Origins 16

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The Origin of Zartan, Part 1: Who is Zartan? You may think you know the murderous master of disguise but you don't know the whole story! A hired killer under the command of the Baroness is dangerously compromised. He's offered the protection of Cobra and sent on a risky mission that ends with a scene that will have Joe fans talking for years. This one is 100% guaranteed to shock!

—The description as originally solicited by IDW Publishing.

Detailed summary

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Onboard a Cobra helicopter, the pilot tells his passenger to get ready. Their target, a large airliner, is taking off. On the pilot's mark, the passenger jumps from the copter and uses a glide suit to maneuver toward the plane. He fires a grapnel, reels himself in, and opens the door, causing an immediate drop in pressure. The guards rush toward the disturbance, but the attacker guns them down.

When they're all dead, he continues on to the target: President Rumanapar.[1] He places a laptop on the president's desk, and the Baroness appears on the screen. She tells the president he will continue to London, but he will not announce the planned changes to trade restrictions - easing the restrictions would lower Cobra revenue streams, and she can't have that. Her agent is to accompany the president, to make sure he does not go back on his word.

One week later, the Baroness congratulates Zartan on a job well done. She informs him that his success has allowed her to rise in Cobra's ranks, and that Cobra is grateful. He asks how she expresses her own gratitude, and she replies it will be the usual way: one million Euros. She also got him a woman to help him spend it.

That evening at the casino, Zartan is doing well at the tables. An older man with a scar on his jaw begins chatting up Zartan's date, which the Cobra agent takes personally. He hooks one finger into the man's mouth, another on his cheek, and throws him over the table. He demands the girl leave with him right away, but she refuses, saying Zartan has embarrassed her, and as she leaves, she calls him an animal - something that echos in his mind as he sleeps that night.

A young boy is held against a wall by the police, who demand to know if he has a home and family, or if he is the orphan who has been stealing from tourists. They ask him his name, and glancing at a movie poster on the wall behind them, he says his name is Zartan. He empties his pockets of the money he has stolen, and when one of the police begins to pick it up, the boy elbows him in the throat and runs away.

Zartan awakes with a gun in his face. Raphael, the man he fought in the casino, is in his room, along with two bodyguards. Zartan kicks the man with the gun, and his shot goes wide. As the other guard swings a fireplace poker at him, Zartan pulls the first man in the way, then steals his gun and kills the other man. Seeing what's happened, Raphael runs. Zartan follows him into the hall and shoots him in the back, sending him through a window and down to the poolside restaurant far below.

At the airport, the Baroness is waiting on the steps of a private jet. Zartan runs to her, and she chides him for drawing attention to himself. With the Surete hot on his heels, the plane takes off. In the air, the Baroness informs Zartan of a new assignment: he will go to M.A.R.S. Industries to be her representative in the testing of a new weapon.

At Castle Destro, a tech helps Zartan into a special suit. Laird McCullen gives Zartan the name of his target, Nicodemus Mandrilobus, and warns him that there may be a feeling of vertigo as the device powers up. There is a green light, and Zartan finds himself in the Crimean Riviera. He shoots the bodyguards as his target dives for cover behind a sofa. Not noticing the way his armor seems to be flaking off, he rounds on Nico and attempts to fire, but his hands are disintegrating.[2] "Nico" looks in surprise at his hands and the pile of dust beyond them.

McCullen calls the Baroness to tell her there's been a problem - she reminds him that he is the reason Mandirobilis learned of Cobra, and thus the reason he needs to be silenced. When McCullen explains exactly what happened, though, the Baroness is pleased: after all, if Zartan killed Nico, then died himself, there would be no witnesses, and no one to trace it back to Cobra.

At Nico's villa, Snake-Eyes picks up the frangible gun.


Featured Characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

G.I. Joe Cobra Civilians M.A.R.S.

Memorable quotes

"President Rumanapar, I now control your aircraft. We will continue to your destintion, but your guards are dead. I will be joining you for the rest of your itinerary. But first--a message."

--Zartan is ruthless and efficient.

"My reach is global. There is no place I cannot find you. No place that is safe."

--Once again, Zartan knows how to make a threat.

Other notes


  • Destro and Baroness both say Nico's last name is "Mandrilobus."

Items of note

  • Zartan's hijacking the president is the mission that moved the Baroness into Cobra's inner circle.
  • Zartan chooses his name based on a film poster.
    • The film stars Cesareo Rivas and Elena Oliveira.
  • We learn that Nico's full first name is "Nicodemus."
  • A year and a half later, we finally learn the identity of Nico's mystery attacker.

Real-world references

  • Zartan is playing baccarat at the casino.

G.I. Joe references

  • The unnamed Cobra pilot looks like Wild Weasel.
  • The suit Zartan wears for the teleporter looks like the uniforms of the Neo-Vipers.

Footnotes and References

  1. It's never said what country he's president of.
  2. G.I. Joe #1

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