The 50 Greatest Cobras of All Time

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on December 19, 2012

in G.I. Joe, Lists

<— See how the list began and meet the panelists


10. Wild Weasel

Highest rank: #5 (John Vanover)

Introduced with the Cobra Rattler in 1984, Wild Weasel was Skeletor to Ace’s He-Man, which means the Skystriker would be Battle Cat and the Rattler Panthor. Wait, how did Masters of the Universe make a G.I. Joe list? I’m tired.


9. Serpentor

Highest rank: #5 (Jose Gonzales, Fred Van Lente)

He was at the center of a couple of classic GI Joe stories, but never had a niche besides and often forgotten in more recent incarnations of the franchise.  Too bad the COIL never got off the ground in the Sunbow series…  -Mike

Love him or hate him, Serpentor is the embodiment of the fear of genetic science that was present in the 80s. Mix together the DNA of a number of history’s great military minds in a blender with a dash of Star Trek’s Khan and Jurassic Park science, and (theoretically) you get a perfect Cobra Emperor. However, the good came with bad, and Cobra found themselves with a leader with all of the egomania and ambition of his DNA lineage. -John


8. The Crimson Twins

Highest rank: #3 (Jay Malone)

Both daredevil carnival act and cutthroat boardroom kings, and totally believeable as both.  Of course they were, they’re from Europe! -Mike

7. Major Bludd

Highest rank: #3 (Dan Uthman, Carson Mataxis)

A great warrior, he was just ambitious enough to get himself into trouble behind closed doors; often the unfortunate patsy of more cunning COBRAs. -Mike

6. Baroness

Highest rank: #1 (Arune Singh, Fred Van Lente, John Vanover)

Not nearly as complicated as the two men who top this list, but it’s hard to make straight-up ruthless look this good. -Mike

Sienna Miller’s Baroness was the best thing about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. -Howie

Baroness is the obvious Cobra counterpart to Scarlet. However- dress a woman in black leather and make her a bad girl, and the boys will fall in love with her. She and Destro play out an almost tragic love story against the backdrop of Cobra’s machinations. -John

5. Cobra Commander

Highest rank: #1 (Rob Buzan, Mike Irizarry, Jose Gonzales)

The best character in the entire property and it’s not even close.  Whether you’ve got Hama’s wronged “everyman,” the late Chris Latta’s genius at Sunbow, or Charlie Adler’s brilliant creep from Renegades, the fight for freedom begins with its greatest threat. -Mike

Shocked to see him ranked this low. I can only assume he was penalized for the failures of his subordinates, and the constant power struggle atop the Cobra hierarchy. – Howie


4. Storm Shadow

Highest rank: #2 (Dan Uthman, Carson Mataxis)

Slides down this list because of his varying allegiances, but Stormy started the ninja craze that’s been going strong for about 30 years now. -Mike


3. Firefly

Highest rank: #1 (Dave Gildersleeve, Dan Uthman, Carson Mataxis)

COBRA’s main saboteur was one of the few long-running characters to lose points in the Marvel comic run, but makes up for it with his adaptability.  A strong character in other incarnations, from Sigma Six to Renegades and beyond. -Mike

Firefly is classified as a the Cobra Saboteur. Little known about him, masked face, and very proficient at what he does, Firefly in some ways serves as the counterpoint to the commando side of Snake Eyes. Just more chatty. -John


2. Zartan

Highest rank: #1 (Justin Bell, Jay Malone)

Fittingly, the franchise’s villainous character actor, ranging from master of disguise to infiltrator to assassin to Dreadnok leader. -Mike


1. Destro

Highest rank: #1 (Howie Decker, Jason Krause)

Destro took the top spot and it wasn’t even close.

He was in every panelists’ top 10, and 12 of 14 panelists’ top 5. No other Cobra came close to these numbers, and no G.I. Joe character came close either. Even Snake Eyes only made 10 of 13 panelists’ top 10.

James McCullen Destro XXIV is the founder of M.A.R.S. Industries, weapons supplier to Cobra. Destro is technically not a full-fledged Cobra operative, but more of a free agent. The Sunbow series painted Destro as a sort of #1 lackey to Cobra Commander, whereas Larry Hama’s ARAH comic developed Destro as a much deeper man with a sense of honor (albeit a clouded one) and his own independent agenda.

Honorable villain, amoral arms dealer, even anti-hero… Destro wears many masks and they all fit him well. -Mike


In case you missed it: The 50 Greatest G.I. Joe Characters of All Time

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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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