Fully satisfied that there was an eager audience waiting to spend their weekday afternoons watching G.I. Joe cartoons, Sunbow kicked off its Joe series with another five-part mini-series, The Pyramid of Darkness.
While GI Joe: A Real American Hero and GI Joe: The Revenge of Cobra largely tried to stay within a very loose, somewhat realistic paramilitary force vs. supervillain terrorist organization structure, The Pyramid of Darkness abandoned any pretense of realism and just aimed to be as entertaining for its target audience as possible.
Looking at Pyramid of Darkness through modern eyes, there’s a limitless amount of offenses to the comic book lore with a break dancing Snake-Eyes, Shipwreck’s chatty parrot Polly, a yodeler capable of creating avalanches, cuddly teddy bears that turn into flame throwing behemoths and a shirtless, barefoot kung-fu fighter defeating a ninja in the snow. And Snake-Eyes doing his best Boy George impersonation. Really in all facets of logic, Pyramid of Darkness is ridiculous, but it’s also an endlessly entertaining journey in the wacky world of the animated adventures of GI Joe.
Cobra Commander is pretty sure he’s got a great scheme this time. He’s going to seize control of the Joe’s satellite and with precise placement of four cubes, trigger a Pyramid of Darkness, which is basically a constant EMP. Again as far as schemes go, this one is ahead of its time even if the logistics get a bit tricky.
Pyramid of Darkness was the showcase mini-series for the 1985 series Joes and Cobras. For my money, 1985 was the most complete series of Joes with specialists for every occasion and some awesome vehicles like the Bridgelayer, The Snow Cat and the granddaddy of all Joe accessories, the USS Flag. Since Revenge of Cobra jumped the gun on Flint, Lady Jaye and Shipwreck they don’t need much of an introduction.
The newcomers include Alpine, Bazooka, Airtight, Footloose, Dusty and Quick-Kick. Writer Ron Friedman clearly didn’t get too bothered with the locations for certain Joes. Desert trooper Dusty didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the space station and Quick-Kick could have at least worn a jacket while battling in the Artic. QK would at least dress for the occasion by the time GI Joe The Movie came around…
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Cobra didn’t get the massive reinforcements as they did in 1984, but they did supplement their army with the Crimson Guards and their commanders, Tomax and Xamot, psychic twins who could feel what the other felt.
Following the blueprint of the other mini-series with a slight twist, the Joes race around the globe to stop Cobra from placing the cubes. This was a smarter move than the race to get three components of the first two.
The added dynamic of shifting power struggles in the satellite also kept the story fresh. Shipwreck and Snake Eyes were largely on the run for most of this installment before encountering the Cobra nightclub singer Satin (Ketty Lester). Satin actually had some catchy songs for a cartoon series aimed at boys in 1985.
There’s a little sloppiness with the quality control. Quick-Kick is actually at Joe headquarters when it’s attacked standing close by Alpine and Bazooka, but introduces himself as if he’s never been a Joe a few episodes later. Also, Lady Jaye mysteriously puts on a jacket after getting caught by Destro’s cube. For the most part there’s an improvement on the animation and character movement from the earlier mini-series.
Pyramid of Darkness is crazy and features a ton of outlandish moments that if your GI Joe is the Bible by Larry Hama, you’re not going to find much enjoyment in it. But if you’re able to go along for the nutty ride it’s arguably the most fun and entertaining of the Joe mini-series.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Sunbow