The 50 Greatest Cobras of All Time

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on December 19, 2012

in G.I. Joe, Lists

We recently published a list of The 50 Greatest G.I. Joe Characters of All Time. Now, it’s time to celebrate the bad guy.

In addition to the esteemed group of panelists whose individual ranks were tallied to form these composite rankings, for this list we’re honored to be joined by Fred Van Lente, writer of IDW’s upcoming G.I. Joe relaunch. Also returning as a special guest panelist is Marvel’s Arune Singh.

The Cobra list by the numbers:

  • Only 4 characters appeared on all 14 panelists’ top 25 lists.
  • Only one character made every single panelists’ top 10. No Joe made every panelists’ top 25- the closest was Roadblock (12 of 13).
  • 70 different characters were submitted, as compared to 79 on the G.I. Joe list
  • 2 characters were submitted for both the G.I. Joe & Cobra lists. Care to guess who?


50. Overlord

Highest rank: #18 (Justin Bell)

Yet another in a long line of challengers to Cobra Commander’s rule, Mikhail Derenko AKA Overlord was released as an action figure in 1990. I guess when you take the codename “Overlord” there isn’t much mystery regarding your targeted specialty. His biggest claim to Cobra fame might be appearing as a boss in the 1991 NES G.I. Joe video game.


49. Iron Grenadier

Highest rank: #19 (Fred Van Lente)

The Iron Grenadiers were elite troopers in Destro’s private army. Besides the Dreadnoks and Oktober Guard, these guys comprised another independent faction to battle both G.I. Joe and Cobra. It is said that the Grenadiers are more motivated than Cobra Troopers since they each own shares in Destro’s weapon supply company, which basically makes them the Chick Fil-A employees of the G.I. Joe universe.


48. Shadow Tracker

Highest rank: #16 (Dan Uthman)

Cobra’s Jungle Tracker was released in the Pursuit of Cobra line in 2011. His file card says that he “tastes his victims’ fear in the wind” – but we think that might just be Bazooka’s legendary gas.


47. Hydro-Viper

Highest rank: #17 (Carson Mataxis)

The successor to Cobra’s Eels, Hydro-Vipers were actually surgically enhanced to withstand and thrive in underwater conditions- until it comes time to clean Major Bludd’s hot tub, then all of a sudden they’re “underqualified”.


46. Zombie Viper

Highest rank: #16 (John Vanover)

Another Cobra Viper that debuted recently, the Zombie Viper capitalized on the popularity of the undead. Soon to be joined on a special missions team by Vampire Viper, Werewolf Viper, and Mer-Viper.. oh wait, see #47.



45. Voltar 

Highest rank: #15 (Justin Bell)

First released as an action figure in 1988, Voltar was a mercenary commander that Destro employed as part of his Iron Grenadiers. He first appeared in the Marvel Comics’ ARAH series in issue #87, helping defend Castle Destro by hiding tanks inside haystacks surrounding the property. God, I love Larry Hama’s storytelling style.


44. W.O.R.M.S.

Highest rank: #16 (Fred Van Lente)

Driver of the Cobra Maggot, W.O.R.M.S. stood for Weapons Ordnance Rugged Machine Specialist and is a perfect example of the ‘name it first and we’ll figure out an acronym later‘ strategy. Want proof? Other names considered for the character included “Crabs,” “Roaches,” “Slugs” and “Grubs.” This figure did have a really cool removable helmet.


43. Wraith 

Highest rank: #18 (Dan Uthman)

Charles Halifax is a mercenary spy who is less about money, and all about death and chaos. The stealth technology in his suit makes him invisible. Kinda like Snake Eyes in the Sunbow cartoon! Hey-O!


42. Headhunter (trooper)

Highest rank: #11 (Rob Buzan)

Headhunters are Cobra’s Street Troopers, released in 1992 as part of the Drug Elimination Force line. They worked for Headman, whom we’ll visit with later; he’s a positively lovely fellow.


41. Hazard Viper

Highest rank: #10 (John Vanover)

When the newest Hazard Viper figure debuted in 2011, Justin from Generals Joes wrote: “Not only is there a niche for this kind of trooper, but the Hazard Viper does an exemplary job of filling it. Where Toxo-Vipers specialize in the creation, distribution, and use of noxious substances, I think the Hazard Vipers are pure Hazardous material removal and containment.”



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James December 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

Just like its G.I. Joe counterpart, I love this so far. I will wait to leave a more involved comment at the end.

j_wizzle March 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Excellent!!! Keep the Joes posts coming. Good work, man.

Howie Decker March 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

Joey April 23, 2013 at 10:57 am

what about Nemesis Enforcer??

Howard Decker April 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

I hear ya. He’s one of the most polarizing characters in Joe history, because he represents G.I. Joe: The Movie which Joe fans either hate or love, there is no in-between. He was ranked on some of the panelists’ individual top 50, but not highly enough or by enough panelists to end up in the overall Top 50. His brawl with Sgt Slaughter was epic, though, I will admit.

CinemaViper April 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Firefly shouldn’t even be in the top 10

Jason April 14, 2016 at 4:44 pm

No Firefly! You sonuvabitch, kill yourself!

steve June 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Zarana is the best. Sexy, badass and has a boyfriend who is one of my favorites

DrJustin October 27, 2014 at 12:29 am

Destro at No. 1. List checks out.

Keith Ranson November 4, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Sorry, But CC And Serpentor Are My top Two,with Destro Coming In Third.

Tait June 30, 2016 at 6:58 pm

I can see Destro beating out CC but CC should have beat Storm Shadow and Firefly. I don’t even have a problem with Zartan beating CC.
Storm Shadow could have been on the Joe Top 50 list too but not very high. He was a better Cobra than Joe.

Lee Winters November 10, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Loved zartan from the old 80s cartoon series. Zack hoffman did a great job with his voice. There was an episode called games master where he even flirted with scarlett a bit. What a wild pair they would have made.

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