In his heart, Tomax Paoli believes a single truth: slavery is freedom. As his connection to his brother and their victory over an undercover G.I. Joe prove, man can only be content when he must answer to another.
Raised by the Unione Corse to be peerless businessmen, Tomax and his brother learned on the battlefields of Chad and Libya in their youths that the true measure of success in war is profit, not destruction; and they have since applied these lessons to profit ruthlessly in the boardroom, selling security through their Crimson Guard and growing their empire with Extensive Enterprises.
Brothers in arms
The Paoli twins, Tomax and Xamot, were born on Corsica. According to Tomax's account, the twins' father died when they were toddlers, and their mother sold them to the Unione Corse — a highly secretive and deadly international organisation centred in Corsica — after she took up with another man, one who didn't want to raise somebody else's children. Inseparable from a young age, the brothers were raised to be soldiers, businessmen and slave traders without peer, and came to believe that man could only be at peace when they answered to others. When they grew older, the twins had the man that had sent them away killed, and condemned their mother to a lifetime of poverty. As young men, they fought in the Chadian-Libyan war as soldiers in the French Foreign Legion, under al-Gaddafi; there, they learned that victory in such conflicts comes from profiting, rather than destroying.
The twins went on to build Extensive Enterprises from the businesses of the Unione Corse's contraband network, selling the Crimson Guard as private security forces. As they grew in power and influence, they were approached by Cobra, opening them up to power on a scale they had never imagined. Shortly after Cobra first engaged with G.I. Joe, the Paoli twins met with Colonel Shtern to supply him with information on the unit; while there, they were introduced to Daina Janack, Nico Tchitcherine, and Peter Danko, three soldiers who Shtern intended to form part of his own answer to G.I. Joe.
As the heads of the Crimson Guard, Tomax and his brother were known to their underlings, who believed them to be a single man, as "Mr. X". After Chuckles was brought into Cobra, "Mr. X" used him as a bodyguard and driver during his operations in the Balkans; after Tomax killed the Latvian Foreign Minister, he had Chuckles and Semyon clear up after him.
Wanting to replace Skelton as their lieutenant, and to test Chuckles' worth as a replacement, the brothers set up an ambush attempt on the car the two were using; while Skelton was killed, Chuckles managed to survive and take out his attackers, resulting in his promotion. That evening, Tomax was accompanied by Chuckles to an upper-class dinner party, where he tasked his new lieutenant with destroying the country's federal reserve and its contents of 2.1 billion dollars, destabilising the local economy.
The next day, Tomax and Xamot were contacted by Erika Le Tene; having slept with Chuckles, she had discovered through the vibrations of his skeletal resonance reciever that he was an undercover member of the United States special forces group G.I. Joe. From that point onwards, the brothers only provided Chuckles with misinformation about the nature and organization of Cobra.
After Chuckles was injured in an explosion while trying to retrieve Anatoly Naryshkin from a prisoner transport, he was transferred to the Crimson Guard's headquarters in Dubai, along with Erika. When Jinx was discovered to be following Chuckles between countries, the brothers decided to play a sadistic game, forcing Chuckles to kill her to avoid breaking his cover, which he believed to still be intact.
When "Mr. X" visited the Dubai headquarters, Chuckles took it as his opportunity to bring down Cobra, taking Xamot at gunpoint to the "commander"'s office... who was, in fact, Tomax, the two brothers having been trading in and out of the position. When the undercover Joe detonated explosives that destroyed the Cobra refinery and the Crimson Guard's base, they revealed that they had known Chuckles' true allegiance all along, and that he had only destroyed the smallest fraction of Cobra that G.I. Joe already knew about. When the Joe activated the BATs that he had set to destroy the building, the twins went to evacuate; Chuckles tried to shoot Tomax, but finding his gun loaded with blanks, he settled for using it to give Xamot a scar to the face. Tomax and his injured brother escaped with Erika to their rooftop helicopter while Semyon fought Chuckles.
Though Tomax believed that the brothers' "game" with the undercover G.I. Joe had left them closer than ever, it soon became clear that something was wrong: Xamot increasingly spent his time away from Tomax, not heeding his brother's summons; he even shaved his head as the ideologically driven youths of Corsica would, setting him apart from his twin. Cobra High Command at a Russian manor the following year, Xamot arrived significantly later than Tomax, to the latter's irritation. When Tomax, Xamot and Erika Le Tene were summoned to a meeting with Crystal Ball, representative of Cobra high command, the high inquisitor determined that Le Tene had not helped Chuckles in his sabotage of Cobra, but that she was weak, and that it was up to the twins to decide what to do with her. On the day of the final ceremonies, Tomax informed Erika that rather than attending the ceremonies, she would accompany a Viper team to kill Chuckles as a "second chance"; however, unbeknown to Tomax, Xamot spoke to Erika and allowed her to escape instead.Over the following months, Xamot's behavior became increasingly erratic, frustrating and confusing Tomax, who felt that he was driving the two of them apart. At a meeting of
Some time later, after Chuckles had been moved to Section Twenty, Tomax and his brother debated what should be done with the captive Chuckles; while Xamot believed that killing him would be "no fun" and that his tenacity and determination made him a potential asset, Tomax saw him as an unnecessary liability who could not be corralled or controlled. While Tomax was frustrated by his brother's contrarianism, the Commander broke up the argument, siding with keeping Chuckles alive; as he subsequently revealed to Chuckles, he wanted the Joe to join Cobra, offering him Xamot and Tomax to punish for their failures and the torments they had subjected him to; an offer that Chuckles accepted.
Tomax was resentful and worried by Chuckles being brought into Cobra, something made worse by Xamot's increasing instability and Chuckles' obvious taunting of Tomax, as well as the Commander's favoritism of the ex-Joe. After one particularly frustrating meeting, Tomax was horrified to find that his brother hand blown it off in favor of "fraternizing" with one of the base's female chefs in the brothers' room. Accusing Xamot of trying to "destroy them", Tomax begged his brother to stop his embarrassing, dangerous behavior, but Xamot was unconcerned, seeing the politics of Cobra as a game.When, after a warning from Tomax to get himself in order, Xamot was confined to his quarters after a fight with Chuckles, Tomax visited his brother in their room; however, Xamot took the opportunity to knock him out and disguise himself as his brother, attempting a convoluted plan to kill the Commander and frame Chuckles for his death.
Tomax was awakened by Chuckles, who took him to the Commander's office at gunpoint; though he tried to get help from a passing Viper sergeant, Xamot's attempted coup meant he had no loyalty from them. Showing Tomax the Commander's dead body, he revealed that Xamot had not killed him — Chuckles had, and now he planned to use Tomax to gain access to other areas of the facility. Though Chuckles managed to bring him across Section Twenty, Tomax managed to escape when they encountered Big Boa, who Tomax told the truth about what Chuckles had done; the Joe and Boa fought, allowing Tomax to escape. He met up with the Baroness, telling her about the Commander's death; though she initially planned to lead a team of Vipers to capture Chuckles, upon discovering that he had entered Section Twenty's submarine dock, she realised the Joe's true intent and evacuated high command from the base with the Commander's body. The high command transport, with Tomax on board, escaped the facility moments before Chuckles destroyed the base with its nuclear missiles; realising that his brother had been killed, Tomax screamed in horror.
Cobra Civil War
Still mourning the death of Xamot, Tomax was taken to the facility holding the former Commander's body, where he was made one of the candidates for the next Cobra Commander in the Cobra Civil War. While there, Crystal Ball mockingly offered sympathy over his brother's death. During the competition, Tomax provided Vargas with a group of Vipers as a personal guard. On the advice of Serpentor, Tomax attempted to assassinate Hawk as a way to both progress in the contest and avenge Xamot, but failed and was apprehended by the Joes.
Tomax was imprisoned in Chesapeake Tower Correctional Facility without trial, placed in solitary confinement at the request of the President of the United States. Fortunately for Tomax, though, Extensive Enterprises actually owned Chesapeake Tower through several shell companies, giving him the knowledge to escape: poisoning himself with cadmium paint from the wall of the solitary cell, he was transferred to the prison infirmary in the minimum-security unit. Once he recovered, he murdered another prisoner and doctor, using the doctor's uniform to make his way to the warden's office; killing the warden and changing into his spare suit, Tomax had a helicopter meet him on the roof, arranging to have the Chesapeake Tower staff's healthcare benefits slashed out of spite. Before he left, he used his ownership of the company that installed the prison door switchboard to release all the prisoners at once, causing chaos as the prisoners escaped.
Tomax later met with Major Bludd at the site of Tomax's private jet. Though Paoli was irritated by the brutality of Bludd's underling, the Headman, he agreed to bring them with him. While on the jet, Tomax deduced that Bludd had someone on the inside of G.I. Joe, but Bludd was unimpressed, pointing out that all Tomax had done was discover how far ahead of him in the contest Bludd was. He subsequently called one of the senators that he had influence with, pressuring him to find out which branch of the military had placed the "high-value prisoner" in Chesapeake Tower and caused chaos in there, before being phoned by Cobra operative Blacklight. In exchange for counting Blacklight's future kills towards his total in the contest, Tomax agreed to provide him with the biometric data of Erika Le Tene — now a member of G.I. Joe, going by the codename Chameleon — which Blacklight hoped to use to kill the former Cobra and get back into the Baroness's good graces.
After the contest concluded, Tomax travelled to the Section Ten gulag, where Major Bludd accused Tomax's interference of having cost him the win, believing that if Tomax had not helped Blacklight he would have won despite Krake's ruse. Tomax dismissed his claims, pointing out that had Bludd not ordered Black-Out to expose himself he wouldn't have been killed, and explained that the new Commander had ordered that the gulag be closed and Bludd be transferred to the Golden Triangle.
During Cobra's invasion of Nanzhao, Tomax was present at one of Cobra's camps in the country, observing video feed of Snake Eyes' and Agent Helix's destruction of one of their staging posts, expressing concern over Cobra's losses. After Cobra Commander had Major Bludd's allies from the Nanzhaoese rebel army executed and their drug wares destroyed, he had Tomax give the orders to initiate "phase 3" of the invasion, in which the country's drug fields were burned by Cobra soldiers and Rattlers dropped notices with orders to evacuate over cities and population centers in preparation for Cobra's plans to destroy the country. Subsequently, he gleefully gave the orders for Cobra's engagement with the United Nations soldiers: no mercy and no prisoners.
Disgruntled with the Commander's overly aggressive and destructive strategy, Serpentor and Bludd approached Tomax in the hope of using his connection on the Cobra Council to have the current Commander deposed, offering information that Serpentor had on the former Commander's son as leverage. Though Tomax was unwilling to help prop up a bid for leadership by Bludd, the mercenary revealed that he no longer had any interest in the Commander's seat; instead, it was Tomax who would become their new leader. Tomax made his pitch to his contact on the Council, who promised to consider it and debate it with the other Council members; however, immediately after Tomax hung up, the Baroness arrived at the councilman's home to kill him on Cobra Commander's orders.
After the destruction of Nanzhao, Cobra Commander confronted Tomax over the fact that his communications were always made on scrambled channels inaccessible to the Commander; though he defended himself on the basis of the previous regime's preference for autonomy and compartmentalization, Cobra Commander ordered him to make all his future communications through the main Cobra channels, something that troubled Tomax. Attempting to make contact with his connection on the Council, Tomax was informed that the channel had been offline for five days; realising what must have happened, he set Bludd and Serpentor up to take the fall for the attempted coup and fled to America on his private jet.
On arriving in America, Tomax dismantled his business holdings to disappear from Cobra's sights and turned himself over to G.I. Joe, offering himself as an asset in exchange for immunity from prosecution and incarceration. In addition to what intelligence on Cobra and their actions that he could provide, he also gave them 700 million dollars to fund a new intelligence unit headed by Flint, and ownership of The Gemini, a casino that he owned, to use as a base. However, Chameleon, who was also joining the intelligence unit, was not informed beforehand of Tomax's presence there; upon encountering him, she reacted with horror, and — despite Flint's efforts to calm her and explain that Tomax wouldn't be allowed to leave the casino — Chameleon took Flint's gun and shot Tomax four times in the chest. Tomax survived with no lasting damage, as he was wearing a bulletproof vest... but his suit was ruined in the process, something that he was very annoyed about.
Tomax's first lead for the Joes was the existence and location of Billy Kessler-Latta, the former Commander's son. Zurich for a conference; however, Major Bludd — being held in prison after murdering a United Nations soldier to get them to arrest him — offered the alternative lead of Billy's secret residence in Alexandria. Meanwhile, Tomax ordered a meal from the casino's five-star restaurant, prompting Chameleon to fire its staff thanks to their possible loyalty to Tomax. The Joes sent agents to both Alexandria and Zurich, but through back-channels that the Joes were unaware of, Paoli contacted Cobra agents Blacklight and Firefly, having the former attempt to abduct Billy and the latter destroy the data stored in Alexandria. The mission ended with the Joes recovering no useful data and Billy being rendered comatose by Blacklight, confirming the veracity of Tomax's intelligence but leaving them with no leads; something that led them to wonder whether Tomax had somehow planned everything.His intelligence suggested that Billy would be in
After Colonel Shtern's Oktober Guard broke into a United Nations prison to abduct Major Bludd and engaged with Cobra forces in the south-east of Russia, Tomax spoke to Stern on the phone. The next day, he explained the nature of the Oktober Guard and their charter to the surprise of the intelligence unit, as his calls had been monitored; however, due to the unit being under-staffed, nobody with high-level security clearance was aware of the contents of his call. Ronin, and Lady Jaye were captured by the Oktober Guard in the same Russian manor that Cobra High Command's meeting had been held at, Clockspring — acting out of desperation and desire to save Chameleon — turned to Tomax for his help in saving her. Clockspring helped Tomax to alert Cobra to the Oktober Guard's occupation of the building, leading them to attack and cause a distraction that allowed the Joes to escape; however, armed with this fact, Tomax began blackmailing his "new friend" with the threat of allowing Chameleon or the other Joes to learn about Clockspring's actions. Amongst the various "favors" that Tomax called in from Clockspring was access to G.I. Joe's files about activity in the Pacific Northwest. Though Clockspring initially refused, unwilling to cause such a massive security breach, Tomax preyed on the IT specialist's infatuation with Chameleon to persuade him to comply instead of letting his secret out.After Flint, Chameleon,
At some point, Tomax reached out to Cobra's team of security experts, the Night Creepers, in the hope of using them to help him escape. One of the subsequent targets that Tomax provided for the Joes was Frank "Copperhead" LaMarche, leader of Cobra's amphibious Water-Moccasins, who had gone AWOL during the Cobra civil war; after the mission ended in failure, with Chameleon shooting LaMarche, Tomax needled her over what had happened. Upon discovering that Flint and Chameleon had begun a relationship, Tomax brought that information to Clockspring under the guise of telling him that Billy Kessler-Latta had awoken from his coma, baiting him into accessing the security footage of the two Joes in Flint's quarters, much to Clockspring's dismay. While the rest of the intelligence unit were pursuing Billy's lead on the Night Creepers, Tomax walked in on Clockspring watching the "dirty movies" from the security cameras and preyed on his insecurities, painting Clockspring a picture of Chameleon as a selfish, manipulative seductress; while Clockspring didn't entirely buy into his ideas, the Fobbit began to build up resentment for Chameleon and Flint alike.
Tomax continued to manipulate Clockspring, persuading him to talk to Bet, the Joes' captive Night Creeper, about the technology he had built for his role on the tiger team. After Flint made the decision to disband the intelligence unit, Tomax contacted Firefly and Night Adder, with whom he had been planning to destroy the casino and effect an escape from G.I. Joe's custody, to accelerate their timetable for doing so to within the next three hours; when the two Cobra agents arrived, Lady Jaye discovered Tomax with Clockspring Bet's detention cell, discussing the casino's security systems. Jaye had Tomax locked into a separate cell, but through his earpiece, Tomax gave Night Adder and Firefly the order to initiate their plan. Through Firefly's sabotage (made possible thanks to the information Bet had gleaned from Clockspring), a power blackout allowed Bet and Tomax to escape from their cells, locking Lady Jaye and Clockspring up instead; despite Clockspring's fears, Tomax pledged not to kill his "friend"... because Tomax wanted him alive to see how badly he had ruined everything.
As the other Joes engaged with Firefly and Night Adder, Tomax made his way to Firewall's office, where he cheerfully admitted all his plans... and explained that Firewall's role in the plan was to die, as her death would hurt Chameleon more than anyone else's. Firewall shot Tomax, but only managed to graze his face — ironically, scarring him on the opposite side to where his brother had been injured by Chuckles years before — and Tomax shot her repeatedly in the chest, killing her.For his final target, Tomax approached Chameleon; though she assumed that he was there to kill her, he merely wanted to explain how everything had been playing into his hands from the start. He claimed to sympathise with Erika, and — after psychologically breaking her down — offered her the chance to survive the destruction of the building by working for him once more... something that she refused, believing that even if she hadn't earned what she wanted, she never would if she sided with Tomax again. "Disappointed" in her, Tomax escaped to the roof and Firefly's waiting helicopter, where he was confronted by Flint; their standoff was interrupted by the detonation of the explosives lacing the building, their countdown sped up by Clockspring as penance for his actions. The helicopter took off, with Flint jumping onto the side at the last minute; and while Flint survived his fall from the helicopter — something that Tomax admitted was "impressive" — Tomax and Firefly escaped unscathed.
Cobra gone straight
At some point over the next five years, Tomax took control of Cobra, and reformed it into a "legitimate" private security organisation. When Cobra were hired by the Schletevan government to keep the peace in the country, Tomax met with President Mikel Bulatov, informing him of rebel leader Rashidov's agreement to negotiations. Two days later, he visited Isaac Craft in Verenya on behalf of his mother, Siren, before returning to the Cobra consulate in London; while the PR-friendly approach of the "new Cobra" rankled with the Baroness, Siren defended it as a practical necessity. Three days later, while G.I. Joe deployed into Schleteva, Tomax appeared on international television with Bulatov, condemning western intervention in the region and encouraging civilians to protest the U.S. bases in international territory. On recieving news that Isaac Craft had deserted Cobra and joined up with the Schletevan seperatists, Tomax organised independent operators to hunt down and return Isaac to them in order to avoid bad PR... specifically, the mercenaries Conrad Hauser and David Bennet, aka former Joes Duke and Big Ben.
After a Cobra-style bomb was detonated by Isaac at the government offices in Ushkirli, there was significant tension during the peace talks hosted by Tomax, with Galibi's President Shefer not entirely trusting that Cobra had no hand in the bombings; however, Tomax successfully persuaded Galibi and Schleteva to agree to the devolution of Rashidov's region. Having his assistant call off the mercenaries, he decided to go after Isaac himself. Cobra's Black Ops Team Echo, through torture and interrogation, worked their way up Rashidov's supply chain towards the man himself; however, Tomax was distracted from his pursuit of Isaac when the Baroness assassinated a peaceful protester outside a US military base in Italy, requiring him to put all his effort into disconnecting the assassination from Cobra. Though Tomax was dissatisfied that 5% of citizens believed Cobra was responsible, preferring them to be seen as completely clean, Siren argued to him that 95% trust in Cobra was astonishing and the best that could be hoped for. Having defined the Schleteva-Galibi treaty, Tomax announced at a press conference that the two governments were willing to allow Rashidov's separatists semi-autonomy and a stake in the gas pipeline. Afterwards, Team Echo reported their failure to secure the next element of the supply chain, but announced that they had something better: Rashidov's wife. The team traced Irena Rashidov's movements and, when she met with Grigor Rashidov and Isaac Craft, Tomax ordered them all taken out; while Irena was killed, however, Grigor was merely injured, and Isaac was able to retaliate by killing the whole team, breaking off Tomax's signal from Team Echo.
Travelling to the site of Rashidov assassination attempt, Tomax ordered his troops to find both Rashidov and a missing camera taken from one of the black ops teams' helmets, unaware that Isaac Craft had taken the camera with him, and planned to turn it over to his contact "Mr. Whelan". When Operational Support had the footage of the assassination attempt broadcast, Paoli was implicated; and though he ordered Siren to begin discrediting the video, she instead attempted to get G.I. Joe to extract her after realising that Tomax had been trying to have Isaac killed. Tomax managed to avoid arrest, but Cobra's peacekeepers were thrown out of Galibi by President Shefer, and Duke and Big Ben met up with Isaac in the hope of obtaining his help in killing Tomax. While Tomax survived and Isaac was killed at the hands of Snake Eyes — at that point in deep cover as an agent of Cobra — Cobra ended up collapsing on itself.
After Cobra collapsed, Tomax Paoli was appointed by Count van Rani as the interim CEO of I.R.O.N.. In the midst of this, Tomax was one of many Earth villains contacted by Baron Karza, who offered to let them become his barons in exchange for accepting his dominion over Earth. Subsequently, Tomax was visited by Doctor X and Baron Ironblood, who warned him of the "Revolutionaries" taking an interest in his activities and urged him to take up the mantle of Cobra Commander... with the help of their new ally: Centurion, a strange, steampunk Transformer. Tomax and Centurion were deployed to San Francisco to recover the Project: Ice Man protocols, but almost immediately sent a priority request for extraction to Garrison Kreiger after encountering resistance; returning to van Rani's castle through the M.A.S.S. device, he brought his allies the unconscious body of Garrison Blackrock... or so it appeared. In fact, the real Tomax was still in San Francisco, and the one who had returned to the castle was a disguised Snake Eyes, being provided with a voice through a radio connection with Kup and using a drone "Snake Eyes" built by Blackrock to defer suspicion. With the information obtained from the castle, the Revolutionaries were able to track Paoli to San Francisco.
At the I.R.O.N. Building in San Francisco, Tomax encountered his secretary Violet, who he had ordered to go home; she had refused, not wanting to leave Kreiger alone in the building, leading him to fire her (in part due to wanting her out of the way of the danger Kreiger's presence would bring). Krieger — who was, in fact, a holographic projection being beamed from the Iron Castle — warned Tomax of the Revolutionaries' attack on the castle; as such, Tomax was forced to don a Cobra Commander outfit and fight off the team when they pursued him. Despite the assistance of Centurion and the armored Cobra Commander suit, Tomax was eventually defeated when Blackrock persuaded Centurion to stand down and a precision shot from Mayday nicked his neck, the only unprotected part of his outfit. Tomax surrendered to the team, though he had no relevant information to offer them.
- Tomax's Cobra Commander outfit is the "classic" design, based on Cobra Commander's original action figure, rather than one of the reinterpretations previously seen in IDW continuity.