Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Target Snake Eyes

Target Snake Eyes is the culmination of several stories. It is a conclusion to all the stuff that happens after the big Cobra Command event, which followed the massive Cobra Civil War crossover.

This is the final chapter of the larger arc that is spread over G.I. Joe: Deep Terror, G.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 2: Son of the SnakeG.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 3: Oktober Guard and G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow, Vol. 1.

Additionally, this sets up the new comic book series G.I. Joe: Special Missions, which happens alongside the events of two other new titles, G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files and G.I. Joe (the third main series for the franchise at IDW). This list here will help you make sense out of the timeline and the multiple titles since IDW is pretty confusing on how they release G.I. Joe stuff.

This kicks off with G.I. Joe and Cobra hunting for Snake Eyes and his Arashikage ninja brother Storm Shadow. Snake Eyes is believed to be working against the Joes and Storm Shadow has taken his clan and left Cobra. Snake Eyes has his own agenda, as that’s sort of his modus operandi. This eventually leads to Storm Shadow feeling betrayed and a rift forming between the two, once again.

Target Snake Eyes also deals with Joe and Cobra teams that aren’t in great shape. The Baroness comes up with a massive scheme to give Cobra a lot more power but the scheme fails and she finds herself in the crosshairs of Cobra Commander.

There is a lot of Serpentor, Coil politics, Arashikage politics, Cobra politics, Joe politics and a big crescendo that finishes the story and gives you a sense of narrative completion other than a few open ended bits that will carry over into future story arcs.

Overall, this is a really good book if you are a fan of the ninja side of the G.I. Joe universe.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: The two stories that lead into it: G.I. Joe: Deep Terror and G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow, Vol. 1.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 3: Oktober Guard

G.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 3: Oktober Guard is a direct pickup of the plot thread that started in G.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 2: Son of the Snake.

This follows Flint’s team of Joes, operating out of a casino in Las Vegas with the assistance of Tomax, a former major player in Cobra. This also follows Major Bludd’s story and the aftermath of his part in the Cobra Command crossover event. Additionally, this also happens at the same time as the events in G.I. Joe: Deep Terror and G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow, Vol. 1.

This is written by Chuck Dixon, the greatest G.I. Joe writer that isn’t the legendary Larry Hama. This is also one of my favorite smaller scale Dixon stories. It’s about a small group of characters and isn’t forced to wedge in every Joe and Cobra character like the mega events Cobra Civil War and Cobra Command.

The primary thing of importance here is that this story arc introduces the IDW G.I. Joe universe to the Oktober Guard, who were pretty prevalent during the Cold War G.I. Joe stories of the 1980s. In the old days, they were the Soviet Union’s version of G.I. Joe. In the IDW universe, they are a Russian group that exists in secret and are more like mercenaries than a government agency.

This book also serves to further develop Flint, Lady Jaye, Chameleon, Ronin and Major Bludd. Ultimately, this leads to Major Bludd becoming the leader of Oktober Guard. While that’s a bit of a spoiler, the way in which it happens is pretty cool.

I really liked this story, it continues a great track record of Chuck Dixon’s G.I. Joe tenure and IDW’s handling of the property during this era. Sadly, IDW would lose touch later on but at this point, G.I. Joe is still solid.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: G.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 2: Son of the Snake (the story before it) and G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files, Vol. 1 and 2 (which follows it).

Film Review: Deadly Prey (1987)

Release Date: November 7th, 1987
Directed by: David A. Prior
Written by: David A. Prior, Richard Connell
Music by: Tim Heintz, Tim James, Steven McClintock
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Troy Donahue, Ted Prior

Action International Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“Suck this!” – Lt. Thornton

If you’ve never seen a David A. Prior film, you’re probably a fairly normal person. If you have, you’ve probably been changed by the bizarre insanity of his work.

The only Prior film I’ve watched in recent memory was The Final Sanction, which I also reviewed. Other than that, I haven’t seen any of these in a long time. Deadly Prey, however, is probably Prior’s best known picture and even spawned a sequel that was made just a few years ago.

This movie stars Ted Prior, David’s brother and a ripped, blonde mulleted badass. Most of David’s movies, at least all the ones I’ve seen, feature his hard bodied brother.

Like other Prior movies, this is a violent spectacle that features bad acting, crazy situations but just enough heart and charm to make it something that’s better than just a forgettable pile of shit. The Prior boys put their souls into these movies and Deadly Prey is probably their magnum opus. Everything in it just feels right for the type of picture that this is.

The story in this one is about this private military group that trains its killer elite by kidnapping real people and staging manhunts somewhere outside of Los Angeles. This time, they kidnap the wrong guy, as he’s a super soldier that was once trained by the same commander that leads the psycho commandos. What we get is one man’s war against a corrupt commander and his super solider mercenaries.

I once used this movie as a test with some girl on a date. We never dated again but I had to know if she was down to get dirty or just some chick that would make me take her to Kate Hudson movies. Better to learn these things sooner rather than later.

Deadly Prey certainly isn’t a movie for most people or those who think they have taste. Taste is subjective anyway and usually what’s considered the the most tasteful films are really just dumpsters overflowing with overrated garbage.

The only thing this movie needed for an extra edge was some Robert Z’Dar.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: Anything else from David A. Prior

Film Review: Shoulder Arms (1918)

Release Date: October 20th, 1918 (limited)
Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
Written by: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Sydney Chaplin

Charles Chaplin Productions, First National Pictures, 45 Minutes, 36 Minutes (TCM print and DVD)

Review:

Shoulder Arms came out around the same time as A Dog’s Life, which I loved. Both films are early Charlie Chaplin works but also helped to bolster his growing popularity and lead to him being one of the most celebrated comedians of all-time.

This is Chaplin’s shortest feature film but it is also the first feature length picture that he directed. It was his most popular film commercially and critically up to its point of release in 1918.

The film has some solid material from the master of slapstick.

Charlie is at war and he hasn’t received any letters from home. However, one day he gets a package of some pretty stinky cheese, which he needs a gas mask to handle. After throwing it into a German trench, he captures thirteen enemy soldiers. He then spends some time wandering around behind the enemy lines disguised as a tree. The tree stuff is some of my favorite Chaplin material that I’ve seen. Most of the film ends up being a dream sequence.

Even though this is an early film in Chaplin’s long career, he was already a veteran at comedy and his shtick is just as effective here, as it has ever been.

The film is light, amusing and a quick watch.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Chaplin’s early films for First National: A Dog’s Life, The BondSunnysideA Day’s PleasureThe KidThe Idle ClassPay Day and The Pilgrim.

 

Book Review: Tales from the Cobra Wars – A G.I. Joe Anthology

Since I have been knee deep in IDW’s G.I. Joe comics, as of late, I decided to pick up this book that exists within that same universe. It is an anthology of novella and short story length tales by various writers. It was edited by Max Brooks (son of the uber talented Mel Brooks, as well as the author of World War Z and its spiritual predecessor, The Zombie Survival Guide).

Sadly, I wasn’t pulled into this book in the same way that I’ve been pulled into IDW’s comics. Maybe my mind just needed that extra visual element but to be honest, the stories just didn’t have the excitement that the comics have had for me.

The first chapter was a Snake Eyes story by talented G.I. Joe comics writer Chuck Dixon. I love Dixon’s work and I can’t praise it enough but this tale didn’t really cut the mustard for me. I’m not a fan of Dixon’s prose, I guess. That’s not a knock against it but his writing is very “point A to point B” without a lot of flourish. Despite something cool happening in the story, the style just feels bland to me.

The other tales aren’t much better. Nothing is truly boring but nothing is truly exciting either.

I’m assuming I’m not alone in my assessment of this collection, as there was never any sort of follow up to it. Had it been a success, IDW would’ve probably kept pumping these out like their G.I. Joe comics.

Still, if you’re a hardcore fan, it’s hard not to pick this up. The cover art is solid and it will look good on a shelf wedged between other G.I. Joe titles.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: IDW’s run of G.I. Joe comic book titles.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow, Vol. 1

After reading through the massive Cobra Civil War event and its sequel Cobra Command, I wanted to see what was next in IDW’s G.I. Joe run. That brought me to this book, which is one of the next story arcs after those much bigger books.

This tale happens alongside G.I. Joe: Deep Terror and G.I. Joe: Cobra, vol. 2: Son of the Snake. I have already read and reviewed Deep Terror and Son of the Snake.

In this story, we catch up with Snake Eyes, who last we saw during the events of Cobra Command where he left behind Helix and the G.I. Joe team to realign himself with his ninja brother Storm Shadow and the Arashikage clan.

We learn that Storm Shadow and the Arashikage feel betrayed by the new Cobra Commander. Snake Eyes acts as an ally with his own secret agenda because this may be his one real opportunity to cripple Cobra and to make Storm Shadow see the light. Reasoning aside, it is cool seeing the ninja brothers fight side by side.

The Arashikage are pitted against Cobra for the first time. Storm Shadow attempts to kill the Commander but fails and strikes a dummy. This exposes his intentions and the Commander goes to Serpentor in an effort to find new assassins to fill the void left behind by the loss of Storm Shadow, his most effective killer.

This book also, finally, introduces the IDW G.I. Joe universe to the Dreadnoks. Their debut has been long overdue and I haven’t liked the IDW version of Zartan, thus far. I’m hoping that this leads to a more traditional version of the villain and his badass biker gang.

In the end, this is a really solid Snake Eyes story. It gives a peek into his and Storm Shadow’s past and gives more backstory to both these iconic characters.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with:  G.I. Joe: Deep Terror and G.I. Joe: Cobra, Vol. 2: Son of the Snake, the two stories that happen alongside this one. The follow up to all three stories is G.I. Joe: Target Snake Eyes.

TV Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – The DiC Era (1989-1992)

Release Date: September 2nd, 1989 – January 20th, 1992
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Larry Hama
Music by: Stephen James Taylor
Cast (voices): Kevin Conway, Chris Latta, Sgt. Slaughter, Ed Gilbert, Maurice LaMarche, Morgan Lofting, Dale Wilson, Scott McNeil, Garry Chalk, Ted Harrison

DiC Entertainment, Hasbro, Claster Television, 44 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

“What am I paying you for, anyhow?” – Cobra Commander, “You’re not paying me! I haven’t seen a dime from you in months!” – Destro, “…Minor detail.” – Cobra Commander

I recently reviewed the feature length miniseries that kicked off this era. I didn’t think that G.I. Joe could sink to lower depths than Operation Dragonfire but this series that followed proved me wrong.

Sure, I had seen these episodes before but not since I was in middle school when I didn’t have a refined palate.

The DiC era of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is an example of what can happen when you take something perfect and try to replicate it with less money and shoddy resources. It’s not even like a Chinese knockoff it’s more like a North Korean knockoff. And for some reason, even though “American” is still int he show’s title, G.I. Joe are now presented as “international heroes”. So are they a U.N. thing? Or is that because the United States has a base in nearly every country anyway and this cartoon was pointing that out in a tongue and cheek sort of way? I doubt that it is the latter, as the people behind this show don’t seem smart enough to know how to flush a toilet let alone create some sort of clever, subtle and sarcastic “fuck you” to U.S. foreign policy and the military.

Well, this is an inadvertent “fuck you” to the military regardless, as it takes once heroic and badass soldiers that defended Old Glory and turns them into the Three Stooges with laser rifles. I have never seen dumber characters fighting for freedom than the ones represented here. And really, it’s a big “fuck you” to all the fans that loved G.I. Joe because the quality of the stuff before this (excluding The Movie) was friggin’ solid.

The biggest complaints I have about this era of G.I. Joe are the same as those I discussed in my Operation Dragonfire review. But to summarize, the character designs are ugly, the dialogue is atrocious, the animation looks like shit and the writing is painful and baffling.

Granted, Hasbro is probably to blame for the character designs but this show does nothing to make them better and in fact, it enhances the vibrant colors and goofy flourishes.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was once my favorite thing on television. Then DiC Entertainment came along and took a giant f’n shit on it.

And my god, man… that theme song they did is enough to make your eyeballs melt and your ears explode.

I must run this turd pile through the trusty Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 2 Stool: Sausage-shaped but lumpy.”

Rating: 2/10
Pairs well with: Nothing good.