Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Cobra Commander

Before I go any further with the retrospectives, I must make a confession.  While I admit to being a fan of all of a lot of different 80s cartoons, I've only closely followed Transformers since it's original series' demise.  I collected all of the DVD sets, movies, and kept track of its various reboots.  But with most of the other cartoons, once their original series was over, they disappeared.  It's not like I could go back to watch them again, since most of them weren't even released on DVD until Shout Factory came along and a few have sporadically been posted on Netflix.  And since then, I've only bought the M.A.S.K. set (the only one I've really wanted to go back and watch again, if I'm being honest).  What I'm saying is that for most of these retrospect posts, I'm just going on memory.

Pointing in the direction to run away.
And my memory of Cobra Commander was a whiny bitch.  He was a cool looking bitch, though, with that shiny blank faceplate and helmet.  Many people will remember that the voice actor for ol' CC here was the same as Starscream, the late Chris Latta.  That gave him two of the biggest roles in two of the biggest 80s cartoons, and he bacme probably the second most recognizable voice in animation, after Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave, Dr Claw, practically every animated animal ever!).  If there's one thing you can remember about Cobra Commander, it was his voice.  If there was two things, it would be his voice yelling, "Retreat!"

Where they spent most of their time.
The biggest difference between Cobra Commander and Megatron was their armies.  Megatron lead the Decepticons, a group of individually named and designed characters, while Cobra Commander lead Cobra (duh), an army of nameless generic troops.  Even while their enemies, GI Joe had characters filling out their ranks, Cobra had only a handful of villains that stood out from the crowd.  The rest were these lowly goons, wearing bandannas and suspenders.  What a sad bunch of guys they were.  Did they get good insurance?  How do you persuade so many able-bodied regular people to join your terrorist agency besides a lot of benefits.  If there was one thing Cobra had a lot of, it must have been a ton of stock options.

Look at that pimp.
A lot of villains from the 80s had a second-in-command, their usual target for their frustrations when their plans went awry.  Cobra Commander had a surprisingly different relationship with his - Destro didn't take a lot of crap from him.  Unlike Starscream, Destro wasn't just one of troops.  He had his own role apart from the army.  He didn't take a lot of orders and spit out a lot more flack at the leader (a dynamic shared with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Shredder and Krang).  Destro generally had no desire to take over Cobra from the commander.  In fact, none of the other named Cobra characters (Baroness, Xomat and Tamox, Zartan, Major Bludd) tried mutiny, at least until Serpentor showed up.  It was an interesting dynamic that Cobra Commander didn't have to worry about anyone stabbing him in the back.  Maybe I'm just forgetting them.

Let's get to the ratings:

I got a rock.
Coolness - 7.  I mean look at that helmet.  It's such an iconic look, and ironically, it's never really been improved upon, with half masks and scratch marks and whatever they were trying to do in the live action movie.  If I was stuck grading him based on the hood he wore, I'm afraid I'd have to drop him down to a 3, since he looked a little too KKK for me.
Effectiveness - 2.  I remember the first episode I watched of GI Joe, it was that big multi-part weather dominator story.  The stakes were higher, the villains more competent, the world at risk!  What happened after that?  Cobra Commander bungled even the most simple of plans.  They were thwarted by Barbeque and window wiper!

Overall, Cobra Commander had the look to be something great but definitely not the skills. Turning into a snake was the best thing that could have happened to Cobra.

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