After being blessed with THREE G.I. Joe miniseries (G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero [aka The MASS Device], G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra, and G.I. Joe: The Pyramid of Darkness) and an entire full season of after school awesomeness that featured the detailed history of the Joe and Cobra War for 65 episodes, my fellow children of the 1980s and I were blessed beyond belief when we found out that there would indeed be another season of the antics of the poor-shooting terrorists of the Cobra organization and their equally pitifully trained counterparts in the US Department of Defense branch known as G.I. Joe. What we didn't know was that things were about to change.
The Joe and Cobra teams that we had known and loved (and loved to hate) for 65 episodes got a major overhaul for the second season... Mostly in order to sell new toys. Anyway, we got to meet the head of G.I. Joe (the very hands-on General Hawk), the newly birthed Cobra Emperor Serpentor (the silliest character with the goofiest storyline ever), the new Cobra foot soldiers (the metal face-plated Vipers), and a cool dozen new Joe recruits (including the humorless Beach Head, the techie Mainframe, and the suicidal Sergeant Slaughter). The new season kicked off with yet another really fun mini-series (I fucking LIVED for the 5-part mini-series that the Joe writers put out almost yearly back then), this one called Arise, Serpentor, ARISE! It was all about Serpentor. And how he arose.
Not that the new mini-series and the new season was bad (it wasn't, well, not compared to the previous episodes), but just that it got really weird, and they seemed to forget about our old favorite characters for long stretches of time in order to focus more on the new toys and vehicles. We were lucky if Snake Eyes, Lady Jaye, Shipwreck, and Flynt even showed up in the background of any shot — but at least the new characters (and toys) for the second season were cool and we wanted to find out more about them (and in the case of the toys BUY them)... Unlike the crap they tried to pull over on us for G.I. Joe the Movie. At least we didn't have any bat-men, snake-men, insect-men, or Big Lob in the second season of the weekday cartoon. But whatever.
Despite all the fun and explosions that populated the Joe cartoons of the 80s there were still an ass-load of "what the goddamn fuck was that?!" moments that even as a kid made me scratch my head a little as I watched them on my afternoon sugar buzz. Unfortunately for me now (as an adult of sorts), these cartoons make even less sense both in plot elements and physics. Just like on my previous Joe pages, I plan to simply jump from chronological point to point of the things that I noticed about the show this time around — now that I can rationally view them with the mind of somebody who knows that piles of wood are not explosive in the least. So, in order to remind you what Arise, Serpentor, ARISE! was about before hitting the list, I will give you a quick and short synopsis to refreshen your mental breathe:
Things start out with the G.I. Joe team getting all fat and lazy. They can't hit a target the size of a tank on the firing range, they ignore their duties and stations, and they tend to wear arctic camouflage in the middle of a desert base. Then Cobra attacks Joe HQ with their new STUN jeep/tank weapons, and their new army of robotic Battle Android Troopers! The Joes almost lose but are rescued at the very last moment by Sgt. Slaughter who single fistedly beats the high holy hell out of the robots and most of the live Cobra forces.
The Cobra High Command (and their arms dealer, Destro, who nobody even questions why he gives orders to anybody anymore) makes it back to Cobra Island and they're all PISSED that Cobra Commander (the man who pays everybody their bread and butter every end-of-the-month) messed up things again, and the Chief Science Officer, Dr. Mindbender, starts an insurrection because of a dope-induced dream he had about building a new Cobra leader with cloned DNA instead of, you know, promoting from within. Destro and the Crimson Guard Twins agree, but Cobra Commander gets all in a huff over their plans and tries to stop them... At least until his own troops point their guns at him in an effort to make him shut the fuck up. So then the master of back peddling agrees to let them have their chance to replace him, but he secretly starts planning to fuck their plans over before he is usurped from his own organization.
Meanwhile, Slaughter whips the Joes back into shape in a day, and soon the team finds out that Cobra's up to something featuring the tombs of a few dozen long dead conquerors and soldiers. Thus starts a few episodes of fantastic globe trotting in which the Joes get tricked or out-gunned in an attempt to keep the tombs unraided. Then Mindbender gets all the DNA of these dead warriors and leaders and tries to genetically clone the perfect Cobra Emperor out of the material, only to have Cobra Commander screw things up for him. Mindbender gets a second chance though and the egotistical Serpentor is born! Then Serpentor immediately orders an attack on Washington D.C. and takes the town in less than 10 minutes, but he didn't count on the Joe team pulling together in order to kick Cobra's asses back to their island base in order to show the world that new leader or old, Cobra still sucks. Big American dance party. The End.
There, your mind's flooded with memories of the past now, isn't it. Very good. Now go and enjoy the confusing and strange moments of Arise, Serpentor, ARISE!
1. Let's start out with the opening animation. Well, it appears that Cobra has an island now... Where all their troops, weapons, generals, and even Cobra Commander stays when not attacking the world... This is actually the first GI Joe opening animation that makes any goddamn sense whatsoever. It's all about the Joes fucking taking the offensive and ATTACKING a known terrorist organization that was stupid enough to not only build their base on an island, advertise that they even have an island (by planting a Terror Drome and tons of "snake" motifed constructions around the place), and NOT make it all just a booby trap for when a gung-ho branch of the US military under Reagan's rule attacked it. Well... It makes a lick of sense for how the Joes do things at least.
2. Okay, so a huge battle erupts on the beaches of Cobra Island, and the Cobra Emperor himself comes flying out on his hovering target/chariot PAST the front lines and right up to the Joe area of operations. Dumb, yes. But instead of taking a shot out of him, Lady Jaye throws a javelin at the guy that simply turns into a net?! Is the elite American armed force known as GI Joe filled with goddamn pacifists? Who even rubber stamped Lady Jaye's request for a "spear that turns into a comical fishing net" to be greenlighted?
3. A fucking GI Joe jet just fucking flew right through a Cobra squadron of Trouble Bubbles... That jet was probably going over 500mph, and just blew right on by half a dozen hovering pods of glass and maybe 400lbs of equipment, and nothing happens to any of them or their occupants? Nobody gets thrown from their un-buckled seats nor do any pods get tossed around like rubber duckies in the washer.
4. Once again I must comment on uniforms — both Joe and Cobra alike. Okay, the new Cobra Viper uniforms are pretty bad ass, what with their Cobra Commander-like faceplates and cool gloves, but Dr. Mindbender's duds.... Who in the world designed that faggy thing? Tight purple pants with a huge metal cod piece and knee-high black boots, NO SHIRT, metal suspenders, and a large flowing cape to go with his handle-bar mustache and monocle... I think somebody at Hasbro is having a laugh at the kids of the 80s expense just seeing what kind of shit they'd buy just because it had the GI Joe logo on it.
On the flip side of things, I know that the Joes are made up of special forces soldiers from every spectrum of national defense (and offense), but why allow the arctic soldier guy to participate in a JUNGLE operation in his polar-white fluffy jacket, white boots, and white hat... I also find it humorous that this arctic soldier — Iceberg — is black and doesn't wear a white ski mask. That's not racist, it's just awesomely funny.
5. Oh, and there's Quick Kick in the middle of the fire fight with no boots, no shirt, and only some gi pants on. High five!
6. And before the kids watching the show found out that the weird-looking guys in black with the red faceplates were indeed BATs (aka Battle Android Troopers) and not human, we have Bazooka firing a goddamn rocket-propelled grenade right into one's chest. Pretty cool, but possibly traumatizing.
7. And then in the end of the (pretty damn one-sided) battle, Cobra fucking Commander himself (and the two Crimson Guard commanders) pop on up to the open-topped Terror Drome to see what all the ruckus is about. Don't they have surveillance cameras that show the happenings to the occupants of a bunker 30 yards below the surface or anything? Even Hitler knew better than that.
8. I do love how after the Joes cornered Cobra Commander and brought down the entire Cobra organization they then BLOW UP everything on the goddamn island and then run away from the total destruction without any silly POWs. God I miss the America of the 80s!
9. Okay, now to start the show proper. Things begin with the Joes having some down time, so of course they start playing the great American pastime of baseball (complete with namby pamby trash talk).... while still in their uniforms and while still wearing all their weapons. Unless it's some kind of bizarre training I'm not aware of.
10. Lowlight actually rapid-fires the words "TOP THIS" into the side of a mock-up HISS Tank with a rifle (that's not even automatic) during target practice... But nobody can ever seem to hit an enemy trooper who's 10 yards away in actual combat. Apparently all this time the problem's been psychological and not from poor eyesight. Who knew?
11. If Cross Country actually tried to install a fucking tape deck into his $50million HAVOC in front of the top brass' base inspection in the real army he'd probably be justifiably shot in the face and have it passed off as a suicide.
12. Holy fuck, and the scene where Flint actually has to announce for the toddlers watching the chain of command (General Hawk, Duke, Flint, then Beach Head) is just so forced. And what the fuck, how does it jump from a general (Hawk) to a sergeant (Duke)?
13. Why is Beach Head walking along with his superiors with his ski mask on? Is he hideous beneath it? Cold sore? No upper lip? Darkman?
14. Then we meet Lifeline... the wimpy army medic who won't even help fix a helicopter because it'll eventually be used in combat (against enemy soldiers who'll be trying to KILL his friends). HOW THE FUCK did he make it into the army, let alone the elite Joe force?! Who the hell thought this flaccid character up? At least they have Beach Head there to actually verbalize the question of how "pussy-footing, dick-sucking, ball-stroking pacifists" could ever be allowed in his outfit (his actual words!).
15. So while the Joes are playing around or getting new assholes ripped by Hawk and his main bitches, Cobra Commander has TWO DOZEN bright yellow school busses parked in the abandoned Dance Academy just down the street from Joe HQ FILLED with glowing and uniformed Battle Android Troopers and Cobra STUN Tanks. He's also got about twenty monitors covering a wall that each have up close and personal live feeds of every part of the base... Some even of THE INSIDE of buildings. Joe security is really lacking something.
16. Okay, Mainframe and Dialtone playing a video game on the main GI Joe giant terminal is the most realistic part of this show so far. I actually know several guys who've done this during their tours of duty. But what cracks me up is that they're playing Combat on the Atari 2600... Didn't the NES come out by then?
17. Dude! Mainframe actually pulled a "well, in 'Nam" reference out on Beach Head! In your FACE, Beach Head!
18. Okay, so Mainframe and Dialtone weren't watching the security monitors, but weren't there ANY posted guards along the perimeter to watch for TWO DOZEN yellow school busses filled with Cobra robots and tanks? I guess not seeing as said busses just drive right into the base unheeded.
19. And when did the Joes move their base? It used to be somewhere in the American Southwest, but here it's in the middle of a very green and wooded area and nowhere near a desert. How much did that cost the taxpayers?
20. Hawk is one bad mother! The wall in front of him EXPLODES and knocks him and his posse to the ground, but in less than a second he's back on his feet and throwing out orders in the same calm and structured tone of voice he was using to mock Shipwreck for getting hit on the head with a baseball.
21. Well, I guess playing games in their uniforms and fully equipped ended up making sense for the Joes. Getting attacked in their own lightly guarded base must happen a lot.
22. Almost immediately the entire Joe forces (all 10 soldiers) are rounded up and encircled by Cobra in the middle of the airfield. First of all, how the hell did this happen without anybody dying (and in under 30 seconds), second of all, the Joes are just hiding behind old crates and oil drums.... and most of them are standing above what little cover they have and are directly in the line of fire. Seriously, how the fuck did we win any wars if our army training turns out geniuses like this?
23. Damn! The Joes actually start shooting straight, and right into the army of oncoming BATs, but those badass robots just keep on trucking! Those BATs are fucking hardcore!
24. Despite the fact that there were no more than a couple dozen school buses that transported Cobra to Joe HQ, they now have about 40 STUNs to throw at the Joes. I guess this could be chalked up to backup being called in, but I'm sure it's really just shitty storytelling.
25. Waittaminute... So we have a bunch of STUNs circling and constantly firing BIG GUNS at the entire Joe force which is hiding behind a couple of oil drums (which are probably full knowing them), and Cobra Commander feels the need to throw the platoon of BATs at the Joes as well... Okay, that could be good tactics, but the BATs start shooting at the Joes's camp from 100 yards away... Right THROUGH and INTO the circling STUNs.
26. Wait, now we're back to a desert base for the Joes. I call "MASS Device" for the no-prize!
27. Oh! And here comes Sgt. Slaughter!... With his pee-wee-sized tank, with a wide open cockpit. I don't think Slaughter's brave, just suicidal.
28. 6 STUNs drive right at Slaughter, firing as they go... and they drive right into him. This might have been a cool kamikaze move had they not all seen the previous attempts to do this turn the attacking STUNs into ramping and then flying projectiles one after another. It was like the later ones just wanted some air time.
29. Yup, Sgt. Slaughter is indeed trying to kill himself. Instead of driving his indestructible tank through the ranks of BATs and taking them all down like he did the STUNs, he parks his ride and then JUMPS out of it into the mass of Cobra Terminators for a round of fisticuffs.
30. Holy shit! What the hell is Slaughter fucking made of?! He starts tossing, punching, and SWINGING the BATs around like they're inflatable dolls!... Or maybe instead of making 500lb walking death machines of steel and murder Cobra skimped a bit and used plastic and crumpled newspaper. Though if that's the case, how did they hold up so well under GI Joe fire?... Or are the Joes' lasers really that ineffective that they can't take out plastic robots... Ow... My head hurts...
31. While watching Slaughter kick android ass, Hawk, Flint, Leatherneck, Roadblock, and Duke stop shooting and gather together for a Brady Bunch-like head shot to applaud their self-pernicious savior. Way to let that special training kick in, boys.
32. And there's another full-on PUNCH to a robot's face by Slaughter. Those things have got to be stuffed with bubble wrap.
33. Ugh... Then when the one man tide of Slaughter changes things to the Joes' advantage, the entire Joe army PUTS THEIR WEAPONS DOWN and attacks the robots with their bare hands. Even if the lasers weren't working, they could have still used their guns as clubs. Come to think of it that is rather ingenious of Cobra: Making killer robots that can't be stopped with guns, but only by bare fists... And by ingenious I mean "really, really retarded."
34. Now the Joes can just march right up to the Cobra STUN tanks and punch their occupants out? I guess the betting pools on the Slaughter-BATs fight was getting a little too distracting for the drivers. And again why didn't the Joes keep their guns to just SHOOT the STUN operators in the heads?
35. Animation glitch: The STUN Beach Head gets into has 3 front seats, then back down to 2. It seems they originally gave it three just so that he could kick three Cobra troopers out of it to show what a bad ass he is. Two just wouldn't have been the same.
36. The mountain of beat up BATs that Slaughter is soon standing upon is truly breathtaking. And he continues to pound the shit out of their corpses. It's like he's begging them "KILL ME!!! WHY WON'T YOU ELECTRONIC BASTARDS JUST KIIIIIILL MEEEEEE!?!?!"
37. Despite the fact the then retreating Cobra forces still have about 40 STUNs, they're chased off by about two dozen unarmed Joes and one helicopter with only half its weapons working because Lifeline refused to help fix it. Cobra sucks.
38. Holy shit! That was only the first six minutes of this entire thing.... Ugh. This is going to be a tough one to write through. I'm going to have carpal tunnel bad.
39. Flash to Cobra Island where Cobra Commander shakes the blame for the pathetic retreat like a bear wiping its ass with a bunny. Which bears the question (pun!): How did the terrorist organization transport all its troops, BATs, and vehicles both to and from the US mainland undetected? And why didn't the rest of the US military track them down even if the Joes were vehicle and ammo-less themselves? Oliver North probably got blamed for this mess up too.
40. What the fuck is Scrap-Iron wearing? He seems to have a pair of Speedos on over his pants.
41. Oooooh boy. Dr. Mindbender started talking about mutiny when Cobra Commander was only 5 steps away from him, Destro, and the Crimson Guard Twins... The Commander must be very hard of hearing to have missed it, or he's got a very thick hide... Or he's just going away to cry in his room like a high school girl after getting dissed by the chicks she thought were her friends in front of the boy she liked.
42. Slaughter: "Well, thanks for the fun party, General Hawk, but I've got to get back to my place of bid-ness and whip some problem recruits into shape!"
Hawk: "Wait, my main honkey! Stay here and train my pussified Joe team!"
Slaughter: "Ummm, well.... I dunno...."
Hawk: "WAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAH! NO! I want you stay here! Train my little girly girls! GODDAMMIT! DO IT, MAN!"
Slaughter: "Okay, General! You got a fucking deal!"
...................... ..................... ................. ................. ................. ................... ..................... ...............
Group of Problem Recruits at Slaughter's Training Grounds: ".................Um, can we just leave? If he doesn't get here by like next Tuesday I've heard that we can like go home or something...."
43. Jesus Christ! Slaughter's chin takes up 1/3rd of his entire face!
44. Not only does Dr. Mindbender sleep naked and GROAN LOUDLY in his strange dreams, but while he dozes he leaves a candle burning that sits upon a human skull on top of a pile of papers on a wooden table. I don't know which of those facts disturbs me most.
45. Mindbender's dream is truly something to behold: He's terrified of a giant, spiraling, lit-up Christmas tree with scary numbers flying all around it, then a gargantuan (and irradiatedly glowing) Cobra Commander pops up from the ground and starts shooting lightning at him. Then CC tries to step on him only to have the doctor throw a vial of pee on him, which causes CC to crumble. This dream leads Mindbender to come up with the idea for creating a new leader from genetic scraps of past great generals and tacticians................. I want whatever the writers of this thing were on. I'd take some just before going to bed in order to have the most kick-ass dreams EVER!
46. The next day Sgt. Slaughter wakes up the Joe compound at dawn for training... Only 8 (that's EIGHT) Joes actually show up, and they're all groggy. Aren't soldiers supposed to get up before dawn every day anyway? Wow, they really were slacking off. Even Leatherneck, a marine and fucking drill sergeant himself, looks like somebody pissed in his pudding at the news of their new regiment.
47. Not only is Slaughter suicidal, but he's also out of the closet. He claims that all the Joes' "butts belong to [him]!"... And there wasn't one lady Joe present... And strangely nobody argued against him.
48. Fucking awesome! To prove how bad-ass/willing to die he is, Slaughter tells the complaining Joes to all come at him at once to see if they can take him down. He then opens up a can of pure, 120%-proof WHOOP ASS on them, actually punching them in the faces and kneeing them in the stomachs/groins. There's even one freeze-frame where you can see a bit of blood flying from Flint's mouth! You wouldn't see this shit on TV today.... God bless the 80s!
49. Cobra Commander is vain, sure, but to actually hang a couple of dozen portraits of himself in his main conference room? Wow. And why is Mindbender having his "Replace CC With a Clone of the World's Greatest War Heroes of the Past" meeting in that very room? I wouldn't put it past the Commander to have that place bugged more than a pesticide-testing facility.
50. Speaking of bugs, Scrap-Iron actually created a working, flying, recording robot fly with 1980s technology?! Christ! That should be enough for Cobra Commander to replace Mindbender with him as Chief Science Officer!
51. The minute Mindbender brings up his idea of genetically building a new leader from the remains of history's greatest conquerors I cannot believe that Destro didn't beat him up and fart in his face. Okay, say that he actually does get all the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA, you wonder-brain, you) that he needs, whatever he creates would still have to be taught to not only walk, talk, eat, and not shit himself, but IF he was able to actually age-accelerate his creation to adulthood fast enough for him to replace CC in any real timeframe he'd still have the mind of a newborn with no actual military (or even any life) experience. So far all we have from this crazy kook to show why he's Cobra's Chief Science Officer is the fact that he made Battle Android Troopers whose weakness is getting punched in the face.
52. I love how before Mindbender even has anybody on his side (not to mention anybody who doesn't first laugh at his "vision" of a cloned "Cobra Emperor" right off the bat) he's got a really gay costume already made up for his science project: A golden snake-suit complete with scales and a cape. FAB-uloussssssssss!
53. Wow, Cobra Commander has bigger loyalty problems than I thought. He goes into the conference room rightly accusing his treasonous subordinates of stabbing him in the back, and his Crimson Guardsmen (who are pretty much brainwashed into obeying him) turn their guns on their leader because Destro and Mindbender HINT that they might do so. If I were Cobra Commander I'd just quit right there. He's just not cut out for this gig.
54. Ha! Then when CC changes his tune and ORDERS them to create this Cobra Emperor the Crimson Guards turn around and follow him out like loyal puppies. That's cold.
55. Interesting. CC actually seems to have thought this one through. When questioned by loyal Scrap-Iron why he's going to allow Mindbender to continue making this "emperor" he tells him that the zany doctor will surely fail and become a laughing stock... But if he somehow succeeds the Commander will mesmerize and manipulate the new leader to CC's will and become a greater power behind the thrown. Impressive.
56. What's really strange is that until the end of this whole mini-series Cobra turns into a total sausage fest. The Baroness is nowhere to be seen. No female Vipers or anything either. I guess boobies are harder to draw than codpieces.