This article is part of the Cobra After-Action Report series.
Looks like Cobra is up to a whole bun full of no good!One of the core components of military philosophy is "K.I.S.S." or "Keep It Simple Stupid". When strategists sit down to cook up their next battle plan they do so realizing that no matter how good the plan is, it's going to fall apart once the fighting starts. The more complex or convoluted the plan is the more likely the people on the ground are going to become confused or lost in the shuffle. Essentially, you can't count on your enemy to do exactly what the success of your strategy requires.
Cobra Commander must have missed out on this bit of info at his last evil supreme leader conference, because things are as unnecessarily complicated as usual in "Red Rocket's Glare". Destro has developed a new missile warhead called a "Photon Disintegrator" that apparently packs quite a wallop. Cobra Commander plans to install the warheads on over a hundred intercontinental missiles that he has concealed as signs on a franchise of fast food restaurants called Red Rocket. The Red Rocket restaurants were franchised out by Extensive Enterprises (the company belonging to the Crimson Twins) who is buying them all back to replace the dummy nosecones on the rockets with the real deal.
To demonstrate the power of his new doomsday weapon Cobra Commander has also built a mockup city that he plans to destroy on live TV. Sure, blowing up a real small town might be infinitely easier and get the point across a whole lot better, but that's just not the way Cobra Commander works. CC wants a fake town built so that he can blow it up? CC gets a fake town built. After he blows it up he plans to demand the surrender of every nation of the world to Cobra. Now that's a realistic objective!
Let's take a look at the forces Cobra has committed.
Theater Commander: Cobra Commander
Theater Resources: "Photon Disintegrator" warheads, a scratch built fake town, Destro's Cobra-head airplane, and the resources of Extensive Enterprises.
Corps Level Resources:
100+ Squad Sized Infantry Detachments
1+ Platoon of Crimson Guard Elite Infantry, Many Incognito as Biker Gangs
2+ Cobra Artillery Mounts
2+ Cobra Jeeps
2+ Cute Little Cobra Buggy ATVs
Additional Support Provided By Televipers
Known Opposing Forces:
Every government and military agency in the entire world.
Primary Mission Objectives
Achieve total domination of the world by threatening to obliterate national capitols using the Photon Disintegrator.
Alternate Mission Objectives
Buy back failed restaurant franchises.
As you will see, Cobra Commander commits some of his worst errors yet during the course of this operation, and GI Joe relies on the total incompetence of Cobra as always.
198X, Day 1, 10:00 AMOh no, the Frisbee! Master Destro will be most displeased!A young jungle savage boy is running through his native land in terror from the rumbling imperialism of a GI Joe convoy. He trips and drops what appears to be a miniature metal Frisbee with a Cobra logo emblazoned on it and he gets stung by a scorpion in the process of picking it up. We soon learn that he is delivering the Frisbee to a less-than-grateful Destro, who needs it to complete his latest invention, the Photon Disintegrator. No sooner had Destro dropped the Frisbee into a hole on the side of his suspiciously warhead shaped device then GI Joe locates his secret base inside an Aztec temple. After apathetically crushing several jungle trees with their tanks the Joes stop at an impassable ravine that prevents them from attacking the Cobra compound.
Apparently Cobra's presence makes blowing the ever-living shit out of an ancient Aztec temple a noble cause. After quickly crossing the ravine with the rarely-seen GI Joe bridge layer unit that they just happened to have driving around a jungle with them the Joes call in a massive bombardment of artillery that blasts apart the perimeter wall of the stone temple. Rushing inside, the Joes meet with the usual scattered pockets of Cobra resistance, which they easily drive off by showing the slightest amount of force. In this case rookie Blowtorch lights some crates on fire with his flamethrower and sends the Cobra troops into a panic, leading me to believe that Cobra has been employing Frankenstein's Monster as a training instructor again.
Anxious to prove himself, Blowtorch races ahead of Recondo and Roadblock into the Aztec temple. He confronts Destro and a pair of slow-moving Cobra guards with merciless blasts of fire that send the blue shirts packing. Destro pauses to laugh about how the Joes are too late before escaping through a stone door in the wall. Blowtorch's fire is mighty, but even he knows that it can't hope to burn through the stone door. Dejected, he goes outside and reports that Destro has once again made a successful getaway. Roadblock and Recondo comfort him with the news that the base has been destroyed and Cobra is finished here in the primeval jungle. This frees the way for Joe's corporate sponsors to clear cut the jungle and enslave the simple natives into working in salt mines, no doubt.
198X, Day 2, 1:00 PMWe can't stop here! This is Red Rocket country!Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and driving a jeep, Recondo and Roadblock are on vacation and headed to lunch with Roadblock's aunt and uncle at their restaurant. Recondo is so hungry that he suggests they stop at a local Red Rocket burger outlet, but Roadblock proclaims the food to be terrible and insists they press on. When they reach Roadblock's family restaurant they discover that it has also been transformed into a Red Rocket franchise, complete with a giant red missile strapped to the roof.
Roadblock and Recondo head inside but soon learn that a bunch of hooligans have been driving away all of the business, leaving Roadblock's family up to their neck in debt. Just then a bunch of teenagers sporting the worst fashion the 80s had to offer pull up in cars. Roadblock demonstrates the heroic nature of GI Joe by promising that he and Recondo will go beat the fuck out a bunch of teenage girls he sees out the window. His uncle corrects him, saying that the teenagers are the customers and the real hooligans are a biker gang who use "ray guns". Uh oh!
Hot on the heels of the teenage customers come the biker gang, who despite being armed with projectile weapons promptly get the shit kicked out of them by two unarmed GI Joes in Hawaiian shirts. Roadblock and Recondo get back to the business of feeding their faces while the bikers, who turn out to be incognito Crimson Guardsmen, report to Tomax and Xamot that the Joes have taken an interest in Red Rocket. I should mention that just before the biker Crimson Guard make their report Tomax and Xamot arrive at their HQ building by throwing the door off of their private jet and jumping out as it flies past. Those two love to make an entrance even when no one is looking. And they obviously don't care about wasting a perfectly good jet to do it.
Tomax and Xamot contact the sleazy suit responsible for the Red Rocket buyback operation, a sneering doofus by the name of Mr. Queeg. The Crimson Twins instruct him to take care of Roadblock's family restaurant, using Cobra-supplied "extreme measures" if necessary.
198X, Day 3, 11:00 AMGET OUT AND STAY OUT VINCENT PRICE! WE DON'T SERVE YOUR KIND HERE!Mr. Queeg has arranged for a roughly platoon-sized force of Televipers, Cobra troopers, and light artillery to serve as a last-ditch bargaining chip if he fails to negotiate a sale from Roadblock's family. The Cobra troops are arrayed on a cliff overlooking the restaurant, giving them an impressive position and an excellent field of fire. Queeg goes down to talk to the owners just as Flint and Lady Jaye arrive in a Joe hovercraft, much to the amazement of the patrons inside the Red Rocket.
Just as Roadblock is introducing Lady Jaye and Flint to his family, Queeg enters. Before he can even make a sales pitch for the restaurant Roadblock hauls him up by his belt and tosses him on the ground outside the Red Rocket. Queeg dusts himself off and gives an angry thumbs-down signal to the Televiper watching from the cliff. The Cobra artillery opens fire, exploding a few parked cars and sending deadly bursts of flame shooting through the windows inside the Red Rocket. Lady Jaye and Flint (and Cutter, but he doesn't count) have seated themselves and are eating hamburgers that arrived in the split second between Queeg getting thrown out and the start of the Cobra attack. They leap to their feet and rush to the waiting hovercraft to give Cobra what-for.
The GI Joe assault on the Cobra positions atop the cliff is a textbook example of tactical incompetence on the part of GI Joe slamming headfirst into the total combat ineffectiveness of Cobra soldiers and equipment. The Cobra position consists of emplaced artillery, along with supporting infantry firing from almost total cover, and wheeled lightly armored vehicles. The GI Joes have a hovercraft and no more than a squad of their generic infantry to mount an assault that would normally require at least 5 to 1 infantry superiority preceded by intensive artillery and aerial bombardment.
Instead the Joes defy the laws of physics and drive their hovercraft straight up a nearly vertical cliff face while taking heavy fire from Cobra emplacements. Ignoring the fact that this is totally outside the operational capabilities of their vehicle, the assault is numbingly idiotic. Anecdotes about Polish cavalry charging German tanks come to mind. Despite the utter stupidity the Joes exhibit, their attack on the cliff is a complete success and the blame for this falls completely on the shoulders of the Cobra line infantry. Whatever Televiper or Crimson Guard officer was in charge of setting up the attack did an admirable job, but his troops completely failed him against all odds.
While the Joes concentrate their fire and quickly eliminate Cobra's heavy weapons, the Cobra forces offer little more than a token resistance and a few seconds of desultory return fire. At the end of the assault, which took no more than ten seconds but should have taken days of protracted siege, the Joes round up an impressive bag of prisoners and now know that Cobra is directly linked to the Red Rocket buyout. To call this operation a disaster for Cobra would be a reflection on the limitations of the English language to express catastrophe.
198X, Day 3 4:00 PMI want answers! Especially about my freakish neck and reptilian head!Back at Joe HQ, computer nerd Mainframe has determined that the Red Rocket chain is owned by Cobra pals Extensive Enterprises. This new evidence points directly to a sinister plot that really did not need any further pointing to. It turns out that Roadblock's family is the only remaining Red Rocket franchise that has not been sold. Roadblock, Lady Jaye, and Flint head to Extensive Enterprises to have a talk with the owners about just what they have in mind. The Joes unknowingly interrupt a phone call Tomax and Xamot are having with Cobra Commander and demand answers from the sinister duo. The twins tell the Joes to go take it up with Cobra, which makes Roadblock sassy but ends the encounter. On the way back to their GI Joe bus stop Flint reassures Roadblock that they will return after hours for more evidence.
True to their word, Lady Jaye and Flint return at the witching hour to break into Extensive Enterprises. Flint pilots a helicopter next to the window of Tomax and Xamot's office and Lady Jaye burns through the window with a laser pistol. Once inside, she begins searching the sparse office for clues. She is almost immediately caught by the Crimson Twins who fight with her briefly. Lady Jaye leaps out the window and grabs on to the runner of the helicopter, but Tomax and Xamot follow her, latching onto her ankles. With a banshee scream Lady Jaye loses her grip, plummeting with the giggling duo towards the streets dozens of stories below. Lady Jaye keeps her wits and uses her javelin to hook the chopper and pull herself to safety. Tomax and Xamot make bars shoot out of the Extensive Enterprises building and do a zany acrobatics routine to safety.
Defeated, Lady Jaye and Flint are flying back to base when Lady Jaye spots something. In a disconcertingly voyeuristic sequence, Flint and Lady Jaye stare through the windows of an attractive blond woman's apartment watching Cobra Commander's address on the TV. The audio is provided by GI Joe HQ over their radios.
The broadcast proves to be Cobra Commander's all time magnum opus of stupidity. First off, he threatens the world's leaders with 150 missiles "targeted at the capitols of every major nation on earth" and shows a handy map. A map of the missile locations. Cobra Commander shows a map of every one of his super missiles. Didn't fucking ANYONE at Cobra HQ stop and say "uh, hey boss, maybe showing the world where our super missiles are is not the best idea"? I guess not.
Cobra Commander goes on to show the world the destructive power of his new super weapon. He uses it on "an exact replica of one of your cities". It shows a pastoral town with a missile warhead in the middle, then a wall of fire, then a grassy field, a dirt road, and a butterfly. This leads me to believe that Cobra's Photon Disintegrator not only destroys structures without a trace and removes the paving from roads, it also perfectly sods the scorched earth and encourages wildlife to return. It's like a dream for crazy environmentalists everywhere! It also seems like a pretty unnecessary thing for a bomb to do, but that's Cobra to the core. Cobra Commander gives the world until dawn to surrender to Cobra.
Roadblock, who is watching the broadcast at Joe HQ, spots the incredible similarities between the map Cobra Commander had of the missile sites and the map he saw earlier of Red Rocket locations. Putting zero and zero together to make zero, Roadblock breaks his epiphany to Flint, who scrambles all of the Joes to take out 150 missiles before daybreak.
198X, Day 4 1:00 AMUh oh, something retarded is about to happen, I can sense it.The GI Joe Red Rocket interdiction commences with an impressive fleet of Joe aircraft and land vehicles swarming out of various bases. They disperse across the United States to the Red Rockets helpfully highlighted by Cobra Commander in his "How to Beat Cobra" Power Point presentation. Now there can be no doubt that Destro has created a true weapon of mass destruction with his Photon Disintegrator, so you would think the Joes would take a lot of care in handling the capture and dismantling of them. Instead, Cutter demonstrates exactly how apathetic to civilian casualties the Joes are in the first of a sequence of "taking out Red Rocket" clips.
We see a bustling and very large fair on a pier, similar to Chicago's Navy Pier, and we see that a Red Rocket is positioned in the midst of the carnival. Cutter drives his hovercraft up to the pier and through a bullhorn informs the Cobra troops inside that they have five seconds to vacate the premises. Rather than, say, launching the rocket, the Cobra troopers dutifully run out and jump off the pier. Cutter opens fire and the Red Rocket detonates in an explosion identical to the one seen when the fake town was destroyed by Cobra. We never see the aftermath, but there can be no doubt that the detonation of the Photon Disintegrator leveled the entire fair and killed everyone enjoying it. Thanks to Cutter's tactics thousands, possibly tens of thousands, died in a flash, replaced by bucolic grassy hills and butterflies.
The carnage at the pier is followed by a montage of takedowns, complete with stunned Cobras surrendering immediately and rockets being shot by Joes. Lad Jaye even drops in by helicopter and scoops the deadly nosecone off of one rocket, taunting some shocked Cobra troopers by saying "careful, you might hit the warhead". Oh, they might hit the warhead! God forbid another one of these things blows up, huh Lady Jaye? It's worth noting that all of these attacks on Red Rockets with the exception of the pier strike take place during broad daylight. I guess Cobra's dawn launch deadline was not quite as firm as Cobra Commander had made the world's leaders believe.
The climax of the Red Rocket attacks occurs when Roadblock climbs on top of a rocket to remove the nosecone. While Roadblock is straddling the ominously smoking missile he is spotted by the Crimson Twins, who leap atop the missile with him just as it launches skyward. I'm no rocketician, but I feel reasonably certain that the force of an ICBM being launched would be sufficient to knock off people sitting on top of it. Instead, Roadblock and the dynamic duo continue to wrestle as the rocket streaks up towards the atmosphere. Flint and Lady Jaye spot their endangered friend and fly their jet really really fast to catch up with the trans-atmospheric rocket. Yes, I know, again not a rocketician, but…
Flint decides that the most immediate danger to Roadblock is the blinking Photon Disintegrator on the tip of the rocket. He pointlessly tells Roadblock to hang in there and then launches an air to air missile at the rocket. Miraculously the missile strikes the nosecone, does not detonate and does not detonate the Photon Disintegrator, and manages to sheer off the tip of the rocket. It also knocks the rocket off course so that it crashes and explodes safely in a river. Tomax and Xamot swim away laughing about the fun ride and Roadblock surfaces, similarly unhurt, spluttering and cursing.
198X, Day 4 5:00 PM
The Joes, triumphant at having thwarted Cobra and only killing thousands of American civilians in the process, have gathered outside Roadblock's family restaurant. The former Red Rocket franchise has been given some new and rather elaborate looking signage in a 24 hour period and is now called "The Joe's Place". The Joes are too busy celebrating their victory to ponder things like how a giant custom-made neon sign appeared overnight or how many widows they made destroying the rockets. Roadblock has pulled out all of the stops, inviting most of the Joe organization to a giant barbecue. He's even wearing his freakishly gigantic oven mitts, so you know he means business!
The episode ends with one of Roadblock's famous poems:
"My ribs are the greatest and that's a fact, Joe beat Cobra and that's where it's at, so when you want relief from your worries and your woes, you can come on down and eat at Joe's!"
The rough outline of Cobra's plot in this episode was not that bad. You've got 150 missiles nearly as powerful as nukes and a willingness to use them to threaten the world's leaders. Cobra, with their nearly limitless financial resources and impressive pool of manpower, could easily knock over some third rate country in the Eastern Europe or Africa. With a border secured they could set up their 150 missiles without disguising them as signs for fast food restaurants. Then Cobra Commander could threaten from a position of strength.
Sure, the Joes could bomb him into oblivion, but they've already demonstrated a total apathy to civilian deaths in the United States. At least with hundreds of miles of clear airspace Cobra Commander could launch some of his rockets at targets before they get destroyed.
Barring Cobra Commander coming to his senses there were a lot of other things Cobra could have done differently. Including the map of his missile locations on his TV broadcast was intolerably stupid, as was building and then blowing up a fake city. Why the hell didn't he blow up a Joe base instead of a fake city? Just put a rocket on a mobile launcher and fire away, it's not like GI Joe has any more success than Cobra with hiding or disguising their HQs. Why did Extensive Enterprises allow individuals to buy Red Rocket franchises in the first place? They could have simply built the restaurants themselves, eliminating the whole ridiculous "bikers driving away customers" fiasco.
GI Joe did not exactly perform with flying colors either. They stomped through a rainforest completely oblivious to environmental damage, destroyed an ancient Aztec temple, let Destro escape with his secret weapon, took ages to realize what Cobra's plan was, and then managed to kill roughly 50,000 people in the process of disarming Cobra's missiles. Everyone from Flint on up to General Hawk should be spending the better part of their natural lives in senate hearings about that sort of monumental fuckup. Instead they have a barbecue.
How adorable, I'm sure the people filling up the burn wards and moaning for morphine are laughing it up about Roadblock's shitty poem. I'm sure the families weeping at the funerals of lost loved ones will be overjoyed to read that GI Joe just secured an additional five years of funding.
I ask you, what sort of sick fucking world do we live in?
If I Weren't so Lazy, this Title Would be an Anagram of "Photoshop Phriday"
Hi gang, it's me, Livestock, writing to you members of the future from the distant past. As you read this, I am getting beaten to smithereens at Something Awful's big 5th anniversary bash, affectionately known as GoonCon. Chances are I won't make it back alive, which could very well mean that this is my last Photoshop Phriday ever. And in grand fashion, our scary friends at J-List are coming through with some fine, fine sponsorship! Do us all a favor by stocking up on some exciting Japanese merchandise such as "The Wife who Put on the Swimming Suit" on DVD. Anyway, wrapping up last week, we have Part 2 of Anagrammed Movies! Here is an exciting preview to wet your appetite.
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The Remains of Bidet (James Ivory, 1993)
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