The latest in a line of Scottish nobles who have been manufacturing weapons for centuries, Laird James McCullen Destro XXIV — better known simply as Destro — continues the family tradition as the head of M.A.R.S. Industries, international weapons manufacturers and arms dealers. Destro and his company have had a long and tumultuous relationship with the global terrorist conspiracy Cobra, with the laird at times being an independent partner, a member of their organisation, and even an unwilling prisoner. Regardless, thanks to his robotics technology and cutting-edge innovations, Destro can always count on Cobra having need of him one way or the other.
Despite his lack of formal qualifications, Destro possesses a formidable intellect and a cunning mind, as well as his own sense of honour, twisted as it may be. If he has one fatal flaw, it is his pride — had he more humility, he may not have been trapped in the metal suit that he wears after a teleportation experiment gone wrong.
Last of the Clan Destro
At some point McCullen, as "Destro", struck up a deal worth billions of dollars with Cobra, promising to create a working teleportation system: the M.A.S.S. Device. He also had his ancestral Castle Destro moved, brick by brick, to Patagonia.
After a weapons deal between M.A.R.S. Industries and Cobra in Istanbul was foiled by a mysterious American intelligence agency, McCullen had a machine containing several remote-controlled spider robots placed on the Badeaux Strait, using the robots to sink the ship. As he had hoped, the agency collected the machine from the wreckage, but when their scientists started investigating the device, Destro recognised one of them as Ward Michaelmas, who had been believed dead five years previously. Realising that the situation went deeper than he had anticipated, he had his assistants Glynis and Rory MacDougal keep monitoring the American base. When the robots were activated, McCullen attempted to boost their signal to bypass the GPS signal blocking capabilities of the base, but was interrupted by the Baroness, a member of Cobra who had been sent to kill him for failing to complete the M.A.S.S. Device in the promised time and for bringing attention to Cobra through his dealings with Nico Mandirobilis.
While his assistants took the spider robots on a rampage throughout the G.I. Joe base, Destro contended with the Baroness, attempting to convince her to allow him to finish the device; when she refused, he had his dog Clyde attack her, allowing him to escape into Castle Destro. In the castle's armory, Destro and the Baroness duelled with Destro swords, and though the Baroness was able to overpower him, he knocked her unconscious with the helmet from a suit of armor. Though Rory was furious that all the robots were destroyed without returning their GPS coordinates, McCullen reassured him that the data transmitted — including details on the B.E.T. and photography of the Pit's surroundings — was still valuable and useful.
Locking the Baroness into Castle Destro's "dungeon" — in reality an inescapable luxury bedroom — Destro offered the Baroness dinner and a demonstration of the M.A.S.S. Device, giving her an extravagant necklace to complete her outfit; and though the Baroness tried to kill him with a makeshift dagger anyway, Destro revealed that he had lined the necklace with miniature explosives to ensure her compliance, to which the Baroness reluctantly agreed to attend.
Using the M.A.S.S. Device to personally teleport to Nico Mandirobilis's ship, Destro attempted to kill the arms dealer in order to both demonstrate the device and eliminate Cobra's security leak; however, the assassination attempt was foiled by Snake Eyes, and upon his return to Castle Destro it was discovered that the fault in the device that led to the death of Zartan had not been corrected -- the laird's molecular structure began to fall apart, requiring that Destro be sealed into a specialised suit of armor to hold his form in place until the device was perfected and a cure found. Destro was inconsolable over his imprisonment, desperately poring through his library in search of a cure.
A prison of his own making
When a team of Cobra troopers rescued the Baroness from the castle, she had Destro and his assistants tased into unconsciousness and captured to be transported to Section Zero, carried out on helicopters before being transported to the Arctic base aboard Cobra's enormous submarine, the Dreadnaught. Though Destro was to be allowed to continue his work with access to Cobra's full resources, the laird was unhappy with being robbed of his freedom, and directed the MacDougalls to work first on freeing him from his armor and then on escaping Cobra. At Section Zero, the Baroness introduced Destro to the quantum field theory expert Dr. Mindbender, but McCullen found his dreams of time travel ridiculous and insisted that he not be allowed to interfere in M.A.S.S.
The two scientists continued to quarrel over the M.A.S.S. project, with Destro believing Mindbender's equipment to be insufficient; though the Baroness was unimpressed with their arguing, Destro managed to secure the release of Glynis and Rory to assist him.However, McCullen still met with repeated failures, and in order to convince the Baroness to give him another chance, he was forced to offer a "show of loyalty" by killing Rory — something, as he explained to Glynis, done as part of his promise to Rory to protect her.
In order to salvage the M.A.S.S. Device, Destro planned to kidnap Dr. Gerald Orizama of Robillard University, an expert in particle physics who he believed would be capable of solving M.A.S.S.'s re-integration problems. As a peace offering, he also offered Cobra the approximate location of the Pit, taken from his robots' photography of the area surrounding the facility. At Destro's behest, the Baroness had her agent, Blacklight, capture Orizama despite G.I. Joe's efforts to prevent it; Destro was left thoroughly embarrassed when Orizama was immediately able to solve the problems with the M.A.S.S. Device upon seeing the plans, and angry when the Baroness refused to allow Destro to cure himself of the molecular destabilisation. When Cobra Commander reviewed the state of the M.A.S.S. project, Destro tried to bargain for more authority and better conditions, but was undermined by Glynis, angry over the death of her father. The Commander had Destro sent to the Section Ten gulag as a prisoner of Major Bludd.
In the gulag, Destro befriended fellow prisoner Vaclav Borchak, and beat a man who antagonized him in the prison yard to death. Over the following days, Destro investigated the workings of the prison, learning that any guard who allowed a prisoner to escape or die would become one himself; for Destro's murder, the guard Yubov was imprisoned. Though the other prisoners, including Borchak and Yubov, assumed that Destro's investigation was part of an attempt to escape, the Laird eventually revealed that he didn't plan to escape the gulag: he intended to take it over. With Borchak and Yubov's help, Destro used the barrels of oil stored at Section Ten to cause an explosion that killed seven prisoners; when confronted by Bludd and his guards, Destro pointed out that one fifth of the guards would need to become inmates to keep the prisoner numbers steady, prompting the guards to turn on Bludd and side with Destro. Contacting Cobra Commander, Destro informed him that he was the new warden of Section Ten, and laid out his terms: freedom first from the gulag, and then from the metal armor that encased his body.