Honestly, I was a year or two too old to fully to appreciate G.I. Joe when it was relaunched in 1982 as a toy, cartoon and comic book line. I could still recall playing with the muscular 12-inch G.I. Joe in his late-’70s incarnation as part of the Adventure Team. (Instead of shooting Nazis, he fought gorillas and mummies and had that badass “Kung-Fu Grip.”) The G.I. Joes that were 3-and-3/4 inch just seemed wimpy to me. But the ’80s incarnation (G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero) had its legions of rabid followers who carry the “Yo, Joe!” banner to this day. Amid the flurry of nostalgic activity inspired by the live-action G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie hitting theaters this August, there’s a small piece of Joe history flying just under the radar that hardcore fans might want to take note of.
On April 25, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block will unveil the complete one-hour mini-movie G.I. Joe: Resolute. Aimed at the adult fan, G.I. Joe: Resolute is written by famed British comic book author Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, The Authority) and directed by noted animator Joaquim Dos Santos (“Justice League Unlimited”). It was conceived as a stand-alone web-based miniseries of 11 five-minute animated episodes. But after sneak previewing several of the episodes on its website, Adult Swim will simply unveil the entire series in one toontastic chunk on the late-night Saturday schedule.
Iconic characters like Duke, Snake Eyes and Scarlett are back to battle the likes of Cobra Commander, Destro and Baroness—just like in the old days. The plot finds evil organization Cobra rising from the ashes to strike a devastating blow at the heart of the G.I. Joe task force. Although that sounds a lot like the ’80s series, this new, more sophisticated version takes place in something resembling the real world. Gone are the fantastical weapons, comic interludes and more, um, “colorful” characters (no Sgt. Slaughter here). In their place are some occasionally bloody violence, a few shocking plot twists and a wealth of heart-pumping action. The U.S.S. Flagg sabotaged? Bazooka murdered? Moscow vaporized? This is not your father’s G.I. Joe.
The short, episodic concept makes Resolute a bit choppy when viewed as a whole. (Not a lot of setup to this one.) But the overall effect is one of breathless forward momentum. The animation amps up the anime influence, giving the story a modern, mature look. Between Snake Eyes silently messing dudes up and Cobra Commander actually accomplishing something, you won’t even miss the old, episode-ending “moral of the story” segments. (All together now: “Knowing is half the battle!”) If the live-action movie is anything close to this cool ... Oh, who are we kidding? It won’t be.