From the archives: The Cobra Paradox


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Contributed by “Summusdeus”

gijoe12.jpgAh, the late 80s. I have fond memories of getting up in the morning before school and running downstairs quickly to the room with the television to watch my favorite show at the time: G.I. Joe. I loved that show and still have fond recollections of it. I always considered myself more of a fan of Cobra than the Joes, but I’ve always had a predisposition the side of evil and to villains. Having said that, one thing keeps bugging me about the show. In all the episodes (unless you count that alternate universe one), Cobra always loses despite having the best technology and an advantage in terms of sheer number when compared to the Joes.

Let’s start by taking a look at Cobra itself. Cobra is a ruthless terrorist organization set on conquering the world. At it’s helm (well at least until the whole Serpentor debacle), is Cobra Commander. Cobra Commander is your everyday run of the mill psychopathic megalomaniac. At his side are Destro, the Baroness, Major Bludd, the Crimson Guard Twins, and a host of other minor characters who rank above your average Cobra trooper.

These characters form the leadership core of the Cobra organization. As for the organization itself, Cobra poses some interesting questions. First of all, the Cobra army seems very large, especially when compared to the Joe force. Where did all of these people come from? Who knows? There must be a lot of angry people out there with terrorist tendencies and a lot of time on their hands. Cobra also possesses a huge arsenal of weapons, none of which come cheap. It seems that Cobra has the military budget of the United States! How in the world does Cobra finance all of these materials and supplies? It seems improbable that they would steal all of them, although some theft of property is a given. Also, Cobra has several heavily fortified bases, including the Terror Drome and the Cobra Temple which goes underground when needed– that can’t be cheap! Even after paying for all the weapons and technology, Cobra still has to pay it’s personnel. Labor also doesn’t come cheap. Perhaps in the upper ranks, the rewards of potential world domination are enough, but for the average Cobra soldier, some sort of monetary compensation has to be made.

As stated earlier, Cobra has every advantage over G.I. Joe, the most important of which is technology. Cobra clearly out numbered and out gunned G.I. Joe. They had more vehicles and more weapons, but for some reason could not defeat the Joes. Behind the scenes of the Cobra technology producing machine is Destro. Destro has invented and produced numerous weapons all of which should have easily defeated G.I. Joe. For example, the MASS Device which could in essence disintegrate anything had great potential to defeat G.I. Joe. Another great device made by Destro was the Weather Dominator, which also gave Cobra a huge advantage and should have assured them of certain victory. However, victory never came for Cobra who would find their ingenious inventions all to frequently turned against them.

At the heart of Cobra’s shortcomings is the leadership. It is my argument that the leadership of Cobra is ultimately to blame for Cobra’s lack of success in world domination. At the top, we have Cobra Commander who is as stubborn as a mule and refuses to do anything that others might suggest, no matter how good the advice is. Cobra Commander is also overconfident and at times blinded by his sheer desire for power. He’s also untrusting of his advisors, but who could blame him. Every one of them is as bloodthirsty and ambitious as he is. Next, we have the whole Baroness and Destro thing. From all reports, it seems that they were somewhat of a couple and were trusting of only each other. Destro and the Baroness if in charge could have succeeded in ruling the world, but alas were foiled by Cobra Commander’s incompetence and sheer arrogance. There was always a sense of conflict and tension among the higher-ranking officers of Cobra, which ultimately undermined the organization as a whole and allowed them to be beaten by often just one or a handful of Joes.

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9 Responses to From the archives: The Cobra Paradox

  1. [...] May 7, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe With the big screen bonanza imminent, let’s have a go at bean-plating G.I. Joe. posted by mikoroshi (13 comments total) Is bean-plating an actual [...]

  2. [...] of Cartoon Over-analyzations: I love the concept, especially this examination of the Cobra paradox. [...]

  3. Kan says:

    You forgot to mention that many of Cobra Commander’s apointed leaders gave secret info to G.I.Joe on numerous occations, the Baroness and Destro included. These double agents helped to spoil Cobra’s plans time after time.

  4. Vampire Buddha says:

    Interestingly, in the GI Joe comic, Cobra was much more competent than in the cartoon, and actually managed to win once in a while. Despite this, Baroness and Destro eventually rebelled against him, sparking a civil war within Cobra.

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