Henchmen Fashion File: Kobra v. Solaris

It's a special double-shot of henchmen antics, thanks to the fact that that wacky cult-leader Kobra had his own series way back in the day and spent issues 2 and 3 attacking another super-villain  - not exactly a rare situation, but not one that happens every day. 

The Villains: 

Kobra: Just to keep things simple, I'm only going to refer to Kobra as he appears in the seven issues of his series, and not the 30-plus years of history that followed.


As you can see, Kobra is kind of a dick. This probably comes of having been raised as the leader/messiah of an Indian snake cult, who stole him from the hospital at birth. Thanks to their fanatical devotion, he made a few pretty good runs at taking over the world, and his early enemies included his own brother Aaron, PI Johnny Double and the Demon's pal Randu Singh. He also called people "witling" a lot.

Solaris, AKA Clifton Lacey, was a NASA scientist who specialized in solar radiation and really enjoyed his job, to the extent that when he was fired he, well, became a super-villain. 

Looking at the technology that Lacey came up with as he sought revenge, I have to think that maybe NASA wasn't thinking so clearly when they fired the guy. If only they'd kept him happy, he might have tricked out the space shuttle for them, and I know that I would have been a little more interested in becoming an astronaut if there was the possibility of getting to fire a death ray. Sure, the guy acts a bit crazy, but that's just passion!

Oh no wait. He's completely crazy.

The context of the Kobra/Solaris scrap, by the way, is that Kobra wants to steal Solaris' Heliotron, seen above, cradled tenderly in his arms. As with many of Kobra's plans, the sole purpose of this is to help him kill his own brother, because Kobra is also crazy.

The Henchmen:

Hey look, it's both sets of henchmen in a single image:

Though outwardly they might look similar - groups of identically-dressed men with below-average self-esteem and a gift for following orders - but they actually represent two distinct types of henchman. Solaris' guys (let's call them the Sunnys) are basically the same goons that DC villains have always hired, only wearing form-fitting leotards instead of suits and ties. witness a typical interaction between a typical Sunny and his boss:

Note the fact that this is a normal human conversation - Solaris doesn't call the guy "witling" or "imbecile" even once. It's just a guy and his boss, fleeing their secret HQ in a super-sweet rocket.

By contrast, the Kobra Cultists are evil religious fanatics - they probably don't even get paid for what they do, which frequently involves their grisly deaths anyway. They die in enormous quantities, and often by Kobra's own hand, which suggests that they either have a fantastic recruitment campaign or that their ranks are composed of roughly the stupidest people on the planet. I mean, would you join an organization in which this was the penalty for failing to find a small bracelet on a ruined bridge?

Attractiveness of Costume:

This is actually kind of tough, since both groups are essentially just wearing a palette-swapped version of their boss' costume - in the case of the Sunnys, the first of their boss' two costumes, seen above. Neither of them have the most terrific colour scheme at that, though red and yellow is astonishingly better than green and orange.

It all comes down to flair, really, and the Sunnys have very little. They do have those awesome holsters with the button-down flap that I love so well, but that just can't compete with the visual appeal of seeing snake men in togas running around with swords.


Utility of Costumes:

It's clear from a glance that the Sunnys' costumes offer little-to-no protection. Why, just look at what happens when Kobra hits some of them with one of his patented venom-blasts:

Of course, the same could be said for the Cultists' duds:

That Kobra. An equal-opportunity venom-blaster to the core.

In the absence of protective benefits, I'm going to have to judge this based on the gadgets that the rank-and-file of each organization are given to slaughter each other with. You've already seen the Cultists' flying sabres, but since those didn't actually kill anyone I'm going to discount them - a non-flying sabre is ultimately going to be more useful than a flying one that doesn't work. So what else do they have?

Well, both groups have flying skateboards and laser guns, so it's still tied up. No, wait...

Laser blowgun for the win!


Budget for Costumes:

I'm tempted to give this to Solaris, since he obviously takes his guys to the same tailor that he goes to, but even though that might technically cost more money I am more impressed with what I have to assume is Kobra's method of clothing his followers. Based on what I know and can guess about the guy, Kobra has to have a whole branch of his organization devoted solely to making uniforms out of real cobras.


Chance for a Bonus Point - Does the Villain have a Lieutenant With a Marginally Cooler Costume and Maybe a Name?

Not really, but they do both have robots:

Kobra's is named Servitor, and he found it in a meteor, but I just can't help liking Solaris' Robot Defender a bit better:

There's just something about the way that it looks like Solaris put it together out of spare parts on the weekend that endears it t me. It would totally win the bonus point,


... except that Kobra defeats it with a robot snake that flies out of his toga, and that is manifestly more cool.


Sorry Solaris, but you lose. Better luck next time.

May I present the winner of the first-ever Henchman Fashion Files Fashion-off:


 Kobra, the man without irony!