Originally a cult in India, Kobra had a prophecy that one day someone would lead them to greatness. Finding this someone as one of a set of twins, they selected one at random and took him to be raised by them. This baby, named Jeffrey Burr by his parents, grew to be a formidable warrior and a criminal mastermind. As he took control of the organisation, he was awarded the title "Naga Naga".
Under Burr, Kobra began using cutting-edge science and terrorist tactics to fulfil it’s ultimate goal of bringing about the Kali Yuga - the Age of Chaos, in which the imperfect world will be swept away by a divinely-inspired, better version.
Kobra's members are religious fanatics that will fight to the death, and will commit suicide rather than be captured. As a result the organisation has been able to maintain a veil of secrecy for decades - possibly centuries.
Jeffrey Franklin Burr
Kobra is an international terrorist and mad scientist who has crossed paths with the majority of Earth's costumed heroes during his attempts to usher in the Kali Yuga (an age of chaos). His real name is Jeffrey Franklin Burr, and he was born part of a set of siamese twins, but was stolen at birth by the Cult of the Kobra god, since a prophecy claimed he would lead them to rule the world. Under their teaching, he became a dangerous warrior and a sadistic criminal mastermind. He led the cult into using advanced technology to menace the world. Followers of Kobra would frequently address their master as "Naja-Naja", "naja naja" being the binomial name for the Indian Cobra. This later became "Nāga-Naga", a meaningless title which translates from the Sanskrit as "snake-snake". Whether this change was intentional or an error is not known.
However, unknown to the cult, he had a psychic link to his twin brother, Jason, who knew nothing of Kobra. As a result, one felt what the other felt, including pain. Because of this, his brother was recruited by an international agency to help them combat Kobra. At first, Kobra was unable to even hurt or kill his brother; eventually, however, he used a device that "shut off" the psychic link, and gave him the chance to kill Jason. However, Kobra was subsequently haunted by visions of his brother. Whether it really was his ghost or just Kobra's imagination was never revealed.
In subsequent years, Kobra would clash with assorted superheroes, including Batman, whom he first met over a Lazarus Pit of his own creation. Kobra had learned to build modified Lazarus Pits, which allowed him to control the minds of those he killed and resurrected. Kobra is the only person in the DC universe ever to decipher the formula for the Lazarus Pits. Kobra had special concerns about Wonder Woman and sought to ensure her death, first by hiring a cartel of international assassins led secretly by corrupted UN Crisis Bureau chief Morgan Tracy (also Diana Prince's boss), then by kidnapping and irretrievably damaging environmental activist Deborah Domaine, forcibly transforming her into a new Cheetah, and ultimately, facing her in combat in Egypt, faking his own demise after being defeated by the Amazon Princess. A short while later his various Strike Force Kobra teams would fight two different incarnations of Batman's Outsiders. Kobra also fought the third Flash, the Suicide Squad led by Amanda Waller, the original incarnation of Checkmate, Captain Atom, a Superman whose personality had been swapped with Ambush Bug's by exposure to red kryptonite, and others. Kobra is one of a very small number of individuals that has the capability of defeating Batman in hand-to-hand combat, and actually did so on one occasion.
The only organization ever to rival Kobra in the old DC Universe (Pre-Crisis I) was SKULL. There were frequent recorded clashes between the two groups, the last occurring in Outsiders Annual #1 story "The Skull...The Serpent...and The Outsiders".
After the betrayal of his lover Eve during the Strike Force Kobra fiasco, she split Kobra in two and established her own splinter group. In the Power Company: Sapphire #1 the Justice League rushes to San Diego to prevent disaster as two rival factions of the Kobra Cult prepared to go to war. One faction was led by Eve; the other was led by Kobra himself.
He kidnaps the former hero Air Wave and uses him to seize control of the world's media and satellite resources, intending to destroy a number of major world cities. However, in a demonstration of his power, he incidentally kills Terri Rothstein, Atom Smasher's mother, ensuring the Justice Society of America's involvement. (Mrs Rothstein's life would later be saved through time travel; Atom Smasher replacing her with the villain Extant).
He appeared again in JSA #45, which featured his trial. He shrugs off claims of terrorism, claiming to be an enlightened soul (a bodhisattva) trying to free souls from their karmic debt by random acts of violence. Following this, his followers threatened to kill the media outside the courthouse with bioengineered suicide bomb implants. Holding everyone hostage with this tactic, he was allowed by the JSA to escape, leading to an outraged Black Adam and Atom Smasher, who both subsequently choose to leave the team. In JSA #51, Atom Smasher, Black Adam, Northwind, and Brainwave track Kobra down to his headquarters in the Himalaya Mountains. After killing his guards, Black Adam rips his heart out and he is dead instantly.
Jeffrey's twin brother Jason is re-animated by the Kobra Cult in Faces of Evil: Kobra #1 (March 2009), possibly through the use of Kobra's Lazarus Pits. This involves the death of an entire facility of Checkmate agents, including several of Burr's old friends. Within the one-shot Jason reveals that he is re-structuring the organization and killing off all the old members. Before revealing himself as the new Kobra, Jason spent some time undercover as a Checkmate agent learning their secrets.
A future version of Kobra (or, at least, his organization) appeared in four episodes of Batman Beyond. Its members appeared not to be warriors but scientists who have an obsession with reptiles. They also made virus tests on people who were kidnapped. They in turn became reptilian creatures that obey Kobra's every command. Little is known about the origins of Kobra, but they had long admired the power of the dinosaurs. They envisioned them as the only life form capable of ruling the world once again. So, for years Kobra sought a way to splice human genes with dinosaurs' DNA. Until they could achieve their main goal, Kobra used cutting edge technology for robberies, extortion and terrorism, which led them to clash with Batman (Terry McGinnis) on a few occasions. Kobra was ruthless and unforgiving. Every member of Kobra was expected to have complete allegiance and devotion to the organization, and any protocol breach was punished with a gruesome death in a pit of vipers. Among their interrogation techniques, Kobra used a sensor that turned one's thoughts into pictures. This way they could weed out traitors among their ranks (however, this instrument was proved to be fallible, as a young kid deceived it by sheer force of will as seen in "Unmasked"). There were several Kobra branches around the world, and each cell seemed to have its own Main Operator. The hierarchy of Kobra was depicted by color and garments. The ones on the bottom were foot soldiers, identified by their green spandex uniforms. They responded to members who donned an orange variation of the same spandex uniform, with golden bracelets on their forearms and forelegs, and a green exomis or hooded cloak. There were also scientists, technicians, or assistants who wore these garments. However, Main Operators usually had a chin beard. Within the infantry there were assassins that ranked above the rest. They were trained in specific fighting techniques, or armed with special weaponry, such as electrical flail or edge weapons. Altogether, these combatants were more dangerous and deadlier than the average foot soldier. Kobra's first appearance was in "Plague", where it continued executing fiendish schemes to gain an edge and thrive. In the episode, they had developed a deadly super virus capable of complete biological devastation. They hired a criminal named False-Face to smuggle the virus from Saint Denis to Gotham City, and then broke into Gotham Plastics, where they planned to coat millions of cred-cards with the virus, thus transmitting it by hand-to-hand contact. In case that plan failed or the government resisted their demands, Kobra secretly turned Falseface into a virus carrier. Kobra planned to demand a ransom of 10 billion credits. Their actions were eventually intercepted by the NSA that had enlisted Stalker to track down and retrieve the virus. Kobra's plans were foiled by an unlikely alliance between Stalker and Batman. In the "Curse of the Kobra," it's revealed that despite having a resolute goal, Kobra lacked cohesive leadership. Therefore, they decided to genetically engineer the perfect Kobra leader. In the long run, they created Zander (voiced by Alexis Denisof).
They carefully monitored and controlled his gestation, striving to create a healthy and resilient makeup. Right from early infancy, Kobra started to groom Zander to become the perfect leader. They brainwashed and trained him in military strategies and tactics. When Zander finally reached adolescence and was ready to assume his leadership, Kobra could finally move on with their plan. They stole a vial from Dr. Padu Banjahri, a paleontologist who had been recovering dinosaur DNA, and used its contents to help splice their lackeys into dinosaur hybrids. However, there was still the problem of adaptability: Dinosaurs were cold-blooded, so they could only survive in a tropical environment. In order to raise the planet's temperature, Kobra had stolen the R12 thermal bomb from the Nova Research Center. They planned to plunge it into a dormant volcano standing on a rift that went down to the Earth's core. This would start a chain reaction that would raise the temperature of the whole planet. However, thanks to the combined efforts of Batman, Max and Kairi Tanaga (Zander's martial arts teacher and a former fellow student of Bruce Wayne's own sensei), Kobra's supreme goal was brought to naught, and in the process they lost their perfect leader.
Batman: the Brave and the Bold
The Kobra organization appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster" with the Kobra Leader voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. They are shown as a cult where they planned to sacrifice a woman in order to prepare for their world domination only to run afoul of Batman and the Outsiders (consisting of Black Lightning, Katana, Metamorpho, Geo-Force, and Halo). Though they managed to defeat Kobra and save the woman, Batman learned that the Outsiders forgot to blow up the bridge that was to prevent other Kobra soldiers from arriving.
The Jeffrey Burr version of Kobra (alongside his cult) appears in the Young Justice episode "Drop Zone" voiced by Arnold Vosloo. The cult is in conflict with Bane over the production of the drug Venom and ultimately revealed to be combining it with the Blockbuster Formula to create a more powerful and permanent transformation for the Light. With the inclusion of some unnamed members, Kobra is served by Mammoth (who was created from the Venom/Blockbuster formula) and Shimmer. He and his cult ended up fighting Bane and Young Justice at the time when the Light's operative Sportsmaster came to pick up the formulas. He does fight Robin in the climax of the episode but manages to get away.