Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, panic spreading far and wide.

It's a snake. I get it.

As logos go, this is elegance incarnate.

Let me explain something to you.

If aliens landed right now, and they were the kind of squiggly slime-beasts that were totally into wiping out mankind, there’s one organisation that I’d want to defend us. It wouldn’t be the US Army, or the ThunderCats, or even the Autobots led by a Powermaster Series Optimus Prime from eBay with all the fiddly gun bits still in the box.

The organisation that I’d want to defend us against space invaders – indeed, the only corporation I actively want to join even now – is Cobra.

Cobra gets a very bad rap, but that’s not always their fault. Their principal opponents are flag-sucking Stars and Stripes wankers with suntans and perfect smiles, and that’s the kind of thing that gets American TV networks spooging all over their safe, safe schedules full of safe, safe programs.

I’m willing to admit that Cobra has its flaws, but what company doesn’t? Yes, their leader’s catchphrase is “Cobra! Retreat!“, but in his defence, they’d all be arrested or killed if they stood around fighting a losing battle. So really, retreating is about the only smart thing you can do in those situations. At least he’s not shouting “Cobra! Surrender!” or “Cobra! Let them take us to Guantanamo Bay for our crimes!

But too often, this is the image people have of Cobra Commander:

I admit, this looks bad.

But that’s all he does? He kicked a dog once, and that’s it? That makes him a bad leader and a useless terrorist mastermind?


Besides, that dog was probably being a dick.

So what is it about Cobra that makes them so awesome? Why do I, a 29-year-old white male, want to join a ruthless terrorist organisation bent on taking over the world?

I’ll tell you why.

First, watch this:

Now, there are several things you can take from this, before we even get into the real shit.

Firstly, notice what’s happening at 0:41.

These are a killer's eyes. And these are a killer's balls.

Cobra Troopers are parachuting down, and that one guy is so badass you don’t simply zoom into his thousand-yard-stare, because he totally catches a thermal, rises up, and descends toward the camera again. And on this second time, you get a close up of his balls.

You might think all terrorists are assholes, but these are the guys that go headfirst into battle, decide that’s just not rad enough, and make it balls-first instead. My point is this: If you don’t think that’s hardcore, then you and I will never be friends.

Judging by all the flashing lights, fireworks and multicoloured balloons floating around the Statue of Liberty, Cobra are apparently committing a parachute assault against a Gay Pride March. I don’t know why this would be, but then, I’m not Cobra Commander. I assume he had his reasons for deploying his private army in such a way. What I find particularly haunting about this naked aggression against gays is that Cobra is, in all ways, an equal-opportunity employer. So maybe they just got their coordinates wrong this once.

But then, a lot of this opening sequence is actually bullshit, and goes against the fundamentally awesome principles of Cobra. Gay-bashing is just one of the things they’d never do.

Look what happens at 0:56.

As if Cobra Troopers didn’t look awesome enough, here’s a Crimson Guard – one of Cobra’s elite soldiers – parachuting down to be off the scale in maximum coolness. They didn’t always wear this armour, by the way. They also acted as deep-cover agents in civilian life, and it was mandatory for all Crimson Guards to have accounting or law degrees. I’m not even kidding. That’s how rad Cobra was: their elite guards also had day jobs as handsome lawyers.

Billy, from Ally McBeal - A captain in the Crimson Guard (Director's Cut only).

But here’s why this cartoon reeks of anti-Cobra propaganda. This guy lands and punches a camera, shattering its helpless glass eye.

That makes no sense. That’s not what Cobra was about. They loved publicity. One of the reasons Cobra was so awesome was that they advertised themselves on TV. They became a sovereign nation. They had their own embassy/office block in some US city that I forget the name of right now. They craved attention. The sky is full of 3,000 parachutes all with the Cobra symbol on them. Does this look like a sneak attack?

There’s no way a Crimson Guard – who, let’s recall, has a law degree – would just touch down and punch out Camera One. That’s not the Cobra I know and love.

Objectively, there’s no way of arguing against the central fact, here. Dressing up like this:

…is the best thing any of us could hope to do in our lives. Which brings me to my next point. Why would I be a soldier in Cobra, but not join the army?

Simple. I couldn’t be trusted in the army.

The reason I could never be trusted in a military situation isn’t because I suck at taking orders (although I do), but because if I was going house-to-house in Fallujah, I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I’d kick in people’s doors and scream “COBRA!” at them while they cowered in fear. At the first sign of conflict, I’d shout “COBRA! RETREAT!” in Cobra Commander’s whiny voice. I just know I would. There’d be no stopping me. Maybe for the first few times, the other guys would laugh. But sooner or later – and probably sooner – they’d just shoot me in the back and say the bad guys did it.

My parents would be told that I’d died a hero’s death, which would be a lie. I’d have died an annoying twat’s death, and it would’ve been a fate I’d earned most richly.

Part of my affection for Cobra is simply that they weren’t G.I. JOE, because the Joes were unbelievably, insufferably uncool. I’d cringe every time they won, because they really didn’t deserve to triumph at all. The Joes were also confusingly American, which I found hard to relate to. They waved that flag every 5 minutes and talked like idiots, while their tagline was “A real American Hero”.

Cobra, on the other hand, were deliciously multinational. Destro was a morally-flexible arms dealing skinhead in a weird silver mask, and as if that wasn’t awesome enough, he was also Scottish. I thought that was a nice touch, though even at a tender age I wondered just what opportunities for gun-smuggling could arise between Carlisle and Aberdeen. Destro also got laid, which was something the Joes never seemed interested in. But Destro, that Scottish ironmonger, was a hit with the only lady worth anything: The Baroness.

After millions of years, evolution finally gets it right.

But the real reason I would willingly swear my life (and indeed, die) for Cobra is that I thought their plans were fucking brilliant. Vision like theirs deserved to be supported.

Each time the Joes foiled them, I’d regard it as some inevitable but disgusting shame, and eagerly await the next caper that would deserve to hand them the world on a plate, while knowing it would ultimately end in a necessary retreat.

Even in this opening sequence, there’s a great plan that deserves to go all the way, cockblocked at the last minute by some square-jawed asshole in an unbuttoned shirt. Here we have Destro giving a bomb to Cobra Commander, which the latter will use to blow up the Statue of Liberty.

Firstly, I admire the sheer ambition of that as a statement of terrorism. I feel like it’s something I could get involved with. Aim high. Live to win. All that good stuff.

Secondly, Cobra Commander jetpacks in to plant the bomb himself, and I think we can all get behind a leader who likes to get his hands dirty once in a while. Note also, at 1:36, Cobra Commander actually plants the bomb while under (pink…) enemy fire, after flying through a massive sky war. That’s not the action of a coward, so again, anyone who says Cobra Commander sucks needs to shut the hell up, and piss off while doing so.

And thirdly, the Statue of Liberty is French, so fuck it. Blow that shit up.

Cobra’s plans were always like this. At one point, Cobra’s very own ninja, Storm Shadow, comes to England and finds Excalibur, which he then promptly uses in an attempt to kill Americans. Did King Arthur intend this? I just don’t know, but it’s an intriguing notion.

Later, when Cobra runs out of money, they set up a heavy metal band – the mighty Cold Slither – in order to brainwash the population with subliminal messages in the music. Why didn’t that work? It should’ve done. The world would be an awesome place if it had.

Gene Simmons fucked Mick Hucknall, and their child is playing a wooden spade.

Here are some of the Slither’s fine lyrics:

“We’re Cold Slither, you’ll be joining us soon,

A band of vipers, playing our tune,

With an iron fist,

And a reptile hiss,

We shall rule.”

Real subtle, guys. Anyway, as with all of Cobra’s plans, something goes wrong. In this case, the members of Cold Slither are too batshit-crazy, and they go from shoving guitars up each others’ asses to simply chainsawing their instruments in half. I can’t be mad at them for that, though. I mean, we were all young once.

Cobra celebrated its weirdness. Ninjas and freaks and bikers and terrorists, all hanging out and trying to take over the world by heavy metal, flamethrowers, chainsaws and accountancy. They’d manipulate the stock market. They’d invade countries. They’d invent bubblegum that turned kids into zombies. All of this was punishingly awesome. I’d be proud to have all of that on my resume’. I’d be honoured to kick in people’s doors and yell “COBRA!” at them, only to retreat if they seemed annoyed.

By contrast the Joes were impossible to relate to. Even their names were related to being an asshole boiling in his own bubbling machismo, or being a sports guy. Roadblock? Beach Head? Big Lob? Gung-Ho ran around in army gear with no shirt on. Falcon and General Hawk were named after birds of prey. Duke – fucking Duke – who the hell is called that in real life? Who’d choose that as their codename? Only the Overlord of Douchebaggery.

And I’m sorry, but “Yo, Joe!” is not a cool thing to yell in the middle of a battlefield. It’s not cool to yell it anywhere, but mid-warfare is surely the stupidest place.

The only good Joe was Snow Job.

"And that's why they call me..."

Snow Job is awesome for all the most obvious reasons. His name means to lie;  to get cocaine snorted off your cock by a hooker; and it sounds a bit like blowjob. Strangely, his wikipedia article has this to say about him:

“He helps the Joes secure weapons grade Plutonium that Cobra was trying to steal. He also tries a to run a minor scam against Rock’N’Roll via getting cash to set him up with Gung-Ho’s sister, a model (who was really nine). After Doc explains the trick, the officer himself says ‘This is why they call me ‘Snow-Job'”.”

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds pretty illegal. So maybe he should just join Cobra? He can leave the 9-year-old girl at the door, though. That’s not cool.

Lastly, even in situations of catastrophic terrorism, it’s not Cobra that causes danger to the public. If you watch that clip, at 0:33, the cobra skythingy arrives and eclipses the moon in what top scientists suspect is a metaphor.


And then Cobra’s guys jump out. All good, right?

That means this is above the Statue of Liberty. Like, directly above it. Whether it’s a Gay Pride march or not is irrelevant. You’ve got people running around everywhere.

I've never met a gay person who dresses this badly.

So how do the good guys solve this problem?

Duke (Ugh, that name…) jetpacks around, takes the bomb, and plants it on the bottom of the Cobra airship.

"Only 8 seconds left!" "Must... cause... harm to... innocent bystanders..."

So the hero has just set explosives on a massive warship thing that’s hovering over the Statue of Liberty and all the crowds.

That little girl will never see her parents again.

Good game, genius.

And that’s why Cobra is awesome.

On a final note, if Cobra Commander ever came to me and asked if I had any ideas, I’d say “Yes, yes I do.”

Step 1: Breed an army of these:

"Father! Why have you abandoned me by the shore?"

Step 2: Introduce them into every river in some out of the way place, like Burma or whatever.

Step 3: Cobra! Retreat!

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 38 Comments