Sunday, July 24, 2005



I have always loved Kobra. You love Kobra, too - you just might not know it yet. Kobra was a cross between Dr. Doom, Hugo Drax, and Jim Jones who hissed and ssstretched out the letter "S" a lot. He wore a very 80's orange and green snake theme costume, and he had his own logo and everything. The leader of an apocalyptic Cobra Cult (or Kobra Kult?), he had a seemingly endless supply of cash, evil schemes, and brainwashed followers.

It's a good thing he had so many cultists, because Kobra was harder on his subordinates than Darth Vader. I mean, he made them wear outfits just like his, and then there was the strangling.
Here's a typical exchange between Kobra and a lackey:

Kobra: "Kobra sssaid no sssugar in his tea, you mindlesss fool!"

Lackey: "I-I forgot! Mercy, Lord Naga-Naga!"

(Kobra strangles lackey)

Lackey: "C-can't breathe... D-dying!"

Kobra: "Perhapsss you will remember in the afterlife: Kobra takesss honey only!"

Before he became DC's cut-rate Dr. Doom, Kobra had his own series (titled, appropriately enough, Kobra) in the 70's. In that series, we learned that Kobra had a twin brother named Lemmy that had some sort of weird psychic symbiosis thing going on - whenever Lemmy felt pain, so did Kobra. Wait, the brother's name was Jason Burr, not Lemmy. My bad. Anyway, the whole twin brother storyline seemed to just die off - does anybody out there know what happened to Lem-- um, Jason? I think Kobra finally killed him off, but I can't recall.

It looked for a while like DC was pushing for Kobra to take his rightful place among the better known arch-villains like The Joker and Lex Luthor and Clock King, but it never panned out. I think one of the problems with Kobra is that he's nobody's arch-enemy. You gotta have that rivalry thing going to be a really good bad guy.

Though it pains me to say, Kobra was just sort of a stock arch-villain with an army of disposable goons. He appeared in Batman and The Outsiders, Aquaman, The Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Flash, Wonder Woman, JSA, and a few other books, but never assumed the A-List Arch Villain Status he deserved. Finally, in JSA #51, Kobra got executed by a renegade group of JSA heroes.


My favorite Kobra appearances are 1989's The Janus Directive crossover (which I will review at some point in the future), a kick-ass Suicide Squad storyline where Kobra tries to incite a full-scale war in the Middle East by manipulating Israeli jets into destroying the Dome of the Rock, and this Batman and The Outsiders storyline.

Inthis issue, Kobra's up to no-damn-good once again, hijacking a missile defense satellite and threatening to turn it over to the Soviets unless the Americans give him all the gold in Fort Knox. Only Batman and The Outsiders can stop him! Actually, I think Green Lantern could probably have stopped him on his lunch break, but what do I know?

Before his scheme is foiled, Kobra gets some classic dialogue like this, as he strangles a foolish lackey who doubted him: "The Chrissstian God is known for his forgiveness... but the Cobra God has no such weaknessess! That is why I will one day rule! Dispose of this carrion and open a channel to the Pentagon!"

Now that is self confidence!

Writer Mike W. Barr has a good time with Kobra, who is in full-on hammy Bond villain mode here. The art by Alan Davis is... well, it's Alan Davis. It fucking rules. Davis draws a savage but brief brawl between Kobra and Batman that I love because - and this is important - Kobra kicks Batman's ass. No trickery, no assistance, no mitigating factors - Kobra just flat out beats the shit out of Batman and leaves him all fucked-up and unconscious. Of course, Kobra can barely stand after the fight and has to be helped to an escape pod, and his plot has been foiled, but the fact remains: Kobra beat up Batman. How can you not like the guy?

To DC I say: more Kobra pleassse!


Kevin Church said...

Dude, you better be making sure that a certain DC Comics Presents with Ambush Bug gets some love up in this mug or I may be forced to do something that is untoward involving my fists and your face.

Jeffrey said...

FYI, Kobra is apparently now under Talia Al Ghul's control in Breach.

Glen Davis said...

I remember the Kobra Kronicles in Showcase where he beat the heck out of the schizophrenic Peacemaker in about 30 seconds.

David Campbell said...

FYI, Kobra is apparently now under Talia Al Ghul's control in Breach.

Really? That's messed up; no one controls Kobra! I wonder, do they explain how he survived his death-by-plane-crash in JLA?

Hunh. I'll have to check Breach out now.

Winterteeth said...

SPOILERS...Kobra actually got his heart ripped out in a recent issue of JSA. Sorry, but Lord Naga is no more.

joe shakespeare said... there any way to synthesize kobra week with a little jim aparo love?

Cove West said...

So glad you decided to give us a whole week of Kobra, Dave. I've only seen him twice--"Terminal Velocity" in FLASH and the SUICIDE SQUAD issues of "Janus Directive" (alas, my two year search for the CHECKMATE, CAPTAIN ATOM, and FIRESTORM issues continues)--and both times I got that "Oh shit, it's badass villain Kobra!" vibe without really knowing where the rep comes from. Bring on KOBRA WEEK!

Cove West said...

I gotta ask: did anyone here love the Outsiders concept the first time 'round? I never read it, but I always got the idea that, besides semi-cool chracters like Katana and Black Lightning, it was just an excuse for Batman to have a team that, unlike the JLA, he could boss around and scare. The reason I ask is because I can't for the life of me understand why DC thought it would be a good idea to have Nightwing, Arsenal, Jade, and Starfire (and Donna too, probably) on a team of lowlifes none of them would ever actually be in the same room with, rather than...oh, say a TITANS BOOK! Or did the original Outsiders concept work so well that DC decided to try to catch lightning in a bottle again?

Jeffrey said...

Ah, sorry. I meant the Kobra organisation is under Talia's control (Breach #3). Kobra the person is pretty much dead. In spite of this, she's inherited his habit of killing subordinates who bring bad news.

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Shon Richards said...

I'm working from memory here but I recall that DC did a special where they crammed a bunch of stories into a 64 page comic and sold it for a dollar. I don't remember any of the stories except for the one with Batman and Kobra. Kobra's brother calls up Batman and explains the entire cancelled series to him. Kobra had found a way to seperate the link between him and his brother using a funky pink gas. With the link severed, the brother died in a helicopter explosion.

My memory is fuzzy on the exact details of the brother's death buit I do remember Batman swearing to continue the fight against Kobra and never resting till the brother's death was avenged. I started to pick up the Batman series every month just waiting for the payback. Sigh.

Funny enough, I also remember reading the editoral page in the comic where they explained that the Kobra series was cancelled, but that the writer was dying to tell this one last tale.

Anonymous said...

You're looking for a comic called "Five Star Superhero Spectacular". That story would have been the final issue of Kobra if it hadn't been cancelled. Art on this and the last few issues of Kobra by well-known Neal Adams impersonator Mike Nasser.

B2 said...

Somehow I made it through my life so far without knowing of any Kobra outside of G.I. Joe's nemesis, COBRA (meaning of acronym forgotten). Thanks for the gap-filling.

Dan Coyle said...

"The reason I ask is because I can't for the life of me understand why DC thought it would be a good idea to have Nightwing, Arsenal, Jade, and Starfire (and Donna too, probably) on a team of lowlifes none of them would ever actually be in the same room with, rather than...oh, say a TITANS BOOK!"

Well, I think they wanted to emphasize the TEEN in Titans this time around, but geez, Winick's Outsiders is the Titans Judd to the main book's Titans Geoff.

Cove West said...

I guess I'm just bitter about how DC has used the third and fourth generation of heroes over the past decade or so. Why this emphasis on babysitting? It dilutes both teams. The Tim/Bart/Cassie/Kon Titans can't be the "wacky kids getting in wacky adventures" team if the original Titans or New Teens are always around. The Wolfman/Perez series worked because it was JUST THE TITANS. YOUNG JUSTICE worked pretty well with the kids trying to get away from Red Tornado. Batman doesn't loom over Tim in ROBIN, Superman was hardly a presence in SUPERBOY, and IMPULSE had few appearances from Flash while Max's "supervision" was mostly futile.

The original Titans probably have it worse, as they are often cast in the babysitter role. Here are these icons, the successors to the JLA, who after 40+ years of growing-up stories, are finally heroes in their own right. Yet they babysit. Did the JLA spend ten years in their own title caught up in the adventures of the Teen Titans?

Which is all, I guess, just a rantish roundabout way of clarifying my question: did the original Outsiders, with Batman practically babysitting them, work very well?

Winterteeth said...

IIRC, the original Batman and the Outsiders had some pretty lame-ass villains (Cryonic Man, Syonide, Baron freakin Bedlam) but the art was always fun. I don't really know how else to describe it except that it was very inoffensive and MOR for a team book. All the stereotypes were there (member without a past, good guy, chip on shoulder girl, freak, etc.) and they all interacted about how you would suspect. Nothing to revolutionize comics or anything. You would think a team made up of people who would never be on a team would be more dynamic. Not so.

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Anonymous said...

Most likely old news for this blog, but DC Comics is reprinting a special trade paperbook featuring Kobra.


It will reprint:

Kobra #1
Kobra story from DC Series Special aka Kobra #8
Checkmate (last series) #23-25
Kobra: Faces of Evil one-shot

+ + +

Basically Kobra is back in the DCU, for how long is anyone's guest as Kobra is featured in the mini-series JSA vs Kobra which hasn't finished its run yet.

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