After the success of the first mini-series, a sequel featuring G.I. Joe was inevitable. Going the Empire Strikes Back route, G. I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra took a more exhilarating approach making for a strong second chapter of the Joes’ animated adventures.
Revenge of the Cobra followed the template of the first five part mini-series, Real American Hero, with the Joes and Cobra racing across the globe to secure three components for control of a potentially world-conquering device. The mini-series takes the theme song’s creed of fighting over land and sea and air to heart with the battleground locations including an Aztec temple, a volcanic island and the Artic.
Writer Ron Friedman — with Joe comic writer Larry Hama receiving character development credit — comes up with arguably the best premise of all of Cobra’s mini-series schemes. Given the state of the world with global warming a device that could trigger natural disasters and affect the weather seems like a pretty formidable weapon for a terrorist organization.
One of the hidden agendas of the mini-series was to introduce younger viewers to the new Joes conveniently available on toy shelves. Revenge of Cobra didn’t necessarily stick to the script on that front only giving cursory cameos to some members of the team.
Newer Joes like Blowtorch, Recondo and Ripcord were featured in one segment while Mutt (and Junkyard) were showcased in just one episode. Curiously, more emphasis was placed on three characters — Flint, Lady Jaye and Shipwreck— whose figures wouldn’t be available until the following year. Although the characters rarely were portrayed in the manner Hama wrote them in the comic book, Friedman gave the Joes distinct personalities to help them stand out. There’s a surprising amount of humor in the episodes as well.
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Revenge of Cobra was all about spotlighting new villains Storm Shadow, Firefly and Zartan & the Dreadnoks, all of whom became iconic members of the cartoon series. Cobra did have a lot of flashier, more memorable characters and adding a ninja master, saboteur, chameleon and Mad Max biker gang to the villain ranks helped raise Cobra’s threat level immensely.
Regardless, the new featured players along with Roadblock and Spirit Iron-Knife make for great additions to the series. Voice performances from Andrew Burghardt, Zack Hoffman, Keene Holiday, Bill Ratner, Mary McDonald-Lewis and Neil Ross further helped characters like Destro, Zartan, Roadblock, Flint, Lady Jaye and Shipwreck indelible components of the cartoon.
Friedman continued the trend from Real American Hero with an upstart within Cobra trying to seize control, which would become key to Cobra’s downfall in every mini-series from that point.
The movie shows its age with the animation and a simpler style yet the action sequences remain fun for a series with laser blasts that never hit anything besides vehicles and stationary objects. An underrated element of the series has to be the music. Composer Johnny Douglas put together some very catchy themes that work in both specific moments and generic transition scenes.
The Revenge of Cobra proved to be another winner for Hasbro’s breakout property while proving there was a high demand for more cartoon exploits of GI Joe.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Sunbow/Hasbro