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Cobra Commander

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

It's been a long time, but as you read this, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is hitting movie theatres and giving angry fanboys the chance to be proven right for spending the last two years hating everything about it. They hated the setting. They hated the casting. They hated the costumes. They hated the trailers. And by god, when it was leaked, they hated Cobra Commander's new look.

The deviously brilliant leader of Cobra demands complete allegiance from his followers as he works toward his ultimate goal of controlling the world. He hides a deadly secret few others know, just as his mask covers disfiguring damage from a fiery accident.

The only complaint, over and over, was how "stupid" it was that Cobra Commander wouldn't be wearing a hood. As if that were the only way he'd ever looked in any medium. It's not like he ever wore a suit of battle armor or anything. Or this. Or even this. No, apparently the sum total of everything Cobra Commander is, was and ever shall be was held entirely within a blue cloth hood. Such is the mind of a fanboy. Watch your step.

Supposedly the Commander is more of a background character in the movie - thus the Rise of Cobra title. While Destro's out running around doing things, Cobra Commander is working behind the scenes. Think of the way the Emperor was in Empire Strikes Back: he was only in one scene, but there was no question he was running the show. Same kind of thing.

Yes, Cobra Commander's movie design is radically different than anything we've seen before, but in its own way, it works. We know the Commander is a man who enjoys dressing in fine clothes, and this verison is wearing black dress pants and black wingtips. We know the Commander has a sense of flair, and this version fulfills that by wearing a black corduroy coat with bright blue lining - blue, of course, being the traditional Cobra color. We know the Commander believes in protecting his own hide, and this version has a silver metallic chestplate. Maybe there's nothing about this that immediately says "Cobra Commander" when you look at it, but more importantly, if you tell us the character wearing this outfit is CC, there's nothing that immediately says it isn't. In other words, below the neck, this is a look we could grow to accept.

But what about above the neck?

The mask seems to have angered fans the most. It was a total case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks. Never mind the fact that a blank silver dome wouldn't work or that a cloth hood would lack any sort of outlandish menace. Try to forget that even though the design is new, he's still wearing a mask that conceals his face, just like he always has. Nope, not good enough. It's not what it was in 1983, so it must be crap. "He looks like he's wearing a jellyfish!"

No, he looks like he's wearing one of those plastic masks designed to protect burn victims who no longer have an epidermis - and judging by the Spawn/Deadpool "hamburger head" you can see through the clear surface, that's exactly what it is. The mask is officially a BioAir Dermal Rebreather, or BADR; do you think that's pronounced like "badder," or like "Vader?" The mask is glued onto the figure at the cheeks and forehead, but you can pry it off if you're careful, revealing his scarred flesh and droopy eye.

Cobra Commander is a big figure, breaking the 4" mark. He has all the articulation of a modern G3 Joe, and even having the long coat doesn't negatively impact the range of motion. There are several variants available, all relating to the holes on his chest and the back of his head: originally they were going to be connected by tubes, but that was dropped; the first releases had empty holes; later versions filled in the holes on the head; and then finally all the holes were gone. The size of the "backpack hole" in his coat varies, too.

The figure has several nice accessories, but let's not talk about those. Let's talk about his Stupid Giant Gun. Actually, his is one of the better Stupid Giant Guns released in this line, in that he can hold it without falling over, and the design makes it look like it's meant to be (almost) this size. It's a grey bazooka with a notch for his shoulder, and a bit of neon yellow paint on the... sight? Is that what that thing is? Pressthe big red button and the Stupid Giant Gun launches a green missile. Eh, the whole thing's still dumb. See if you can lose it.

Now for the good stuff. Cobra Commander's pistol is a silver version of that old familiar gun CC's always come with. It can't plug into his back, so it doesn't have a little knob on the side - new mold! He has a silver comm device and a silver syringe with some sort of green liquid inside (the same nanomites seen in Baroness' briefcase?), both of which can plug into his legs. Finally, there's an olive cobra with a light head. A pet snake? Awesome! Take that, Serpentor! The snake is coiled realistically, and is a great piece.

Really "great piece" pretty much sums up this entire figure. No, it's not a direct update of the classic Cobra Commander, but no one said it had to be. The design is unique, yet still in line with the CC we remember, and honestly, it's going to be easy to accept this as being the "real" Cobra Commander. Anybody expecting GI Joe to be Blackhawk Down is vastly deluded and entirely detatched from reality, and anybody who thought Cobra Commander would be a guy in a hood is coming up close behind.

-- 08/07/09

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