Little is known about the Cobra Commander's early life. He was probably born and raised somewhere in the United States, and had at least one sibling, an older brother named Dan. Dan volunteered for military service and served a number of tours in Vietnam to keep his younger brother from being drafted. The young Commander, meanwhile, ran a largely unsuccessful used car lot. Following Dan's return from the war he opened a veteran's hospital, which was eventually burned down by a former patient. A judge ruled that the hospital had been burned by Dan as part of an insurance fraud scheme, and Dan lost everything. Despondent, he turned to drinking, ultimately driving drunk and causing a crash that killed him and a family of three.
Devastated by the loss of his brother, and refusing to acknowledge Dan's role in his own demise, the Commander sought out the only remaining member of the family who died in the accident, Snake Eyes. The pair became friends and worked together as vigilantes for some time, before the Commander attempted to incite Snake Eyes into joining him in killing the judge who he blamed for Dan's death. Snake Eyes refused and left the Commander, who killed the judge himself and swore revenge on Snake Eyes for abandoning him and his cause. The Commander began to turn towards crime, eventually amassing a group of fanatical followers.
Cobra Commander was created by Larry Hama.
In his original Marvel comics appearances, the Commander's brother was said to have descended into alcoholism due to post-traumatic stress disorder. The Commander begins constructing elaborate revenge fantasies around Snake Eyes, who he irrationally blames for his brother's death. This culminates in him sending an assassin to kill Snake Eyes, though this assassination attempt fails.
The Commander attempts to return to his life with his family, but fails when his wife learns of his murderous actions. Perceiving her attempt to go to the police as a betrayal, he kidnaps their infant son and takes up an itinerant con man life, eventually becoming the Commander of the fanatical Cobra.
When the G.I. Joe line was picked up by Devil's Due, they altered the Commander's origin to the current story.
Battle Action Force
The Commander was given a background as the leader of a terrorist organization known as the Red Shadows. While he headed this organization he was known as Baron Ironblood. He betrayed the Red Shadows to the UN, and then adopted the identity of Cobra Commander.
When GI Joe was taken over by IDW, Cobra Commander was explained to be not a single person, but a title that is passed from person to person. This person is elected by the Cobra Council, and tends to operate more in the shadows than earlier versions of the character.
Major Story Arcs
Rise to Power
The Commander begins to expand and consolidate his power by setting up in the economically depressed town of Springfield. He quickly sways the inhabitants to his side, swelling the ranks of the nascent Cobra greatly. He soon forms his followers into a paramilitary terrorist organization that is unquestioningly loyal to him. Cobra quickly grew in influence throughout the world, firmly entrenching itself in a number of unstable countries and setting itself up as a powerful criminal empire.
Around this time his son, Billy, turns against his father and resists the actions of Cobra. The organization begins to attract the attention of the United States government, who forms GI Joes to combat Cobra. Meanwhile, the Commander forms the High Command to deal with the demands of running the now-massive Cobra. The Commander quickly becomes the target of an assassination plot formulated by members of the High Command, who seek to take power for themselves.
Loss of Power
The assassination plot is foiled, and the would-be assassin revealed to be Billy. The Commander attempts to torture information about the plot out of his son, who refuses to give in. Billy is rescued by Storm Shadow, and later apparently killed in an explosion. Later, the Commander and Destro become trapped underground during an attempted assault on the Pit. Believed dead, the pair manage to escape and make their way back towards headquarters.
On the way, the Commander learns that Billy is only in critical condition, and vows to become a better father. He spends some time taking care of his son before his inability to give up on world conquest causes his son to abandon him. The Commander renounced Cobra and his leadership of it in order to win his son back. He is shot in the back and apparently killed by Fred VII, a member of the Crimson Guard who is angered by the Commander's renunciation of the organization.
Fred VII secretly takes up the identity of the Commander and masquerades as him for several years. The true Commander, however, managed to survive the attack and is able to recuperate fully. He keeps his continued survival a secret for some time, using the opportunity to reintegrate himself into Cobra and build up a loyal group of followers within the larger organization. After his erstwhile grave is found to be empty, the Commander returns with force. He has scores of "disloyal" Cobra operatives buried alive, and begins to institute mandatory brainwashing for all members to ensure complete loyalty.
Skills and Abilities
Cobra Commander is an intelligent and charismatic leader. He is skilled at intelligence gathering and espionage, as well as being proficient in armed and unarmed combat.
Danger Girl/G.I. Joe
After the acquisition of the Danger Girl characters by IDW it was decided to first launch the characters under the IDW banner with a crossover with one of the major properties at IDW, G.I. Joe (as they are owned by the same company it seems possible that these characters exist in the same continuity as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, though this is never confirmed.)
The series starts off with a dog chase involving Scarlett and Flint and they are soon shot down. It is revealed that they were providing escort for a shipment of rediscovered missiles with great destructive power. They are soon shot down though and the missiles are taken by Cobra , who also take the two prisoners. Once in Cobra custody they come across Abbey Chase who is acting undercover, though the two members of G.I. Joe do not know this. Elsewhere the American president arrives to the USS Flagg and informs the Joe team to stand down and to not seek to free their teammates. General Flag orders them to stand down. The remaining female members (Cover Girl , Lady Jaye and Jinx ) come up with a plan where they will contact the Danger Girl team (Cover Girl had previously met Johnny Barracuda .)
The team shows up and exposes the U.S. president as Zarana in disguise. Soon enough it is revealed that the Danger Girl team already has an operative in place and she informs them of the plan. Firefly is to head to Moscow and detonate one of the missiles while Major Bludd is to go to Beijing to detonate another. Three teams head out, one to each of the two cities and the third to the Cobra base. By now Abbey is under suspicion of Baroness, Cobra Commander and Destro and is captured by Zartan when she attempts to free Scarlett and Flint. While they are trying to escape a team of Low Light, Snake Eyes and Stalker arrive to free them. Meanwhile in Beijing a team of Jinx, Johnny Barracuda and Sonya Savage stop Major Bludd while a team of Sydney Savage, Cover Girl and Roadblock stop Firefly.
It is soon revealed that there is another missile which is headed for the homing beacon which Zarana has placed on the USS Flagg. Silicon Valerie , Duke and Lady Jaye quickly deal with it. Meanwhile at the Cobra base Storm Shadow has arrived to stop the Joes and he engages Snake-Eyes in combat. Eventually this group is also able to escape, while blowing up the base and they are all reunited on the USS Flagg.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Sunbow series)
Cobra Commander appears as the major antagonist in this series. He is voiced by Chris Latta
A character obviously intended to be the Commander appears in the episode "Only Human". Going by the name Old Snake, he is a weapons dealer who teams up with Victor Drath to steal the bodies of the Autobots. He is voiced by Chris Latta.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Cobra Commander features as a recurring antagonist in both seasons of this show. Chris Latta reprises his role.
Sgt Savage and His Screaming Eagles
Cobra Commander makes a brief appearance in the pilot of this failed television show. He is voiced by Scott McNeil.
G.I. Joe: Sigma 6
A redesigned Cobra Commander appears as a major recurring antagonist in this show. He is voiced by Marc Thompson.
G.I. Joe: Resolute
A more ruthless and efficient Cobra Commander features as the main antagonist in this miniseries. He is voiced by Charlie Adler.
G.I. Joe: Renegades
Cobra Commander appears as Adam DeCobray, a legitimate businessman and secret head of the terroristic Cobra. He is voiced by Charlie Adler.
G.I. Joe: The Movie
Cobra Commander appears as a major antagonist in this animated movie. He is given a more detailed backstory, though it contradicts the backstory given elsewhere; he is described as being a member of the Cobra-La, a nonhuman race. He is voiced by Chris Latta.
G.I. Joe: Spy Troops
Cobra Commander appears as a major antagonist in this direct-to-video film. He is voiced by Michael Dobson.
G.I. Joe: Valor Vs Venom
Cobra Commander appears as the main antagonist in this direct-to-video film. Michael Dobson reprises his role.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Cobra Commander, identified alternately as the Commander, the Doctor, and Rex Lewis, is the main antagonist in this film. He is portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
A new version of the character will appear in this sequel. He will be portrayed by Faran Tahir, with his voice provided by Charlie Adler.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
The Commander appears as an antagonist in this computer game.
Cobra Commander appears as the final boss in this video game.
G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor
The Commander appears as the final boss in this video game.
Cobra Commander appears as the final boss in this arcade game.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Cobra Commander appears as the final boss in this video game based on the film of the same name.