|First appearance||G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #32|
|Alter ego||Fred Broca|
Fred VII is a fictional character in the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic book, a member of the Crimson Guard, the elite Cobra combat and covert operations/infiltration force. He has appeared only in the comics; the battle armor he is noted for was in toy form but worn by the Cobra Commander character.
Fictional character biography
Fred VII is, as his name implies, the seventh member of the Fred Series of Crimson Guards. Each member of the series looks identical due to plastic surgery. Many are sent out into everyday life to gain political clout and other resources for Cobra, sometimes maintaining more mundane cover jobs. Before assuming the role of Cobra Commander, Fred VII operated a small auto repair shop in Denver, which was also the site of a hidden cybernetics lab.
Introduction of the Freds
The original Fred Broca, along with his wife and two children, had been assigned to monitor Fort Wadsworth for Joe activity in the aftermath of the First Battle of Fort Wadsworth, when Cobra had destroyed what appeared to be the Joes' secret headquarters but what was actually a pre-fabricated fortress.
Fred I died after fighting with Snake Eyes and other Joes at Snake Eyes' retreat in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and was replaced at the Broca home on Staten Island by Fred II. After Fred II revealed himself to Snake Eyes and Stalker as their old Long-range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) teammate Wade Collins, he, along with the Broca family, defected from Cobra.
Subsequently, none of the other Freds were activated to replace Fred II, as a pair of simultaneous, unauthorized incursions onto Cobra Island (one by Ripcord, the other by Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow), began a chain of events that led to Zartan escaping from the Pit, the true Joe headquarters, and relaying its location back to Cobra, instigating the Second Battle of Fort Wadsworth.
In the ensuing power struggle between Cobra Commander and the newly created Serpentor, the Commander and Destro lead the Battle Android Troopers into the Pit. The base had been shut down and evacuated due to the investigation into the failed invasion of Springfield, a Cobra-controlled town that had been successfully evacuated by Serpentor. As the Joes outside fought off the Cobra forces stationed above ground, Hawk and three Pentagon officials, General Hollingsworth, General Ryan, and Admiral Dyson, had to fight the B.A.T.s themselves, at the cost of Ryan's and Dyson's lives. Hawk and Hollingsworth chose to implode the base, leaving Cobra Commander and Destro buried and presumed dead. The two Cobra leaders would find an escape pod in the form of a drill tank, and reach the surface at a recently abandoned mall in New Jersey.
While on the run, Cobra Commander (traveling incognito under his real name) discovers his son Billy has been badly wounded in a mysterious altercation (which, unknown to him, was linked to Ripcord's and the ninjas' incursions, as the others who died included Ripcord's girlfriend along with Storm Shadow's uncle, the Soft Master). He has lost an eye and a leg and is in a coma. The Commander takes Billy from the hospital to see Fred VII, whom he asks to build a prosthetic leg for his son. Fred also presents the commander with a suit of samurai-like battle armor.
Fred and the commander have a small side adventure. They team up with the bird-crazy Raptor and track down a G.I. Joe convoy. They attack it with the new Cobra Pogo that Fred VII had invented.
Killing Cobra Commander
Shortly thereafter, Billy awakens from his coma and, despite a temporary case of amnesia, makes a more or less full recovery. His new leg works wonders and is seemingly as good as a real leg. But, despite this, Billy has no loyalty to his father, whom he hates as the leader of Cobra. When Billy walks out on his father and abandons him, the Commander vows to earn his son's love back, and says that he will never again be Cobra Commander. Fred VII and his associate, Raptor, are none too happy about this, as Raptor will go to jail for a number of white collar crimes without Cobra's support, and Fred has dedicated his life to Cobra, and cannot bear to see its founder simply walk away. In a fit of rage, he picks up a nearby pistol and shoots the Commander in the back. After a moment, he realizes what he has done, and picks up the helmet of the newly designed battle armor, and comments that the great thing about the armor, is that anyone could be inside.
Raptor and Fred bury the body of the Commander, while Fred makes plans to take the place of the Commander, using the battle armor and seizing the reins of power. Leaving Raptor behind, he takes the Pogo to Texas, where he rents the services of Captain Minh to take him near Cobra Island. As they near, the ship is attacked by two helicopters. At this point, Fred dons the battle armor and boards the Pogo, taking off to fight the choppers and leaving Captain Minh to his death.
After a brief firefight, Fred lands on Cobra Island, and proclaims himself to be Cobra Commander. He spends hours answering questions from Serpentor and other Cobra officials, who are trying to determine if he is the real deal or not. As the situation grows tense, the Baroness arrives by chopper from the Cobra Consulate in New York, at which point the Baroness says to Zartan that she knows what the Commander's face looks like, and she can identify him.
Boarding the chopper, and away from prying eyes, Fred reveals himself to the Baroness, who immediately realizes he is an imposter. He explains himself to her, but rather than reveal the deception to all, she chooses to go along with it, realizing that she can use this to her advantage by manipulating Fred and controlling Cobra from behind the scenes. She proceeds to announce to all that Cobra Commander has returned to them, much to the chagrin of Serpentor.
With the help of the Baroness, Fred oversaw a number of missions and projects that Cobra was to carry out. While Fred did express some leadership skill every now and then, he was largely helpless without the Baroness to guide him, and bungled more than a few missions, including the Terror Drome project, which the Commander himself had put a considerable amount of effort into developing ever since 1982. He was able to destroy a spy satellite network, though, impeding the Joes' research into the true purpose of the Terror Dromes.
An important event occurred in early 1988, during a festival on Cobra Island. An abduction attempt on the part of the Oktober Guard became interwoven with an attempt to apparently fake the death of the Commander by Dr. Mindbender and Serpentor. All of this resulted in the two learning that this man wasn't Cobra Commander after all. During these events, Fred was unconscious, and therefore was unaware that the two knew his secret.
In addition to his failures, Fred also faced problems due to his constant bickering and growing rivalry with Serpentor. The two hated each other intensely, and this animosity came to its breaking point in 1988, after the Terror Drome project was ruined. Dr. Mindbender had developed a highly advanced Strato Viper, which he renamed the Star Viper, to infiltrate the new G.I. Joe Headquarters in the deserts of Utah. He was to steal the Black Box from the USS Defiant, the G.I. Joe's space shuttle.
The black box was successfully stolen, and a huge welcome ceremony was prepared for the Star Viper. However, feelings of jealousy due to Serpentor's success in this venture, as well as some jabs by him and Mindbender directed towards Fred and the Baroness, caused an argument to break out between the two would-be rulers of Cobra. Soon, things collapsed and the argument came to blows. This conflict resulted in the Cobra hierarchy, plus the troops and factions each member commanded, taking sides. Soon, a full-scale war, known as the Cobra Civil War, was raging across Cobra Island.
Cobra Commander had the support of the Vipers and most of the Cobra hierarchy, while Serpentor commanded the B.A.T.s and the Crimson Guard. Realizing that they were outnumbered and their chances of success were dismal, Serpentor and Mindbender threw whatever plans they had for the Black Box out the window, before deciding to put it to a more immediate use; they would offer the highly sensitive device to the U.S., in exchange for military support against Cobra Commander's forces. This gamble paid off, and the G.I. Joe team soon entered the conflict on the side of Serpentor, whom the U.S. government saw as the lesser of the two evils.
The support of G.I. Joe turned the tide in favor of Serpentor, and victory for him seemed assured. In a further defeat, the Baroness was abducted by Serpentor's forces. Zartan ended the war by assassinating Serpentor with a single arrow to the eye. The conflict was over, and Fred agreed to let the G.I. Joe team leave the island in peace, and for Destro--who had split from Cobra to form the Iron Grenadiers--to take the Baroness with him.
As the conflict ended, the man who brought Fred to Cobra Island, Captain Minh, was revealed to be alive, and had been hiding out on the Island, plotting against Fred, seeking revenge. He ambushed Fred and attempted to remove his helmet, which would have set off the explosives contained inside without the access code being entered first. Fred cut a deal with Minh and gave him a boat, letting him leave the island.
At this point, Dr. Mindbender reveals that he knows Fred's secret, and that he will keep silent, as long as he is given permission to keep Serpentor's body on ice, for "purely scientific reasons".
After this, Zarana, and later Destro, gained an increasing amount of power in Cobra, and Fred was featured somewhat less in the story lines, although he was still present. There were a few missions carried out under Fred, such as the attempted theft of plans for an orbital laser cannon, an attack on Zartan, and a raid on Destro's castle in Scotland. None of these missions were successful, however, and the latter of the three resulted in Destro taking control of Cobra, with Fred and the rest of the Cobra hierarchy in executive positions.
This arrangement doesn't last for long, however, as a major revelation by the Baroness leads her to leave Cobra, and Destro chooses to join her in semi-retirement.
The end of Fred VII
A huge shock, and the end of Fred's deception, came in 1990. Disenfranchised by the current state of affairs in Cobra, Dr. Mindbender decided to clone the original Cobra Commander, and had Raptor escort him and a group of Vipers to the burial site to exhume the body for its genetic material. They only found the shirt the Commander had been wearing, though, only to find the Commander himself, alive and well, along with several other members of the Fred series of Crimson Guardsmen.
During the events of 1987, Fred VII had been shadowed by Fred VIII, and after VII and Raptor had buried the Commander, VIII retrieved the Commander's body, and found that although he was badly hurt, he was still alive. After successful surgery performed by a Fred-series surgeon, Cobra Commander worked behind the scenes to re-establish his power base, while maintaining the loyalty of the Crimson Guard, even those on Cobra Island (implying that he covertly supported Serpentor against Fred during the Cobra Civil War, as the Siegies fought on Serpentor's side). Now, he had returned to take back Cobra. Fred's story comes to an end, as he, along with many other "traitors", such as Billy, Raptor, Croc Master, Mindbender, and Zartan, were buried alive in landlocked freighter overwhelmed by a volcano. Months later, the cavern they were buried in was unearthed by Vipers, and they learned that almost all of the victims, including Fred, had died as a result of botulism.