G.I. Joe Series 2 - Season 1

MSRP - $19.99
Release Date - January 10th, 2012

Buy it at Shout Factory Store
Buy it at Amazon.com

It takes a strong man to stand up in front of a crowd and admit he loves the DiC series of G.I. Joe cartoons. A very strong man.

I am not a strong man.

I've said a number of times in the past that while I really appreciate what the Sunbow cartoon brought us, and I've learned to love it for what it is as time has gone on, I prefer the comic as my "canon" and I stay true to the way Larry Hama wrote these characters and this universe. Sunbow dipped its toes just a bit too far in the fantasy pool for me to take it seriously, even if the characterizations within did shape the mythology in many ways over the past thirty years.

And if Sunbow got their feet wet with fantasy and a strong focus on children...well then DiC totally leaped head first into the deep end and quite possibly smacked their head on the bottom of the deep end of the pool.

Sunbow, even though their lasers couldn't kill, and even though the storylines were much less military and much more genetically engineered hamsters and mind-controlled animals, there was still a strong sense of intelligent writing, character driven mythology, and a sensible direction from point A to point B. The DiC series doesn't really contain these characteristics...but in some cases, I just can't pull myself away.

At some point in your adult life as a Joe fan, you just need to stop and embrace the ridiculousness, and if you can do that, this DVD set is a fun watch and a great "geek out" experience, especially considering this is the first time ever so many DiC episodes have been gathered on a single disc.

Of course I'm speaking as a diehard fan of the 90's. While many kids were embracing Flint, Lady Jaye, and living long off of their love of Shipwreck, I was moving on to Hit & Run, Bullhorn, Captain Grid Iron, Range Viper, and even the Eco Warriors. Don't get me wrong, I have a strong affection for the classic characters, but I love the 90's, too, and to be able to throw a DVD in my DVD player and see Alley-Vipers, Scoop, Slaughter's Marauders, Grid Iron, Bullhorn, and the army of awesome 90's Cobra vehicles in animated action on the television screen is a terrific feeling. If I can suck it up and turn off my brain a little bit, just to enjoy the Iron Grenadiers, Sky Patrol, and the fun 90's style, I can stand behind this DVD set entirely.

Don't get me wrong, you have to know what you're getting into. You can't buy this set and plan on a well crafted story that pulls you in and makes you feel invested with the characters or plotlines, because that's not what this is. What it is, is a collection of hilarious and off-beat G.I. Joe themed stories filled with characters you've possibly never seen in animation before. There is something cool about that.

Not only that, but the DVD set does start off with the 5-Part Operation: Dragonfire mini-series, and while it has its own share of kiddy humor, it at least does have some good story progression, and is probably the highlight of the entire DiC series. Lots of Alley-Vipers, lots of Scoops, some Crimson Guards, the '89 Stalker, and Slaughter's Marauders all add up to be a pretty fun 5-part series.

The rest of Season 1 is scattered across the other 3 discs, and while I certainly can't tell you for sure how well broken out the episodes are, it does match up with the Wikipedia page, so it seems to be the entirety of Season 1, which originally aired in 1990. As I've said, the real joy of these cartoons is the characters that appear throughout, and we even get some good looks at Sky Patrol, Metalhead, and the whole plethora of '90 era Joes and Cobras.

The video quality is pretty good. This is obviously digital video, and is undoubtedly the best quality video you will see of the DiC episodes. It certainly isn't Blu Ray quality or impeccable, but the lines and colors are transferred well, and I didn't notice any obvious glitches or audio issues.

As for special features, unfortunately this series really doesn't have any. It's purely episode-driven without many peeks behind the scenes or interesting quirks that might tempt a Joe fan to invest more time into the set. But even without these things, I think most long time G.I. Joe folks will find some stuff to enjoy here. It's not perfect, and the episodes themselves border on the ridiculous, but that doesn't lessen the entertainment value, if you dig the 90's characters and seeing some G.I. Joe media that you might have missed along the way. For that reason, I feel comfortable recommending this, but keep in mind you have to put your brain on hold and just enjoy it for what it is.


Buy it at Shout Factory Store
Buy it at Amazon.com

I've also done some quick and dirty screencaps, just to show the characters that appear in the series. Keep in mind, this is not indicative of the video quality, it's just a snapshot from my computer for an idea of the characters.