Destro, J. M.

Enemy Weapons Supplier

File Name: James McCullen Destro XXIV

Callander, Scotland

Primary Military Specialty:
Weapons Manufacturer
Secondary Military Specialty:

Status: At large

First Appearance:
G.I. JOE # 11 (May 1983) as "the Specialist";
G.I. JOE # 14 (August 1983) as Destro

"We shall create a situation and a market and sell weapons to both sides!"

   The history of the Destro clan began centuries ago in Scotland. The family became renowned weapons suppliers, and came to prominence in Europe's strife-filled past. In the 1640s, a member of the clan was supplying weapons to both sides in the English civil war. Cromwell's men discovered this and the man was punished and forced to wear a steel mask. Instead of accepting it as a disgrace, the steel mask became a badge of honor, worn by each head of the clan. In 1752, the family established the naval gun foundry that would become MARS -- Military Armaments Research Syndicate, an entity which still exists today. For hundreds of years, the lairds of Castle Destro made MARS the largest manufacturer of state-of-the-art weaponry systems in the world.

    The man known today only as Destro was little more than a spoiled rich kid in his youth. In 1968, young Destro accompanied his father on a business trip to Vietnam. The Vietnam War was at the height of its intensity and North Vietnamese forces were staging the infamous Tet Offensive. The young Destro's father was there to sell weapons to men posing as representatives of the South Vietnamese government. In reality the men were Vietcong agents. When the elder Destro and his son arrived at the meeting place in Saigon, they discovered it was swarming with American soldiers. A humanitarian, the Baron Eugen DeCobray, had also been meeting with the Vietcong agents and was killed for his medical supplies. They, in turn, were killed by an American soldier named Snake-Eyes. It was believed that Snake-Eyes had killed DeCobray, but the elder Destro proved the young soldier innocent, thanks to his knowledge of ballistics. Also present was DeCobray's younger sister, Anastasia. The younger Destro only caught a glimpse of the girl as she was brought away from the scene in tears. Anastasia would later become known as the Baroness. Destro met her years later, but the circumstances of that meeting and their past relationship remains a mystery.

    After the death of his father, Destro became the head of MARS. A complex man, Destro was intent on upholding the honor of his family name, while still keeping the weapons business fruitful. Destro's sense of honor seemed contrary to his position in MARS, which kept him in contact with some of the worst elements of society. Destro sold his state-of-the-art weaponry to the highest bidder, whoever that may have been. One of those bidders was Cobra. Destro came into contact very early in Cobra's existance, and even knew the identity of Cobra Commander's son, Billy. Part of Destro's nature is an intolerance for incompetence and inefficiency. When he became the chief supplier of weapons to Cobra (due in part to the death of his competitor, Derek Sutherland), he believed the organization's vast resources were being squandered under Cobra Commander's erratic leadership. Well-read in military strategy, Destro offered his services to Cobra as an advisor, and Cobra Commander made him a kind of field commander to his troops. From Destro's very arrival Cobra Commander saw him as a threat. The Commander was surprised to learn that the Baroness, his most trusted lieutenant, had a past relationship with Destro. That, coupled with Destro's superior skills, gained Destro the Commander's distrust. This fear of betrayal helped the Commander's inherent paranoia to make itself even more apparent. His distrust was not misplaced. Destro's affection towards the Baroness, combined with her and his own ambition, lead him to his desire to remove Cobra Commander from his position of leadership. To prevent just such an occurrence, the Commander hired the mercenary and assassin Major Bludd. Bludd was to kill Destro during a battle with the G.I. Joe team, making it look like an accident. The Baroness saw that Bludd was about to fire on Destro's HISS tank and she swerved her own tank into the line of fire to save Destro. Her tank exploded and the Baroness was nearly killed in the explosion that followed. Bludd decided to save the Baroness, but they were both captured by the Joes. They eventually escaped and Bludd took the comatose Baroness to the Bern Institute of Reconstructive Surgery in Switzerland where she was healed by Dr. Hundtkinder. During this time, Cobra Commander was being blackmailed by Bludd, who threatened to expose the Commander's treachery to Destro. All this time, the Commander allowed Destro to believe the Baroness was dead, hoping to keep his rival off-balance. He told Destro that Bludd had acted alone.

    Brooding over the loss of the Baroness in the "Silent Castle" -- his private retreat in the mountains of Trans-Carpathia, Destro was surprised when Snake-Eyes freed Scarlett from the supposedly impregnable castle. Snake-Eyes had to defeat the Cobra ninja, Storm Shadow, to escape. Soon afterward, Major Bludd returned with the Baroness. Destro was ready to kill Bludd for what he had done, but the Baroness calmed him, revealing Cobra Commander's treachery. The three conspired to take over Cobra and remove the Commander from power. One obstacle between Destro and the Commander was Storm Shadow, now the Commander's bodyguard. They hired Firefly and Wild Weasel to track down Storm Shadow, but were instead led to Zartan's shack in the Florida Everglades. The Joes tracked Cobra's high command to the swamps, where a battle between the two foes occurred. After the battle, Destro and Firefly were left behind in the swamps. They began to hatch a plan to exact their vengeance on the Commander. At the same time, the Baroness and Major Bludd were forming their own separate plan to assassinate Cobra Commander. During their absence, Destro and Firefly accepted a mission into the High Sierras where they battled Snake-Eyes, Spirit and Airborne. The Cobras were defeated and returned to Cobra headquarters in Springfield. Once there, Destro learned of the Baroness' plan to assassinate the Commander. He was at first willing to allow the plan to succeed, but when he saw the assassin was the Commander's estranged son, Billy, he stopped the assassination, not willing to watch the boy kill his own father.

    Destro was now torn between his personal sense of honor and his desire to oust Cobra Commander. He took control of the hearing to determine how Billy had come so close to succeeding in his assassination attempt. Destro knew of Billy's accomplices, but he would not turn the Baroness and Bludd in. He was not willing to let them lay all the blame on the boy they had manipulated. Billy never gave up his accomplices. This so impressed Storm Shadow that he finally decided that he couldn't be a part of Cobra any longer. He helped Billy escape, narrowly escaping Destro, who tried to prevent the ninja from betraying Cobra. By this time, Destro decided that despite his personal dislike for the Commander, he could not withdraw his loyalties too easily. If he was to usurp the Commander's power, he would do it through means other than murder.

    Later, the scientist Dr. Mindbender contacted Destro and the Baroness, wanting to sell his technology to Destro and Cobra. Destro detested Mindbender and his high opinion of himself, but he recognized the Doctor's scientific genius. When Mindbender brought his BATs -- Battle Android Troopers -- into Cobra he had no idea that the robots' computer systems were built by a subsidiary of MARS. Mindbender's most ambitious project was the creation of the perfect Cobra soldier. He planned to gather the remains of long-dead conquerors and soldiers and use their DNA to create Serpentor. Destro and the Baroness assisted Mindbender in the project. The project was a success, but came to fruition just as the Joes had begun an attack on Springfield. As Serpentor lead the Cobra troops in a holding action against the Joes, Destro took charge of Springfield's evacuation. During the evacuation, Baroness asked what Destro's motivations were:

    Baroness: "Destro. Why are you doing this?...You're saving the core of the Cobra organization for Cobra Commander!"
    Destro: "I'm saving it for me."

    Baroness: "I knew it! You plan to overthrow Cobra Commander! We can do it together, you and I! You know how I've always felt about you--"

    Destro:"I don't know, and doubt if I ever will. You also misunderstand my intentions completely... I have no great love for Cobra Commander, but I sided with him. I won't discard loyalty like last year's fashions. Don't try me, Baroness. Some men will put aside love for honor. Do you really want to know that much about me?"

    When Serpentor landed on Cobra Island, he received a hero's welcome. Cobra Commander soon realized that he had misjudged Mindbender's project. The greatest soldiers of all time were also great leaders like Caesar and Napoleon. Serpentor was a master at manipulating people and the Commander soon faced a real threat to his power. Destro, however, remained loyal to the Commander. He was disgusted as the Baroness became enamored with Serpentor and threw her support to him. Mindbender was so proud of his creation that he became Serpentor's close advisor. Soon, the location of the G.I. Joe team's secret headquarters, the Pit, was discovered by Cobra. Serpentor and Cobra Commander both led an operation to capture the Pit. The operation was made easier by the fact that the Joe team had been suspended. The only people in the Pit were Hawk and three Pentagon investigators: Generals Hollingsworth and Ryan, and Admiral Dyson. Serpentor was about to lead the troops into the lower levels of the Pit when the Commander led them himself. He was not going to allow Serpentor another victory. Destro was impressed with the Commander's initiative and followed him into the Pit. Once there, the tables turned on the Cobras when Hawk and the other officers decided to destroy the Pit rather than let Cobra win. A chain of explosions caused the Pit to collapse and Destro and the Commander were presumed dead. In reality the two men had survived, trapped deep underground. They eventually found a means of escape and in disguise they left the area.

    While on the run, Cobra Commander found out that Billy was lying in a coma in a hospital bed somewhere near Springfield. The Commander stayed with his son, vowing to be a better father to him. Destro gave the Commander some parting words, telling him to try and make up for the mistakes of his past, and left father and son alone. Tired of Cobra, Destro returned home to Scotland. When he arrived at Castle Destro, he was met by a man posing as him. The man accused Destro of being the imposter and had him jailed. Destro was surprised to be rescued by Flint and Lady Jaye of the G.I. Joe team, with some help from the British military. They had been ordered to get the plans for Cobra's Terror Dromes from Destro. In exchange for the plans, they helped to defeat the imposter, who was also after the plans. The imposter was defeated and revealed to be Major Bludd, who hadn't been seen for months. Destro believed that Bludd was sent by Serpentor to secure the Terror Drome plans for himself.

    For a time, Destro had no contact with Cobra and spent his full time running MARS. With Cobra Commander presumed dead, Serpentor had brought Cobra into the international arms market. Destro was not willing to let Cobra usurp his dominance of international weapons sales. The nation of Sierra Gordo was in turmoil. Cobra had sold Terror Dromes there, but were being pushed out by revolutionaries led by General Villavaca. In turn, Villavaca's forces were at war with the counter-revolution led by El Jefe. Cobra was on the losing side either way. Just to be certain, Destro secretly helped both Villavaca and El Jefe. By helping keep the war going, Destro made sure Cobra would be defeated by whoever happened to win. Destro now escalated MARS research & development and manufactured a whole new line of vehicles and weapons. Not only did he design a new uniform and gold mask for himself, but he turned Castle Destro's personal guards into his own private army, dubbing them the Iron Grenadiers. As MARS returned to prominence, Cobra was in the middle of a civil war on Cobra Island between those loyal to Serpentor and those who supported Cobra Commander. Seizing his opportunity, Destro invaded the island at the height of the fighting, which had since been joined by the G.I. Joe team. In the final battle, Serpentor was killed and Cobra Commander's forces were the victors. Destro arrived at the end of the battle and gained his true objective -- the Baroness -- without firing a shot. After the operation, the secret cabal of generals at the Pentagon -- the Jugglers -- set up Hawk and the Joes to take the blame for the failed Cobra Island operation. Destro was sickened by the dishonorable actions of the generals and exposed them and their purchase of arms from MARS to supply the war effort.

    Destro had no sooner returned to Scotland with the Baroness when Cobra attacked. Destro won the battle and revealed that the Baroness had told him that the man running things was not the Commander at all but the Crimson Guardsman, Fred VII, who had taken control after the original Commander's departure. Destro threatened to expose Fred VII unless he was given control of Cobra. He set up a more efficient system that would not allow for the plotting and backstabbing that had always plagued Cobra. While Destro was in control, the Baroness attempted to kill Snake-Eyes for his supposed murder of her brother years ago in Vietnam. Destro stopped her, telling her that he had been there and Snake-Eyes was innocent. This brought the Baroness to reassess her life and she decided to leave Cobra to sort things out. Destro wanted to help her and was willing to give up everything for her, even abandoning the family mask for a time. He left Darklon in charge of MARS and he and the Baroness retired to Castle Destro. Meanwhile, the original Cobra Commander returned and started to run Cobra more effectively than he had in the past. He considered Destro a loose end and put a bounty out on Destro's head, attempting to find and kill his old rival at all costs and even captured the Baroness. With Billy, Zartan and the Joes' help, Destro defeated the Commander and freed the Baroness. He persuaded Cobra Commander to leave him alone and return his castle in Trans-Carpathia to him (thanks to some blackmail), where he returned with the Baroness. What he didn't know was that the Commander had planted a post-hypnotic suggestion in the Baroness so she would kill Destro. He triggered the programming just as the Red Ninjas -- who now used the castle as a base -- attacked. Again, the Joes assisted Destro and the ninjas and Cobra were defeated. Destro broke the Baroness out of the hypnosis by professing his love for her, transforming the castle into a fairy tale version of his castle in Scotland where they could both live.

    After leaving Destro alone for a while, Cobra Commander decided he wanted the Trans-Carpathian castle back. So, Cobra attacked the castle again. This time, Destro lost control of his castle. Later, with the help of Zartan, Destro took back the castle again. Destro and the Baroness again stayed in the castle relatively peacefully, and Zartan stayed for a time. They were all watching Cobra's invasion of nearby Borovia to see what would happen next. Cobra was now backing a legitimate government, but the Commander -- paranoid as ever -- wanted to eliminate Destro's threat. With Dr. Mindbender's Brainwave Scanner, he brainwashed Destro, the Baroness, Zartan and Storm Shadow. Now, the Cobra high command was back in power, albeit against their own will. The Joes attempted to free them, but were unsuccessful, and the Commander was readying to take control of the other countries in the area. A short time later, the G.I. Joe team was disbanded by the U.S. military. Soon afterward, Cobra forces fell to a unified attack by regular military forces. Most of Cobra's "high command" disappeared in the wake of the conflict, including Destro.

    Some time later, Destro and the Baroness reemerged, once again in control of his weapons manufacturing firm, MARS, and the Iron Grenadiers. A few years later, Destro became sick from a debilitating family illness. His condition worsened for months as the Baroness watched helplessly. In 2001, a young man named Alexander McCullen arrived in Scotland and introduced himself as Destro's son -- a son he never knew existed. Destro took Alexander in as his condition worsened, and soon the young man began to assume his father's identity. He enlisted the aid of a British soldier named Lilian Osbourne as he took control of the Iron Grenadiers. Destro, had in fact showed signs of recovering from his illness, but Alexander used stolen nano-mite technology to slow the recovery until he could complete his goal of earning the Destro birthright. Months after his arrival in Scotland, Cobra Commander sent word to Destro that he was returning to the United States and extended an invitation to meet with him. In the guise of his father, Alexander accepted the offer and planned, with Lilian (now known as his general, Mistress Armada) and the Baroness, to take over Cobra and hatch his plans to take over America. It was all done to make the father he never knew proud of him. When the G.I. Joe team finally defeated the nano-mites and a Cobra army led by Alexander, Destro quickly recovered from his illness and imprisoned Alexander and Lilian. He then went to Cobra Commander and revealed the true identity of the man the Commander thought had been Destro. To make up for what his son had done, Destro offered to rejoin Cobra until his debt was repaid. In addition he handed Lilian over to the Commander, who used the Brain-wave Scanner to make her his personal servant. Alexander, meanwhile was made a virtual slave to his father.

    Destro's service to Cobra was put on hold when he joined forces with the Joes to rescue the Baroness and Flint from Russian mobsters in the Czech Republic. Some time later, Cobra Commander was captured by the forces of a revived Serpentor and held on Cobra Island. The Commander sent word to Destro that if he rallied Cobra and his own troops to rescue him, all debts would be repaid. Destro did just that, and took charge of Cobra when the Commander went missing after the battle. Cobra Commander finally returned to resume his leadership of Cobra. Reminding the Commander that all debts were now repaid, Destro once again left Cobra behind. This time, the Baroness did not go with telling the Commander that she was finished with Destro, thanks to his willingness to leave her behind. Destro was soon captured by G.I. Joe and held by the United Nations after trying to ignite a war in Sierra Gordo. Cobra Commander learned that Destro was being transported on a train guarded by the Joes and launched a rescue operation, along with the Baroness. In reality, Destro and the Baroness had been working together the whole time while Destro made a deal with the Joes and the UN to help capture Cobra Commander. After the Commander shot General Hawk in the back during the fighting, the Baroness shot him in turn and left him to the Joes. She then reunited with Destro as he took control of Cobra, with Alexander and Lilian at his side and it has since been revealed that Destro and the Baroness are now married. And if those changes weren't surprising enough, Destro learned shortly afterward that the Baroness was pregnant.

    As Destro and the Baroness began to lead from Cobra Island, the forces of the Coil -- formerly Serpentor's army -- joined Cobra and fought in Europe under the command of Armada and Major Bludd. Soon, it was discovered that Cobra Commander had not been captured by the Joes. It had been Zartan in disguise. The real Commander revealed himself and made his way to Cobra Island with troops loyal to him. He arrived with little difficulty, as Bludd, Tomax, Xamot and others had remained loyal to him all along. The Baroness was placed in the care of Destro's new bodyguard, Wraith, and both attempted to escape Cobra Island in a plane. As Destro looked on in horror, Cobra Commander fired a missile at the aircraft, destroying it. Destro remained Cobra Commander's prisoner as he set in motion his plans to unleash the superweapon known as the Tempest. At the same time, the Joes and Cobra faced a new threat in the group called the Red Shadows, who had begun targeting and murdering agents of both groups. The Joes eventually defeated the schemes of the Red Shadows, and Cobra was once again left in disarray. In the midst of this chaos, Destro disappeared from the Commander's custody.

    Over the following months, Destro rededicated himself to running MARS, using the nuclear submarine Cataclysm as his mobile base of operations. With his son Alexander at his side, Destro helped supply the terrorist Vance Wingfield with the means to cause the crash of two orbiting satellites, causing massive destruction in Chicago and Silicon Valley. As the recently reactivated Joe team figured out how to stop the satellite crashes, Destro offered Wingfield his help for a fee. When the Joe team secured a group of radio antennae to counteract the signal that affected the satellites, they were attacked by Destro's new robotic Iron Grenadiers. After the Joes overloaded and destroyed Wingfield's equipment, Destro caused the robots to self-destruct. During the Wingfield incident, the Joes had been investigating former Cobra agents. Scarlett went to the home of Cesspool and was confronted by what appeared to be children, but were actually more MARS robots. She was captured and held prisoner on Destro's sub, prompting the Joe team to lead a rescue mission. The Joes infiltrated the Cataclysm and Destro gradually lost control of his submarine as the Joes battled his troops. He gave the order to scuttle the ship and made his escape with Alexander in tow. Destro's current whereabouts are unknown.

Artwork: G.I. JOE #49 (cover) by Mike Zeck; G.I. JOE Yearbook #1 (back cover) by Michael Golden; G.I. JOE #69 (cover) by Tony Salmons and Bob McLeod, courtesy of Yo; G.I. JOE #97 (interior) by Geof Isherwood and Randy Emberlin, courtesy of Zartan's Domain; G.I. JOE Battle Files #2 (interior) by Joe Benitez.


  • G.I. JOE: #11, 13-19, 21-33, 37-39, 44, 47-50, 52-57, 69-71, 73, 77, 78, 87, 88, 90, 93, 95, 97, 102, 116-118, 120-122, 130 (dossier), 136-140, 145-149
  • G.I. JOE Special Missions: #1
  • G.I. JOE: Order of Battle: #3
  • G.I. JOE Yearbook: #2
  • G.I. JOE vol. 2: #3, 4, 6-8, 14, 17-19, 23-31, 34-40
  • G.I. JOE: Battle Files: #2
  • G.I. JOE: Front Line: #1-4, 16
        (compiled with help from Bryon Hake)
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