Last time, we talked about the origins of Serpentor, the true Cobra Emperor. We talked about how he was created using the DNA collected from the greatest generals in the history of earth, and how the idea all came from a reoccurring dream that Dr. Mindbender had after one too many Cobra Commander screw ups. Did you know the dream was actually implanted inside Mindbender’s brain by a 40,000-year-old alien race? Oh and that Cobra itself was all actually created by aliens? And that Cobra Commander is an alien? If you watched 1987’s G.i. Joe: The Movie, then you did know all of this. If you didn’t, welcome to Cobra-La!
Again, just to establish the timeline, I’m mostly going to be speaking from my experience watching the 1987 movie, and not from the comics. However, I did have to do some research into the comics for the deeper backstory for the Cobra-La civilization, so I’ll try to be as accurate as possible for all you G.I. Joe heads out there.
Cobra-La Origins and Golobulous
Cobra-La (which apparently was a working title for the civilization that just ended up sticking) made their first appearance in the G.i. Joe vs. the Transformers comic book series. This is gonna be a little crazy, but bear with me while I explain. OK. Cobra-La is a civilization that ruled Earth sometime before the Ice Age. Many millennia ago, Unicron, a living planet god and devourer of worlds, came to Earth to eat it. Cobra-La rose up, threatening Unicron with a metal eating spore (Unicron is made of metal), and the two sides reached an accord. The deal was that Unicron would leave Earth alone, but Cobra-La would have to go into hiding in the Hymalayas, leaving Earth to the humans (in the movie, which you can see below, Cobra-La’s reason for hiding had more to do with the ice age messing with their bio-mechanical way of life). In fact, Cobra-La would watch over humanity, and help them along, making sure they grew up nice and strong, and drinking plenty of milk. Once humanity was all grown up and ready, Cobra-La would then summon Unicron back. He would devour humanity and leave Earth for Cobra-La to rule again. Everybody got that? It’s kind of like Scientology, at least on the level of ridiculousness, so if you get one, you should get the other.
For the purposes of G.I. Joe: The Movie, things get even more convoluted. OK so everybody gets the whole “they were there all along as caretakers for Earth to serve it up to fat Unicron for supper” thing, right? But here’s the next level of bat shit crazy. The leader of Cobra-La, a serpent-bodied, one-eyed, green-armed dude named Golobulous aka “the last of the Serpent Kings” (voiced by the great Burgess Meredith in the movie), basically got bored waiting around for humans to rise up, so he selected a young Cobra-La nobleman to lead a human army to conquer the planet and get it ready for Unicron. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well, the only problem was that Golobulous picked Cobra Commander to run his army, who, as we discussed last time, is a complete bumbling fool.
In the origin story above, Golobulous tells everyone that Cobra Commander disfigured himself in a lab experiment… BEFORE he was chosen! Was there a fucking screening process for this? I feel like even making Cobra Commander take the wonderlick or something would have been prudent at that point. Instead, Golobulous apparently picked a name out of a hat. A hat filled with the names of every idiot in Cobra-La. I guess we can’t really blame Cobra Commander for all his bumblings, if the act of actually choosing him as leader was, at its core, a big clusterfuck of a mistake too.
Once Golobulous realized he’d chosen the world’s biggest moron to run his human army, and that said moron could probably never even successfully invade and occupy a Barcalounger, let alone an entire fucking planet, he decided to take more direct action…. Actually, more indirect action. Golobulous decided that, if Cobra Commander couldn’t get the job done, he’d inspire Dr. Mindbender to create a new leader for Cobra, which is how the whole Serpentor thing came about. At the same time as all of this was going on, Golobulous had also developed a spore that would devolve humans into mindless animals, making them ripe for the picking. Here’s a question… if Golobulous has the power to create a spore that devolves humans into helpless animals, why the fuck didn’t he just run the army himself? Or just lead a Cobra-La army to earth? Wouldn’t that have been a much better usage of his time? Wouldn’t that have been more efficient? I’m beginning to really think that Golobulous is to blame for every Cobra failure ever. This guy’s either a real moron, or just insufferably lazy. Just get up and go invade!
Anywho, at the same time as all of that was going on with Golobulous, G.I. Joe had invented a machine called the Broadcast Energy Transmitter (B.E.T.). Now, the B.E.T. was not a cable television channel that catered to African-Americans, but rather a machine designed by the Joes to provide a solution to the planet’s energy crisis. It basically sent out an EMP that would power up any electronic machines in the area, eliminating the need for fossil fuels… I guess. Golobulous decided he would steal this machine and use the technology to spread his crazy spores throughout the planet in order to turn the humans of the world into animals. Does any of that make sense? Probably not, because the B.E.T. was designed to send out energy to mechanical things, and not hidden spores, but again… thousands of people believe in Scientology. So there you go.
The Cobra-La Army
All that aside, let’s get back to Cobra-La, shall we? Aside from Golobulous, there were three other members of the civilization involved in the main movie plot.
The first member we meet is Pythona. She is seen breaking into Serpentor’s headquarters at the beginning of the movie. She’s fast, scary and has crazy claws that she can extend and retract at will. Despite being the first member we saw, she never got an action figure… Yo Joe indeed!
Nemesis enforcer is a real badass, which is why Golobulous has made him the commander of the Cobra-La Royal Guards. In fact, as you can see from his file card, it’s said that Golobulous raised him from a pile of dead things, and that he has no soul. I mean, look at his eyes! Nobody’s home. He also can’t talk, but he’s a god damn giant, and has bat-like wings that allow him to fly. Did I mention the super strength and the blades that stick out of his elbows? Here’s his action figure, if you don’t remember. For some reason, it came with fluorescent green goopy wings as well.
These red little bastards basically looked like overgrown bugs. That’s because they kind of are. According to the file card, they are completely encased head-to-toe in “organic insectoid armor.” Golobulous took a bunch of regular Cobra-La dudes and permanently bonded bug parts to their bodies. The bug parts apparently can withstand anything below an anti-tank rounds, so you’re gonna have to bring the business to them if you want to take them out. Unfortunately, they aren’t the brightest guys around, which is probably why they let Golobulous permanently bond bug parts all over them, but they’re solid soldiers who will carry out any and all orders. Here’s the action figure for these guys, if you’re curious.
The Eventual Bungling of an Easy Win
OK… If you have been paying attention, you know that even Golobulous and Cobra-La would eventually fumble away the easy touchdown they were about to score. Before putting his master plan into play, Golobulous first has to punish the idiot Cobra Commander, because apparently that’s what everyone ever involved in the Cobra higher-ups did for fun. Golobulous put Cobra Commander on trial, found him guilty of basically being a fucking idiot, and sprayed him with one of the spores. He soon became an actual snake, which is a bit of an ironic shame. One question, though… Can Cobra Commander file a complaint with HR somewhere? Is there anyone around him who didn’t, at some point, shit all over him? Serpentor, Mindbender, Destro and now Golobulous? He’s the god damn leader of Cobra. Somebody show some respect.
The failure starts out simply enough. The Joes send roidy Sergeant Slaughter and his new crew of misfits named The Renegades (Mercer, Red Dog and Taurus), on a reconnaissance mission to the Terror Drome (Cobra headquarters), where they learn about Cobra’s plan to steal the B.E.T. They blow up the Terror Drome, but Serpentor and Nemesis Enforcer end up getting away and Cobra eventually steals the B.E.T. anyway.
The Joes decide to invade Cobra-La to stop Golobulous and Serpentor from going through with their dastardly plan, because that’s what Joes do. Led by roidy Slaughter, the Joes infiltrate the Cobra-La base. Golobulous, meanwhile, decides not to worry, because time is on their side, and the Joes will be destroyed soon enough. Because that strategy has never worked ever, the Joes find a tunnel into Cobra-La’s back door. They quickly overpower some Cobra henchmen and the Royal Guards and rush in to shut down the B.E.T. Golobulous sends out a really nasty set of bug monsters to detain the Joes, but that doesn’t work out too well, as the Joes fight through them with little trouble.
Once the Joes get inside the main room where all the evil shit goes down, Cobra-La gets the upper hand. Fortunately, the now fully formed snake Cobra Commander helps the Joes turn the tides by attacking Serpentor, and the Joes vanquish Pythona, Nemesis Enforcer and even Serpentor himself… sort of. Falcon, a new G.I. Joe recruit, gets Serpentor’s cape stuck in the flying chariot, and he flies away out of control, never to be seen again. Literally. He just flies off. He doesn’t crash, or die or anything. Falcon ends up fighting Golobulous one-on-one as well, and stabs the Cobra-La leader in the eye before shutting down the B.E.T.
Unfortunately, the spores have already been released! Falcon decides to try to Overload the B.E.T., which then fries all the spores that are releasing around the world. How did he know that was going to work? I think he just guessed, because nothing about the B.E.T. ever even suggested that overloading it would cause it to burn up spores and blow up Cobra-La. That’s probably because why the hell would they release this machine to the public if a simple circuit overload could incinerate entire sections of the world? Meh. The point is, it works, and the day is saved. Golobulous, meanwhile, runs away, also never to be seen again. Yep. He also just ran away. No one even bothers to check if he’s still around anywhere, even under a desk or something. Nice job, Joes. Either way, the villain is vanquished and the good guys win again!
If you’re curious as to how it all ends for Cobra-La in the comics, they, along with Unicron, are defeated by the Transformers and G.I. Joe, and are eventually imprisoned by the Joes. Golobulous is crushed by Optimus Prime and Pythona even turns on Cobra-La and kills Nemesis Enforcer, which is pretty heavy stuff.
At the end of the day, I did think Cobra-La was a pretty cool concept. Even though Golobulous made a couple of big mistakes in his early planning, he, Pythona and Nemesis Enforcer were total bad asses. Also, the concept of their Bio Technology was neat, as all of their armor, weaponry and even their vehicles, were basically made of some variation of bug life or another. Using spores to de-evolve humans is also a particularly dastardly plot, which I always appreciate.
Upon further inspection, their plan for world domination, in the movies and the comics, makes no sense and way way too convoluted to ever actually work. However, unlike the traditional Cobra failures, this one felt more like a G.I. Joe triumph, rather than Cobra Commander just bungling things, or Serpentor forgetting to gas up all the planes.
That’s all I have to say about Cobra-La for now, so I hope you enjoyed the piece! There’s a lot more ridiculousness going on with G.I. Joe, Cobra and the bunch, so I’m thinking we might have more to talk about in the future.
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