The Cobra Commander from the 1980’s GI Joe series is often portrayed as a failure in the execution of his plans for world domination. COBRA’s own lieutenants come to view their Commander as a complete loser. But what if all the failure was intentional? What if the Cobra Commander was actually working for the United States government? It is possible that the Cobra Commander was a saboteur planted by the United States government to destroy COBRA internally, and here’s why …
10. His Repeated Failures Kept an Ancient Race at Bay
In 1987’s GI Joe: The Movie, Cobra is revealed to be inspired by an ancient race civilization in the Himalayas called Cobra-La. Their leader Golobulus refers to the Cobra Commander as a “brilliant young nobleman” in their civilization. The nobleman had been disfigured in a laboratory accident, and would later become the Cobra Commander. If Cobra Commander had failed, another representative of Cobra-La would have been sent to start a worldwide terrorist organization.
The “brilliant young nobleman” may have struck a deal with the United States government. He would create a “terrorist organization” to keep Cobra-La at bay, which would also be used to test America’s elite fighting force. The added bonus would be to keep an actual group of terrorists and criminals in an organization which could be monitored by the United States. This terrorist organization would also purposely never be successful.
9. “An Eye For An Eye”
“An Eye For An Eye” is the fortieth episode of the first full season of GI Joe. In the episode, a COBRA plane is shot down. The plane falls directly on a house, which is owned by Charles Fairmont, whose family was inside the house. The causes Fairmont to go on a mission of vengeance against COBRA. When Fairmont confronts the Cobra Commander, the Commander doesn’t kill him. The Cobra Commander merely makes sure that Fairmont is unarmed before confronting him. Cobra Commander then simply lets Fairmont go.
The Joes also put down their weapons and let the Commander go. What was the point of that? Well, Charles Fairmont went away from the scripted mission. The Cobra Commander instantly broke off the attack when Fairmont’s house was destroyed. The Joes followed Fairmont to make sure that neither Fairmont nor the Cobra Commander was injured. This indicates that the Joes understood Cobra Commander’s greater purpose.
8. “Worlds Without End”
“Worlds Without End” was a two-part episode in the first season. In it, the Joes were transported to an alternate dimension in which Cobra took over the world. The difference is that this COBRA is both ruthless and lethal. Several transported Joes find out that their counterparts were killed by COBRA. More importantly, the Baroness is revealed to be a double agent who helps out the Joes. This episode proves that a Cobra Commander committed to world domination would have been successful.
This episode shows how ineffective a lower-level double agent would have been. The real difference in the two worlds is the placement of the double agent inside of COBRA.
7. “Arise, Serpentor, Arise”
The second season of G.I. Joe started with a five-part mini-series titled “Arise, Serpentor, Arise“. In this story arc, COBRA creates a new Cobra Emperor out of the DNA of famous dead military leaders. Golobulus reveals in GI Joe: The Movie that he gave Dr. Mindbender the inspiration to create Serpentor. Cobra Commander, as a scientist, had to recognize his homeland’s influence on Serpentor’s DNA design. Commander did everything in his power to corrupt or even stop the creation of Serpentor. Commander even aides Sgt. Slaughter in the Sarge’s attempt to stop the creation of Serpentor. Cobra Commander may have been trying to stop a plot to take control of COBRA away from him, but there is also the possibility that Cobra Commander was continuing to limit Cobra-La’s influence.
In the end, Serpentor possessed damaged DNA, which limited his effectiveness. Serpentor’s damage was due to the efforts of Cobra Commander.
6. The COIL
Cobra Commander built an international terrorist organization almost completely devoid of any terrorists. Destro was an arms dealer. Dr. Mindbender was a mad scientist. Zartan was a mercenary. The Crimson Twins were more concerned with wealth accumulation. The only member of the Cobra inner circle that had any experience leading an army was Major Blood. Cobra Commander was the only real “zealot” until Serpentor came along. COBRA, without their Commander, was not a terrorist organization at all.
This was likely done by design. GI Joe writer Buzz Dixon stated that the plan was to have COBRA succeeded by the COIL, a criminal organization run by the Crimson Twins. The primary purpose would have been accumulation of wealth, and not a political takeover. Cobra Commander wanted an inner circle disconnected from Cobra-La, which would cease to perform military terror after he passed. This would end COBRA as a military threat should anything happen to him.
5. Prisoners Received Relatively Fair Treatment
No Joe prisoners were ever severely harmed under COBRA’s watch. There were certainly no prisoners who were killed. In the two-part episode “There’s No Place Like Springfield“, an entire synthetic town is created specifically for the purpose of Shipwreck’s relative comfort. Duke and Snake Eyes were forced to fight in the “Revenge of Cobra” miniseries, but not to the death, or even anything close. Overall, Cobra Commander treated prisoners humanely.
The best example would be the two-part episode, “Captives of Cobra“. COBRA captured members of the Joe team’s families. Were they killed or tortured? No, they were simply held. COBRA treated captives like simple prisoners of war. They did not treat them as if they were in some sort of hostage situation. COBRA could have easily tortured or killed anyone, but they did not. The reasoning could be because of humane protocols set forth by their Commander, who was actually protecting the well-being of the Joes.
4. No Joes Were Ever Killed
Even outside of the prison walls, never once did COBRA manage to kill a Joe. Clearly, they could have — they were an incredibly well-armed and extremely dangerous group of warriors. But nope, no death. The only time that a Joe even came close to dying was in the movie, when Serpentor attacked Duke with a poisonous snake. But even this scene is completely consistent with the idea that Cobra Commander was protecting the Joes, and not just because Commander was not the one who attempted murder. Somehow, Duke survives the venomous attack, which was almost certainly due to Cobra Commander getting involved medicinally.
3. COBRA Improved the Joes by Testing Weak Security Points
Richard Marcinko was a former commander of Seal Team Six. Marcinko was also tasked in the 1980’s with “Red Cell” operations, to test the actual effectiveness of American defenses against terror threats. This was much like the war games in the movie Down Periscope, which tested whether a rebel diesel sub captain could invade America’s waters.
COBRA, under Cobra Commander’s leadership, was very much like Red Cell to the Joes. COBRA found answers to questions such as “Would a Joe betray his country to get an operation for a loved one?” COBRA also tested whether the Joes’ computer security could be infiltrated because the system’s administrator wanted female attention. COBRA tested the Joes with psychological warfare through their dreams. In every instance, COBRA finds a weak point which the Joes can later strengthen against an actual threat. It is the same type of testing that our own American military performs to this day.
2. COBRA Actively Gathered Intel on Known Terrorists
The episode “COBRATHON” displays the effectiveness of a partnership between the Cobra Commander and the Joes. COBRATHON is designed as a closed circuit television telethon to give terrorists and criminals from across the world an opportunity to help COBRA release a computer virus against law enforcement mainframes. The Joes catch wind of the plot and hack into COBRA’s Supercomputer with their own virus. The end result is that criminals from around the globe compromised their identities and bank accounts, information which ended up in the hands of the United States government.
Cobra Commander is not really featured in the episode. However, the Joes had to be getting their information about this event from somewhere. COBRATHON allowed the United States government to seize up to five billion mid-80s dollars in criminal assets from around the world. The bank accounts would have also been a great “jumping off point” to find and arrest criminals, terrorists, and money launderers.
1. Cobra Commander Tried to Assassinate Serpentor
No Joes were ever killed by COBRA. However, Cobra Commander was more than willing to use third parties to put out a contract killing on Serpentor. This is evidenced in the episode Ninja Holiday, in which a Cobra Commander surrogate almost hires Sgt. Slaughter to do the job. Cobra Commander could have left COBRA after the events of Arise, Serpentor, Arise, but he begged to remain part of the organization. Cobra Commander offered to be Serpentor’s scapegoat and patsy.
There is no evidence that Cobra Commander ever put a contract hit out on a Joe. The United States government has certainly used and attempted to use contract killers in the past. It would make sense that Cobra Commander and the United States government were working together to restore the pre-Serpentor COBRA. Ninja Holiday really is just a classic black operation. It also shows that Cobra Commander has the capacity for murder, but was unwilling to use it against the Joes. Why? Because the Cobra Commander, and not any of the Joes, was the series’ true Real American Hero.