more distinguised air.
GI Joe: Rise of Cobra - In the forthcoming movie, Cobra Commander dresses like a gimp with his head stuck in a fish tank.
THE WINNER - GI Joe: Resolute. This costume simply had the most believable quality to it, and a more ominous presence than previous takes. Swap out the battle helmet for a hood, and this would be the perfect look, but even the helmet – with its tinny resperator like rasp in place of the snakelike hiss of old – made more sense here than in past incarnations.
The Character of Cobra Commander
Marve/Devil’s Due Comics - This version of the Commander is a stone cold killer, whether it’s an insubordinate usurper or his own son (TWICE!), the Commander takes no prisoners (unless he’s burying them alive in a freighter). Greatest achievement - Victory, though fleeting. During WWIII, the Commander won. Period.
GI Joe: Resolute - Not all that dissimilar from his comic book counterpart, this ruthless version of CC slits a lackey’s throat simply for saying the word “can’t.” Greatest achievement - He killed the entire population of Moscow. ‘Nuff said.
TV - Whether it was the 80′s toon or Sigma 6, television has always painted the Commander as a bit of a loon, concocting the most ridiculous plans possible for his many varied bids at world domination. At least in his Sigma 6 days, he had a bit of the edge seen in the comics (and later in Resolute). The 80′s Commander was a sniveling coward and world class buffoon who would’ve been a stretch as the leader of a Girl Scout troop, let alone a terrorist organization considered to be a viable threat to human freedom. Greatest achievement - Uhh… turning Serpentor into an iguana?
IDW - Chimera seemingly murdered his family and has undergone facial reconstructive surgery more than once in a bid to keep himself unknown and off the grid. Greatest achievement (so far) - Providing the Joe team with their headquarters. Good one!
THE WINNER - If you’re honestly not sure where I’m going here…
So… where does all of that leave us? GI Joe: Resolute is seemingly set within the continuity of the original cartoon – to a degree. If it continues – and it had better – the writers would do well to borrow from Chimera’s backstory in the pages of IDW’s GI Joe: Origins. Ignore the Cobra-La foolishness and make this version of Cobra Commander a bit more believable, while upping the badass quotient to include further acts of violence and increasingly successful campaigns of terror. Oh, and let’s see the hood.