For those who wish to go into their new, adult oriented GI Joe cartoon experience unspoiled, turn away now.
Yeah, so Warren Ellis of hella comic book fame penned a new "series" of five minute long GI Joe episodes for Adult Swim. You can watch them all online, and I also think they're going to run them on the Cartoon Network. However you choose to watch them, know this: they are incredibly, incredibly stupid.
But, but, but you say, this is GI Joe. GI Joe was always stupid. To which I reply, yes, yes it was. Do you know why it was stupid? It was stupid because it was for eight year old boys who don't know a good show from a kick in the still undeveloped testicles. The show, like all good cartoons of the 80's, existed solely to separate young boys from their money. To that end it succeeded admirably, as I can personally attest to as I had a metric ton of GI Joes growing up.
The new series is supposed to take more from the comics than the cartoon series, and I know very little about the comics. I can distinctly remember the issue where they explain Snake Eyes' back story, but it was either a multi-part issue and I only got one part of it, or I had some sort of head trauma as a child as I only remember the part where his whole family dies on their way to the airport to pick up Snake Eyes. Seeing how that doesn't explain why the dude doesn't talk, is all scarred up, and is a bad-ass ninja, that's one hell of a disappointing origin story.
Any way, so yeah, maybe the comics were edgier and darker and more in line with the new show, but the GI Joe I remember was like an animated version of the A-Team. There was a lot of shooting, but no one got shot, or really hurt for that matter. Things blew up but people always got out in time before the rockets hit. Basically, it was violent but in a very tame and stupid way. I can only imagine that they made the guns shoot lasers instead of bullets, including the planes which I always thought was odd, so that they could make the claim that they weren't teaching kids that guns didn't hurt. They were teaching kids that laser guns ddidn't hurt which, to this day, has yet to be refuted.
Ok, so back to the new show. Well, the new show is "edgy" in that they actually kill people and not just random people, but members of Joe and Cobra alike. The problem is that they upped the ante on edginess, but did nothing to rectigy how fucking stupid the show is.
Case in point, at the beginning of the series, GI Joe is all based out of the USS Flagg, a super carrier sailing in the ocean in a classified location, something the stupid ticker won't let us forget. Boom! Pow! Shazam! go the bombs, destrying a whole bunch of armaments and vehicles. Oh noes! Duke is pissed, as well he should be and he wants Bazooka front and center to know how someone could have blown up all of that shit right under the nose of the ship's security detail. Well, Bazooka is dead. Double oh noes! Turns out Storm Shadow killed him to a) fuck up Joe's shit and b) call out Snake Eyes.
At this point, everyone mobilizes to deal with the latest Cobra threat which includes killing ten million people in Moscow, no doubt in an act to make up for all of the non-deaths that happened on the original show. Now, obviously there's a global threat that needs to be dealth with, but if I may ask a question, why is no one at all concerned with the fact that a terrorist agent could a) find out what the USS Flagg's classified location was, b) get to the ship, c) get on the ship, d) plant explosives and then e) get off of the ship and no one fucking notices? I mean, wouldn't there need to be a traitor, or at least a massive security breach somewhere within GI Joe just to find the Flagg in the first place?
Well, Bazooka isn't the only tragedy in the show, both in terms of body count and narrative stupidity. Eventually Snake Eyes meets up with Storm Shadow and we see, via flashback that their feud started because they both had the same ninja master, Storm Shadow's uncle, and said master wouldn't teach his super secret ninja death move to Storm Shadow, thereby denying him the ability to continue teaching the clan upon the uncle's death. Now, in the comic, the fued was based on Storm Shadow not being chosen as the new head of the clan, so the motivations are pretty much the same, except that in the new series, all Storm Shadow does is whine about not being taught the super secret ninja moves. I mean, he's like a broken fucking record with this thing. In the comic, his rage comes off as the ravings of someone who wants power, but is denied it. In the new series he sounds like a petulant child who can't have any candy. Not exactly fearsome coming from the world's second greatest ninja. In the end, Storm Shadow is all like "Well, Unca Ninja didn't teach me the 7th super secret move, but he didn't teach you the sixth so eat my fist biatch!" and Snake Eyes is all like "Oh no you din't! Super secret 7th move in the house motherfucker!" Then he punches Storm Shadow in the head and kills him.
After that, it pretty much went downhill. You only saw Cobra Commander for like one episode. Destro and Baroness's entire part in the series is to babysit some scientist hostages until Roadblock and Gung-Ho take them out with a disco grenade. Oh and Duke shoots Zartan, possibly killing him. Maybe not. Really, who the fuck cares? By the end, Duke is all like "we're going to kill Cobra Commander" and by that point I figured the only way that the show could have gotten any dumber is if Serpenter showed up in a chariot being pulled by the naked pair of Tomax and Xamot. Did I tell you about the space balloon? No? Well, then thank me.
From what I can tell, people are pretty jazzed with the series, so I guess I'm just overly critical, or the current state of GI Joe is in such disarray that fans of the show are willing to go ape-shit over anything that has members of Cobra being shot in the face. One side effect of the show is that I am now more jazzed for the movie as the movie certainly can't be any worse, and if it is, it will probably cross over into "so bad it's good" territory. Hopes are high either way.
Now, I'm not opposed to taking older properties and reinvinting them. Personally, I love the Transformers Animated cartoon, even if it is more kid focused. I think that Batman: The Animated Series was a fantastic way to take an older property and turn it into something a little edgier but still true to the roots of the character. The fact is, that with GI Joe, and this includes Resolute, you have a guy dressed as a sailor running around with a fucking parrot on his shoulder. You either have to accept the stupidity of the situation and play within it, or you have to change a lot more than whether or not your bullets kill people. The movie seems to know this, Resolute does not. Whether or not the movie succeeds where Resolute so glaringly failed remains to be seen.
Whatever the case, I can only hope that Warren Ellis stays away from Thundercats, or other beloved properties of my past. I don't think I can stand to see an episode of Bionic 6: Unfaltering where Sport-1 caves in Chopper's skull with a baseball bat and then rapes Madame-O to death.