This article is part of the Cobra After-Action Report series.

This Cobra map displays the Chemical Warfare Arsenal which is the target of their operation in "Twenty Questions".Many are the websites good and bad that have taken potshots at the incompetent planning of operations by the international terrorist organization known as "Cobra". While these articles often heap ridicule upon Cobra and its many ineffective schemes to achieve everything from world domination to frightening a few GI Joes they miss out on the facts. Using my keen sense of military knowledge and my years of training from watching the History Channel I have begun a massive undertaking to review and catalog Cobra's many failed operations. Hopefully this will assist future generations of megalomaniacal half-snake terrorist leaders in their efforts to conquer the globe.

Despite their winning record, GI Joe isn't exactly led by the finest strategic minds ever turned out by the mysterious GI Joe academy. Equipped with the best weapons in the arsenal of Democracy and Freedom, GI Joe still often struggles to overcome a foe that's using Nazi-like super science to look for the skeleton of Dracula. I will catalog the many missteps of GI Joe as well, in the hopes that with a fair and balanced hand I will aid the forces of good as much as the forces of evil and prevent calamity from befalling all those who would live free of Cobra's oppression.

For this first outing I will be analyzing Cobra and GI Joe operations from the episode entitled "Twenty Questions". This episode serves as a perfect example of Cobra's tendency to engage in unnecessarily complex plans that span multiple fronts and expend countless dollars for minimal gain even if the mission is completely successful. Let's start this by looking at things from the Cobra perspective. Not everything can be known about their planning and intelligence just from watching the episode, but much can be inferred with near-certainty.

First of all the operation was headed personally by Cobra Commander and assisted by The Baroness in a covert infiltration role. Notable is the absence of Cobra tactician "Destro" and other high-ranking cobra leaders, suggesting the plan was cooked up by Cobra Commander and possibly assisted by Zartan, leader of the thuggish gang of Dreadnoks. In a nutshell the plan consisted of stealing a large number of gas cylinders from a military base in the Rocky Mountains. Many of these gasses, which included "Laughing Gas" and "Itching Gas", were seemingly readily available on the open market. However, Cobra Commander was especially specific about getting the "Explosive Gas" which is apparently a highly deadly and completely illegal substance that has properties identical to propane sold at gas stations. While Cobra moved in company strength to capture these gas cylinders, The Baroness was tasked with infiltrating a nearby GI Joe base disguised as a man and accompanied by a camera crew from a TV News program. Her job was to attempt to subvert government funding for GI Joe by proving that Cobra doesn't actually exist.

A massive cavern was excavated and entire buildings were constructed in a hollow mountain. Was this really needed?Before we begin to discuss what happened with the operation, let's talk about what went wrong before the operation even started. Cobra Commander, in his infinite wisdom, deemed it necessary to move more than a hundred troops and support personnel into the mountains prior to the attack. Not only did he relocate this sizeable force undetected, but he proceeded to construct a vast base the size of a small city inside of a hollow-mountain with the help of several armored drilling machines designed specifically for this purpose. The cost of creating and manufacturing these machines pales in comparison to the cost of constructing an airport with a launch hangar beneath an artificial lake, building an entire dock for several light assault ships for no discernible reason, and creating not one but two separate command and control centers. Sprinkled throughout the mountains and tied to the secondary command and control center, which was being manned by Zartan and his Dreadnoks, were several multiple-launch SAM sites.

This all seems like overkill if your purpose is to set up a base of operations, but when your purpose is to simply go into a compound and steal something the amount of waste is completely insane. Without Destro around to nix these extravagant and worthless plans, Cobra Commander had wasted what must amount to several billion dollars on stealing a few hundred bucks worth of propane. Perhaps Cobra Commander's intelligence report about the defenses at the compound was wildly inaccurate. As we will witness, once the operation gets underway the entire base is guarded by two unarmed US military personnel, a testament to the low value placed on the cylinders of gas.

This ugly, annoying, and overbearing nerd is actually none-other than leather-clad hottie The Baroness in disguise.All of this aggressively stupid wastefulness would be little more than a footnote in a successful Cobra operation report if not for the fact that Cobra Commander insisted on dispatching The Baroness on a secondary operation that could serve absolutely no benefit to his immediate plans. Cobra Commander and most of the other leaders of Cobra have an extremely bad habit of further complicating an already Rube Goldbergesque scheme by tacking on a secondary mission which has little chance of success and an extremely high risk. Think about it this way: he's sitting there in his underground city, ready to capture his precious explosive gas, Cobra shock troops amassed in overwhelming force, and he sends The Baroness out on a mission and WAITS for her to complete it.

With all of these troops poised like a tidal wave ready to wash over a certain gas storage facility, The Baroness is dispatched with a camera crew from the TV show "Twenty Questions" to investigate the Cobra-started rumor that GI Joe is wasting taxpayer dollars. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, the irony of this mission is lost on everyone but the viewer. The Baroness is disguised as a hideously ugly and annoying nerd screech-factory that clutches a briefcase to his chest to conceal the generous swell of The Baroness's fine Eastern European bosom. This is all a fairly intelligent and devious plan, if it weren't for the final phase that involves leading GI Joe directly to their motherfucking base for no reason whatsoever. Maybe this was The Baroness taking the initiative, but I would like to think that with her leather bodysuit, glossy black hair, full red lips, and scholarly glasses, she would never be so foolish. Not to mention this side operation should have been saved for a time when Cobra, you know, wasn't doing something that proved that their carefully crafted lie was just that.

Now that we have all that asinine plotting out of the way, let's take a look at the numbers. From observing the footage of the battle I have put together a pretty good list of Cobra assets that were available throughout the operation. The GI Joe assets I have left intentionally vague to demonstrate Cobra's lack of concrete intelligence data, although you will read about various units swinging into action to address the Cobra threat.

Theater Commander: Cobra Commander
Theater Resources: Special Forces Agent "The Baroness"

Company Level Resources:
10+ "Rattler" VTOL Ground Attack Aircraft
6+ "Water Moccasin" Assault Ships
4+ "Ferret" Assault Buggies
6+ Armored Drilling Vehicles
Multiple SAM Launchers
Two Platoons of Generic Cobra Infantry
Zartan and the Dreadnoks

Known Opposing Forces:
2 US Military Guards
A Fence
Nearby GI Joe Base
A Wild Panther

Primary Mission Objectives
Recover Large Quantity of "Explosive Gas"

Secondary Mission Objectives
Recover Large Quantities of "Tear Gas", "Itching Gas", and "Laughing Gas"
Subvert Government Funding of GI Joe

Against my better judgment I look at the tale told by these figures and think to myself that with such a straightforward objective and so fucking many soldiers, it couldn't possibly go wrong.

198X, SUMMER, 9:23 AMShipwreck gives a candid interview.A disguised Baroness is deployed with the crew of "Twenty Questions" to a location overlooking the GI Joe proving grounds near the Rocky Mountains. While a number of Joe soldiers train in mock battle involving laser shock pistols and firing bags of flour from tank guns, "Twenty Questions" reporter Hector Ramirez asks the bold question to his audience "Does America real need [GI Joe]?" The presence of civilians less than five feet from the battlefield is eventually noted by someone and the mock engagement is halted. After a confrontation with temporary base commander Flint, the reporters are led to an office at the base to await a tour. In the privacy of the hallway Flint instructs Alpine to find a tour guide, which is strange since minutes later we see Flint himself find a tour guide in the form of the always annoying Shipwreck.

10:00-11:00 AM

Curing world hunger? Nah, these advanced computer systems are much better put to use offering up invaluable intelligence information like this.Still unaware of a nascent Cobra threat in the region, Shipwreck takes The Baroness and the camera crew on a tour of the base, showing off such exciting facilities as "a few planes scattered around" and "an obstacle course" to prove the validity of GI Joe. Still unsatisfied, Shipwreck takes them into a room with a sign on the door reading "Top Secret" and begins messing around with the computer inside. The Baroness validly suggests that all this money being wasted could be better spent curing world hunger, a suggestion scoffed at by Shipwreck. Just then the computer detects "Cobra Scouts" at the "Chemical Warfare Arsenal" in the mountains. Apparently the advanced GI Joe computer classifies a giant underground base as "Cobra Scouts". Recognizing the threat of Cobra getting their hands on a government chemical weapons arsenal Shipwreck immediately does the logical thing and steals a helicopter to take the crew of "Twenty Questions" and prove that Cobra is real.

Meanwhile, back at the base, Covergirl and Gung-Ho are searching for Shipwreck. Unable to find him they learn from some Joe pilots that Shipwreck has taken a helicopter, and that the computer which he has conveniently left on displays his likely location in the Rocky Mountains. Back near the "Cobra Scouts", Shipwreck has crashed his helicopter while attempting to evade an anti-aircraft missile launched by the Dreadnoks. After some good-natured humor directed by Alpine at the stereotypically native-American Spirit, the Joes launch the most minority-heavy rescue operation in history. Led ostensibly by Covergirl, the team includes Gung-Ho, Spirit, and Alpine, each flying a helicopter towards the site of the "Cobra Scouts".

11:20 AM

Four, no wait, five Cobra jets are launched from the hidden hangar.While Shipwreck and the camera crew search for the missile launcher that fired on their helicopter, the flight of choppers led by Covergirl arrives on the scene. Proving that Cobra has much better communication than GI Joe, Zartan immediately notifies Cobra Commander that the Joes have arrived and prepares to fire on the latest group of interlopers. Just as the launcher swivels and readies to fire, Shipwreck manages to disconnect its power supply, thereby deactivating the Surface to Air missile battery. Since Zartan was smart and told Cobra Commander a backup means of intercepting the Joe helicopters is deployed. An artificial lake is drained of water revealing an aircraft hangar that opens and disgorges four "Rattler" attack aircraft. These aircraft have been demonstrated in previous episodes as being capable of taking off and landing vertically, which makes the need to build an underground runway and hangar all the more ridiculous.

The instant the Rattlers move to engage the helicopters Alpine demonstrates defeatism by saying "save yourselves" before the first shot has even been fired. His helicopter is immediately hit and Alpine makes the ill-advised move of leaping from the cockpit of his spinning helicopter. Miraculously avoiding the deadly rotor he parachutes to safety. Spirit manages to dispatch two of the Rattlers with ease but the remaining two, I mean three I guess since a fifth has appeared out of nowhere, remain in hot pursuit of the Joe helicopters. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Shipwreck plugs the missile launcher back in and somehow wills it to shoot down the three remaining Cobra aircraft. Unfortunately, he is immediately captured by the omnipresent Zartan and taken by elevator to the main Cobra base in the hollow mountain. For some reason The Baroness maintains that Cobra is fake, even though they are in the midst of a giant Cobra base, and even though seconds later she removes her mask and makes fun of the reporter for believing her. Yeah, her portion of the plan turned out to be even more idiotic and worthless than Cobra Commander's scheme to get the "Explosive Gas".

11:45 AM

Shipwreck and Ramirez can hardly believe their eyes as that annoying nerd transforms into femme fatale The Baroness.Cobra Commander orders Zartan to lead the attack to steal the explosive gas while boats zoom dramatically in the background. Mounted on buggies and followed on foot by about eight Cobra troopers, Zartan leaves the mountain base and heads for the Chemical Warfare Arsenal.

Back at the GI Joe base, Duke returns from whatever shitty and worthless thing he was doing and is briefed on the situation by Flint. Finally, after almost an hour and two groups of GI Joes have been dispatched to investigate, Duke orders a "Cobra Alert" to be sounded. A light flashes between the words "Cobra" and "Alert" painted on the wall and then generic GI Joe soldiers run down hallways and get into helicopters and tanks. Cobra must be stopped, but is it too late?

12:00 PM

While Zartan and the Dreadnoks head towards the Chemical Warfare Arsenal and GI Joe forces rush towards the Cobra base, Cobra Commander prepares to execute Shipwreck and the two "Twenty Questions" reporters with one of his drilling machines. Just as the Baroness is about to guide the whirring drill into the weak flesh of the trio, savvy reporter Hector Ramirez shouts that he would like to interview Cobra Commander. Never able to ignore an appeal to his vanity, Cobra Commander stops the execution and brings the reporters to the command center. The Baroness is tasked with standing with her back towards the untied Shipwreck outside. The Cobra troops who were gathered to watch the execution return to their duty of piloting boats at high speed around the underground lake for no reason.

Covergirl and her Rainbow Coalition happen upon the downed Cobra pilot Wild Weasel who is hanging by his parachute from a tree and being menaced by a strangely out of place panther. Apparently the jungle cat is a leftover from some previous ill-advised Cobra mission that involved breaking deadly predatory cats out of a zoo. Always the opportunist, Covergirl gets Wild Weasel to tell them how to sneak into the Cobra base in the mountain. Since he's absent later when they actually do sneak in I'll assume they either executed him or released him. Given GI Joe's proven track record of willingly letting Cobra escape, I'll lean towards the latter.

12:15 PM

Cobra Commander is interviewed much to his delight.Supported by three Rattlers which bomb the base, Zartan mounts a successful assault on the Chemical Warfare Arsenal, easily overpowering the two guards before they can sound the alarm. Again GI Joe's failure to communicate within itself and to other allied organizations causes injury and possibly loss of life. Shipwreck shouldn't have taken the camera crew for a joyride, he should have notified Flint about the attack. Covergirl and her team shouldn't have gone after Shipwreck without notifying Flint about the attack. Duke shouldn't have ordered troops into the area without fucking picking up the telephone and calling the base that's about to be attacked. The two generic US Military soldiers who actually try to send out a warning are blown from their guard tower before they can even push a giant red button. Zartan returns to the Cobra base triumphantly, bringing truckloads of gas that include laughing gas, itching gas, tear gas, and the frequently mentioned explosive gas.

With Cobra seemingly on the cusp of victory it seems implausible that their entire plan could unravel completely in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately for them, it does.

With all of the tactical sense of a Doom enemy Covergirl leads her team into a truck full of explosive barrels.Shipwreck overpowers the Baroness just as Covergirl, Alpine, Gung-Ho, and Spirit repel down ropes from a ventilation shaft into the Cobra base. In a running firefight with the Dreadnoks that leaves no one injured, Covergirl and her team seeks cover in a truckload of explosive gas. Despite the fact that no Cobra troops are within several dozen meters, Zartan and his men do not fire back for fear of hitting the gas cylinders. Mysteriously absent Cobra forces similarly withhold from shooting at Shipwreck as he commandeers a drilling machine and breaks open the cylinders of laughing gas, itching gas, and tear gas. It should also be noted that at this point The Baroness has disappeared completely. A lot of laughter and itching ensues as Joe and Cobra alike succumb to the clouds of gas circulating through the compound. One unfortunate Cobra trooper on "pointless high-speed boat driving" duty is so overcome by itching and laughing that he crashes his ship into the other moored boats, starting an explosive chain reaction that begins destroying every single thing in the base.

As the base begins to fall apart around them, the maniacally laughing Shipwreck uses the drilling machine to escape to safety. Zartan leads the Dreadnoks, Cobra Commander, and the suddenly present Baroness to safety through another route. The remainder of the Cobra forces who were not fortunate enough to have ejected from planes earlier in the episode are surely crushed to death as the ENTIRE MOUNTAIN collapses.

12:30 PM

Hhhhhhhhhappy birthday...mister presi-dent.After all that anarchy and all those explosions the artists have exhausted nearly their entire production budget, which explains why Duke alone greets the escaping team of Joes. Still guffawing, Hector Ramirez descends from the drilling machine, babbles about getting the scoop, and kisses Duke on the cheek. Even in Cobra Commander's blackest nightmares there could not be a more gay and ignominious ending to this operation.

Another militarily unsound, overcomplicated, and economically wasteful operation by Cobra completely fails. While the Joe victory in this episode seems to be total, upon closer examination Cobra has unintentionally inflicted incredible damage to the national sense of security. By capturing the explosive gas and then losing it in a firestorm within their base, Cobra managed to destroy a mountain in the scenic Rocky Mountain Range. Such a massive symbol of America being completely annihilated would rank right up there with the World Trade Center attacks. Surely dozens, or even hundreds, of innocent civilians were killed by the destruction of the mountain and the avalanches its collapse would have propagated across much of the rest of the Rockies.

In the end the goals of Cobra were not met, horrible losses of men and material were sustained, but the victory of the Joes was pyrrhic at best.

Jeff Yablonski?!

Our very own resident computer hacker JeffK has risked life and limb and hacked into the web site of Cliff Yablonski to update without his permission. In this world gone mad can one teenage hacker stop the plans of a cranky old war vet? Apparently, he can!


Let us all pray that this brave youngster does not meet his end at the hands of Mr. Yablonski. I, personally, have been on the receiving end of several beatings courtesy of Cliff. I do not envy Jeff K's position at this moment. While we wait to see if Jeff washes up dead on the shores of the Appleton Reservoir, let's kill some time by laughing at the ugly folks.

– Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons (@sexyfacts4u)

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