Left to right; Buzzer, Ripper, Monkeywrench, Zarana, Road Pig, Zartan, Zanya, Zandar, Thrasher, Torch
Publication information
Publisher(s) Marvel Comics
Devil's Due Publishing
IDW Publishing
Debut Marvel Comics:
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #25 (July 1984)
In-story information
sortkey(s) Dreadnoks

The Dreadnoks are a fictional biker gang from the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toyline, comic books and cartoon series. They are affiliated with Cobra as shock troops, offering their mercenary services as subordinates of Zartan.


The leader of the Dreadnoks is a man named Zartan. Believed to have had European military academy training, he was hired as an espionage agent for the evil terrorist group (and main antagonist of the saga's series) called Cobra. He is a master of disguise through masks, make-up, holograms and hypnosis, as well as ventriloquism and linguistics (20 languages and dialects). Another special trait only he is known to have is the ability to change the color of his skin to blend in with his background through genetic manipulation experiments. As a side effect to the gene splicing, he is allergic to sunlight, which throws off his camouflage ability. As well, he is a highly skilled martial artist, and is a master of the bow.

There were originally three Dreadnoks under Zartan's lead: Buzzer, Ripper, and Torch. These men were destructive bikers, who spent their days terrorizing people and destroying property, hired with the promise of easy money. Later, the ranks grew with the addition of Monkeywrench and Thrasher. Monkeywrench had spent his recent years building explosive devices for terrorist groups in Rhyl, North Wales, and Thrasher was a spoiled middle class kid with destructive tendencies, who built and piloted the Dreadnoks Thunder Machine. Zartan's sister Zarana and brother Zandar also joined. Like her brother, Zarana is a skilled impersonator, while Zandar is a master of stealth and camouflage. The pirate Zanzibar, the enforcer Road Pig, and a poacher known only as Gnawgahyde were also added. The Dreadnoks were equipped with many vehicles, most of which were built from scavenged parts. This included the Thunder Machine, the Swampfire,[1] and the "Stun".[2]

All Dreadnoks are uncouth and violent, and usually engage their enemies with unconventional and creative (many times crude) weaponry. Most, if not all, have shown a particular taste for chocolate-covered donuts and grape soda. The Dreadnoks also make a habit of torturing captured enemies, usually in bizarre ways such as exposure to pain-inducing laughing gas or tossing victims into pools of man-eating piranhas. Their headquarters is a compound hidden somewhere in the Florida Everglades. Zartan and the Dreadnoks have been known to use holographic technology and other means to disguise themselves.[3]

The Zartan family

  • Zartan: Master of Disguise, and leader of the Dreadnoks until the events of World War III.
  • Zarana: Zartan's sister and Zandar's twin. A disguise artist in her own right, she becomes her characters by thinking like them. She was expected to take over the Dreadnoks, but was replaced by Zanya, and left to head the Chicago chapter of the Dreadnoks. Most recently in disguise as a member of the Phoenix Guard under the codename Friday.
  • Zandar: Zartan's brother and Zarana's twin, he is highly skilled at not being seen and stealth. He fought against his brother in the Second Cobra Civil War as a member of The Coil.
  • Zanya: The daughter of Zartan, and niece of Zandar and Zarana.[4] Current heir apparent to Zartan.

The Dreadnoks

The Dreadnok ranks are constantly in flux, their high rate of personnel turnover due to their hard-living, hard-fighting lifestyle. The following are only some of the Dreadnoks who have played a sizable part in the organization over the years:

  • Burn Out: Dreadnok mechanic, recruited by Zartan. Burn Out is also skilled in disguise and impersonation.[5]
  • Buzzer: A founding member of the Dreadnoks, he is usually the leader by default when none of Zartan's family is around. Originally a left wing British college professor who intended to study biker gangs, only to wind up becoming a member. Arrogant and intelligent, he uses a chainsaw as a weapon, and is identifiable by his blonde pony tail.
  • Chop Shop: A swamp guard. He bragged he would take the Joes, only to be ambushed and knocked out by Snake-Eyes.[6]
  • Crusher: An ex-wrestler turned animal poacher. Upon meeting the Dreadnoks, was able to easily outgrapple all of them but Road Pig. Is suggested to have either killed or driven off fellow Dreadnok poacher Gnawgahyde.
  • Death Metal: Qualified on gun turrets. Wears a death's head mask.
  • Demolishor: A Canadian aboriginal native with limited fighting skills, but an almost superhuman threshold of pain.
  • The Dreadheads (Billy-Bob, Cletus, Joe-Bob, Otis, Roscoe and Vance): Six identical cousins (two sets of three brothers) from a wealthy arms-manufacturing family, who have a grudge against G.I. Joe member Beach Head. Led by Otis, they tend to clash with the Dreadnoks, and are essentially only interested in using the Dreadnoks resources to get to Beach Head. The exception is the self-destructive Vance, the only Dreadhead the Dreadnoks have actually taken a liking to.
  • Gnawgahyde: The Dreadnok poacher. He is known for bathing in animal fat and trying to think like his prey. He wields a long range hunting rifle. Has disappeared after an overnight hunting trip with Crusher.
  • Heartwrencher: A female Dreadnok who carries a large wrench.
  • Machete: First appears in the G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 series. He carries a shotgun, and drives the Dreadnok Cycle with Buzzer as his gunner.
  • Monkeywrench: A Dreadnok who loves explosions, going so far as to include fireworks and Roman candles into his bombs for effect. He uses grenades and bombs, as well as a harpoon gun. In the G.I. Joe cartoon, he is shown to be highly arachnophobic. In G.I. Joe: America's Elite, Monkeywrench is noted as a prisoner at "The Coffin" penitentiary in Greenland, and is terminated there during a Cobra raid.
  • Ripper: A founding member of the Dreadnoks, he is known for carrying an assault rifle with a large blade serving as a bayonet. Ripper is angry, violent and anti-social. He is secretly a shrewd businessman and independently wealthy.
  • Road Pig: Suffering from a split personality, Donald DeLuca is a well spoken and intelligent person, but as Road Pig, he is a violent and dangerous enforcer with an attraction to Zarana. His weapons of choice are a cinder block attached to a metal pipe, which he uses as an improvised hammer, and a wrist-mounted mini crossbow. He is identifiable by his massive size and white hair styled in a crew cut.
  • Rugrat: A diminutive Dreadnok who wears a large hat and sunglasses.
  • Storm Rider: A new Dreadnok introduced in the Pursuit of Cobra toyline. Rides a motorcycle called the Doom Cycle.
  • Thrasher: A spoiled brat whose parents never disciplined him, he joined the Dreadnoks. He built and drives the Thunder Machine. A little unpredictable and hard to control, but he can always be trusted in a fight. He is identifiable by a green streak in his hair.
  • Torch: A former Merchant Marine, Torch is one of the founders of the Dreadnoks. He is an expert in oxy-acetylene cutting torches and uses a modified one as a weapon.
  • Zanzibar: The Dreadnok pirate, Zanzibar is low even by Dreadnok standards. He is a smuggler, thief, pickpocket and boat pilot. Even the other Dreadnoks dislike him, nevertheless, he's incredibly gifted for hand to hand fight. He pilots the Dreadnok Air Skiff, which includes a spear, gun, and hammer as weapons.[7]

Dreadnoks vehicles

  • Air Skiff: Pilot by Zanzibar. This was released exclusively with Zanzibar in 1987.
  • Battle Axe: An oversized backpack that has an axe hooked to the top. Released in 1988.
  • Chameleon: A Swamp Skier. Zartan's go to vehicle. Released in 1984 with Zartan.
  • Cold Slither Cycle: A repainted version of the Dreadnoks Doom Cycle, released in 2018 as a Club exclusive with Ninja Force Zartan.
  • Ground Assault Motorcycle: Sears exclusive, released in 1986 with the 4WD Vehicle.
  • Doom Cycle: Driven by Storm Rider. Released in the Pursuit of Cobra line in 2010.
  • Dreadnok Cycle: Driven by Machete, and released in 1987 and later retooled and repainted in 2004 as a convention exclusive.
  • Dreadnok Stun: A Cobra Stun found in a Cobra scrap yard that Thrasher fixed up for the Dreadnoks. Released in 2004 as a convention exclusive.[7]
  • Gyrocopter: Sears exclusive, released in 1986 with the VTOL copter.
  • Swampfire: Dreadnoks vehicle that can fly and be used as a boat. Released in 1986.[8]
  • Thunder Machine: Driven and hand built by Thrasher. Released exclusively with Thrasher in 1986.
  • VTOL Copter: Sears exclusive, released in 1986 with Gyrocopter.
  • 4WD Vehicle: Sears exclusive, released in 1986 with the Ground Assault Motorcycle.


Marvel Comics

In the Marvel Comics G.I. Joe series, the Dreadnoks first appear in issue #25.[8] Early on, the Dreadnoks operate out of a fully functional gas station, though it is not clear whether they actually serve the public. The gas they have is definitively stolen.

After Zartan is captured, the Dreadnoks work together to spring him out of Joe HQ. They are pursued by Joe forces but a combination of recklessness and disguise skills allow them to escape.[9] The Dreadnoks are then used in an attempt to have Serpentor killed. Disguised as various Joe members, they make an attack but are foiled by other Cobra agents.[10]

The Dreadnoks help destroy a missile that was aimed at Cobra Island. They battle Hawk, Fast Draw, Lt. Falcon, Chuckles and the human/canine team Law and Order. Zanzibar plays a prominent role in the fight.[11]

Monkeywrench, Thrasher and Zarana later use the threat of violence against nearby civilians to escape with a G.I. Joe team. Eventually, the Dreadnoks, Joes and civilians all work together to escape to safety.[12]

The Dreadnoks serve as personal escorts for Cobra Commander during the Cobra civil war that takes place on Cobra Island. Later, they are sent to guard the west side of the defenses, facing the seemingly impenetrable swamps. The Joes make it through and capture most of the Dreadnoks.[13]

After Destro seizes power, they serve for a time as the enforcers of the Cobra-controlled town of Broca Beach, led by Zarana. They capture G.I. Joe operatives, Rock 'n Roll and Clutch for brainwashing.[14]

Action Force

The Dreadnoks are featured in the Action Force comic book line, starting with issue 5. There, Buzzer and Ripper pursue a wounded Snake-Eyes.[15]

Devil's Due

During the years after G.I. Joe disbanded and Cobra was defeated, Zartan expanded the Dreadnoks, spreading his gang to over fifty cities in the United States. The main body, under the command of Zartan, is the Florida chapter, nicknamed the Florida Noks. Around this time, Zartan's daughter Zanya found him. Zartan eventually was overcome by a problem with his genetic experimentation, which left him unable to go out into sunlight. This caused him to lead the Dreadnoks through Zanya, who became his new second-in-command, much to the annoyance of Zarana, who left to lead the Chicago chapter.

Early on, they come under attack by G.I. Joe, and several rookie Dreadnoks are killed.[6] The Kansas City Dreadnok chapter is "given over" to G.I. Joe, as part of a distraction plan by Serpentor.[16]

Later, the Dreadnoks, despite Zandar's traitorous actions, end up fighting on the Cobra side in the Cobra/Coil/G.I. Joe conflict. They were being sent in to assist in rescuing Cobra Commander.[17] The Dreadnoks are called off, after Zartan finds an assailant he has stabbed is actually Zandar.[18]



The Dreadnoks (Zartan, Buzzer, Ripper, and Torch) first appear in the second G.I. Joe mini-series, "The Revenge of Cobra". In the five-part episode "Arise Serpentor Arise", Zartan's siblings Zarana and Zandar arrive to aid Zartan. After an initiation battle, Monkeywrench and Thrasher join the Dreadnoks. They are also featured as a fake band in the episode "Cold Slither".[19]


The Dreadnoks appear in the 1989 G.I. Joe cartoon. In the five-part episode "Operation Dragonfire," Gnawgahyde has joined up with the Dreadnoks. Also, Zarana is shown leading the Dreadnoks with no mentionings on what happened to Zartan. In later episodes, Road Pig joins the Dreadnoks.


The Dreadnoks appear in the G.I. Joe: Renegades episode "Dreadnoks Rising". They appear as a small scale but highly dangerous biker gang. The Dreadnoks featured are Zartan, Buzzer, Road Pig, Monkeywrench, Ripper and Torch. They terrorized a local Kansas town and even got their local sheriff on the ropes. When G.I. Joe arrived, they helped the citizens stand up to the Dreadnoks and defeated them (though the Dreadnoks en masse had proven to be enough to bring down Snake-Eyes when cornered). When Flint and Lady Jaye arrived in the town to apprehend the team, they ended up getting the apprehended Dreadnoks.


  1. Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  2. Dreadnok Stun at YOJOE.com Retrieved 2012-07-08
  3. Thomas Wheeler (August 2005). "REVIEW: G.I. JOE WINTER OPERATIONS SET". G.I. Joe Collectors Club Magazine: 9, 12. 
  4. Hidalgo, Pablo (2009). G.I. Joe vs. Cobra: The Essential Guide 1982-2008. Random House. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-345-51642-8. 
  5. Hidalgo, Pablo (2009). G.I. Joe vs. Cobra: The Essential Guide 1982-2008. Random House. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-345-51642-8. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero vol. 2 #2 (2001)
  7. Bellomo, Mark (2005). The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994. Krause Publications. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-89689-922-3. 
  8. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #25 (July 1984)
  9. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #51
  10. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #52
  11. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #60 (June 1987).
  12. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #70-71
  13. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #74-76 (1988)
  14. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #89-90 (1989)
  15. Action Force #5 (April 4, 1987)
  16. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero vol. 2 #23 (October 2003)
  17. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero vol. 2 #24 (Nov 2003)
  18. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero vol. 2 #25 (October 2003)
  19. Childs, T. Mike (2009). The Rocklopedia Fakebandica. Macmillan. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-0-312-32944-0. 

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