"G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero" is literally the classic animated series that became an iconic series for thousands of fans who loyally collected the many awesome merchandise from Hasbro and continues to be a popular toy line today.
Although, the series was released in 1984, the series has spawned several of animated series, CG films, video games and in 2009, a live action film (with a second one planned for release in the summer of 2012).
But like other children's action animated series, not many series tend to last long. For the original "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero", the first animated series would last from 1983-1986.
But because Hasbro has been dedicated to their toy line up, and with new generation of children, in 1989, "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" was revived in 1989. This time around, in order to cut production costs, Hasbro dropped Sunbow for DiC and due to budgetary issues, DiC would focus on the new characters during this time period. A five episode mini-series titled "Operation Dragonfire" was released in 1989, and in 1990, a total of 19 episodes were created for the first season.
And now, both the mini-series and the first season will be released on DVD for the first time courtesy of SHOUT! FACTORY in Jan. 2012.
The first season would focus on Hawk as the G.I. Joe commander, Sgt. Slaughter as the head of G.I. Joe and Captain Grid-Iron as the field commander. While the original cast of Duke, Snake Eyes and Scarlett were not seen in this season, focus was primarily on the newer character until season two which would eventually feature the return of Duke and also a more deeper storyline. For Cobra, while Serpentor and Destro were seen as the two major leaders during the 1989
The DiC release of "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero" would last from 1989-1992 and while fans have looked at the original '80s series as being superior, fans also look at the revival as important for the introduction of new characters to the toy lineup for both G.I. Joe and Cobra. But perhaps the most significant change was Storm Shadow becoming a member of G.I. Joe (which was also reflected in the comic book series).
Here is a brief spoiler-less summary of each episode of "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero - Series 2: Season 1':
DISC 1: OPERATION DRAGONFIRE
EPISODE 1 - Day 1 - Serpentor is now in control of the Dragonfire. We are introduced to Scoop, a new member of G.I. Joe (but also a member of Cobra).
EPISODE 2 - Day 2 - After being shunned by Destro (who is now directing his attention towards Zarana), Baroness revives Cobra Commander from a Cobra to a humanoid/Cobra hybrid.
EPISODE 3 - Day 3 - Scoop finds out the truth about his family's death and feels betrayed.
EPISODE 4 - Day 4 - Cobra Commander tries to take back control of Cobra.
EPISODE 5 - Day 5 - G.I. Joe vs. Cobra
EPISODE 6 - United We Stand - Ambush and Pathfinder must work as a team.
EPISODE 7 - Revenge of the Pharaohs- A Night Creeper Leader thinks he is an Ancient Pharaoh.
EPISODE 8 - Granny Dearest - Metal-Head's grandmother visits Cobra and she thinks her son is the leader of the security agency.
EPISODE 9 - Victory at Volcania, Part 1 - General Hawk questions his usefulness to G.I. Joe because of his older age.
EPISODE 10 - Victory at Volcania, Part 2 - Can General Hawk lead G.I. Joe to victory?
EPISODE 11 - The Nozone Conspiracy - Cobra comes up with a commercial idea for NoZone?
EPISODE 12 - Pigskin Commandos - Sgt. Slaughter has been kidnapped, now Grid-Iron must save him.
EPISODE 13 - Cold Shoulder - G.I. Joe and the Oktober Guard work on a space satellite that Cobra wants.
EPISODE 14 - Injustice and the Cobra Way - There is a new hero in town!
EPISODE 15 - General Confusion - What happens when G.I. Joe's expenses come under review by the government?
EPISODE 16 - Night of the Creepers - Lowlight and Scoop track a Night Creeper Leader into an ancient city.
EPISODE 17 - That's Entertainment - General Hawk is not too thrilled by how lax his troops are, especially when they start becoming infatuated with a movie star.
EPISODE 18 - "I Found You... Evy" - Ambush reveals a story from his past.
EPISODE 19 - An Officer and a Viperman - Someone is leaking info. to Cobra, who is responsible?
EPISODE 20 - D-Day at Alcatraz, Part 1 - Cobra has been arrested.
EPISODE 21 - D-Day at Alcatraz, Part II - G.I. Joe has been deceived and now Grid-Iron and G.I. Joe must win the day!
EPISODE 22 - The Mind Mangler - Duke is captured by the Mind Mangler.
EPISODE 23 - BIOK - Super computer BIOK attacks G.I. Joe.
EPISODE 24 - Stuck on You - Pathfinder and Cobra Commander must work together to escape the jungle.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero" is in full color, fullframe (1:33:1) and presented in Dolby Digital. Because the DiC series had not been released on DVD until 2012, for many people, the only quality that people had seen are terrible many generation recordings (bad faded colors) recorded from television back in 1990-1991.
So, for many G.I. Joe fans, the release of "G.I. JOE - A REAL AMERICAN HERO - SERIES 2: SEASON 1' is quite significant! While there is obvious animated production differences between the '80s animated Sunbow series and the 1990 DiC animated series, while the animation was quite consistent with other animation of that era, there is a bit softness, some white specks and interlacing. But this common to see for animated series from the '80s and '90s on DVD.
With that being said, this is the best I have seen of the original 1990 animated series.
As for audio, effects, dialogue and music are all clear and understandable. I didn't notice any hissing, crackle or pops while listening to the soundtrack.
"G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero - Series 2: Season 1' comes with no special features.
For those of us who grew up collecting "G.I. Joe" toys and comic books, these animated series were a part of our childhood and for many Joe fans, these episodes are not only nostalgic but also have some sentimental meaning.
While I grew up during the Sunbow series, when news came out that "G.I. Joe" was being revived in the '90s and this time by DiC, a lot of us who grew up in the '80s knew that this series would be targeted to a new generation of children, as many of us were now graduating high school or have become adults.
I have to admit that by the '90s, despite my interest in G.I. Joe toys had dwindled as I was graduating high school and getting ready for college, I still managed to catch the series and even purchase a few of the toys. No matter how bright the colors were or how many characters were introduced, that is the joy of being an eternal "G.I. Joe" fan and supporting the series and the releases.
So, needless to say, I am quite biased when it comes to "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero". No matter how childish or cheesy some of the stories were, if you had an imagination and if you grew up with the series and were excited about the introduction of new characters, then you can't help but be excited. Especially when you hear that the DiC series were using newer characters.
And while I am more biased to the '80s Sunbow series, during college, I did try to catch as many of the DiC animated series on television. Granted, it was not the same G.I. Joe I grew up with. Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Gung Ho, Shipwreck, and Flint were gone and this time it focused on General Hawk, WWF wrestler Sgt. Slaughter and a new generation of G.I. Joe leaders and soldiers.
Which actually made sense to me at the time, as I was collecting the comic books and for anyone reading comic books, any superhero group or organization always had a change of characters and what better to tie into the toy line.
So, watching the DiC animated series, it was rather interesting because you had Ambush, Pathfinder, Salvo, Sub-Zero, the Sky Patrol and so many new characters, my feeling at the time was that kids should be thrilled.
Each character looked different, had different skills, various weaponry and attitude and Hasbro was quite innovative with the release of the toys. The animation encouraged us to enjoy them even further by establishing storylines that we could try to recreate. The series was the classic good vs. evil storyline and it's one thing to have these various members of G.I. Joe but the whole look of Cobra was just too cool to ignore.
So, here we are with the DiC animated release of "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero - Series 2: Season 1'. Many G.I. Joe fans may have missed the '90s series and the fact that the series was never released on DVD, many of us had no choice at the time but to watch terrible quality versions of the series that were recorded via VCR in the lowest quality.
Of course, that was then...this is now. SHOUT! FACTORY who released the Sunbow '80s animated series on DVD has now released the DiC animated series and quite frankly, this is the best looking and sounding version of the series on video to date.
With the '90s series, while the characters, action and excitement was still there, the series also had to cater to children and thus, there were a lot of episodes that may leave older fans scratching their heads. For me, I couldn't help but laugh because these lighthearted episodes also had it share of cheesy comedy.
For example, in the episode "The Nozone Conspiracy", because Cobra is broke, they have to come up with ideas to make big money. So, they create a spray known as "Nozone" and who do they find to help promote the product, Zarana in a swimsuit and the Dreadnoks.
In another episode titled "Granny Dearest", Metal-Head's grandmother shows up. And as he tries to create the impression that he is someone important within the Cobra ranks, she starts to become suspicious that her grandson is not working with good people.
Another episode had polar bears associating with GI Joe members and even one curious polar bear getting involved in a mission. It kind of made you wonder... were these writers smoking something at the time?
Sure, these episodes may be a bit too lighthearted and kitschy for the older fans but I have always been positive towards this series because I knew that as I grew up with the '80s series, for the '90s, Hasbro was targeting a newer demographic of children. It was the sign of the times...
Granted, things have changed so much for "G.I. Joe" fans in the last decade, especially with the release of "G.I. Joe: Resolute" several years ago and fans now clamoring for a more darker series. The animated series have become more edgier and darker and the targeted demographic are not so much the children but those who grew up with the '80s and '90s series who are still collecting "G.I. Joe" today.
Also, one would also see a difference in production quality. There was something about the original series that looked so good, while the DiC had less detail in my opinion. While I did feel that the female characters were nicely drawn and the fact that there were so many characters featured in these episodes, while not necessarily inferior, it's just different styles of animation and also Hasbro did spend a lot on the production of the original '80 series.
But for those of us who had the opportunity to grow up with these series, the DiC animated series would be important for many people in the introduction of many characters, many vehicles but also keeping "G.I. Joe" relevant for a new generation of collectors.
As for the DVD release, you get the DiC mini-series from 1989 and all episodes of season one from 1990. There are no special features (it would have been nice to see the toy commercials from the '90s included) but we do get the complete first season and the mini-series. And for those who have watched the terrible quality versions that were sold on the Internet, finally the definitive version of the DiC "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero" has come out on DVD.
And I'm looking forward to season 2, as the storyline becomes much more deeper and we see the return of a few of the classic G.I. Joe members. Including a change with former Snake Eyes nemesis, Storm Shadow.
Action-packed and fun! For those who grew up with "G.I. Joe" and are nostalgic for these classic '90s "G.I. Joe" episodes or for those who are new and want to see the evolution of "G.I. Joe", will definitely want to check out "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero - Series 2: Season 1'.