First appearing as a second generation action figure for Hasbro, then in G.I. Joe #1 published in 1982 by Marvel Comics, Snake Eyes has quickly become a fan favorite and a staple of G.I. Joe (Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity). He’s the team’s original commando, his rank/grade originally U.S. Army Sergeant/E-5 and is currently Master Sergeant. His real name, origin, age, background, and even his service number are listed under “classified,” and he’s the only Joe who doesn’t rely on guns, but rather his swords and his Ninjutsu skills. His most distinct characteristic is of course his mask which he never takes off, and his inability to speak.
Despite the best intentions of the writers over the years to maintain the mystery surrounding this patriotic commando, we’ve managed to scrape together some enticing facts about Snake Eyes. There have been numerous continuities for the character, but the facts that will be presented here will be referencing mostly the Marvel comic book that provided much of the original material for the character and the IDW series that took over years later. So without further ado, here are the 15 Facts You Need To Know About Snake Eyes.
12. He’s a Master of Hand-To-Hand Combat And Weapons Specialist
Snake Eyes is not only a master of ninjitsu, mystical arts, and espionage, but he’s also a master combatant and artillery specialist. Fellow GI Joe Scarlett has labeled him “3-Bravo-0,” Baddest Butt-Kicker Bar None. He’s an expert in all NATO and Warsaw Pact arms. He’s also a black belt in twelve various martial art forms, which include: Karate, Kung-Fu, Ninjitsu, Tae Kwan Do, and more. Snake Eyes is highly skilled in edged weapons, and he’s particularly a master swordsman, never leaving for a mission without his Mikimoto Japanese sword. He’s an expert in firearms and explosives, and he makes it a point not to be fully dependent on one particular weapon.
He’s also an expert at mountaineering, underwater demolitions, jungle, desert, and arctic survivalism. His survivalist skills are unmatched, but he’s not just an adept militarist. He’s also a medicinal practitioner of alternative, herbalistic medicine.
11. He Has Several Apprentices
Besides being an elite Commando, and Master Sergeant, he’s also a sensei himself. He’s taken a few apprentices under his wing in his time as a Joe, the three most well-known of whom are Ophelia, Kamakura, and Tiger Claw. Understanding that he, Jinx, and Storm-Shadow are all that is left of the Arashikage ninja clan, Snake-Eyes sets himself on a path to find apprentices to carry on the clan’s traditions.
Tragically, his first pupil, Ophelia, was killed by Fire-Fly on her final mission before graduating into The Arashikage Clan. It sent Snake-Eyes into a deep depression, causing him to miss his own wedding and consequently ending his engagement and relationship with Scarlett.
After some time, he took a young seventeen-year-old prospect, Kamakura, under his wing, who becomes the Joes’ go-to ninja after Snake-Eyes retires. Later, the martial arts movie obsessive Tiger-Claw would become an apprentice to the stealthy commando.
10. He Has a Pet Wolf Named Timber
Snake Eyes is an animal lover, and there’s one animal in particular that has his back. Through thick or thin, his companion has been his wolf friend Timber, though the wild beast is not his pet. Timber is still a free wolf that Snake Eyes has been able to develop a friendship with over time. Timber constantly visited his cabin in the High Sierras, and would usually guard the area whenever Snake-Eyes was away on a mission.
When Snake Eyes was in the High Sierras area, Timber followed him everywhere. Local townsfolk in the area started to refer to Snake Eyes as “Werewolf” since they were always together.
When the Joe team was finally shut down after years of operation, Timber (who’d lived to an old age passed away. At the time, Snake Eyes and Scarlett had built a cabin for themselves. Just before Timber passed, he fathered a litter of wolf pups who still live near the cabin to this day.
9. The On and Off Again Friendship With Storm Shadow
We can’t have a list of facts about Snake-Eyes and not talk about Storm-Shadow, who’s both Snake-Eyes’ best friend and his worst enemy. Their story is touching and gut-wrenching all at once, and their subplot is one of legend.
Storm-Shadow (Tommy) and his rival were old war buddies, meeting on their first tour of duty in Vietnam. Storm-Shadow saved Snake-Eyes’ life during a rescue mission. Afterward, Storm-Shadow invited Snake-Eyes to Japan to study under his uncle, the Hard-Master, and his brother, The Soft-Master, leader of the Arashikage ninja clan. Snake-Eyes honed his skills under the Hard-Master and surpassed Storm-Shadow. The two young developed a rivalry once Snake-Eyes was appointed the heir to the Hard-Master. One night, their master was assassinated by the Cobra agent Zartan. Storm-Shadow was implicated in the murder, but Storm-Shadow thought it was Snake-Eyes that committed the heinous act. Storm-Shadow’s lust for vengeance led him to the doorstep of Cobra. It took many years and many grueling battles before Storm-Shadow was able to discover that he’d been deceived.
8. His On and Off Again Romance with Scarlett
Snake-Eyes developed a strong connection with one of the other founding members of the G.I. Joe, who went by the codename Scarlett. In one of his first experiences as a Joe, Snake-Eyes noticed a tough as nails soldier giving refresher courses to cadets. They weren’t taking her seriously despite the fact that she bested them in hand-to-hand combat. She recognized when she trained Snake-Eyes that he was a superior fighter, as she knew he was letting her win to save face as an instructor.
They gained a fast respect for one another, serving on numerous missions together. They were engaged to be married until the failed rescue mission to save his apprentice caused Snake-Eyes to sink into a deep depression and miss the wedding ceremony. It took time for her to forgive Snake-Eyes, despite the fact that they maintained a professional relationship. They got engaged once again, but the ceremony never materialized. They ultimately went their separate ways despite maintaining a strong connection. In some continuity, there was a love-triangle between Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, and Duke.
7. He Lived On Disability Checks Until He Was Recruited Into GI JOE
When the original strike force was being put together, the founders, Stalker, and Hawk were trying to find the most elite soldiers around. Stalker convinced his compatriot to find Snake-Eyes. They found him in a cabin in the High Sierras mountains, with just his wolf Timber in his company, living off of disability checks. He was living a life of strict self-denial and minimalism when they found him.
They tracked him to the cabin through his veteran disability checks. When they came upon his presence he was returning from hunting rabbits with his bare hands. They convinced him to join the strike-force, and he left Timber to guard the cabin while he started his career as an original member of the Joe squad.
6. Snake-Eyes Has Rare Mystical Powers
In the years he trained under his sensei, the Hard-Master, Snake-Eyes was taught secret mystical techniques. Snake-Eyes mastered the ways of the Arashikage and became potent in various spells and other abilities which made him something of a super-human.
One is called the “Arashikage Mindset,” which is a form of self-hypnotism that grants the caster unshakable resolve and convergence. They cannot feel pain or fear, and can shake off effects of brainwashing. It’s considered the most powerful and dangerous of their secrets. Another is the “Cloak of the Chameleon,” which alters the breathing and the biorhythmic patterns to mimic the resonance of another person — almost to the point of becoming them. The Hard-Master used this technique when he was killed to fool the assassin’s true target, which was Snake-Eyes. Other powerful secrets are “The Blind-Sword,” “The Way of the Inner Anvil,” “The Sleeping Phoenix,” and “The Ear That Sees.”
5. The Original Snake Eyes Design Was A Cost Saving Choice By Hasbro
Hasbro made a fortune with their G.I. Joe franchise, through the comic books, the animated series, and the succession of big-budget international films. Snake-Eyes was introduced to the public as a second generation plastic toy. To save paint costs, Hasbro released the character in all-black, his head lacking any distinct detail due to the mask. The figure also shared many parts from other figures, so he had no distinct characteristics.
It wasn’t until the cartoon and the Marvel comic book that he became a G.I. Joe phenomenon. In the cartoon, he was a supporting character and not much was told about him. It was writer and artist Larry Hama that fleshed out his character arc.
4. He Has a Twin Sister Named Theresa
One of the few facts that are not known about Snake Eyes is that he is a twin. H’s very close with his sister Theresa; wherever he is, he would carry his sister Terri’s picture for good luck and for inspiration, especially when he’s on a mission. When he was 18, he informed his family that he was heading out to Vietnam to serve. His sister gave him a photo of hers for good luck.
Before becoming a Joe, during his first tour of duty in Vietnam, Snake Eyes was shot and a bullet went through the picture of his sister. He was left for dead by his unit, but his closest friend Tommy “Storm Shadow” saved him.
Tragically, when Snake-Eyes returned home to his family after ‘Nam, he’s informed that they all died in a car accident, killed by an intoxicated veteran soldier. The picture of his sister from then on became that much more important, and that much more of a good luck charm.
3. Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes Share a Family Tragedy
Devil’s Due Publishing released a comic book called G.I. JOE: Snake Eyes: Declassified in 2007. In it, it tells the backstory that ties Cobra Commander and Snake-Eyes together.
Before there was a Cobra and before there was a G.I. Joe strike force, Snake-Eyes served in Vietnam. When he returned back home after his service, he was informed that his entire family: mother, father, and sister were killed in an automobile accident with an intoxicated veteran. It turns out that soldier that was involved in the automobile accident was a brother to Cobra Commander himself.
Cobra enlists the services of Snake-Eyes to kill a judge. It so happens that the judge had convicted his brother of arson and insurance fraud, causing his life to spiral out of control and become an alcoholic, resulting in the accident. Filled with pain and vengeance, Snake-Eyes joined up with him only to back out at the last second. Cobra killed the judge and swore he’d make Snake-Eyes pay. He hired Firefly, who subcontracted Zartan to assassinate Snake-Eyes while he trained with Storm-Shadow’s Arashikage Clan. The assassination lead to their master’s assassination and sparked the legendary Storm-Shadow’s vendetta against Snake-Eyes.
2. Where He Got His Name From
Like most comics, there are various continuities in G.I. Joe lore, and thusly, there are different versions of how Snake-Eyes might have received his code name. In the Marvel comic book version, before he became a Joe, he enlisted in Vietnam. As he was saying his last goodbyes to his family, his father had one last word of advice for him. He wished his son good luck, but reminded him that luck could run out… “and the next thing you know…Snake-Eyes. End of the line.”
In the GI Joe: Renegades animated series, he was given the name “Hebi no me” (“Snake Eyes”) by his sensei, The Hard-Master, because he possessed the “steely gaze of a serpent.” So it’s up to readers to decide which origin they like better, as there’s no definitive story as of yet. Some say the Marvel Comics carry more weight, though.
1. He Hides His Face Because Of An Accident On Duty
Snake Eyes is known for having his trademark mask on at all times. There’s only a handful of Joes that have seen him without his face covered. The reason for that is that in one of his first missions as a Joe, he suffered a horrific damage to his face and his vocal cords during a rescue mission trying to save Scarlett from a fiery helicopter.
During one of their first missions in the Middle East, a Joe squad made up of Scarlett, Rock ‘n Roll, Grunt, and Snake Eyes are sent on a rescue mission to save a man named George Strawhacker from the international terrorist organization that counters G.I. Joe (Cobra). As they were heading toward their destination, their helicopter collides with another in mid-flight. All the Joes bail out, but Scarlett is trapped within. Snake Eyes stays behind to save his comrade, but a window explodes in his face, severely scarring him and damaging his vocal cords. Despite his injuries, he presses forward with the mission unabated, which permanently damaged his vocal cords. Although, once in the Marvel comic series, he managed to say one word, “Scarlett.”
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