Unlike the vast majority of Cobra operatives, Zartan possesses super-human abilities. He was apparently born with mutant powers, one of which he has augmented with highly advanced technology of his own design, that he utilizes to greatly improve its effectiveness. This, combined with his mystic martial arts training, serves to make Zartan a singularly effective and dangerous villain.
Blending (a): his principal ascendant ability, aside from his exceptional Strength, this power allows Zartan to alter his coloration at will. He can either assume any coloration he desires, or fade into his surroundings. Typically wielding the latter, Zartan can blend with intensity 10 ability, making him almost undetectable for as long as he remains motionless.
Regeneration (s): Zartan's other, lesser known ability is his power to recover from injury at a tremendously accelerated rate. For instance, he completely healed after being shot multiple times in a mere day or two. Consider this intensity 2 regeneration, which allows Zartan to heal lost Health points much faster than an otherwise normal human would.
Hindrances / Augmentations:
Weakness / Sunlight (optional): both the Sunbow animated and Devil's Due comics versions of Zartan are tremendously vulnerable to the sun's rays. If exposed to the light of the sun, Zartan is overwhelmed with pain, turns a sickly green shade, and is reduced to zero (0) in all of his ability and power scores. Zartan can resume normal activity an aura duration after removing himself from sunlight.
Chameleon Swamp Skier (i): this small, one-man vehicle is somewhat like a jet ski. Held aloft on the water's surface by four skis, this little aquatic speeder is adept while maneuvering in crowded waterways, like those often found in a swamp (thick trees, etc.). Further, Zartan (or anybody else) can easily dismantle it and disguise it as a pile of junk. See its entry for more information.
Compound Bow (a): this special bow, of material strength 12, has been modified to take Zartan's super-human strength into account. When firing an arrow from it, Zartan can inflict his Agility +4 damage on an unsuspecting foe, using it to shoot through obstacles a body may be hiding behind (trees, building foundations, etc.). An occasional starlight scope allows him to wield this weapon at night without penalty.
Daggers (s): whenever he should find himself otherwise unarmed in a given situation, Zartan always has two daggers secreted on his person somewhere, either for throwing or thrusting attacks. These daggers are made from material strength 15 metals (to account for Zartan's enhanced strength), and inflict his Strength +2 damage with each deadly assault.
Disguise Kit (i): at times when it is impractical to utilize his mutant powers or his optical technology, or just to enhance the use of these capabilities, Zartan will often utilize a disguise kit. It allows him to basically impersonate anybody of his approximate size and build, though with his skill, he can stretch this some. This kit comes with the appropriate cosmetics, wigs, false beards, and even clothing.
Holographic Costume (a): various elements on Zartan's costume are actually holographic emitters, allowing him to take the appearance of virtually anybody the man has seen in the past. This light-bending circuitry allows him to simulate the Disguise power, at intensity 10, though this is boosted by +1 if Zartan also uses his Blending power while imitating a body.
Holographic Vehicles (i): applying his revolutionary technology to various vehicles allows Zartan to drive about the nation with impunity, as he can look like a school bus, ambulance, tractor trailer, or anything else. Zartan has added this technology to at least two vehicles: his personal motorcycle, and a transport helicopter, each of which can simulate the Disguise power with intensit 10 skill.
Laser Pistol (a): another application of his optical technology, this weapon allows Zartan to use light itself to kill! In practice, Zartan can use this beam weapon to inflict his Agility +5 in energy damage per deadly strike, and can most likely make up to eight shots with the device before it needs to be recharged. He refrains from using this weapon unless absolutely necessary, however.
Advanced Guns (a): over the course of his history, Zartan has been trained in the fine art of gunplay. He may discharge any standard, semi-automatic, or fully automatic rifle or pistol at a reduced difficulty. He rarely, if ever, makes use of this skill, however. After all, he's developed his very own laser weaponry, which he can wield with a similar bonus!
Boxing (s): in addition to being one of the most dangerous individuals in the world while carrying a bow, Zartan is rather deadly even when he is completely unarmed - as the stack of bodies in his wake readily demonstrates. He may divide his pre-card play action score between two unarmed melee attacks, the second of which he may resolve as a contingent action.
Brawling (s): furthermore, Zartan is particularly effective in inflicting severe damage with his bare hands (or feet, or whatever). If an opponent is brought to zero health by such attacks, he or she will immediately drop into a coma. This will either take said opponent out of the fight for quite some time, or allow Zartan to finish them off without undue difficulty.
Crime / Disguise (i): the so-called master of disguise, Zartan knows that it takes more than mere visual appearance to imitate another. So, in addition to his holography, Zartan has learned how to imitate the voice, body language, and other not-so-obvious traits of another, effectively making his deception foolproof - unless he says something he shouldn't, that is.
Detective / Espionage (i): Zartan is a master spy, having incredible skills at infiltration even before you account for his ability to impersonate others. Furthermore, he has a keen eye, and easily notices small details in a situation that may reveal that all is not as it seems. He may reduce the difficulty on espionage actions by one level, and gains a free crime, law enforcement, or espionage contact.
Electronics / Optics (i): though competent with most matters of electronics design, construction, and repair, Zartan's genius really shows in the arena of optics. This specialized field of knowledge involves the usage of lasers and holography to produce various effects, and Zartan can wield this knowledge at one difficulty level lower than is normally necessary.
Linguistics (i): Zartan is quite the linguist, and has utilized this trait in his infiltration exercises to the furthest. Having a mastery of over twenty tongues, it is assumed that he can speak all major languages in use on the earth today, as well as some of the minor ones. Furthermore, Zartan's linguistic mastery allows him to guess what's being said if a body uses a tongue he doesn't know.
Manipulation (w): Zartan excels in convincing others to do his bidding, whether being overt or covert in his attempts at persuasion. Whether attempting to butter someone up or intimidate them, or even just to waylay them with planted evidence or the like, Zartan may resolve such actions at a reduced difficulty, as he knows all the tricks of the trade.
Martial Arts (a): though he was trained in the making of oriental weaponry by the Arashikage ninja clan's swordsmith, Onihashi, Zartan actually learned many of his impressive martial arts skills elsewhere. They allow him to reduce the difficult of actions meant to strike others while unarmed, to dodge incoming assaults, and to catch thrown weaponry by one difficulty level.
Military (w): though it is unknown which nation sponsored this master of disguise as a young grunt, it is known that Zartan is a master of military practice and theory. He may reduce the difficulty of actions concerning military knowledge, gains the free Guns (a) skill, and can utilize at least one extra contact from military circles (most likely from Cobra, these days).
Martial Arts Weapons (s): in addition to his vast experience with the bow, Zartan can also effectively wield any weapon, missile or melee, of oriental origin. Weapons such as nunchaku, shuriken, sais, katanas, and kris move fluidly in his hands, and he can wield them in battle without penalty - though he prefers his bow, mind you.
Skill / Bows 2 (a): Zartan is a master bowman, as has been shown time and again during his published tales. He wields any bow at a reduced difficulty, including crossbows, resolving such actions with either his Strength or Agility. Furthermore, he may fire and reload this weapon all within a single exchange, typically managing the latter as a contingent action.
As always, Zartan can rely on his loyal Dreadnoks to do his bidding, or otherwise help him out when he requires it. He made them what they are now, after all, and they all fear his wrath should they ... disappoint him. Furthermore, Zartan can occasionally rely upon some members of the Cobra Command for assistance now and then, depending on the shifting nature of their alliances, or lack therein, with him.
Originally, Zartan's calling toggled between Thrill-Seeker and Greed, as he would often only take a job to prove he could accomplish the deed - though occasionally it was because it offered a lot of loot, as well. Later, after he gained his inner peace, Zartan shifted into a Repentant mode, trying to somehow make up for the many dark deeds perpetrated over the course of his life.
Zartan's original, iconic look primarily consists of a regularly torn, trimmed, and/or shredded white T-shirt under a black chest plate, brown trousers, black shoulder and thigh pads, black leather boots, black leather gloves, a black leather belt, a black domino mask, and a brown cowl. Note that the various plates and pads on his costume house his hologram emitters.
Supposedly, Zartan is an extreme paranoid schizophrenic, and has himself claimed to possess droves of differing personalities. However, this doesn't seem to be the case, as he demonstrates a level of cool-headedness that one simply couldn't reach by being a terminal mental case. It is more likely that this master of disguise simply says this to confuse and befuddle would-be enemies.
Unless, of course, Zartan is simply hiding his madness under a masterful personality mask of his own devising. With him, it's impossible to tell, and we may never know. Regardless of his mental state, it is important to note that once Zartan sets his mind towards a goal (good or evil), there is nothing that can stand in the way of his success. Using charm, guile, or brute force, he will do anything to get his way.
Real Name: unknown
Occupation: assassin, mercenary
Legal Status: citizen of France with a criminal record there and in many other nations
Marital Status: single
Alias(es), if any: Zartan has posed as innumerable folks over the years
Group Affiliation: the Dreadnoks, Cobra (on and off again)
Height: 5' 10
Weight: 190 lbs
Other Distinguishing Characteristics: it has been noted that Zartan looks just a little bit different each time you see him. Furthermore, it is unclear whether or not his domino mask is in fact a mask, or actually a face tattoo - he's never seen without it.
Notorious as a 'cosmic biker hit-man', the man known only as Zartan is supposedly of European origin, but plied his trade globally as both an assassin and a master of disguise. Having such a reputation, it was only a matter of time before he who would become the original Cobra Commander, insane with grief, hired Zartan to kill the man he believed responsible for his brother's death.
This man, going by the alias Snake-Eyes, was a long range recon patrol soldier in the Vietnam war, and was currently being trained in the ninja arts thanks to the Arashikage ninja clan. Thinking this a challenge worthy of his talents, Zartan packed up and made for Japan, where he worked towards infiltrating the ninja clan. However, he quickly discovered that this was impossible.
So, looking for a 'back door' into the clan, so to speak, Zartan attempted to become the apprentice of Professor Onihashi, the clan's swordsmith, and kneeled outside the man's gate for six straight months, rain or shine. Impressed by this, the Professor interviewed Zartan in his gardens, where he could clearly see the bad karma that suffused his being.
Nonetheless, Onihashi decided to take Zartan in, hoping to temper his spirit as the men worked on a special commission for the Arashikage clan. The very next day, the two men made their way to Onihashi's forge, and started work on a unique blade for the Arashikage clan. When it was done, Zartan marveled at the perfection that the sword demonstrated, and felt at peace.
No longer feeling the need to kill Snake-Eyes, Zartan only wanted to help the old man make swords. However, this was not to be, for Cobra Commander tracked Zartan down, and threatened to expose him to Onihashi as the assassin he was if he didn't fulfill the contract on Snake-Eyes. So, fearing the loss of his perfection, Zartan did the only thing he could - kill the American.
Stealing an arrow from another Arashikage ninja, Storm Shadow, Zartan used a sound amplified targeter on his bow, intending to kill Snake-Eyes before he knew what hit him. However, just then the clan lord, the Hard Master, was demonstrating the Cloak of the Chameleon, a technique to imitate the very sounds of another, such as breathing patterns, etc., and Zartan accidentally killed him, instead.
He had been imitating Snake-Eyes.
Returning to the forge, Zartan found Professor Onihashi dead, having taken his own life in shame for what he allowed to happen. With Onihashi dead, Zartan had lost everything he ever wanted, and went completely over the edge. A broken man, he fell into a spree of criminal activity, and eventually became the leader of a rag-tag band of bikers known as the Dreadnoks.
These reprobates aided Zartan as he fulfilled various contracts for Cobra Commander and others, working from their Florida Everglades hideout to ransack various people, places, and things all over America. Eventually, various Cobra high-ups made their way to his base as they fled from members of the GI Joe team, and asked for the master of disguise's help.
This aid caused his Florida base to be compromised, and in retaliation, Zartan sought out the secret location of the GI Joe headquarters. He failed in that, though he did manage to locate the Joe airfield, secreted within McGuire AFB, and he and the Dreadnoks tore apart much of the Joe's air power before they were forced off of the premises.
Zartan eventually managed to find the Joe base when he replaced the GI Joe HALO jumper, Rip Cord, when the man illegally landed on Cobra Island, the sovereign state recently created in the Gulf of Mexico by Cobra Commander. When his teammates came to save him, they inadvertently dragged Zartan off to their base, believing him to be Rip Cord.
Once in their base, Zartan attempted to flee, but in a wounded state (Rip Cord shot him up before Zartan could take him down), was easily defeated by new Joe Sgt. Slaughter. Zartan was eventually freed by his Dreadnoks (aided by his siblings, Zandar and Zarana), as one of them had already figured out where the Joe base was - it was under a minor military base on Long Island.
Zartan participated in several Cobra operations during the next few years, working for both Cobra Commander and Serpentor, who took the Commander's place when the former was thought dead. This continued until after the Cobra Civil War, where a false Cobra Commander appeared and deposed Serpentor, thanks to Zartan slaying the genetic construct as he was about to win the fight.
Shortly after this, Zartan went to kill Storm Shadow, who had been hunting him for years, even though the ninja had supposedly dropped his grudge against Zartan for framing him for the Hard Master's death. The two fought on the streets of San Francisco, though Zartan supposedly died when his car veered off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Zartan survived, however, and was tracked down by the Blind Master, another Arashikage master, who didn't forgive him for his black deeds in the past. The blind ninja had almost killed Zartan, when his student saw him about to kill a man, and freaked out. When he went to comfort his student, Zartan took advantage of the moment, and struck out against the Blind Master - lethally.
With his dying breath, the Blind Master revealed that Professor Onihashi had forgiven Zartan for his murderous deeds, and this shook Zartan so badly that he renounced his criminal ways. In order to make up for the damage he had done, Zartan took the guise of the Blind Master, and continued to teach his student in the ways of the ninja. He did this for months, until he returned to Cobra Island.
Zartan went there with Billy, the original Cobra Commander's son, and Tyrone, his erstwhile student, to expose the new Commander as an impostor. When they confronted the fake Commander about his true identity, the real Cobra Commander returned, and sealed them, along with several other Cobra agents he thought traitors, in the land-locked freighter on Cobra Island.
The Commander then sealed that within the island volcano.
However, this wasn't the end of Zartan's story, as he and Billy managed to escape from this live burial by digging their way out with the help of some partially functional BATs. Almost everybody else entombed within the volcano died of botulism - a fate that the Commander found amusing when he investigated the escape tunnel Zartan and Billy made.
Having nowhere else to go, the two ninjas made their way to the home of Destro and the Baroness, two other expatriate Cobra operatives, and stayed with them for several years, combining their forces as they battled with Cobra Commander on various fronts - usually because Cobra Commander wanted Destro's palace, a facility he had enhanced with Transformer-like technology!
Eventually reaching a stalemate, Cobra Commander had a resurrected Dr. Mindbender activate several mind control chips he had implanted within Zartan and Destro long ago, and turned them once again to Cobra's side. The Commander eventually got to the others, as well, in addition to Storm Shadow, who had come to investigate why Zartan and the others had rejoined Cobra.
Zartan continued on in Cobra's service, if unwillingly, performing various assassinations meant to destabilize the nations surrounding Cobra's own Borovia, a eastern European country they'd recently taken over. Zartan continued in this mind controlled state for quite some time.
In fact, when Cobra went under for awhile, he forged the Dreadnoks into a national biker gang comparable to the Hell's Angels.
Since then, he's been content to run his little criminal empire, but once Cobra Commander got his act back together and reformed Cobra, Zartan was inexorably drawn into their sphere of influence yet again. As is usually the case, Zartan elected to remain on the periphery of Cobra activities, lending men and resources to the Commander's efforts while staying out of the group's politics.
This tendency remained for the duration of his association with the Cobra Commander, only expiring when the man was captured at long last by the Joes at the end of World War III, a conflict the Commander himself instigated. With that, Cobra was seemingly finished, so Zartan resumed his normal activity with the Dreadnoks, even though he's now one of the world's most wanted men.
Blades (s): though he never really utilized them in the past, Zartan adopted the use of several swords after his escape from the Cobra Island land-locked freighter, and subsequent change in outlook. One is a katana and the other is more like a broad sword, and Zartan can use each of these material strength 15 blades as a +4 weapon, thanks to his enhanced strength.
Cobra-issue Climbing Boots (a): these expensive boots are designed for high-altitude climbing, and are equipped with various spikes and high-friction surfaces to aid in the ascent of almost any vertical surface (reduces the difficulty of climbing efforts by 1). Furthermore, Zartan has fitted a pair of blast plates onto the shins of these boots, effectively offering his lower legs intensity 8 (or +2) protection from attack.
Sickle (s): like his blades, this is an almost creepy-looking weapon that Zartan has donned after changing his looks to a more... punkish... nature. Made of material strength 13 metals, Zartan can use this rather hooked blade as a +2 weapon in battle, though it has other applications, such as helping to climb vertical surfaces, etc.
Wrist-Guard (s): strapped onto his right arm, this special steel plate allows Zartan to attempt blocking maneuvers against sword (or other bladed) attacks. Of 15 material strength, this item can be used to offer Zartan +4 protection against blade damage - if he specifically acts to use this item - before it is cleaved in two (and likely hurts Zartan a whole lot).
After escaping Cobra Commander's attempt to bury him alive, Zartan adopted a look which he proclaimed was closer to the 'real' him. It includes a black leather vest over his otherwise bare chest, one adorned with red chain on the right shoulder, neon green trousers, black leather boots, blue ankle guards, a black wrist guard on his right wrist, a blue leather belt, blue weapon sheathes, and a red domino mask.
Assault Rifle (a): after his Dreadnok organization joined forces with a reborn Cobra, Zartan took to carrying around a heavy duty machine gun with him at all times. This gun can inflict damage per a +5 weapon in a short, controlled burst, +6 in a fully automatic, ammunition-depleting hail of lead. It's equipped with a starlight scope for a +1 to any ambush / sniping shots Zartan may attempt.
After the Cobra group was renewed once more, Zartan adopted a uniform similar to his first. It includes a black leather vest over his otherwise bare chest, brown trousers, black shoulder and thigh pads, black leather boots, black leather gloves, a black leather belt, a black domino mask, and a brown cowl. Note that the various plates and pads on his costume house his hologram emitters.
Chainsaw (s): a more recent addition to his arsenal of destructive implements, this device can be used to startling effect against objects both animate and inanimate. The diamond-tipped blades on this chain saw can be used to cut through items of up to m.s. 16, and against living targets, the 'saw will inflict damage as would any other +4 weapon with each deadly attack.
While each of his various ensembles retain a common theme or two, depending on his mood, Zartan is constantly tweaking his look. His fourth costume includes a black open chested T-shirt, dark green arm guards, gray leather gloves, red trousers with a white stripe down the left leg, gray leather boots, dark green ankle guards, a dark green leather, pouch-laden belt, a black domino mask, and a black cowl.
His fifth costume is a variation on his fourth, adorned with more conventional Dreadnok colors. It includes a black and brown T-shirt, light green shoulder and wrist guards, black leather gloves, black trousers with a brown stripe on the left leg, black leather boots, light green ankle guards, a black leather, pouch-laden belt, a black domino mask, and a brown cowl.
Shotgun (a): another means of keeping his fighting style fresh, Zartan added a pump-action shotgun to his weapon rotation in 2003. He can fire birdshot with this weapon to inflict his Agility +4 damage to everyone in a thirty degree arc, buckshot to inflict his Agility +5 damage to adjacent targets, or slugs to inflict his Agility +6 damage to a singular foe.
Zartan's sixth costume is another variation on his fourth and fifth, something of a combination of the two. This one includes a black open chested T-shirt, black arm guards, black leather gloves, burgundy trousers with a silver Cobra logo on the right leg, black leather boots, black ankle guards, a brown leather, pouch-laden velt, a black domino mask, and a black cowl.
AK-47 (s): while he has much more elegant weapons at his disposal, Zartan utilizes more pedestrian firearms on occasion. His AK can fire a single round to inflict his Agility +4 damage, a short burst to inflict his Agility +5 damage, and a fully automatic spread to inflict his Agility +6 damage. Furthermore, its bayonet can be used to inflict +2 slashing damage in melee.
Shotgun (a): another means of keeping his fighting style fresh, Zartan retained a pump-action shotgun in his weapon rotation during 2004. He can fire birdshot with this weapon to inflict his Agility +4 damage to everyone in a thirty degree arc, buckshot to inflict his Agility +5 damage to adjacent targets, or slugs to inflict his Agility +6 damage to a singular foe.
Zartan's seventh costume is dissimilar to all of his previous ensembles, and the most 'Cobra' in theme he ever wore. It includes a red and blue leather jacket emblazoned with the Dreadnok logo, black leather trousers, black and red leather gloves, black leather boots, red knee pads, black wrist pads, a black cap (instead of his usual cowl), and a black domino mask.
Zartan's eighth costume, based on his iconic original look, consists of a regularly torn, trimmed, and/or shredded white T-shirt under a steel chest plate, brown trousers, steel shoulder and thigh pads, black leather boots, black leather gloves, a black leather belt, a black domino mask, and a brown cowl. Note that the various plates and pads on his costume house his hologram emitters.
Rifle (a): having a bit more finesse than his AK from just three years ago, Zartan began carring a high-powered rifle in 2007. He can fire a single shot with this weapon to inflict his Agility +5 in damage, or a short burst of ammunition to inflict his Agility +6 in damage. This rifle is equipped with a scope, to greatly increase Zartan's effective firing range with it.
Zartan's ninth costume is again based on his original look, though slightly different as always. It consists of a long-sleeved black shirt beneath a steel chest plate, steel shoulder plates, steel wrist guards, brown trousers, black thigh pads, brown shin pads, black leather boots, black leather gloves, a green leather belt with a skull buckle, a brown cowl, and a black domino mask.
Rifle (a): having a bit more finesse than his AK from a few years ago, Zartan continued to carry a high-powered rifle in 2010. He can fire a single shot with this weapon to inflict his Agility +5 in damage, or a short burst of ammunition to inflict his Agility +6 in damage. This rifle is equipped with a scope, to greatly increase Zartan's effective firing range with it.
Staff (s): when he doesn't necessarily want to kill an opponent, or needs somewhere for his pet falcon to land on that doesn't involve his shoulders or arms, Zartan carries a long, gnarly staff with him. Of m.s. 13, Zartan can use this weapon to inflict up to his Strength +2 in damage without risk of breaking it, more if he's not concerned with its long term functionality.
Zartan's tenth costume is intended for use in more arid climates, though with his unique power and holographic technology, this may be superfluous. It includes a two-toned, brown and green pair of pants, black leather boots, black knee pads, black wrist and elbow guards, greenish-brown leather gloves, a silver domino mask, a brown, fur-covered cowl, and a black vest over his otherwise bare chest.
Crossbow (a): instead of his custom-built compound bow, Zartan carried a high-powered crossbow with him on his various crimes in 2015. He can fire this weapon to inflict his Agility +5 in damage with each deadly bolt, and can reload it once again within the same exchange. Zartan's crossbow isn't nearly as powerful as his compound bow, but at the same time it's a lot less strenuous for him to fire at people.
Zartan's elevent costume is something of a variation on his eighth, itself a version of his original. It includes a gray vest over a white T-shirt, steel shoulder pads, black leather gloves, brown trousers, steel boots, steel shin guards, steel knee pads, steel thigh guards, a black leather belt, a black holster for his laser pistol, a brown cowl, and a black domino mask.
Having never evinced any sort of affinity for animals or the training of such, Zartan's falcon is possibly a gift from Raptor - or perhaps payment for some service or another. Nonetheless, he began utilizing one in the field as early as 2010. This creature can fly with intensity 2 ability, or at 60 miles per hour, and can descend at up to 200 miles per hour utilizing a dive bomb maneuver.
Possessing a size factor of -2, Zartan's falcon inflicts -2 damage against normal sized foes, which it primarily does with the tooth-like edge of its beak. Sure, it has claws, but doesn't attack with them, though they can inflict like damage on unprotected foes (hence Zartan's protective arm wear this year). Furthermore, Zartan's falcon possesses intensity 9 Super Senses / Vision.
Cobra directories featuring a version of Zartan:
* Note: 2002 saw two versions of Zartan (Versions 4 and 5).
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