Vipers are Cobra infantry soldiers. Compared to Cobra Troopers, they have additional training and better equipment. They are equipped with armored helmets and vests that can mask heat signatures, and assault rifles with built-in grenade-launchers.
A Real American Hero continuity
Marvel Comics continuity
Devil's Due Comics continuity
G.I. Joe vs. Transformers
Action Force (British) Comics continuity
Vipers were deployed on Cobra operations including:
- The attempted capture of a Northrod B2 bomber crew who crashed on an island with top secret information
- The attempted theft of the new Broadcast Energy Transmitter from a tropical island.
- An assault on London to free Destro who was held prisoner at Action Force's headquarters.
- The capturing of an oil terminal in the Gulf of Arabia, which was liberated by Action Force.
They were also stationed at a variety of locations including:
- A Cobra rocket launch base hidden in the Australian outback
- A covert Cobra laser research facility on an uninhabited island off Sweden.
Blackthorne Comics continuity
Dreamwave Comics continuity
Hasbro Comics continuity
Animated continuity - Sunbow
|A Real American Hero (1986)
Appearance: blue helmet with black goggles and silver faceplate; blue shirt and black vest with red straps; red gloves; blue pants with black belt and red stripes on sides of legs; black boots
Accessories: black backpack (with sculpted canteen and two grenades) with small Cobra emblem on back; light grey two-handled RDT assault rifle/grenade launcher with small scope.
|A Real American Hero (1989)
Appearance: black helmet with red goggles and faceplate; dark grey short-sleeved shirt with light grey crisscross pattern; yellow straps, belt, and stripes on sides of legs; dark grey pants; black gloves and boots
Accessories: black "Viper" backpack; black "Viper" assault rifle.
|A Real American Hero (1991)
Appearance: gold helmet with black goggles and red faceplate; brown shirt and vest with gold straps; black and gold gloves; brown pants with black belt and gold kneepads and stripes on sides of legs; black boots
Accessories: gold Sonic pouch backpack with engraved rope and roll; gold "Shockwave" pistol; gold "Hit & Run" submachine gun; gold "Annihilator" submachine gun; three-piece gold "Downtown" mortar launcher.
- Larry Hama made no distinction between the Vipers and the regular Cobra Troopers. He sent a note to Hasbro saying "Vipers can be the generic term for all Cobra Troopers. Tele-Vipers being the comm specialists, HISS-Vipers being attached to the armored branch, Air-Vipers to flight ops, etc." However, most fans consider the Vipers to be the next step up the ladder from the starting-level blueshirts.
- Adding confusion to the relationship between the Cobra Troopers and the Vipers is the 1986 GJ Joe Order of Battle Viper entry which states that "If you want to get anywhere in Cobra, you have to start out as a Viper." and that Vipers were the "bottom of the ladder". This could be interpreted to mean that for the common Cobra soldier, the Viper is the beginning of the respectable Cobra positions. As a result, this suggests that the Cobra Trooper officers (distinguised by the helmet Chevron) either are outranked by Vipers or may not be officers in any meaningful context.
- The Vipers' 1991 filecard was written in-house at Hasbro, then sent to Larry Hama for editing. The original reads:
|“||Vipers are considered the grunts in Cobra's Legions. If there's a dirty job that needs doing, these guys are first in line. And after a band of Cobra double-agents stole the plans to G.I. Joe's sonic weapons technology, and they needed somebody to test their own substandard, makeshift versions of these devastating high-tech weapons, the Vipers were immediately volunteered for the job.||”|