The Origin of Zartan, Part 1

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G.I. Joe: Origins #16
Origins16 cvrB.jpg
Wow, what a badass! I'm sure he'll live a long, fulfilling life!
"The Origin of Zartan, Part 1"
Publisher IDW Publishing
First published June 3, 2010
Cover date June 2010
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Alex Cal
Colors by J. Brown
Letters by Neil Uyetake
Editor Andy Schmidt
Assistant editor Carlos Guzman

Cobra assassin Emil Zartan's success is short-lived when his indiscretion draws the ire of the Baroness, with fatal consequences.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Directed by the pilot of his helicopter, a man wearing a high-tech glider suit descends onto a passenger jet below, using a grappling gun to break into the vehicle. The assassin effortlessly kills the response teams and security guards that try to stop him as he makes his way to his target: the jet's primary passenger, President Rumanapar. The assassin, Emil Zartan, brings out a laptop computer with a message for Rumanapar; a message from the Baroness, who chastises him for his intent to announce a change to his country's trade policies at the London summit that he is travelling to, against the terms of his agreement with Cobra. As such, Zartan will be accompanying the president to the summit as an escort... and will kill him if he doesn't do as Cobra wishes.

One week later, on the Côte d'Azur, the Baroness congratulates Zartan on his success, which has allowed her to rise to membership in Cobra High Command. As payment, she provides him with one million euros, and a woman with whom he attends a luxurious casino that evening; as he plays a game of baccarat, however, a scar-faced man named Raphael flirts with his companion — something that the woman seems receptive to, prompting Zartan to throw Raphael into a casino table. Zartan's companion is outraged at his embarrassing, possessive actions, and leaves, calling him an animal as she does — words that weigh heavily on Zartan as he fitfully falls asleep in his casino suite.

A nameless street urchin is cornered on the streets of a Spanish city by a pair of police officers, who accuse him of being the "orphan bastard" that has been stealing from tourists. When the men ask for his name, the boy takes inspiration from a film poster behind them, giving his name as "Zartan" and dropping his stolen riches on the ground as a "peace offering"... but when one of the policemen bends down to pick up the money, Zartan knees him in the throat and flees.

Emil Zartan is awoken by Raphael and his two armed men; the scarred man wants payback for his earlier humiliation. Waking him was a mistake for Raphael, however, as Zartan uses his assassin's skills to dispatch the two enforcers before chasing after their employer; Zartan shoots him in the back as he flees, causing him to plummet through a window and down to the restaurant tables below. The Baroness comes to retrieve the assassin before the Surete can arrive, but is unimpressed with her agent, who threaten her position in Cobra with such a public display. As punishment, she gives him a new assignment — acting as the Baroness's representative to M.A.R.S. Industries, who are experimenting with a new, promising weapon...

At Castle Destro, Zartan is suited up for his assassination of Nicodemus Mandilobilis, for which he will be sent through the M.A.S.S. teleportation device. As soon as Laird McCullen transports him to Mandirobilis' villa, Zartan opens fire... but before he can kill his target, a strange affliction overcomes the assassin, and Zartan is forced to watch as his own body crumbles to dust. From the castle, Destro ruefully relays the failure to the Baroness — they have no guarantee that Zartan succeeded in his assassination, and he fears that Zartan has been killed by the device, reduced to inert molecules. The Baroness suggests that they view the events as a positive — if Zartan disappeared with no witnesses, there is nothing to tie the assassination back to Cobra. But even as she says so, a masked warrior is investigating the assassin's remains...

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Cobra M.A.R.S. Industries Others

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"I will not go with you! You embarrass me! He only wished to buy me a drink!"
"And take you from me."
"You do not own me! You are an animal!"

Zartan's date isn't impressed with Emil Zartan's behavior.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Continuity notes[edit | edit source]

  • The majority of this issue is a lead-in to G.I. Joe #1, in which the ill-fated assassination attempt on Mandirobilis was first shown. Zartan sports the same body armor that he did in that issue, though it wasn't apparent before now that he had anything to do with the classic master-of-disguise Zartan.

G.I. Joe references[edit | edit source]

  • The outfit of Zartan's pilot is based on that of Cobra pilot Wild Weasel.
  • The figure on the "Zartan" film poster that the young Emil Zartan takes his name from sports a low-hanging hood that casts a shadow over his face, and white eyes without pupils, making him look a lot like Zartan's classic design.

Real life references[edit | edit source]

  • In addition to the inspiration it takes from "Zartan classic", the film poster Zartan is also a clear riff on pulp hero Zorro.

Errors[edit | edit source]

  • In an error carried over from multiple issues of the main G.I. Joe series, Mandirobilis' name is misspelled "Mandrilobus".
  • It could be treated as artistic license, but the Baroness is notably drawn with her classic design's big, round glasses, rather than the more sleek and stylish pair she's typically sported in IDW continuity.

Covers (3)[edit | edit source]

  • Cover A: Zartan (but not the one in this issue), by Tom Feister.
  • Cover B: Emil Zartan in action, by Alex Cal and J. Brown.
  • Cover RI: Virgin version of cover A.