13 Days of Halloween: Nemesis Immortal
By my nearest estimation, I must have seen G.I. Joe: The Movie for the first time sometime in either 1989 or 1990 on the USA Network during their afternoon block of cartoons. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with Cobra-La. I don’t consider many figures “missing” from my childhood collection, but I remember being disappointed as a kid that I could never find the Cobra-La pack anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Renegades, too, but something about Cobra-La just really appealed to my kid brain…and if I’m being honest, I still kind of dig the idea as an adult as well. Cobra-La isn’t one of the more popular facets of Joe lore, so I was pretty surprised when Nemesis Enforcer (now Nemesis Immortal) joined the ranks of modern Joes in a comic pack with Lt. Falcon. I couldn’t have been happier when that set was announced and while time hasn’t necessarily been kind to either figure in the set, I think Nemesis Immortal is a great piece and I do like how he looks next to Pythona, the 2016 GIJCC membership figure. I’d still love to see Golobulus and the Royal Guard in modern form, but I think that’s kind of a long shot, so if I’m only going to have two members of Cobra-La, I think Pythona and Nemesis Immortal are the best two to have.
Looking back on the vintage Nemesis Enforcer figure objectively, he’s honestly not that great of a figure. The color scheme isn’t great and while he’s incredibly well detailed, he just didn’t look all that intimidating. Nemesis Immortal may have the same color scheme, but he’s a big and imposing figure and I think that really helps him. The torso, arms and upper legs are all surprisingly shared with 25th Anniversary Serpentor. It’s a bit of a strange choice, but I do like that Nemesis Immortal and Serpentor share some parts because they’re both part of Cobra-La. The Serpentor parts also help make him big. However, something is a little off in Nemesis Immortal’s construction. Much like Footloose, Nemesis Immortal’s hips are incredibly loose. I don’t know why he has that problem but Serpentor doesn’t, but it’s true. I can minimize some of his balance issues by having him crouch a little, but it’s still a little strange that Nemesis Immortal’s hips are loose and a little unstable. Nemesis Immortals lower legs, hands and head are all new pieces and Hasbro really invested wisely with these parts. The feet are pointy and look like he’s wearing some sort of living armor for shoes and the large spikes he has on his nnees are pretty intimidating. Throwing down with Nemesis Immortal just got even more dangerous because even a knee shot from him could probably gut you. The fronts of his shins are also ridged, like the crab-like armor may continue up under his pants as well. The new hands are great pieces and make the original Nemesis Enforcer look actually look intimidating. Nemesis Enforcer’s arm spikes on the cartoon looked pretty wicked but on the figure they were barely there. That’s not true now and Nemesis Immortal looks far more dangerous for it. I could see one of these spikes easily tearing through the underside of a H.A.V.O.C. and being nasty in hand-to-hand combat. I do wish Hasbro hadn’t had to blunt them as much as they did to make him toy aisle friendly, but I am glad that his arm spikes actually look pretty wicked now. Over the torso, Nemesis Immortal gets a new belt and a new piece of chest armor to help distance him from Serpentor. The belt fills Serpentor’s belt groove nicely and like the feet, it gives off a bit of a biological vibe. Nemesis Immortal’s armored vest is a bit of a departure from the vintage figure’s look, but I really don’t care because it looks so impressive. The armor itself comes down just past the middle of his chest and it extends to a point up behind his head, protecting his neck and skull even more. Over his shoulders, he’s got some spikes (though they’re again blunted pretty severely to make him more toy-ish) and the texture on the back again reminds me of crab chitin. It’s a good look for Nemesis Immortal and it really makes him look quite intimidating. On his back, Nemesis Immortal has his big winged backpack. As much as I like the wings, they’re unfortunately somewhat poorly executed. The backpack plugs in nicely against his back, but the left wing on my figure doesn’t seat properly into the backpack. The wings themselves are hinged, which is a nice touch, but that left wing is very loose and can fall out sometimes at the drop of a hat. While I wish the wings functioned better, they definitely look amazing. Nemesis Immortal’s wings are fully unfurled and his wingspan is longer than he is tall. I can just see him flapping around the battlefield, divebombing foes and slamming them into the ground before tucking his wings back and just laying waste to a large ground force. Topping off the figure, Nemesis Immortal has a brand new head, and much like the rest of the figure in comparison to its vintage counterpart, this piece really blows it out of the water. While I kind of like the blank eyes on Nemesis Enforcer, the snarl and angry stare that Nemesis Immortal has makes him look even more intimidating. Just with his size, Nemesis Immortal looked like someone you didn’t want to mess with, but then you add in his angry stare and he’s got a very intimidating presence.
Unfortunately, Hasbro had to remain true to Nemesis Enforcer’s color scheme when making Nemesis Immortal and pinkish purple and red doesn’t look any better in 2008 than it did 21 years earlier when Nemesis Enforcer first came out. However, Hasbro did make a couple of good changes that make him look a little more intimidating. While most of the figure from the waist down is pinkish purple, the redesigned chest puts a lot more red on his upper body and I think that helps. I still think the color scheme doesn’t work that well for a character that’s supposed to be a dangerous creature of the night, but they look good together and the use of more red up top does help darken the figure a little. The arm and knee spikes are almost a bone white, which makes him look even more inhuman. It kind of makes me wonder whether those are pieces of armor or something that grows out of him. Either way, it’s a neat effect. The flesh tone used for his arms and face looks good, though considering he’s been established to be an undead, unstoppable beast, I kind of would have liked to see his flesh a little paler or grayer. I don’t think Nemesis Immortal should go full Zombie-Viper, but I think he’d look even spookier and even more intimidating if he looked a little less human. My only real complaint about the paint work is on the face. The head is molded out of flesh tone plastic and the pinkish purple is painted on, but the paint work, especially on the edges of his cowl isn’t great. There’s a lot of flesh color poking through and I think it leaves the figure looking a little unfinished. Beyond that, though, Nemesis Immortal is a sharp looking figure, even if he is pinkish purple and red. Like the Nemesis Enforcer, Nemesis Immortal doesn’t come with much for accessories.
I’ve already talked about his winged backpack, but he has an alternate backpack that I’ve never really understood. This backpack is a set of eight green tentacles. It’s kind of cool and Nemesis Enforcer came with it as well, but I’ve never quite understood its purpose. In the comic packed in with the set, it shows the tentacles coming out from Nemesis Immortals back underneath his wings, but you can’t do that with the figure. Personally, I’ve always seen it as a weapon. Nemesis Immortal carries a little green creature that he throws at his targets that unfurls into these tentacles to capture them if he’s been given orders to take someone alive. It fits with the Cobra-La biologically-based technology and weapons and considering that it looks like the tentacle pack has eyes, it makes sense that it could be a living weapon. The tentacles are very well detailed, with little suckers running down the underside. It really looks kind of off-putting in the best way possible.
I know Cobra-La isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it as a kid and I still do today. With the more detailed design of Nemesis Immortal, I actually see an interesting parallel to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. In the early 2000s, the Star Wars universe was introduced to a race of aliens from outside the galaxy that used biologically-based technology that cut a swath of devastation across the galaxy called the Yuuzhan Vong. With as biological as Nemesis Immortal’s armor looks, I get a pretty strong Yuuzhan Vong vibe from him and I’m fine with that. Much like Cobra-La isn’t loved by a lot of Joe fans, the Yuuzhan Vong saga isn’t a beloved part of Star Wars history, but I accept it as part of canon because I like the concept behind it, even if it wasn’t executed perfectly. Nemesis Immortal is one of the modern figures that really benefits from modern toy-making technology. This is what I saw the Nemesis Enforcer figure as when I was a kid and it’s great to have a figure reflect that dangerous, intimidating beast better than the vintage figure. Nemesis Immortal may have a few problems and doesn’t come from a beloved part of Joe history, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for G.I. Joe: The Movie and Cobra-La, so I say bring it on. If a figure is good, it’s a good figure. You can always change the backstory from what’s printed on the filecard to make it fit in your personal version of the Joe universe.
I tried to make Cobra La work back in ’87, but it was a shark I just couldn’t jump. Still, it might’ve been easier if the figures had been really cool. Golobulus had unique construction but he wasn’t very playable, and Nemesis Enforcer, the big bad creature of the night from folklore, looked like an average sized goon. This version is what the character needed. More than once I’ve been tempted to get this figure because it would tower over my O-ring figures, like he should.
From what I understand, more cobra-la stuff was planned but was dropped for numerous reasons. It wasn’t the first Scifi [see what I did there] element introduced in the franchise and it wasn’t the last.
My understanding is that there was one individual on the Joe design team of that era who really pushed the envelope with this stuff. And, that’s why you saw such a paradigm shift. Lots of his unproduced stuff is equally off beat.
I’m torn on it. In the end, not much made it to production. And, would we really view the vintage line any differently if we had gotten three better figures instead of Cobra La? Now, losing that element of the G.I. Joe movie, though, would have been a game changer in terms of how collectordom evolved.
I like the movie and didn’t mind the Cobra-La stuff that much, but I wouldn’t want the whole line to go in that direction. I’m glad they got away from it fairly quickly.