Nov 12, 2012

Ode to a Sibilant Serpent

The rarely-seen Sal's Monday Punt.
(Pin-up from Marvel's G.I. Joe #150;
art by the fantastic Sal Buscema.)
Cobra Commander is by far my favorite character from the G.I. Joe franchise. Part of that affection is due to his versatility; yeah, he can be written as calculating, cold and ruthless, as a threat to not only American national security but world peace as a whole... but that's not the Cobra Commander I love. The Marvel/Sunbow G.I. Joe cartoon and later issues of the Marvel comic (following his "resurrection," long story) vividly crafted this vision of a petulant, cowardly egomaniac whose brand of petty evil ranged from kicking stray dogs to etching his face on the moon with a giant laser.

Even with those personality traits, though, Cobra Commander was not a nonthreatening gag-villain: he had an uncanny knack for smooth-talking his way out of bad situations, and in the comics, at least, he was not above sealing traitors to die in landlocked cargo ships - uh, another long story - or shooting political prisoners on random whims. Alas, poor White Clown and Magda...

This absurd, over-the-top brand of villainy makes Cobra Commander the perfect counterpart to the Joe team in my mind, who often have trouble coming across as individuals (unless they're Shipwreck, of course). In short, I care about Cobra Commander way less when he's trying to be Darth Vader and more when he's acting like a paramilitary version of the Joker. I can't help but wonder if some more of this kind of "embracing the ridiculous" attitude might get the G.I. Joe line out of its current funk... but that is a pretty tall order, particular character portrayals or otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment