Cobra Commander is the supreme leader of COBRA, a paramilitary terrorist organization bent on world conquest. Ruthless and arrogant, Cobra Commander will stop at nothing to achieve total domination of the world. No lofty ideals, or delusions of heroism; pure and utter conquest over every human on the planet is his only drive. A two-bit con man, and a coward at heart. Standing between him and his goal is G.I. Joe, a covert anti-terrorist group organized almost solely to deal with the threat of COBRA.
Though his plans are often thwarted, like the proverbial bad penny he will always turn up again, lurking in the background, waiting for his next chance to strike. He likes shooting at cardboard cut-outs of his enemies, video taping his demands, having parades in his honor, and putting his symbol on everything. Scepters and capes are pretty cool too.
- "Men who crave power look back on the mistakes of their lives, pile them together, and call it destiny."
- —The Sorceress of Eternia
Born Lawrence Hama, Cobra Commander is the son of a Japanese servant girl named Shigeko Hama, and an American Sailor. His father (Jeffrey Delgado, Code Name: "Sea Adventurer") was a member of the Top Secret G.I. Joe Adventure Team, and really had no interest in the boy, or his mother. It was his intent to simply use the girl as he would, and then abandon her once his unit was repositioned. When she informed him she was pregnant, his plans did not change. It is probably her fears for her son's future as a half-Japanese, half-American in a devastated post-war Japan that spurned her actions. If she was dead, the boy would have no where else to go, and US forces would take her son to America, where he might have the opportunity at a life he would be denied in Japan's current racially charged and tense climate. Her death was undoubtedly excruciating. She had chosen the venom of a cobra as her method of suicide, and the paramedics believe it must have taken her seven hours to die. They also say the boy was in the room with her, and though only a baby, he must have seen the whole thing. A note to keep an eye out for possible side effects was made in his file, and promptly forgotten. He was shipped off to America, where his father gave him up for adoption, and he became a ward of the state.
Lawrence never seemed to fit in very well at any given foster home, so he was mostly raised in the orphanage. The nuns who raised him often noted the intensity behind his eyes. One sister called it "hypnotic," and "disturbing." At age twelve, Lawrence had started a black market ring for selling candy and tapes of Rock and Roll music, both strictly forbidden within the orphanage. Curiously, Lawrence did not sell the goods outright. He instead chose to supply the goods to other boys he'd convinced to pay him for the distribution rights, while he took his profit off the top, and stayed away from the danger of getting caught. When the trail of candy and rock music was finally traced back to him, the sisters were incredibly surprised and disturbed to find that a young child had run such a successful pyramid scheme for so long. He was ordered to apologize to those he'd taken advantage of, and quickly refused. "But I'm NOT sorry. Why should I say I am?" "You say you're sorry right this instant!" "Uh… I'm sorry?" "That's better." Quickly, Lawrence learned the correlation between getting what you wanted, and saying things you didn't really believe. The mother superior once remarked upon his innate aptitude for charm and manipulation. "Young Lawrence is a snake charmer, a prodigy in the field of the con-artist in much the same way as young Mozart was with the piano. What he lacks in creativity or imagination, he readily makes up for in his ability to not only falsely convince you of its presence, but to then sell it to you at cost. He would make little else in the real world, other than a criminal, or a used car salesman." To no one's surprise, he became both.
Leaving the Orpahage and Fred Wilkinson
Lawrence would have to wait until he was 18 years old to leave the orphanage, unless he could provide proof of relatives willing to care for him. He did not find it difficult to forge such paperwork, and left the nuns behind at the age of 16. He vowed to burn the orphanage to the ground one day. (This did not ultimately come to pass, though it is now the site of an ARBCO Inc. waste treatment facility.)
Lawrence spent his teens holding a slew of odd jobs, running cons, and generally eking out a living on the fringes of society. This changed when a man named Frederico Wilkinson saw Lawrence pulling a con in a Detroit truck stop. Lawrence was placing expired date stickers on truck license tags, to later pose as a traffic enforcement officer. He’d inform the drivers of the delinquency, and invariably they would offer Lawrence a tidy sum to look the other way, so they could complete their delivery and not be responsible for lengthy delays.
Frederico was amazed to see Lawrence work. Not only was he able to lie so convincingly right to their face, but he even made the truckers like him. He made them feel like he was reluctant to take their money, and was doing them a huge favor.
“You shoulda’ seen it!” Wilkinson later said. “He never brought up the bribe, didn’t even suggest it. But somehow, he could steer them into it, and make them think it was their idea! I don’t know how he did it! And anytime the con started to go south, BOOM! He twist things back on track, without so much as a speed bump. That was Larry’s real gift. He could put an idea in you. Make you do exactly what he wanted, but make you think you’d come up with it on your own. Sometimes, you’d have to fight him on it, and even insist he let you do what he wanted all along. I saw that kid work his hustle for six straight hours. Musta’ made close to a grand off them truckers, all for the price of a couple of stickers from a Xerox place. I saw that, and I knew I had to get that kid in my dealership pushing cars. I don’t know. It was stupid. I thought maybe I could help him out. Keep him from getting into trouble, and let him use that hypnotism on something legit. Too bad he didn’t have a lick of decency left in him at that point. Giving that kid a shot ruined me. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t my really idea at all. Maybe it was all part of the con….”
The Car Dealership and Jenny
Lawrence excelled at selling cars, but quickly grew bored. He had little patience for paperwork or red tape. His ruthless ambition demanded more, and he grew to resent Wilkinson. He fumed that he was only making a commission off the sales, when as he saw it, he was doing all the work.
It was around this time that Lawrence was linked romantically to a girl named Jenny Stewart, the receptionist of a lawfirm near the dealership. From the beginning, Lawrence was controlling and demanding. Prone to insane bouts of jealousy, usually from instances entirely imagined, Jenny soon quit her job in an effort to be more available to Lawrence’s schedule.