Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cobra Commander Covered...

If you do not want to know who the current IDW Cobra Commander is, please wait to read this. Instead go read GI JOE #8 that just hit shelves yesterday and all is explained. 

Cobra Commander Cover Process - 157

Finished Pencils for Approval

Generally anytime I have had the task of redesigning GI Joe or Cobra characters, I always take their original comic or toy design and build from there. I update when necessary (i.e. The Dreadnoks ripped up mid-drift shirts don't stand for "tough guy" anymore), but even with the updates I want to keep certain elements the same.

For Cobra Commander, we wanted the visor and battle helmet. One of the design elements I loved about the previous IDW Commander was the fangs at the bottom. I played with putting fangs at the top as well, but automatically felt too much like Serpentor. The side vents hold that design element from who the character is now.

The character Krake, who becomes the new Commander, I actually had the chance to design his costume as well in GI JOE #24. His first appearance, that Im aware of. When I initially designed Krake, we wanted him to be a master marksmen with handguns and a ruthless close combat fighter. He had a strategic mind and would be sent by Cobra to lead a team on any mission and the organization knew it would get done. In that Joe issue, he was sent in with a squad of Vipers to bargain with or wipe out an entire village of people. Men, women, and children were massacred under his direction. It was the first time in drawing comics where I realized I had to take the content that I drew very seriously. That it wasn't all fun and games, and for every hero, there are real life villains out there. Krake was the embodiment of them. So that's my connection to the character.

Finished Line art

Upon learning that he was going to be the new Commander, it made a lot of sense to me, knowing this background going into it. Also it helped inform the new design, that it would be a mix of the old Commander, and his battle armor and breathing mask. The helmet itself, was what I went back and forth with Hasbro on the most. Not that it was difficult, but we went through a few versions before we went with this one. I really wanted the cape, to show leadership, and without it he wasn't looking too far removed from one of the soldiers. So that sets him apart. The other fun reason for the cape, is that it conceals a pair of SIG p22x series handguns.

He has his dual holstered sidearms, in plain site and quite intimidating. We wanted to keep that element from Krake and it sets him apart from the more business-man mentality of the previous Commander. But I felt that if for whatever reason he was with out those, he would never allow himself be unarmed to AVOID what happened to the last Commander!

This was my first chance to take my Cobra Commander design and drawing him from a different angle. I found I liked the contrast that the design allowed, with the heavy blacks on his lower half really grounded him. Leaving his upper armor open with little rendering gave the design some breathing room visually.

So this should also give those involved in the current Custom Cobra Commander contest some color visuals to base their figures on. Here is also the reveal page from GI Joe #8 on stands now!

The lead up to what caused a reason for a new Cobra Commander is a fantastic story orchestrated by the writers and editors at IDW. You can read this 100 page compilation of the essential stories that lead up to the previous Commanders "dethroning" It's 30% at

For any Questions or Comments email me at:


  1. Robert, love the idea of hiding the guns under the cape! Jacob actually mentioned that last night when I showed him the design, he said something about how there would be trouble if they tried to cuff him.

    Really look forward to seeing Hasbro do something with this....soon!

  2. I like the design, personally. It's definitely more of a "man of action" take on Cobra Commander than the previous version but I think that more directly reflects the persona behind the mask.

    Very solid work!

  3. The more I study this new design the more I love it. It successfully embodies the previous incarnations of the character--the original '82 version, the battle-armoured version, and even the Resolute version, along with the previous IDW version. At the same time, there are motifs consistent with the regular Viper trooper--elements of the helmet, the web gear, guns, boots, and guanntlets (albeit fancier and befitting the status of Commander) that not only suggest the tactical combat capability of the character, but visually places him clearly in the center of what is Cobra.

    In other words, 100% pure, grade A Awesome Sauce.


  4. Yes! Im glad people are picking up on what I put into it. I was trying to combine as much of that reference as possible. I mean this was my chance to design Cobra Commander!!! Thanks Tim!

  5. You're welcome Robert--thanks for giving us such an awesome new Commander!


  6. I really dig the new design. Are there any plans for multiple head gear just like how the original commander had the cerimonial hood and the battle helmet? I'd really be interested to see this design with a cerimonial hood design.

  7. I dont know honestly. i havent done any designs to fit it. The character seems like he would always be more battle ready then bother with ceremony. I dont think it would be terribly out of place though. The other thing is I dont think we've seen Krake's face since his first appearance, so once again with his ascension to the new role of Cobra Commander we get that mystery back.

  8. Robert, love the new look! I'll be honest, I haven't read a GI Joe comic in about 20 years or so. I wanted to read this story to see what was going on with this new Cobra Commander. If I were to start, what do you recommend I go with that goes along with this current story. I also love me some ninja-goodness, any good IDW sidestories w/ Snake Eyes and Co. I should read too that are set in this same story/time/etc?

    Thanks in advance, I'm currently working on the Commander contest, hope to give Tankster a run for his money, haven't made a custom in awhile, so it might be a challange. Thanks again,

  9. The place to start with this new Cobra Commander would be IDW's GI Joe: COBRA book #9. Its the title devoted to the Cobra storyline and has received the most critical praise. I really enjoy Mike Costa's style of writing and its a great fit for the tone of that book.

    For the awesome Ninja/ Snake Eyes action there is a solo Snake Eyes series that has come out from IDW. I drew isssues 1-4 and you can get the trade that collects those issues on INSTOCKTRADES.COM for 30% off. But the current story line, I suggest picking up issue #9-11 will introduce Storm Shadow more prominently in the book along with plenty of Red Arashikage ninjas. Then I will be coming back on to draw the interiors for that book as of issue #13.

    I hope that helps!