This article is part of the Cobra After-Action Report series.
I think it's safe to say that GI Joe has finally fucking lost it.Imagine watching CNN and hearing that Osama Bin Laden has emerged from hiding with several dozen of his elite terrorist followers to steal a stapler from a US military base. There isn't anything special about the stapler, Bin Laden just needs one for terrorism and/or collating, and he knows that they have staplers at the US military base. It would be obvious to even the most dubiously credited "analysts" that Bin Laden is going to get a US Special Forces enema in the immediate future thanks to the trail he left behind during his stapler heist. All the US has to do is follow the crumbs back to the giant Mohammad-shaped castle in the Brazilian rainforest.
That's what the news might look like if the real world's super villains were as obsessed with revealing their evil plans to danger as Cobra Commander is in the world of GI Joe. "Cobra's Creatures" is just the latest in a long string of examples in which Cobra Commander goes out of his way to involve GI Joe in a plot that might have worked had he not, you know, gone out of his way to involve GI Joe in the plot. In "Cobra's Creatures" Cobra has decided to turn to nature's army, the animal, as a source of new recruits for Cobra. To this end they have enlisted the help of brilliant and suspiciously named scientist Dr. Lucifer who has developed a beam that will turn harmless animals to remote controlled killing machines.
Of course Cobra Commander has to hamstring the whole scheme by kidnapping a few skydiving GI Joes in an operation that can only be described as "totally crazy on every conceivable level" and bringing them back to Dr. Lucifer's swamp castle. GI Joe dog-handler Mutt's faithful canine companion Junkyard is the first beast to be subjected to Dr. Lucifer's mind control ray. This leads to disaster for Cobra, but I won't get into that just yet.
For now let's talk about the forces Cobra has assembled for this operation.
Theater Commander: Cobra Commander
Theater Resources: "High Freak" Animal Control Ray and Dr. Lucifer's magical swamp castle, a giant glowing net that can stun people
Corps Level Resources:
12+ Attack helicopters, most equipped with "High Freak" Ray
1+ Platoon of Crimson Guard Elite Infantry
1+ Platoon of Worthless Cobra Line Infantry
1+ Shitload of animals
Known Opposing Forces:
GI Joe, park rangers and wildlife experts everywhere, and mother nature herself
Primary Mission Objectives
Take over the world by taking over the world's animals.
Alternate Mission Objectives
Possibly to make giraffes and polar bears better mounts for cavalry.
You'll notice that Cobra is employing fewer forces than usual, I suppose with the assumption that their soon-to-be animal army will make up for their personnel shortfall. On the surface this may seem like a bad decision, but you need to keep in mind that Cobra's plans have a history of failing no matter how many soldiers or pieces of expensive equipment Cobra throws at the problem. I actually agree with Cobra Commander's "less is more" approach, which is possibly the only time you will ever see me agreeing with one of Cobra Commander's leadership decisions.
Let's get the ball rolling on "Cobra's Creatures", starting from the beginning.
198X, Day 1, 10:00 AMOh, you a good doggie! Yes him is! Now, stay in your G-harness Junkyard.Flint, Ripcord, and Mutt are flying in three separate jet fighters somewhere near a GI Joe base. As they ascend to 40,000 feet Mutt asks if the parachute they have attached to his trained dog Junkyard will actually deploy correctly. Flint assures him that Junkyard will be just fine, apparently unaware of the affects that high altitude will have on a dog with no insulated clothing and no oxygen supply. Mutt and Ripcord eject from their aircraft and then Flint uses some sort of ejection-seat remote control to send Junkyard flying as well. He even adds in an angry voice "there goes your master, Junk! Fetch!" before triggering the rocket ejection seat and sending the poor confused animal flying through the air.
Several things in this sequence leave me confused. Why are the Joes parachuting with a dog? Why did they parachute out of jet fighters, wasting thousands of dollars of ejection equipment, destroying the aircraft's cockpits, and potentially causing severe injury or death that could be avoided by jumping out of a transport aircraft's door? The Joes treat their federally funded equipment like a bunch of drunken cowboys with six-shooters and a case of vintage single malt scotch. If F-14 cockpits and ejection seats are disposable on a "just for the fuck of it let's parachute with that dog" type of mission I'd hate to see what the Joes consider actually wasteful. "Oh Dialtone, did you have to eat all of the plasma TVs again? Lady Jaye said she wanted to use some of them as raw material for the chair she is making!"
I'm not sure what the Joes had planned with their parachuting stunt, but I think it's safe to say that things did not go as planned with their parachuting stunt. Flint circles around expecting Mutt, Ripcord, and Junkyard to plunge through a cloudbank at any moment. Instead, four Cobra helicopters emerge with a glowing red net strung between them and the unconscious Joes caught like three patriotic American beach balls balanced on a flag of Soviet Russia.
This marks the exceptionally early point in the episode when I begin to feel angry towards Cobra Commander. The Joes obviously did not announce they were doing this dog parachuting thing - if they had people would be surrounding the Joe base screaming about their wastefulness - which means that Cobra must have expended resources on surveillance to find out about a dog parachuting. The parachuting provided Cobra with an absolutely terrible opportunity to kidnap two Joes and a dog, so naturally they strung a big sedative net between four helicopters and hid in the clouds. Cobra's gross incompetence succeeds temporarily but only because the Joes are somehow unable to see or hear four helicopters flying exactly where they are all looking with binoculars. Seen or not, Flint suspects Cobra and scrambles the Joes for a search and rescue operation.
198X, Day 1, 1:30 PMCastle designed by amateur Duke Nuke 'Em mapmaker Doug Whirley, age 9.A mysterious medieval castle built in a swampy jungle marks one of Cobra's less obvious secret lairs in recent memory, but possibly only because they are borrowing it from someone else. The castle is the home and laboratory of a petulant white-haired scientist named Doctor Lucifer who is working with Cobra and allowing them to stay as guests in his humble home. It's worth mentioning that the bad doctor's castle does not efficiently use space. In the first scene Cobra Commander is seated in the middle of a barren room with a computer in the background that looks like it was either intended for giants or designed by someone with no sense of scale.
Dr. Lucifer, who received his degree from a non-accredited online university, offers Cobra access to his new "High Frequency" device which he calls "High Freak". A dubious shortening of the term, perhaps, but Dr. Lucifer claims High Freak can hypnotize animals and turn them into willing killers controlled by Cobra. Intrigued by the idea of making monsters out of molehills, Cobra Commander expresses interest. All Dr. Lucifer asks in return for the extremely phallic High Freak device is the rescue of his girlfriend Professor Atilla from some sort of scientist prison. Cobra Commander agrees just as the recently netted Joes are brought into the great hall of the swamp castle, but he wants a demonstration!
Using a blast of High Freak and a press of the Playskool control console, Dr. Lucifer turns loyal sidekick Junkyard into a blue-eyed killer. Rather than doing something cold-blooded but semi-intelligent like ordering Junkyard to eat Mutt and Ripcord, Cobra Commander does something cold-blooded and totally idiotic and releases Mutt to be hunted by Junkyard. Mutt escaped swamp castle, but the five minute head start he was promised by Cobra Commander evaporates to maybe ten seconds. Junkyard is released to hunt his former master and Ripcord is dragged off to rot in one of swamp castle's dungeon cells.Cobra is better at locating endangered species than any field scientist.While Mutt tries to reason with his murderous pet out in the boggy jungle Cobra Commander selects a picture of a pretty cat and has a helicopter mounted version of High Freak deployed on some lions. One press of the cat-shaped button later and blue beams are turning the infrequently man-eating lions into much more frequently man-eating lions. Further blasts of High Freak turn peaceful sperm whales and timid swarms of locusts into hyper-aggressive monsters.
Per Cobra's instructions the lions chase all of the workers away from a refinery, the sperm whales surround an oil tanker, and the swarm of locusts clogs up the jet engines of a couple generic Joes while helicopter hillbilly Wild Bill hoots and hollers. Wild Bill tries to shoot the locusts with lasers, but the insects are too numerous to be dissuaded and their attack on his engines force him to pull away. His compatriots, unfortunately, do not have expensive play sets that come with their figures and they crash in a nearby lake. Wild Bill evades the locusts long enough to swoop in and pull them to safety.
Back in the swamplands good old Mutt is sticking to a very calm and shallow river that at least temporarily keeps Junkyard inexplicably at bay. Mutt's efforts to reason with Junkyard only seem to cause the dog to lash out again and again until Mutt is tearfully forced to beat his old friend insensate with a stick.
198X, Day 1, 3:00 PMNo, Junkyard, no! Bad dog! No bite!Cobra Commander broadcasts a State of the Global Takeover Address on every TV in the world, explaining that Cobra's animal minions now form an unstoppable force. His cackling monologue is accompanied by footage from locations around the world where animals have gone wild. From wolves cramming the courtyards of the Kremlin to rhinos mysteriously teeming around Big Ben, there is little doubt that Cobra, however briefly, has a stranglehold on the world.
Cobra Commander's demands are that a handful of super villains be released from jail or he will unleash the power of High Freak on a now-suspecting world. The list consists of:Dr. LaskoThe Joes quickly realize that Dr. Lucifer was working on a high frequency device and, putting two and two together, recognize that he once had a fling with Professor Atilla. Scarlet suggests that they attack where Dr. Lucifer would least expect it; "his heart!"
Viktor the Hun
Q the Mad Assassin
Not much later a few Cobra soldiers and some lions are at the prison where Professor Atilla is being held. They spring her from the clink and whisk her away to swamp castle. Once they're gone the warden instructs the guards to put the real Professor Atilla back in her cell. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNN!
198X, Day 1, 6:00 PMHow arty GI Joe animators! Perhaps next time you can apply some of that artistry to remembering to color the entire bodies of characters.Cobra Commander introduces Dr. Lucifer to the fake Professor Atilla, but the crabby scientist is not very pleased with what he sees. It turns out that the fake Atilla is acting way too nice to be the genuine article. Just to be sure Dr. Lucifer hits her with a trick question and the imposter falls for it. A "guards, seize her!" and a few kicks later and the fake Atilla is lying on the ground. Cobra Commander gives her face a yank and off comes the mask, revealing none other than red-haired femme fatale Scarlet. One thing that this sequence reveals is that no one at Cobra has very good eyesight; Atilla's eyeglasses were apparently painted onto the mask. I can give Cobra Commander a pass on that one because he has to see through that big chrome face plate thing, but the rest of them are unobservant shitheads.
Scarlet is shackled on the wall next to Ripcord. Cobra Commander delivers a slightly creepy touchy-feely speech and then sentences both Joes to death by spider. Dr. Lucifer gleefully switches on High Freak and sends a swarm of extremely large and plump red spiders scurrying in to finish the Joes off. Scarlet and Ripcord manage to fend off the first wave of arachnids, but as hundreds more approach (swamp castle has a bit of a spider problem) the only hope rests on a tracking device Scarlet waited to activate until they were shackled in the dungeon. Luckily, Spirit and his High Freak unaffected pet eagle and wolf are on the case along with NinJoe Snakeyes.
198X, Day 1, 9:00 PMA perfectly preserved castle in a mysterious swamp? BLOW IT UP! YO JOE! HURRRR!In case you forgot that this episode was an advertisement for the Mutt action figure, the dog loving Joe is still wandering around the swamp with Junkyard nipping at his heels. Junkyard leaps on Mutt's back seeming more interested in mounting his neck than biting him, but Junkyard sends the dog flying into the swamp with a shoulder throw that Hulk Hogan would be proud of. Junkyard swims to safety and climbs atop a log, but wait! That's no log, it's a hungry alligator, and the vicious beast begins comically pursuing Junkyard around the bog. At this point you might think that Mutt would throw in the towel on his murderous canine friend and say to himself "self, I like Junkyard, but he has been trying to eat me for five hours straight so I don't think I'm going to get through to him." Then the alligator would take Junkyard down to the bottom and get him in a death roll.
Instead Mutt jumps into the water and wrestles the alligator. When that doesn't seem to work he jams a stick into the alligator's open mouth. Sure, alligators have jaws strong enough to tear through a spaceship's steel bulkhead, but that stick is just too much for this alligator. Mutt rejoins the weakened Junkyard on the banks only to discover that the hound still has it in for him.
Meanwhile, at swamp castle, Snakeyes wants to swim across the moat that suddenly appeared around the Cobra lair. Spirit points out that this moat is swarming with piranha and convinces Snakeyes that subterfuge would be the better route. If they ever make a live action version of GI Joe I really hope they pick this episode to film. I would really like to see a bald eagle riding on the back of a wolf escorting a stereotypical Native American and a ninja into a medieval castle. That's what Spirit's plan is anyways, and it works amazingly well. The Cobra guards lower the drawbridge and don't even say anything. They just point the "prisoners" to the dungeon and assume the eagle and wolf symbiotic team can handle the task.
Spirit and Snakeyes head to the dungeon, but not to be incarcerated! They bust out Ripcord and Scarlet, who were being crawled all over to death by the fat red spiders. After dispatching a series of apparently unarmed Cobra guards the Joes make their way to the High Freak control module upstairs. Outside swamp castle a large Joe strike force consisting of tanks and motorcycles bursts from the swamp and begins leveling the Cobra fortifications. Flint, using a rarely-seen GI Joe jetpack, rockets over the curtain wall and uses his laser pistol to blast the ropes holding the drawbridge closed. Joe forces flood across, easily overwhelming the Cobra defenders much as a child with a super soaker might, and storming the castle itself.
In a tizzy, Cobra Commander tries to use the High Freak to command the world's animals to attack. Luckily, Spirit's eagle arrives just in time to bite Cobra Commander's hand and the Joes follow soon after, blasting the High Freak machine before Dr. Lucifer can activate it. Cut to Junkyard about to finish off Mutt when the glow fades from his eyes and he surprises his master with a highly unsanitary treatment of his facial abrasions. Cobra Commander somehow escapes the Joes once again, but Dr. Lucifer is hauled off to scientist prison where he will spend the rest of his life with his beloved Professor Atilla. Mutt makes a joke too horrible to repeat here and Junkyard breaks that third wall by looking into the camera and barking with amusement.
Cobra Commander really made two critical mistakes in addition to thinking that packs of wild animals would be anything more than a temporary problem for first world nations. The first of these mistakes was kidnapping Mutt, Ripcord, and Junkyard for no apparent reason. He could have tested the goddamn High Freak device on any of the thousands of giant red spiders milling around swamp castle. What, were you too good for the spiders Cobra Commander? Was it really worth leading the Joe's rescue efforts directly to your castle? In the real world you wouldn't have succeeded at even that; your stupid helicopters with the net would have been easily spotted on the nearby GI Joe base's radar and the F-14 fighters that were RIGHT THERE would have shot them all down with the push of a button.
In the crazy world of GI Joe though, where wild animals can threaten civilization and helicopters can hide in clouds with giant nets, Cobra Commander made another mistake. He had these powerful swarms of beasts that could take on the world's governments, so what does he do? He has them surround government buildings and run off oil field workers. Who always foils your horrible evil schemes, jackass? Is it oil field workers? How about the Kremlin? No? Oh, that's right, it's fucking GI Joe. You know, the guys you practically invited to swamp castle with your televised broadcast and your mid-air kidnapping caper. Next time maybe you should think about surrounding THEM with your murderous herd of Rhinos and your terrifying flocks of waddling baby penguins.
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