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According to his Battle Action Force depiction, Red Jackal (or Anton Nobokov) is a Latvian from Riga who joined the Soviet army, displaying a natural talent for driving, but failed to adjust to other aspects of life in the Soviet military.
After stealing a Commissioner's car and assaulting GRU officers who arrested him, Nobokov was court-martialled. However the charges were dropped after a senior officer realised his potential as a driver and he was transferred to a position as a chauffeur to a top-ranking General.
Whilst on an assignment transferring officials to a conference in Finland, the convoy he was leading was ambushed by Red Shadows (including Hyena tracked vehicles). Nobokov escaped by driving his vehicle into a log-strewn river and using the felled trees as a raft.
He was subsequently recruited by Action Force and assigned to their Z Force unit with the codename Jackal (and Action Force serial number AF 935163), attending a training camp in Turkey. In common with other Action Force characters he was assigned primary ("head and hand combat") and a secondary military specialties ("high-speed driving"). However he once again showed an aversion to comradeship and emerged as a loner, obsessed only with driving.
Whilst on a solo test drive in a Z Force jeep, Jackal was again ambushed by Red Shadows who forced him to crash into a gorge. Despite being critically injured, Baron Ironblood ordered the Red Shadows to recover Nobokov so that he could be operated on by the Red Shadows' own medical specialists.
Following a series of operations, Jackal emerged as the Red Jackal, incorporating bionic technology, in particular an armoured steel-plated head, bionic hands and powerful vision. Baron Ironblood then ordered his new soldier on two test missions in Turkey and Africa, driving the new Red Shadows tracked assault vehicle, the Hyena. His bionic vision complemented his driving skills, especially in the use of the Hyena.
Red Jackal subsequently became a key member of Ironblood's staff and featured in later Red Shadows storylines. The character later became a prominent figure in the transition to Cobra and was reinvented as Destro (see below).
Role in the transition to Cobra
Red Jackal is one of a handful of Red Shadow characters incorporated into the storyline that accompanied the transition to Cobra in the mid 1980s. The change in direction saw a storyline where Ironblood betrays the Red Shadows, leaking information about their bases and intentions to the UN. As the Shadows are wiped out, Ironblood goes into hiding and constructs a new identity for himself, later becoming Cobra Commander, and creating Cobra as a new enemy force.
In the meantime, as the Red Shadows are attacked by Action Force, Red Jackal escapes an SAS assault on his base on the border between Turkey and the USSR and goes in search of Ironblood to seek revenge for the betrayal of the Red Shadows.
After journeying through the desert and on to Thailand, Jackal located his former leader in a South-East Asian jungle and revealed he had stolen the banking access codes to the new Cobra Commander's personal fortune. Following a struggle, Red Jackal is overwhelmed by Cobra Commander as acid was sprayed into his face. Cobra Commander nevertheless chose to spare him and, declaring a jackal was not a creature of the jungle (where his new base was located), renamed him Destro. The name was derived from the last words Jackal had shouted (a shortened version of destroy) as he had tried to kill him. His face was once-again re-constructed, this time by Cobra surgeons.
As an action figure Red Jackal was a straight repaint of the G.I. Joe Destro figure and was supplied with the Red Shadows Hyena vehicle. He was armed with a black laser pistol and has a black briefcase.