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He was orphaned as a young boy, and made his way by picking pockets on the street. When he was confronted by the local police, he gave them the name he saw on a movie poster behind them - "Zartan."
Years later, and still using the name Zartan, the man was a Cobra agent answering directly to the Baroness. He was tasked with infiltrating a presidential airliner to ensure the continued cooperation of President Rumanapar. His mission was a success, and the Baroness moved into Cobra's inner circle.
Celebrating his success at a casino, Zartan got jealous when the girl he was with started flirting with a man named Raphael. He attacked the man and tried to lead the woman away, but she called him an animal and left. That night, Zartan awoke to find Raphael and two bodyguards in his room. He killed them, and turned to the Baroness for extraction.
Displeased with Zartan, Baroness sent him to be a test subject for Destro's teleportation device. Destro sent him after Nico Mandirobilis, but the teleportation process was still not finalized, and Zartan's body quickly disintegrated.
With Zartan's complete genetic map stored in the M.A.S.S.' Relay Star Satellites, Cobra geneticist Dr. Taggac was able to brew a plasmid medium which, injected into a blank clone body, reformatted the slug into a copy of Zartan. The body was corrupt, with unstable skin lividity, numerous cancers, renal failure and more. Dr. Taggac used bio-magnetic pads to stabilize the body, and began teaching Zartan how to live again.
The instruction included both physical elements and basic language and math skills. Zartan's unique biology gave him the ability to change his appearance and skintone, a skill which Dr. Taggac attempted to keep secret from Cobra. Eventually the magnetic pads were surgically implanted beneath the skin, giving him a normal appearance. He expressed a desire to leave the lab and go to the outside world, and one day killed a guard and posed as waitstaff to escape before anyone noticed he was gone.
Cobra agents tracked him using a subcutaneous transmitter, but he evaded them, faked his own death, and sneaked back into the lab. He pulled a gun on Dr. Taggac and forced him to contact Cobra Commander. Zartan negotiated his services as a super assassin, and when the terms were agreed upon, killed Dr. Taggac.
- There have been no toys of this version of Zartan.
- Zartan is an orphan.
- Zartan's relationship to Cobra was as a subcontractor for the Baroness, rather than as an independent agent.
- According to Dr. Taggac, Zartan had a predisposition for neurological disorders and melanoma, both references to the '80s figure.