Once, he was called Phillip M. Provost; but in recent years, you're more likely to have met him as Jason Wright, or Derrick Attell, or Marcus Quinn, or one of a hundred other names. His true identity, though, is Chuckles: undercover G.I. Joe agent, reporting to Hawk on the criminal organisations of the world; a task that he's naturally suited to with his gregarious charm and ruthless willing to do whatever's needed to complete his mission.
As an undercover agent, Chuckles is not officially on file as a member of G.I. Joe; instead, he contacts the Joes through his handler Jinx, with whom he's begun a romantic relationship with.
Recently, he's discovered the existence of a global terrorist conspiracy called Cobra, and is infiltrating it as a prospective agent. What could go wrong?
Birth of a mercenary
As a child, Phillip Provost had it rough: fat, poor, and academically struggling, on top of dealing with an abusive father. Though a target of bullies, Phillip's ability to take a beating and get angry were appreciated when he joined the U.S. Army; and while they didn't appreciate his smart mouth quite so much, Hawk saw the potential in him, and recruited him into G.I. Joe, under the codename of Chuckles.
Despite being a capable operative, Chuckles' disruptive lack of discipline eventually led to a chewing out by Hawk, who — despite Chuckles's protests — had him officially, and publicly, thrown out of the Joes. This wasn't a punishment, but instead the start of a new mission; as an off-the-books "mercenary", Chuckles was to act as a deep-cover operative, spying on and infiltrating terrorist groups across the world. For this, he was assigned Jinx as his contact: an experienced veteran, martial artist, and field medic, with who — in his isolation — Chuckles began a romantic relationship with. At some point, Chuckles had a crude "skeletal resonance receiver" radio device implanted in his head that would allow him to receive Morse code transmissions as buzzes through his skull, and transmit them by biting down on metal foil.
Over the coming months, Chuckles would take on numerous false identities and assignments, ranging from gun-running in Laos to providing explosives expertise to the Taliban. Eventually, while delivering polonium in Estonia as "Mr Lange", the local mafiosos he was working with would turn hostile... only to be shot dead by a mysterious man and his sniper ally, who wished to offer "Lange" a chance to join his organisation, inviting him to meet at the Falgi tavern. Upon reporting his contact with the organisation to Hawk, Chuckles was instructed to collect final codes and orders from Jinx and maintain radio silence until extraction.
At the tavern, Chuckles feigned disinterest, not wanting to seem too eager, but when he denied that an American counterterrorism group had been targeting him, his interviewer lost faith and moved to leave. This forced Chuckles and the Joes to use their backup plan: a G.I. Joe team burst into the bar in a raid, and in the ensuing firefight, Chuckles "shot" Scarlett and Heavy Duty with a blank-firing gun synced to exploding blood packs worn by them, before helping his interviewer to flee the bar. Escaping in a stolen paramilitary truck, the lieutenant — impressed with Chuckles' "killing" of the American special forces — offered him a second interview before leaving.
That evening, Jinx failed to rendezvous with Chuckles, which he took as a bad sign, and he was unable to contact anyone on the radio. When masked attackers kidnapped him during the night, he assumed that his prospective employers had realised that he was part of G.I. Joe... but, as it turned out, they simply wished to invite him to the "high rollers' table" as part of Cobra.
Climbing the ladder
Over the following three weeks, most of what Chuckles did for Cobra amounted to simply acting as a driver and bodyguard for his employer, "Mr. X". Though he believed he was on the verge of a breakthrough, when he met with Jinx in a "gentleman's club" to update her, she revealed to him that direct communication had been deemed too dangerous: their meeting would be their last, and that further communication would be made only through his SR receiver. His routine would only change four weeks later when Skelton, rather than his usual partner Semyon, met him in the car with an assignment to collect Mr. X from the city center; en route, though, the car was caught in an ambush by well-equipped attackers, who shot Skelton dead and used a rocket launcher to destroy the car. Chuckles managed to escape at the last second, sending the wreckage of the vehicle into the ambushers, but worried over what he was going to say to X.
It turned out that he needn't have worried, as Mr. X had the ambush staged himself as a test for both Skelton and Chuckles; in response to Chuckles' success, he gave him Skelton's previous job. That evening, Chuckles was tasked with accompanying X to a high society dinner party, where he was struck by the beauty of Erika Le Tene, rumored to be dating one of Mr. X's superiors in Cobra. While in the kitchen throwing up the ortolan dish that he had been made to eat, he struck up a rapport with Erika, but was interrupted by X, who had another assignment for him: destroying the country's federal reserve, thereby ruining the local economy and destabilising the region; the dinner party having been staged as a distraction. Though heavily conflicted, Chuckles went through with the destruction of the treasury building for the mission's sake; upon returning to X's building, he met Erika standing out in the rain. She explained that the weather reminded her of her life in Vietnam, and when asked about her supposed relationship, Erika merely claimed that Chuckles shouldn't believe everything she heard... before embracing him in a kiss.
The kindling of his relationship with Erika put Chuckles at rest, and he was able to sleep easier alongside her. His peace of mind didn't last long, though, as his participation in the destruction of a delivery train with eleven people on it — and his allies' executions of their informants — made him doubt whether his mission was really doing any good; regardless, his orders remained the same: record, observe, and don't break cover. When assigned to rescue dissident scientist Anatoly Naryshkin from a prison transport, Chuckles and Semyon were faced with multiple prisoners claiming to be their target; but one of them — a prisoner brought on in an unscheduled stop — revealed a suicide belt which exploded, hurling Chuckles back and seriously injuring him.
Over the three weeks of Chuckles' recovery that followed, he came to realise that the explosion had damaged his SR receiver, as he was no longer receiving any messages from headquarters; Erika visited him frequently, though she only acted in a professional context except when certain that nobody was observing. Shortly after being released, Chuckles was summoned by Mr. X, who revealed that the agent would no longer be "wasting" his talents in the Balkans; instead, he was to be reassigned to Cobra's central office in Dubai, serving as head of security for Erika and "head of special projects". This role turned out to range from combat operations to prisoner interrogation to training Crimson Guards; something that Chuckles was uncomfortable with, but rationalised as a necessary sacrifice to get him as close as possible to the top. Erika, meanwhile, attended weekly meetings with their mysterious, permanently-hidden "commander", leaving Chuckles wondering whether there was truth to the talk of her relationship with the man in charge. Wondering to Erika when the promised "special projects" would appear, she responded by questioning whether his heart was really in the job.
A month after arriving in Dubai, Chuckles came across an abandoned car, and started using its radio to send coded messages to G.I. Joe. Two nights after sending one such message, he was woken in the middle of the night by Semyon, who brought him to a cell... where Jinx was being held prisoner, having been caught on camera following Chuckles around. While Chuckles desperately tried to work out what to do, Jinx improvised a cover story about him being the man who killed her family, before shouting that he should kill her — supposedly to prevent her enacting painful vengeance upon him, but in reality to preserve his cover. The anguished Chuckles followed through, shooting through her head, before retreating to his room in shock and horror at what he'd done. The next morning, he announced to Erika that his doubts were gone, and that he was ready to go all in... because he, as he mused to himself, he was going to take down Cobra if it was the last thing he did.
As "head of special projects", Chuckles was assigned to work on Cobra's latest military endeavour: battle automation tactics, in the form of robotic soldiers nicknamed BATs... which were, unfortunately, unable to tell friend from foe and liable to self-destruct, with both of Chuckles' predecessors as project lead having been killed by them. Though Chuckles' assistant Max was optimistic about their improvements to the AI, the Joe warned him against being overconfident, given Cobra's tendency to dispose of those who couldn't deliver on their promises. Meanwhile, the spark had gone from Chuckles' and Erika's love life, leaving only dull routine; as she left in the evening, Chuckles suspected that it would be the last time he would see her, but couldn't bring himself to say goodbye.
The next morning, Chuckles entered Cobra's main building, and attempted to convince Semyon, standing guard, to allow him in to see Mr. X. When the man refused, Chuckles paused to compose himself, before hurling Semyon through the window of X's office. Drawing a pistol, he escorted X at gunpoint to the office of the mysterious "commander". Though X warned of dire consequences if he proceeded, offering him a clean death in its place, Chuckles demanded that he open the code lock. Inside they found Erika, and the "commander" with his back to the door... who turned around, revealing the face of Mr. X. He revealed to Chuckles that his name was Tomax, and that the man that Chuckles had brought to the room was his twin brother Xamot; Cobra's real commander had never been anywhere near the Dubai headquarters.
Regaining his composure, Chuckles detonated the explosives that he had planted throughout the refinery plant and the Crimson Guard's base; but Tomax scoffed at the idea that he had destroyed Cobra: the twins had known Chuckles' true identity as a G.I. Joe agent since the first time he and Erika slept together, when she noticed the SRR's vibrations through his body. Chuckles had only been allowed to see the smallest fraction of Cobra, and with its destruction, G.I. Joe would come to believe that Cobra was gone; Jinx's execution, meanwhile, was simply a twisted game to torture Chuckles. Chuckles revealed one further ace up his sleeve, though: even though he had planted no explosives in Cobra's main building, he had access to the army of BATs, which he had programmed to kill all personnel before self-destructing. While the robots caused chaos through the building, Chuckles tried to shoot Tomax, but Erika had filled his gun with blanks that morning; instead, he settled for using it to give Xamot a burn to the face. Semyon tackled Chuckles while Erika and the twins escaped to a helicopter, before Chuckles shot his former colleague with a pistol left behind by Erika. Chuckles escaped the building, seeing Jinx's face for an instant in the crowds, before watching the building burn as the exploding BATs tore it apart. Believing that he could not return to G.I. Joe after what he'd done, he instead resolved to tear Cobra to the ground, even at the cost of his own life.
Within the year that followed, Chuckles infiltrated a Russian prison in order to learn the structure of Cobra high command with the help of an imprisoned former bodyguard to high command; with the help of Max, who he promised American citizenship and asylum, he planned an escape to use once he learned everything. Meanwhile, Hawk sent a G.I. Joe agent codenamed Chameleon to retrieve Chuckles and recover the intelligence he had on Cobra. After five months of searching, Chameleon managed to locate Chuckles and break into the prison in which he was being held; he initially mistook her for Jinx, but upon realising who she really was, Chuckles refused to allow himself to be "rescued", claiming that Chameleon was risking his operation. Chameleon retreated after Chuckles promised to meet with her in a week and gave her coordinates for the meeting spot,
One week later, Chuckles used the sword that she had given him to kill his guard, and break himself and the Cobra bodyguard out of the prison using explosives made from fertilizer, cleaning agents and boiled down urine. Though the man was jubilant to have escaped, Chuckles killed him as soon as they were out of the prison, recognising how dangerous he was. Max picked him up in a jeep, but Chuckles told him to leave him at the camp that Max had prepared and go back to Cobra, reneging on his promises to secure asylum.While Chuckles prepared to attack the estate in which Cobra's high command were meeting, Chameleon tracked him down, having found him through the returning Max; though she attempted to convince him to go with her, he refused to back down from his plan, believing himself to be the only one capable of taking down Cobra. Instead, he asked her to rescue Max, in the hope that he wouldn't have to die with the rest of Cobra.
When a unit of Cobra Vipers attacked Chuckles' camp, he managed to kill five of them using Claymore mines and his rifle. The last Viper managed to shoot him twice, and would have killed him if not for a returning Chameleon decapitating the Viper. She dressed Chuckles' wounds, but insisted that she needed to bring him to a hospital; he continued to refuse, intent on going through with his plan. They were interrupted by Max and an escaped Erika Le Tene, who claimed to be defecting to G.I. Joe with her knowledge of Cobra's operations for asylum. While Chuckles and Chameleon argued, with Chuckles wanting Erika dead, Max — having been brainwashed by his father, Crystal Ball — picked up an abandoned pistol and attempted to shoot Erika, but was killed when his throat was slit by Chameleon. A stubborn Chuckles set off on his mission to kill Cobra command, telling Chameleon not to come again; however, he never made it to the Cobra estate before succumbing to his injuries. He was captured by Cobra, and greeted upon awakening by Crystal Ball, Xamot Paoli, and the real Cobra Commander.
The loyal subject
Cobra Commander had Chuckles relocated to Section Twenty, located on an island north of Japan, where he was held in comfort and well-fed; he was visited frequently by the Commander, who repeatedly attempted to talk him into joining Cobra. When one morning, Chuckles' escort was replaced with a different guard who used flexicuffs instead of manacles to secure his hand, the Joe — despite his suspicion that he was being baited into an escape attempt — broke his cuffs and overpowered and killed the guard, before dodging into Cobra's vehicle hangar and commandeering a HISS tank. Using the tank to kill the hangar's guards and destroy the other vehicles, Chuckles used a missile to destroy the hangar doors, but rather than escaping through the hole he'd created Chuckles used the tank's interface to access a map of the building and its security tripwires. Cutting the map into his arm, he escaped through the facility's "back door" into the woods; though he believed he'd got away safely other than an attack from a security dog, he was confronted by Cobra Commander. In the tense standoff that ensued, the Commander made Chuckles a final offer: if he joined Cobra, he would be given Tomax and Xamot: the men responsible for his tortures, and who the Commander was happy to see punished. After some contemplation, an intrigued Chuckles finally accepted.
Chuckles was subsequently brought into Cobra as part of high command, though his lax attitude and flippancy irritated Tomax; Chuckles, meanwhile, was frustrated that the Commander would not yet turn the twins over to him, not seeing how they could still be assets with Xamot's increasing instability and Tomax's obvious distraction. The Commander responded by explaining that Cobra desired to not "terrorize" the world, but stabilize it, with the terms in their favor; his philosophy was that the key to success was considering every route to it, without consideration for morality, law, or personal preference. To illustrate this, he introduced Chuckles to Big Boa, a martial artist and Cobra's on-site security trainer, who had joined up with Cobra to avoid being court-martialed for running over a civilian woman while escaping an insurgent attack. When Chuckles questioned how he went through with it, Boa simply replied that "soldiers complete their mission, no matter what". Shortly after, Cobra Commander had Chuckles brought before him for one final test: asking him to detonate explosives to destroy a fishing village on a nearby island, to stop word of Cobra's presence getting out; Chuckles complied without hesitation.
Some time later, Chuckles was found in Big Boa's dojo by Xamot, who was being excluded from high command's meetings. Xamot's taunts over Jinx's death drove Chuckles to attack them before Boa pulled the two apart, but Xamot got what he wanted, in the form of Chuckles' identity card. Because of the incident, Xamot was confined to his quarters, while Chuckles was brought to the Commander. Switching places with his brother, Xamot attempted an elaborate scheme to kill the Commander and frame Chuckles for his death; but the Commander, having foreseen his actions, kept Chuckles by his side in preparation. Cobra Commander ordered Chuckles to kill Xamot... and with a "yo Joe", Chuckles, having been biding his time, shot the Commander through the head. Though he tried to kill Xamot next, he found that his rifle had been loaded with only one bullet... but nevertheless, breaking his guard's neck, he planned to kill everyone in the building.
Before what happened next, Chuckles wrote a letter to Hawk which, eventually, made its way to him.
Returning to Xamot's room, Chuckles took Tomax — still recovering from being knocked out by his brother — as a hostage, escorting him back to the Commander's room at gunpoint. Showing him the Commander's body, Chuckles explained that he needed Tomax to help him to access certain areas in Cobra's installation; his isolation from high command and the fact that his brother had tried to kill the Commander meant that he was out of allies, and nobody would question Chuckles. The strategy worked, until the two came across Big Boa; Tomax immediately blurted out the truth about the Commander's death, and upon Boa realising that he was telling the truth, Chuckles was forced to fight him. Boa effortlessly stripped the slide from Chuckles' gun before he could shoot, and proceeded to severely injure him while Tomax escaped; Chuckles was forced onto the ground, but managed to kill Big Boa by stabbing him in the neck with the gun's slide in a lucky shot.
Heavily injured, Chuckles staggered to his objective: Section Twenty's submarine dock, containing a number of nuclear submarines. Finding one of them with its hatch open, Chuckles climbed inside... only to encounter Xamot, who had been waiting for him there. While Xamot was insistent that the two of them were brothers in spirit, Chuckles dismissed him as merely another enemy grunt. Xamot believed that he was still needed, as he had killed the submarine's captain and Chuckles couldn't pilot it, but Chuckles had the last laugh: he didn't intend to escape on the submarine. Instead, he used the sub's nuclear missile capability to destroy Section Twenty, killing himself, Xamot, and countless Cobras in the process. Before dying, his last thoughts were of Jinx.
Years later, Erika Le Tene — now a member of the Joes, using the codename Chameleon — would tell the story of her experiences with Chuckles to the Decepticon-turned-screenwriter Thundercracker. This inspired Thundercracker to write a biopic based on Chuckles's life.
- The Chuckles action figure released in 2015's G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary "Desert Duel" set features a head sculpt based on the character's appearance in the IDW Cobra comics.