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Kobra Khan was introduced into the Masters of the Universe toy line in 1984. His action figure's special feature is to spray water. The figure's head is removable and the hollow torso can be filled with water, so that when the head is back in place, it can be pushed down to spray water from its mouth.
Filmation Animated Series
Kobra Khan appears on the cartoon shortly after his figure was released. He is one of the few Evil Warriors on the cartoon to be portrayed in a darker, more serious manner as opposed to being used for comedy value. He is usually paired with Webstor and the two of them are often seen to work as a duo. They are first paired in the episode "Disappearing Dragons" which portrays Khan as the leader of the two. He is portrayed as a sly, scheming and sullen character, capable of taking on numerous opponents at once with his sleep mist. Never fearful or bumbling around the Heroic Characters, his low, whisper-like, hissing voice provided by Lou Scheimer enhances the portrayal of him as a reserved and sinister character.
In the episode "The Good Shall Survive" he demonstrates the power to elongate his arms to grasp his opponent before spraying them, while the final produced episode of the series, "The Cold Zone", focuses exclusively on Kobra Khan and his race, the Reptons. We learn in this episode that the Reptons inhabit a quiet underground kingdom beneath a stone pyramid, and are a peaceful race who regard Khan as a traitor since he left them to join Skeletor's forces. The plot features Khan seeking the help of He-Man and his companions in relighting the furnace that heats the Reptons' kingdom, which has been extinguished by an unknown intruder. As the plot unfolds, it turns out that it was in fact Khan who extinguished the flame, and the Repton's ruler, King Pythos, has offered to grant the crown of the Reptons to whoever can expose the guilty party. Therefore, Khan has concocted an elaborate scheme to frame He-Man for the crime so that he can become ruler of the Reptons upon exposing He-Man as guilty.
Other members of the Reptons seen in this episode are King Pythos, an unnamed Chancellor, and the court jester, Scales, who reveals Khan as the true criminal. Although this episode was made long before the idea of the Snake Men was conceived by Mattel, it is generally considered by fans that the Reptons are a sub-division of the Snake Men who were permitted to remain on Eternia after defecting from the side of King Hiss.
Kobra Khan initially appeared in the minicomcs Double-Edged Sword, Hordak: The Ruthless Leader's Revenge!, The Terror Claws Strike! and Rock People to the Rescue! as one of Skeletor's henchmen. When the Snake Men were introduced into the MOTU toy line in 1986, it naturally made sense for Mattel to link them with Kobra Khan, and thus his figure was repackaged and re-issued as a Snake Man. As the Snake Men are villains from thousands of years ago resurrected on present-day Eternia, it is clear that Khan could not be one of the original members, so in the mini-comic King of the Snake Men, when King Hiss forms an alliance with Skeletor. Khan agrees to join them, but primarily as a spy for Skeletor so that he can report on King Hiss' actions and ensure he does not surpass Skeletor's threat to Eternia. A special Snake-Man Kobra Khan figure was made in Argentina, under the name "Kobra Khan Camouflage". The figure was painted in camouflage with a silver Snake Men logo on his chest.
Whilst this plot element is unexplored in Kobra Khan's only other minicomic appearance The Fastest Draw in the Universe!, this storyline is built upon in the UK comic series published by London Editions. Khan is portrayed as a spy, as in the mini-comic, but a highly disloyal one, who would inform King Hiss of Skeletor's actions as much as he would vice versa. In one of the comics it is stated that despite his dual allegiance, Khan is really only working for one person: himself. This fits in well with his cartoon persona, as an independent villain whose main concern is to gain power for himself.
Kobra Khan was re-used in the 2002 relaunch of the Masters of the Universe toy line and cartoon series. A major change to his character is that his fangs spit acidic venom instead of sleep mist, and his figure was packaged as 'Venom Spitting Khan'. Khan seems able to vary the intensity of his venom as he sees fit; from a painful irritant, blinding opponents eyes without inflicting permanent damage, to a powerful acid that is able to instantly melt metal.
He is introduced in the episode "Snake Pit", in which he is presented as a dangerous criminal who escapes from the Royal Palace dungeons after years of imprisonment. He flees to Snake Mountain where he pledges allegiance to Skeletor, but his real plan is to delve deep beneath Snake Mountain to find the Snake Pit, the portal to the void in which his ancestors, King Hiss and the Snake Men, are imprisoned. His scheme is foiled by He-Man and Zodak before he can succeed, but he does manage to free General Rattlor, and the two of them resurface in the final episode of the show's first season, "Council of Evil" Part 2 in which Khan makes a deal with Evil-Lyn that he will free her and the other Evil Warriors from the Masters' jail providing she assists him and Rattlor in freeing King Hiss. She keeps her part of the bargain, and in the episode "Rise of the Snakemen, Part 1" the Snake Men are finally released. While Khan is accepted by the Snake Men in their new conquest of Eternia, he is constantly treated with contempt by the leaders, purely because he is a descendant and not one of their original army, and also because of his smaller size. King Hiss however does seem to take a shine to Khan and seems to be quite impressed by his loyalty.
Khan's personality is largely different from his 1980s incarnation. Although he still retains a portion of his independent and scheming nature, he is presented with a more youthful personality. Khan is also rather squeamish, especially at the thought of eating victims whole like the other Snake Men, and acts like a groveling bootlicker to King Hiss, doing his best to win favor in his King's eyes and outdo his rival, General Rattlor.
Nonetheless, Khan appears to be a better fighter than Rattlor against the cosmic warrior, Zodak. While Rattlor is easily defeated by Zodak, Khan swiftly overpowers the cosmic warrior. Also in the episode "Snake Pit" he proves himself an extremely effective fighter against He-Man and the Masters.
- The character of Fang Man, who only appears in one early Filmation episode, "The Time Corridor", but never appeared in action figure form, is possibly an early version of Khan. Although in his cartoon appearance the only similarity was that he was reptilian, his description in the show's Series Bible is remarkably similar to Khan, describing him as having the power to spray a sleep gas at his opponents.
- Kobra Khan's name is derived from Kubla Khan. A famous Mongolian warlord during the 13th century, and grandson of Genghis Khan.
- Contrary to the toy, Kobra Khan would spray his sleep gas from the folds in his hood in the cartoons, not from his mouth.