When looking at Faceless Enemies, one cannot help but turn to one of the most popular franchises in the 1980s, “G.I. Joe.” When regulations designed to keep TV shows from being 30 or 60-minute long commercials for products were relaxed, Hasbro teamed up with Marvel and Sunbow (and later DiC) to to create this cartoon series.
The Story of G.I. Joe (The Cartoon):
During the Cold War between the two superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union, a mysterious new organization would rise to power. Made up of former mercenaries, foreign soldiers, and terrorists of many stripes, they would form COBRA, a ruthless terrorist organization with plans of conquest and world domination. Establishing bases in the farthest reaches of the Earth, COBRA would use their superior resources to gain even more power by deploying weapons that no ordinary nation could defeat easily. Unable to combat this new threat to world peace, the United States would organize a special mission force that could meet COBRA on its own terms and win. This special force would be staff with the most highly trained soldiers that the US had to offer, as well as civilian specialists and American intelligence agents.
Together, they form…G.I. Joe.
The Problem: COBRA’s main infantry force is very problematic here, as it is made up mainly of generic European mercenaries. However, they comprise the largest army in the world (in the world of Hasbro) and the army is equipped with weapon systems that make them more powerful than any standing army in the world, including the United States and Soviet Union.
The Problem: The typical COBRA soldier, unfortunately, does not seem to do much other than to perform the usual bad guy duties. In the case of COBRA, they menace innocent countries, shoot at the good guys, and going out to the Villain’s Bar every once in a while, where they will get into fights with undercover members of GI Joe. The motivations for a COBRA soldier are never really made clear, and their professionalism (or lack thereof) indicates that the need for money is not enough of a motivation for the COBRA armed soldier.
The only self-identified mercenaries are the ones who work with Zartan and the Dreadnoks and Destro (he is not technically a member of COBRA, he is an “Enemy Weapons Supplier”).
COBRA’s forces are boosted when Extensive Enterprises, led by twin brother CEOs Tomax and Xamot, lend their vast resources to COBRA. Extensive Enterprises had a vast army of mercenaries at their disposal, which were subsumed into COBRA and named “The Crimson Guard.” The twin brothers became the “Crimson Guard Commanders” (sometimes they are called the “Crimson Twins”) and hold high-ranking positions within the COBRA organization. While the Crimson Twins are given roles as COBRA agents masquerading as upstanding Corporate Citizens, the Crimson Guard Soldiers are little more than Red-Suited Fodder for the GI Joes to shoot at (Hopefully they get a bigger paycheck than the normal COBRA soldier does – at least the COBRA soldiers don’t have their faces encased in heat-stroke head armor).
In the later episodes, the COBRA soldier is augmented by the Battle Android Trooper (BATs), which was originally supposed to be a combat upgrade over the original COBRA infantry soldier. Once the GI Joe weapons are tuned to deal with the BATs, they are reduced to being the faceless cannon fodder that inhabits the cartoon series – much like the original COBRA soldier, but perhaps even more so. COBRA soldiers in the cartoon series always bailed out of whatever weapon system was about to be destroyed; BATs were always blown away on the spot. Robot soldiers are never shown mercy in these kinds of series.