Part 6Dossiers 06
OVERKILL began as an experimental prototype for the third generation of B.A.T.s, but because of his advanced micro-computers and enhanced tactical logic programs, the cost projections were too high for profitable mass-production. He might have continued to gather dust on a shelf in the Cobra research labs if COBRA COMMANDER hadn't decided to utilize him as a battlefield commander for the android troopers. It was Cobra Commander's idea to add a voice synthesizer program to repeat demoralizing slogans at deafening volumes.
Overkill never made it into the comic, which is interesting since the B.A.T.s he was a contemporary for did. Then again, he also debuted during the last three years of the line. Those are the ones we've already acknowledged as the ones where Larry just kind of went "eh", shrugged, and added in just what he could. And in this franchise that includes a tank-buster wearing a football jersey, a Ninja Force with rather conspicuous outfits, and an team of Eco-Warriors, all in their own garish-hued outfits... It's really not hard to see why one of the more ridiculous cartoon additions got quietly left out. In the game, Overkill serves as the rather durable Boss of Area A.
File Name: Rostoff, Grigori Ivanovich
Grade: Sergeant (Serzhant)
Birthplace: Archangel, Russia SSR
Primary Specialty: Air Assault
Motto: "You G.I. Joes! Airborne troops afraid to fall without parachutes! No guts!"
Big Bear grew up in a place where the conditions are cold, wet, and nasty - everyday! He can be meaner than a Siberian wolf with its leg caught in a steel trap and wilder than a Murmansk fur merchant. Transferred from the elite 103rd Guards Air Assault Division, Big Bear's main gripe about the Oktober Guard was the constant reference to it as the Soviet Union's counterpart of G.I. Joe! He would snap back stating, "G.I. Joes - OUR counterparts!"
The "Revival" support specialist of the Atlantis Factor, Big Bear is yet another one that didn't make it into the comic, and from my recollection, only made it into a few episodes of the second season of the DiC cartoon. Which is a shame, because it would have been fun to see what Larry Hama would have done with this character in the comics. A military service exchange program, maybe?
File Name: Iron-Knife, Charlie
Birthplace: Taos, New Mexico
Primary Specialty: Infantry
Secondary Specialty: Social Services
Spirit comes from a family so far below the poverty line that they never realized they were poor. Was a hunting guide through high school. Served in Southeast Asia, then as a civilian completed his education. Returned to service for reasons inexplicable to anyone but a native American mystic warrior. Qualified expert: M-16; M-1911A1 Auto Pistol; Remington sniper rifle.
"Charlie is a Shaman, a medicine man. He's not a healer or a priest or a witch-doctor. There isn't any equivalent in our culture for what he is unless we had shrinks that could actually help people."
Spirit is your team's Healing support specialist in the Atlantis Factor, with an interesting event flag attached to him. You must have earned his support services before you can get Duke into the party. This can lead to first time players missing out on the full levels for 3 Joes exploit, if they're unaware of this and the layout of the island (dick move, KID.)
In the comics, Spirit served as one of the wilderness experts/trackers for the team. Thankfully, Larry Hama didn't use the "Magical Navajo" character cliche the way the cartoon did.
One of Charlie Iron-Knife's first missions involved being long range back up for Snake-Eyes while he was relaxing at his cabin in the High Sierras. It didn't go very well for all parties involved except one (final tally: two of three Cobras involved walked away a bit roughed one, the third died, and of the three Joes, only one got away with only a few scrapes and bruises. The other two ended up in the infirmary for a few days.)
Spirit had better things to do than just hang around the med-bay though, and talked two new recruits, Blowtorch and Ripcord, into helping him go shopping for some supplies to speed his recovery. He ended up having quite a surprise once he got to the mall:
Make that two surprises. Running into a man he could have sworn he saw dead (Fred Broca, the first volunteer for the Crimson Guardsmen "Fred" program), and then getting a triple assault from Fred's family. Spirit was not having a good day, here.
For quite a while after this, Spirit only quite showed up in crowd shots and big missions and storylines. In fact, he didn't get much focus again until just before the Cobra Civil War.
Although at least we get to see him doing what he does best - tracking.
So it's no real surprise he ended up on Lt. Falcon's Recon team, to scout out the island before the main Joe force landed. He did at least recruit them a local guide that made their infiltration much easier.
The next time we see him (yet again a good few years later), Spirit is accompanying Mutt and Junkyard on vacation. There does end up being a big snag to their plans though - Cobra ends up taking over and brainwashing most of the town. They end up getting the help of a local veteran, who knows a few "counter-culture" types who didn't fall for Cobra's promises of "easy jobs and guaranteed employment". Only thing about these locals that Spirit was uneasy about was most of them weren't even 18 yet. It showed after their first engagement to steal more weapons and supplies:
After another assault on a Cobra stronghold, something strange started happening. This turned out pretty badly for Spirit and Mutt:
The Joe team wouldn't find out for a couple of years that Cobra had only partially brainwashed the residents of Millville. Not the whole "deap-seated, who the heck is this now" type most people think of when you hear the word, but programmed by use of a trigger word to go back to "normal" when not needed to work on Cobra equipment (or to interact with the outside world), and then back to "free labor force for Cobra" when another trigger word is used.
Eventually, Spirit was cleared for active duty enough to at least guard the surface door to the Pit III. He happened to be the one on duty at a time when Cobra Commander went for a full assault on it.
As he ended up attesting to Duke, this did not end well for the advance force the Commander sent in.
And not even two years later, Spirit and Mutt were exonerated for their actions in Millville. Sadly, this is the one time the justice system actually worked out for the Joe team, as just about every other encounter they've had with lawyers and Cobra has ended up with the lawyers getting their "client" off on some flimsy technicalities.
File Name: Hauser, Conrad S.
Grade: E-8 (Master Sergeant)
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO
Primary Specialty: Airborne Infantryman
Secondary Specialty: Artillery, Small-arms armorer
Duke was fluent in French, German, and English when he enlisted in 1967. Graduated top of his class at airborne school, Fort Benning. Opted for U.S. Army Special Language School. Specialized in Han Chinese and South East Asian dialects. Went Special Forces in 1969. Worked with tribesman in the boonies of South Vietnam. Ran four different Special Forces schools. Turned down a commission in 1971. Commands by winning respect. Current assignment: Acting First Sergeant, G.I. Joe team.
Statement after declining commission: "They tell me that an officer's job is to impel others to take the risks--so that the officer survives to take the blame in the event of total catastrophe. With all due respect, sir...if that's what an officer does, I don't want any part of it."
Duke in the comics ended up being your "typical" drill sergeant. Tough as nails, won't take crap from his troops, and refuses to just give up. In tAF, he's one of your best gunners (and I suspect Machine Gunners), but is also the "Mario"/Jack of all stats of your six Joes.
Duke joined the team the same time as Roadblock (shooting down a Cobra plane), and went on the same first mission with him, as well. He was quite content to, in his own words, "let the youngbloods handle" things while he and Roadblock tried the local cuisine during their stakeout.
And within a year, Duke was handed field command of the team on most missions.
Most of Duke's missions for a good while didn't give him much time to shine - so seeing his technique outside of missions ended up being pretty interesting.
The next time we see Duke is a bit less amusing...
(This was just before the Battle of Benzheen)
Duke managed to come face to face with the S.A.W.-Viper that had killed 4 of his friends - but in the end couldn't bring himself to fire on an unarmed man. (And the Viper wasn't dumb enough to pick up his rifle again until the Joes were well out of sight, as it turns out.)
With how hard he ended up taking it, we ended up not seeing Duke for a few years after this.
But when he returned, it was with a vengeance. (Also! Stalker wasn't actually supposed to be in this one, whoops. The one mistake in almost 12 years of comics, I guess we can forgive, right?)
Duke was in charge of the Pit III when Cobra attempted to assault it, a couple weeks later. Duke was back to top form, as the Joes successfully repelled Cobra and took no losses (and he even managed to thwart an ambush that would have shredded any Joe caught in it, had they stuck to their usual defense plan.)
Also! Duke's uniform in this game never actually existed - outside of a couple of products that were only slightly connected to the action figure line.
Yes, by 1993, the line had gotten to the point that it had a set of kiddy tableware. Much as I loved Joe, maybe it dying in the early 90s was the best for it at the time.
File Name: Unknown
Primary Specialty: Weapons Manufacturer
Secondary Specialty: Terrorist
Destro is the faceless power behind MARS (Military Armaments Research System), largest manufacturer of state-of-the-art weaponry. To Destro, war is man's most natural state: the fittest survive and the greatest technological advances are made. He maintains a luxurious lifestyle around the world. Destro provides high-tech arms to any side able to meet his price and will incite war where it does not exist. He dons his silver battle mask (a family tradition) and enters battle himself, either with COBRA Command (Destro is their major weapons supplier) or against them if it's better for business.
Destro respects the G.I. Joe team for their combat skills and expertise, but abhors them for wasting such skills to maintain peace. He's totally dedicated to seeing them undermined, subverted, or destroyed!
Destro's journey in the comic is quite a fascinating one. He's easily the most complex personality on the Cobra side of this conflict, having honor and integrity to spare, but still being perfectly fine with selling weapons by the boatloads. In the Atlantis Factor, he's the Boss of Area E, and probably the longest fight of all six.
Technically, this wasn't Destro's first issue, but since he didn't show up in full until this issue, I'm counting it. The closest this issue comes to this scene is when he personally leads a troop of Cobra soldiers to rescue the Baroness from a trap he inadvertently snared her in. He was trying to get Cobra Commander captured, so he and the Baroness could take over Cobra for themselves. He outsmarted himself, however, because he forgot who the Commander tended to prefer as his pilot in those early days of Cobra...
After an assault on Washington D.C. and a hand-to-hand duel with Hawk, Destro became head of a small cabal to oust Cobra Commander.
Sadly, the whole "everyone unite to get that schmuck out" theme never really went anywhere. But it was interesting to see all the plotting and intrigues that went on in such an ambitious organization.
Destro ended up more involved in a later plot against the Commander than he expected to. Surprisingly, he ended up stopping one, for a reason none of the readers saw coming.
Tin-face ended up assisting the new Cobra scientist, Dr. Mindbender, in one of the good doctor's more ambitous projects, as well.
Not too long after, the Joe team mounted an assault on the town of Springfield. Destro led the evacuation of the civilians and non-combatants, leaving Serpentor in charge. With a couple of provisions...
Destro has shown a surprising amount of honor, even in the midst of crisis. The Baroness once floated the idea of co-ruling Cobra before him.
He was a little bit less than impressed with her idea, or her timing...
A few weeks later, Destro and Cobra Commander were assumed dead when the Pitt II collapsed on them. They managed to dig their way free, thanks to a Joe tunnel boring machine Destro found. On their way back to Cobra, a small town deputy gave them unexpected news of a mutual associate of the duo.
Destro parted with the Commander, leaving the grief-stricken man with some excellent advice.
Months later, Destro surfaced in the war-torn country of Sierra Gordo, with a new outlook.
And a new business plan: Creating a situation, egging things on, and selling weapons to both sides.
During the Cobra Civil War, he personally led his Iron Grenadiers in a major invasion of Cobra Island. He made a deal with Dr. Mindbender and Cobra Commander, too. "Give me the one thing I want, and I will turn and leave with no further aggression."
He got exactly what he was after.
After the Civil War had ended, the Joe team was sent down the river by the very General that had ordered them in to begin with. It even made the news, with the Joes being portrayed as "renegades and loose cannons."
Destro was having exactly none of that garbage.
Not too long after, the Commander and Mindbender decided they wanted a little bit of payback for his assault on the island.
Yet again, Destro is having none of that. Also, by this point, most of the upper echelon of Cobra knew that the man in the armor wasn't the Commander.
And once more, Destro had to stand up and take the part of the "adult in the room", as he noticed something a lot of the higher ups hadn't...
In setting things in order, he seemed to have decided on an old saying, for how things would be organized from then on.
"If you can't make everyone happy, then you might as well make everyone miserable."
He knocked that one out of the park.
Destro was there when the Baroness attempted to exact what she saw as her rightful revenge on Snake-Eyes, too. In fact, he was in more places than she expected...
She was disraught at the thought that her adult life had been a mistake and a waste, and attempted to commit suicide. Storm Shadow nipped that in the bud, and then
The Baroness then told Destro she was going to leave Cobra, and figure out what to do with her life. His response was interesting, to say the least.
Destro and the Baroness were out of the spotlight for a few years, until Cobra Commander decided he wanted to start paying back old debts and grudges, after the Battle of Benzheen. After attacking Destro's ancestral castle in Scotland, the Commander put a huge price on the Laird's head.
The Joe team, along with the newly-commissioned Ninja Force, helped him evade the mercenaries looking to claim the reward, until he was ready to face the Commander. He stopped him in a pretty spectacular fashion.
Very shortly after, Destro took back command of the Silent Castle in the Carpathian mountain range, since the Commander now owed him a castle. He and the Baroness encountered the ninjas that had been living there not too long after arriving, resulting in the weapons dealer teaching a very amusing lesson.
"Wrist rocket always beats nunchuk."
Destro: he can swing a sword and quip with the best of them.
Tin Face and his bespectacled lady love were reasonably regular characters after this, until the comic ended. Their stories ended with both of them brainwashed into thinking they were supposed to be back on the Cobra team, and then the line ended a few months later.
File Name: (CLASSIFIED)
Primary Specialty: Intelligence
Secondary Specialty: Ordinance (Experimental Weaponry)
Absolute power! Total control of the world...its people, wealth, and resources---that's the objective of COBRA Commander. This fanatical leader rules with an iron fist. He demands total loyalty and allegiance. His main battle plan, for world control, relies on revolution and chaos. He personally led uprisings in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other trouble spots. Responsible for kidnapping scientists, businessmen, and military leaders, then forcing them to reveal their top level secrets.
"COBRA Commander is hatred and evil personified. Corrupt. A man without scruples. Probably the most dangerous man alive!"
The comic version of the Commander is an amusing read, and one that's almost as involved as Snake-Eyes' personal plotlines. Which makes things all the more interesting, once you find the common thread. In the Atlantis Factor, the Commander serves as the rather formidable boss of Area F, and the load-bearing boss for the power source for the whole island.
This wasn't the first time the Commander showed up in the comic (issue 8, in fact), but it certainly gives us a good idea of his fanaticism quite early on. And bless you Mr. Hama, because this beats the cartoon version completely hollow.
The Commander managed to survive the Byzantian intrigues of his command echelon's plottings. He even managed to escape from the Joes after Clutch and Roadblock made him their prisoner.
But the one thing he eventually found he couldn't escape?
The damage his neglect of his son, Billy, had caused to the both of them.
CC felt enough remorse that not only had he not returned to Cobra after retrieving his son from the hospital, he took him to a Crimson Guardsman who specialized in robotics, a man called Fred VII.
Even amnesia couldn't keep his son from showing he had changed a bit during his father's absence, though.
While CC was helping Billy with his physical therapy, Raptor, an associate of Fred VII came by.
The Commander's reaction was nothing short of memorable.
A short time later, Billy's memory returned. He walked out on the Commander, while leaving his word that he wouldn't work against him or turn him in to anyone. This gave CC something new to think about :
One thought he maybe should have had was "Don't leave a loaded gun within reach of a man who seems to see you as his ticket to bigger things in life."
For several years, no one knew the original Cobra Commander was dead, and the man in the power armor was an impostor. Then the secret started leaking out among the Cobra high command, and it got to the point where it was amazing word hadn't leaked out to the GI Joes yet.
Meanwhile, completely unaware of his father's death, Billy had been rebuilding his life, and adjusting to his new cybernetic limb. He was quite surprised when his mother found him, as dear old dad had told him she was dead. Billy, his mother, Storm Shadow, and Jinx all sat down to dinner, and ended up discussing the man in question. An interesting fact came to light during this talk - the Commander's brother had died on a highway years before, taking a family on the way to the airport out with him. Billy's mother had known her brother-in-law reasonably well, and he had come back from his tours of duty with something of a death wish, and as Hawk once put it, "A huge disregard for highway safety and a funny look in his eye..." Somehow CC twisted things in his head, and made it all the family's fault, that "if they had never been there to go pick up their soldier from Vietnam", then his brother would still have been alive. In fact, losing his brother unhinged him quite badly.
Eventually he had enough resources and money at his command, he could even afford to hire assassins that could possibly take out a Ninja.
Well, somewhat, anyway. This was actually his second hireling for the job, as his first (Firefly), had taken Snake-Eyes' measure and realized alone he would be no match for him. So he recommended Zartan, whom the Commander recruited in person.
End result: One dead Ninja Master, a second on the run and accused by his own clan of killing his uncle, the clan fractured, and Snake-Eyes with nowhere to go but his cabin in the High Sierras. Oh, and one mercenary who would eventually lead a gang of nationally feared bikers ended up carrying remorse and guilt around for years. Zartan had been taken as an apprentice by the sword-smith for the Arashikage clan, and fell in love with the art of smithing. He even grew extremely fond of the old man teaching him. However, when his master had heard what his pupil had done, he committed hari-kiri.
All that pain and grief, just because the man who was almost Cobra Commander couldn't accept that his brother was the one to blame for his own death.
About a year later...
Cobra Commander was actually not quite dead when Fred VII and Raptor buried him. He was in deep shock, and out like a light (catatonia), certainly.
His paranoia at the ambition of the Crimson Guardsmen had borne some small fruit though, namely the saving of his own life. CC originally clandestinely ordered all the Fred series "Siegies" to spy on each other, and the one watching Fred VII caught him just as he finished burying the Commander. Fred VIII managed to revive the Commander slightly, locate a doctor to treat him, and get the bullet removed and see CC fully recovered.
Cobra Commander then did the same thing he did to get rich the first time, all working secretly and away from the eyes of the whole Cobra organization.
Almost the very minute he returned to Cobra Island, he also settled almost every score he could.
He had everyone within reach that he considered to have betrayed him buried under a volcano. This included his own son; the C.G. who shot him; Raptor, who helped bury him; Dr. Mindbender; Zartan; Captain Minh, the man Spirit had managed to "hire" back during Cobra's Civil War; Voltar; Firefly; Croc-Master; Tyrone, a friend of Billy's and an apprentice to the Blind Master; and sveral Vipers. Zartan, Billy, and Firefly were the only ones to manage to dig their way out.
The Commander was back to his old nasty self when his forces took over Mutt's home town of Millville.
After punishing the Dreadnoks (but not killing them, thanks to Zarana having a bargaining chip in the form of two Joes brainwashed to be sleeper agents), he turned his attention to the Joe team. He started with Storm Shadow, and offering the Night Creeper forces a hefty sum for his twitching corpse.
Snake-Eyes and Stalker helped Stormy evade the bounty hunters, and Snake Eyes delivered a personal message straight to Cobra Commander's face. "Back off and get out of town." Quite shortly afterward, the Twins managed to capture Lt. Falcon's team over in Trucial Abysmia.
This poor wording choice led to 7 deaths, minimum, and the Battle of Benzheen all of a couple of days later.
The Joes were saddled with a rather unfortunate "ally", who didn't seem to quite understand the idea of "operational security."
Six Joes out of the seven on the Battleforce2000 team, all wiped out just like that.
This "bargain" ended up very badly for the Emir, as he had to agree to let Cobra build TerrorDromes in the middle of his country, and basically let them have the country as a clandestine back-up launch point.
Once the Benzheen operation was over, the Commander turned his attention to the last two parties he wanted a measure of satisfaction from: Destro, and the Baroness. The Joe team started to help Destro get away...
But old Bucket Head was having none of that nonsense.
Cobra Commander ended up having to let Destro go, and to return the Baroness to him, thanks to some clever blackmailing on the weapons dealer's part. Or at least, let him go for now. He used Zarana's idea of sleeper agents, and returned a "conditioned" Baroness to her love. CC wasn't about to let that castle in the Carpathians go, at least not to a Destro that wasn't on his side.
He personally led the force intended to be an occupying one, only to run into Destro's back up - the Joes.
The Commander obviously didn't feel like he had torn enough strips of flesh from them back in Benzheen, since he was quite willing to drive down a nearly vertical surface after the Joes when they mounted a tactical retreat.
Later that year, Cobra Commander took stock of the state of his empire
and found it quite lacking. Clearly, it was time to do something about this.
After discovering Firefly was alive, he even had the pleasure of seeing him thrown in there a second time. After he had been given the location of the GI Joe base, that is. No point in not using such information when it's offered up, after all.
Cobra attacked the Pitt III a day or two later. Spirit and his eagle companion Freedom gave a very good accounting for themselves.
Yet again, Rag Face was having no such nonsense.
Despite the assault being mostly a surprise, the Joe team mounted a very good defense. So Cobra pulled another trick on them. One of the Techno Vipers got a little antsy while they waited.
Technically, the assault on the base failed. Cobra Commander had a back-up plan , though: "Use the video footage of the assault as marketing material to sell our weapons systems." This turned out to be a brilliant move.
Cobra even got around to retaking the Silent Castle where Destro and the Baroness were living, although the residents managed to elude capture for a good long while. In fact it was during one of Destro's attempts to make Cobra leave (by setting the castle to continuously reconfigure the architecture) that something rather surprising happened.
Yes, Megatron teamed up with Cobra for a little while. The Commander helped build him a new body with a new alt-mode (a tank), and offered him their new scientist (who made a rail-gun that actually managed to damage Megatron and still have the bullet achieve escape velocity), in exchange for plenty of Cybertronian technology from the Autobot's ship, the Ark.
This particular crossover ended mostly badly for just about all parties except Megatron.
Autobot squad sent to recover the ship and possibly take Megatron down or back to Cyberton: 6 out of 7 dead.
Joe team: Got to watch most of those 6 allies die while trying to stop him, too.
Cobra: The Joes discovered their "zombified" town of Millville and freed the populace, as well as drove Cobra out. Megatron tricked them and only gave them one trailer full of tech - which, as it turned out was considered "junk" by most Cybertronians. The last Autobot of the team to die, died blowing up said trailer, and then himself, just to make sure Cobra didn't get their hands on a shred of their technology. The one single upside Cobra got out of this whole debacle was Dr. Mindbender's clone was successfully activated, and Cobra now had a mad scientist again.
Cobra expanded itself to the European continent not long after, and set their sights on the country of Borogravia. Which, it turned out, was going through yet another revolution. The man that Snake-Eyes met on his last trip into the country, Metz, was leading the side that Cobra was backing, and was about to spare the lives of two old allies and friends of Snake-Eyes, just as they had once spared him.
Then of course, the Commander just had to step in and add his own contributions to the discussion.
CC ended up being quite thrilled he brought Mindbender back from the dead, after all.
Note of interest, here: technically, being a clone and all, the good Dr. isn't really back from the dead, since as far as the clone is personally concerned he never died. But as far as the universe around him cares, he did definitely die. Also, Mindbender got a new action figure around this time, which kind of forced the writer to figure out a way to bring the character back, whoops!
The residents of the Silent Castle (which had expanded to include Zartan) had just added Billy to their number, when...
The Baroness and Billy were subdued by Destro and Zartan, and spent a few weeks being interrogated and tortured, until the two managed a successful plot to launch one of the castle's defense missiles. While this got the result they wanted (the Joes started doing long range investigations of the Castle), the immediate results were less than pleasant.
Storm Shadow ended up joining them not too long after, unfortunately for all three of them.
And then after this, Snake-Eyes curbstomped the Commander, used him as a human shield/crowd clearing device (throwing a heavily armored body down a flight of stairs will clear those stairs quite well, it turns out) on his way out of the castle, and then tossed him off a bridge to cause Storm Shadow to stop pursuing them and rescue him, instead. The last real time we end up hearing from the Commander in the series, he's dangling from the underside of the bridge Snake-Eyes threw him from, while he and Storm Shadow wait for the troops to get them down.