In Part One, I gave an overview of the Sigma 6 animated series, and covered episodes 1-6 of the first Season. The first 5 episodes encompassed one 5-part tale, while Episode 6, “Race” began dipping into the Power Stones story and introduced us to Spirit Iron-Knife for the first time. As we continue on through the rest of Season One, Spirit sees some more action, we get a lot of robots thrown at us, and as with the first 6 episodes, the end result is more than a bit mixed.
Episode 7, “Jungle” continues on with the Power Stones as Zartan is trying to harness their energy, but ends up turning the B.A.T.s into almost invulnerable instruments of terror, who then turn against COBRA as well as Sigma 6. Another cool touch in the “Jungle” episode was an especially spirited battle between Zartan and Snake Eyes (shown in some sense above) and Snake Eyes seems very much unlike the “can’t be beat” ninja that we’ve seen in the past. Zartan is a character in the cartoon who I think actually got some “street cred” with a very nice updated design (if he appeared in 3 3/4″ scale like this, I think he would be a beloved update to the character) and a bad attitude. He’s also a capable fighter, which is a nice touch.
There are a handful of mostly “stand alone” episodes throughout the Sigma 6 story as well, and most of them are pretty unremarkable. I didn’t find much to comment on with Episode #8, entitled “Vacation” which finds the Joes undercover in Las Vegas trying to track down Destro.
As the battle for the Power Stones press on through the season, Sigma 6 travels to all corners of the globe, and the series quickly turns into a “freak of the week” type of formula (made famous in early episodes of Smallville), only instead of “freaks” we get “souped up robots”, called “Overlords”. We saw Overlord Vector in the original 5-Parter, and he returns here, going against Duke, Scarlett, and Heavy Duty.
As with all G.I. Joe mythos, the Sigma 6 series explores the back story between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes and their past history as “sword brothers” in the Arashikage Clan. In the Sigma world, though, it goes back even further and shows the two training when they were children as well. Though we get treated to several flashbacks of the two, we never actually find out what Snake Eyes did to “betray” the clan or exactly what Storm Shadow’s vendetta comes from. Throughout their latest confrontation, though, we also get introduced to another Overlord, this time one called “Virus”.
Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow end up teaming up together to face this new enemy and take him down, but once again they part ways with their issues unresolved, which is a theme that will go on endlessly (and somewhat tirelessly) throughout the rest of the series.
In Episode 11, “Space” we find Zartan taking hostages at a space station, and we unfortunately get re-introduced to Hawk’s son Scott. Overlord Vortex is the “freak of the week” during this episode, and ends up being a force to be reckoned with, though the team ends up taking him out with some brute force.
But of course this being a 13 episode season, with the Power Stone story sprinkled throughout, you know there must be some larger “end game”, and to the show’s credit, there is. It’s not a huge build up, but you do feel somewhat of a momentum shift as we go into the Episode Twelve of the series, which begins the two-part “Operation Zeus” season finale. If this Sigma 6 cartoon gets anything right, it’s that they finally give the COBRA agents some of the credit they deserve. COBRA Commander is a powerful warrior as well as the leader of the evil terrorist organization, which is a welcome change from his Sunbow portrayal. In fact, COBRA Commander is given so much credit, he single-handedly faces off against three members of Sigma 6 and pretty much torches them.
Tunnel Rat and Spirit manage to slip away, though Duke is left for dead as COBRA finishes powering up their nefarious “Zeus” super-robot. They send it on a crash course with Megalo City, yet unfortunately the writers felt the need to write Scott and SPUD back into the story, using SPUD as the “AI” brain in Zeus’ head. Silly yes, but Zeus is still powerful enough to pretty much wipe out the entire Sigma team, until they regroup and gather back together to launch their counter-attack.
Sigma 6 and Snake Eyes overpower Zeus’ shields and Snake Eyes sneaks in, then is able to convince SPUD to break his programming, which deactivates the monstrous robot. That’s right, once again the secret to Sigma 6’s success is a robotic android dog built and programmed by a 12-year old. Grrr.
Fortunately the battle isn’t quite over yet, as Duke, apparently feeling much better after being electrocuted into oblivion, uses his Jet Wing to track down COBRA Commander and face off, head-to-head.
Thus ends Season One of the Sigma 6 animated series. Calling it a “mixed bag” would be a drastic understatement, as we have periods of extreme coolness with the vehicle action and the sheer power of COBRA Commander (not to mention it’s always neat seeing your toys come to life), but then Tunnel Rat or Hi-Tech open their mouths, and all sense of coolness gets violently beaten into a mangled pulp. I love the uniform designs, the overall look of the series, and I even really dig the computer-generated robots that face off against Sigma 6 on a seemingly weekly basis, but that doesn’t change the fact that the dialog is nearly unlistenable, the plots are silly, and even for a show being targeted at kids, each episode at some point or another is almost blindly immature and juvenile. Watch it for the good parts, try to skip the bad parts, and take solace in the fact that in my opinion, Season Two is exceptionally better, which I will cover in the next installment.