Cobra Island is a five square mile volcanic atoll located in the Gulf of Mexico, which first appeared following an earthquake in 1982. The cause of that earthquake? A massive bomb dropped by GI Joe forces, who’d been suckered into bombing that precise location by Cobra’s resident mad scientist Professor Appel. The bombs landed on a faultline, triggered an earthquake and plate shift, forcing the island up out of the sea—bringing with it a sunken Cobra freighter, now landlocked on the island. A remarkably devious scheme realized!
The Joes, realizing their folly, tried to forcibly evict Cobra from the island fortress. Proving the twin virtues of the rule of law and very high-priced attorneys—even for a terrorist militia bent on world domination—Cobra’s lawyers convinced the UN to grant them sovereignty, thereby rendering the Joe attack illegal. Cobra Commander was thus free to build the Terror Drome, a space shuttle launch pad, and a luxury hotel for visiting dignitaries there to buy arms. They would also get comped at the buffet.
The first Cobra Civil War, pitting Serpentor’s mutant constitutional monarchy against a totalitarian impostor Cobra Commander, nearly rent the island and its inhabitants asunder before it ended with Serpentor’s assassination. The real Cobra Commander returned and converted the freighter into a prison for subversives and counterrevolutionaries, including the notorious Doctor Mindbender. Of course, the prison was not enough retribution for the vengeful Commander, so he triggered a volcanic eruption, burying the prison and its captives in liquid hot magma (don’t cry for Mindbender, he was later reanimated. As was Serpentor. No one ever really dies). When Cobra was temporarily defeated in 1994, the island was transferred to the UN; Cobra later reestablished operations at Monolith Base in Badhikistan. By the way, all of that story is GI Joe canon. I can’t make that up.
The creator of the Cobra Commander character, by the by, claims to have drawn inspiration for it from William F. Buckley, which is maybe the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. In the comics, CC was a used car salesman / pyramid schemer who railed against big government as he slowly morphed into a a cult leader cum orthodox laissez-faire capitalist cum itinerant madman. The creator describes him as “in love with the sound of his own voice.” Buckley also once triggered a volcano eruption to bury his enemies in a pyroclastic flow. That last part’s not true, so far as I know, but still the resemblance is uncanny.
Short list of amazing GI Joe place names: Wolkekuckukkland (a German transliteration of cloud-cuckoo-land), which borders Darklonia, which borders Trans-Carpathia; Frusenland (where Cobra’s paranoia ray instilled fear and increased arms sales); and Trucial Abysmia, a country in northern Africa.
Appeared in: island trivia roundup