G.I. Joe: Renegades Season 1 Volume 1

Release Date - June 5th, 2012
Order at Amazon.com

I approach this review with a somewhat heavy heart... I've made no secret of the fact that G.I. Joe: Renegades was one of the best things to happen to the G.I. Joe brand in a long time. A very well produced, well written, yet kid friendly cartoon that also managed to keep adults interested and expanded the brand in new and interesting ways.

As excited as I was for the new live action film, hearing that G.I. Joe: Renegades was canceled because of the film was distressing to say the least, made only more distressing by recent revelations that the film is being pushed back until March to include 3D and do some reshoots. We could have had a whole second season of G.I. Joe: Renegades by then!

Even with that being said, it's important not to dwell on those current mishaps, and to enjoy stuff that has come before, which is a perfect reason to latch on to G.I. Joe: Renegades in whatever format you can get. Airing on the Hub, G.I. Joe: Renegades was not as available as many fans would have preferred, with the Hub being an upper tier cable channel that cost more money to acquire. Thankfully with kids in my house, I was able to rationalize the expense of bringing Sprout into the house along with The Hub, and that made the per month increase well worth it. I couldn't have been happier that I made the decision, because G.I. Joe: Renegades was pure unbridled entertainment for all of its twenty-six episodes. Perhaps one of the better themes running throughout the series was the idea of Cobra as a corporate entity, not even on the radar as the evil terrorist organization that they actually were:

Certainly, some were better than others, but throughout the entirety of Season 1, the storyline progressed, characters evolved, and by and large it was one heck of a great watch, especially for an animated series. Once I heard that Shout! Factory was doing a DVD, I was ecstatic. Now, the one down side here is that we're breaking Season one up into two different parts, which kind of stinks. I'd rather have one full season of the show in a single set rather than have to buy two separate parts. Also, part of me was hoping we might see this show in Blu-Ray as well, considering it was done in HD for those limited areas that actually got The Hub in High Definition (not to mention iTunes). That being said, even for a standard DVD set, the fact that we can watch the first 13 episodes of G.I. Joe: Renegades whenever we want is pretty much all the rationalization I need to purchase this great series set.

This volume 1 DVD set comes with the following episodes. The titles below are linked to my episode synopsis and reviews that I posted on GeneralsJoes:

The most amazing thing to me about looking at the above list of episodes is that many folks complained about the pacing of the series and that it seemed too slow, but if you just look at those figure 13 episodes, so much happened there. We had Zartan and Major Bludd making their first appearances, as well as Storm Shadow and Jinx. Destro come on board the show as James McCullen, and then gained his more famous look in Episode 9. The Homecoming 2-Parter really drove the whole Joes as fugitives angle, and Tomax and Xamot rounded off the first half of Season 1, so looking at it from that perspective, it's tough to say that nothing really happened. In retrospect I think they were building perfectly to a great rich history within this new G.I. Joe universe.

Perhaps the best aspect of this show was the way they took existing characters and reinvented them in interesting ways. Major Bludd as a perfect example, who became an almost Mad Max style mercenary, using a hopped up sports car and some impressive sword skills:

Many complaints revolved around the concept of the Bio-Viper, but really, using the Bio-Vipers allowed for some more extreme violence that might have otherwise been frowned upon:

As for the DVD set itself, it's a pretty basic, straight forward collection. Two discs make up the volume with no real special features to speak of. It's pretty bare bones, but the content on the discs really makes up for that I believe, with the excellent stories and the fantastic characters. Believe it or not, even though I've seen the first season numerous times already, I actually watched these DVD's most of the way through, and couldn't help but marvel at how entertaining the series is, even now. The first two-parter with Ripcord's apparent doom, the way Destro first appeared (not to mention Major Bludd)...the way the first half of the season built up to the big Homecoming two-parter, and the thrilling events within that mid-season explosion. This was a terrific, terrific series, and the first half of Season 1 is still loaded with entertainment value.

Granted, I would have loved some commentary or some behind the scenes stuff, and even some concept art would have rocked, but for the price, I can't argue with half of Season 1 at a bargain price. So the question always remains...do I grade a DVD based on the quality of the show that is contained within, or based on how that show is offered to the DVD viewing public? In my opinion, G.I. Joe: Renegades is quite possibly the best animated series or media event tied into the G.I. Joe property over the past 30 years, so with that in mind, this DVD deserves five stars. However the fact that the first (and only) season is being broken up into two parts, the fact that there is no special features, and that there is no Blu-Ray or HD content on the horizon leads me to knock things down a peg.

I still think for G.I. Joe fans this DVD set is a no brainer, with hopes that the second volume will come out soon. Heck, sales of this set will probably determine whether or not we get a second set, and considering how much stronger and more exciting episodes 14 - 26 are in comparison to the first 13, not getting the second half of Season One would be a damn shame.