I really don’t care about GI Joe.
Never played with ‘em. Watched the cartoon maybe a dozen times… about enough to know the main characters (Duke, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Umm… the big black dude, the guy wearing a cowboy hat…) and the villains (Cobra Commander, Destro, Baroness, Zartan, Cannon-Fodder, the evil Snake-Eyes dude). I’m pretty sure, a WWF wrestler was part of the show and I’m savvy enough to get the joke about “knowing is half the battle.”
So, I read last summer all about Warren Ellis getting the call to write a more mature take on the cartoon/toy line. It didn’t really do much other than sink into my cerebellum that this would be on the horizon. At the time, I was probably more aware of the GI Joe live action movie coming out and, of course, Ray Park finding new ways of being in movies without saying any lines.
Via a Twitter notice, I was reminded the mini-episodes, that had been running on Cartoon Network and YouTube, were going to be finally put all together into a quilt of GI Joe goodness last Saturday night. So, I fired up the Tivo and made sure I’d be able to watch what was sure to be a dumbed-down, slightly more violent than a kiddie-show version of the GI Joe show I barely remember from my childhood.
I was wrong.
It was, to be fair, one of the better examples of modern cartoon storytelling of the last ten or so years. I didn’t really need to know too much more than I already did about GI Joe and the stuff I didn’t know I’m pretty sure Ellis invented.
The story kicked right off with the deaths of two characters. Now, to me these were characters I didn’t remember nor really cared about, but I’m sure fans were in shock. It’s full of big ideas, which should’t have shocked me since it was written by Ellis. I liked the idea of the GI Joe base of operations as a huge aircraft carrier and the four simultaneous plot points we were following were exciting mostly because I didn’t know if everyone was going to survive. Because of the early deaths, I wondered if there would be more deaths of both good and bad guys.
Early on, I wondered if the infiltrator who planted all the explosive charges on the USS Flagg wasn’t Stormshadow dressed up as Snake-Eyes, but that might have been too confusing. In fact, the complicated science-y plot works with a nice science fiction explanation. Once we know what’s what, Ellis doesn’t let up on the action.
I need to watch it again, but Snake-Eyes is just badass. I’m pretty sure he eviscerates plenty of Cobra stooges, but the fight with Stormshadow was choreographed with an eye toward jaded audiences who’ve seen this sort of thing before. The only point of contention is Ellis doing his version of the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.”
While people in GI Joe fire more rounds of ammunition without hitting someone this side of Hard Boiled, I was happy to see some actual people shot and seemingly killed. One of my recollections as a kid was always seeing parachutes after Cobra plans were shot down. Here, we know these guys are dead.
After watching it, I’m wondering just how much anticipation GI Joe fans are going to have with the live action movie. To me, it looks like a modern retelling of Megaforce, which probably isn’t a bad thing. However, for fans of the cartoon I can only imagine GI Joe Resolute was a dream come true.