Well, look at that. Cobra, better known for their audacious plans to spy on the Pentagon inside plumbing vans, smuggle missile guidance systems out of America inside video games, and carve Cobra Commander's face onto the moon, may have finally gotten it right. What are we talking about? It dawned on us today -- and you better be sitting down for this -- that we're already a few weeks into the Year of the Snake. Shocking, we know. While America's favorite rouge supervillain army have been bested time and time again by the G.I. Joes since the '80s, we've got to think this was now a distraction all along, with the Joes and the world at large too busy mopping up Cobra's cartoony shenanigans to realize they were actually playing the long game.
And, here we are, in 2013, with the Year of the Snake upon us. We've got the American budget on the brink of sequestration. The Pope's resigned. North Korea's tested a nuke. And meteors are falling from the sky. Frankly, the only logical explanation is that a vengeful supervillain is behind it, and we'd like to be the first to raise up our hands to salute our new serpentine lords and masters.
To mark this momentous occasion (and make sure we're not marked for disintegration), we proudly present our ten favorite Cobra villains (or should we say misunderstood heroes).
10. Venomous Maximus
We start off the list with Venomous Maximus, who's on here solely because of his name. In the pantheon of over-the-top Cobra codenames, Venomous Maximus may just be the most silly, self-congratulatory best and worst of the bunch. Actually, no, Venomous Maximus is also on this list as he's far from your rank and file henchmen. Rather, he's the mutated form of General Hawk, G.I. Joe's greatest leader, transformed into a beastly adversary by Cobra science.
Destro is Cobra's arms maker -- with the endless brilliance to invent H.I.S.S. tanks, F.A.N.G. helicopters, and B.A.T. androids; endless funds to build these weapons; and endless patience to watch as they get destroyed again and again and again. He plays an important role in the Cobra organization, but as kids, we weren't thinking about such matters. Instead, we were always just wondering "What's up with the head?" Was he a robot? A cyborg? Some dude who painted himself silver every morning? G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra finally explained this to us, with Destro actually being the Ninth Doctor under a shimmering nanite skin. And, for this, we honor Destro with the number nine spot on our list.
Yes, Megatron. The Transformers and G.I. Joe sagas have intertwined on more than one occasion, with the Decepticons teaming up with Cobra against an Autobot-G.I. Joe alliance. In perhaps the most grand of these crossovers, Megatron traded Cybertronian secrets to Cobra in exchange for a new super tank body. This deal fell apart, though, when Megatron betrayed Cobra. There was lots of death all around, and ultimately Fortress Maximus put an end to the affair by throwing himself into the Ark's power core, sacrificing himself to stop Megatron's reign. None the less, we still want to think Megatron's on Cobra's Christmas card list.
7. Croc Master
Cobra Island, like any good secret lair, has an intricate maze of dastardly traps to keep would-be heroes away. Now, other villains may prefer to stock their base's security systems with guard dogs, piranha, or sharks with laser beams attached to their heads, but Cobra fills their moats with crocodiles. While it would have been much more thematic for Cobra to fill their moats with -- we don't know -- cobras, we presume Cobra chose crocs because of some union thing to keep Croc Master employed. Croc Master is the keeper of Cobra Island's guard crocodiles, and we now present some completely legitimate facts about him: The original Croc Master was a home security salesman who sold crocodiles as burglar alarms. He was recruited by Cobra via a newspaper ad. He had a pet crocodile named Lolita. This Croc Master died (probably eaten by Lolita). A second Croc Master was then brought into Cobra. He died of botulism. Cobra's on their third Croc Master now (gotta be a union thing), and he's a cannibal.
6. Storm Shadow
Ninjas are cool. Evil ninjas should be even cooler. Yet, while Snake Eyes would easily top a list of our favorite G.I. Joes, Storm Shadow -- Snake Eyes's blood brother -- ain't that high on our list. He's an eighth degree black belt, descendant of the Arashikage ninja clan, and trusted bodyguard of Cobra Commander, all of which are awesome, yet for all of this, we still think something's lacking. Maybe it's just the vanilla jumpsuit.
We love Storm Shadow. We're just not in love with Storm Shadow. Meanwhile, we want to make a million snake babies with Serpentor. A Cobra super soldier created from the DNA of Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Rasputin, Montezuma, Geronimo, Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, and Sgt. Slaughter, Serpentor quickly sought to be more than Cobra's version of Captain America, staging a coup against Cobra Commander and launching a Cobra Civil War. Serpentor's other accomplishments include invading Washington DC, capturing the Vice President of America, and putting G.I. Joe poster boy Duke into a coma. Depending on the continuity you follow, Serpentor was either killed by an arrow to the face of a tragic cape mishap -- his regal robe sucked into his flying throne's turbine engine.
4. Nemesis Enforcer
Nemesis Enforcer is an 11-year-old's doodle of a metal album cover given life. A wicked, winged, eldritch being, Nemesis Enforcer is captain of the ancient city of Cobra-La's Royal Guard. He's a monster created by Cobra-La's ruler, Golobulus, sewn together from various dead body parts. He's specifically stated as not having a soul, but that's OK, as he's got giant wings, spikes on his arms, and is voiced by the immortal Peter Cullen. It all evens out.
One doesn't tuck into G.I. Joe expecting an intricately twisting plot, but Firefly's story delivers at least one shock. Firefly is a deep cover Cobra agent, working secretly within the ranks of G.I. Joe. When he ultimately, openly betrays the Joes, they see him as so valuable a soldier, they make him an offer to stay on the Joe team. Firefly refuses. Gasp! When he's not working behind enemy lines as a master spy, Firefly prefers to make a splash, with fire his weapon of choice, wielded both through strategically placed bombs and plain old arson. At one point in his career, he blows up the Golden Gate Bridge.
2. Cobra Commander
Now, while G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra's origin story for Cobra Commander -- with Joseph Gordon-Levitt under the mask -- was a tad underwhelming, in the menagerie of comic and cartoon continuities, Cobra Commander is everything from a vengeful used car salesman to a nobleman from an ancient reptilian race. Oh, and in at least one, he funds Cobra's early days through a pyramid scheme centered around selling soap. Regardless of his origin, though, Cobra Commander's one of the most iconic, terrifying villains in pop culture today with a hunger for power, blood, and control nothing less than Shakespearean. Cobra would be nothing without him, and how can he not be near the top of our list? He gets bonus points for being voiced by Chris Latta, who also gave breath to (the similarly Shakespearean) Starscream.
Baroness Anastasia Cisarovna is our number one favorite Cobra villain, but not for the reason you may think. Sure, pubescent boys dream of her nightly, but looking beyond the miniguns she's got strapped atop her amble leather-bound bosom, she's also resourceful, commanding, and tough. While kickass female characters -- from Lara Croft to Starbuck and Buffy to Bo -- are common across comics, games, and television now, back when G.I. Joe launched, the aggressive, empowered Baroness was a revolutionary thing, and we'd like to finally give her her due.
Agree? Disagree? The choice is yours. Smart money, though, is to suck up to Baroness, as she's clearly the power behind Cobra's throne.
Main Image - joereloaded.com, Venomous Maximus - generalsjoes.com, Destro - comicvine.com, Megatron - temporal-flux.blogspot.com, Croc Master - yojoe.com, Storm Shadow - screenrant.com, Serpentor - comicvine.com, Nemesis Enforcer - generalsjoes.com, Firefly - robertang.blogspot.com, Cobra Commander - dance-of-cobra.deviantart.com, Baroness - adistm.deviantart.com
About The Author:
Peter Tatara is the International Director of Content and Marketing for ReedPOP. During his time at Reed, he's planned on-air contests with Cartoon Network, hosted Twitter scavenger hunts around New York City, and bought Joss Whedon a sandwich. In his spare time, he runs a calendar of geeky New York City events called Nerd York City. Follow him at @petertatara and @nerdyorkcity.