Before I begin my review, I would like to say that the "Arise, Serpentor, Arise!" mini-series has to be some of the most exciting and entertaining G.I. Joe storytelling in the entire series. Plus, what's really nice is that in the majority of the episodes Cobra actually manages to score some major victories while making the Joes look like complete fools. Unfortunately this five part mini-series also contains some of the most unrealistic and mind boggling scenes ever witnessed in a G.I. Joe cartoon, not to mention the entire premise of the mini-series itself. Now, on to episode one.
Before we get into the bulk of the episode itself, I want to analyze what happens in the first ten minutes or so. To start off, yes, the Joes do seem to have relaxed their standards when it comes to maintaining a vigil against Cobra. However, Cobra being able to establish a staging area so close to their base is inexcusable.
Second, the assault on the base itself. To begin with, the much vaunted automatic defense system is nowhere to be seen. You'll remember in "Cobra Claws Are Coming to Town" Duke made a point of saying that no one could get past it once it's activated. Shipwreck also made this point to Destro in "Pit of Vipers". Yet now there is no evidence that it even exists. Turning our attention to the battle itself, Cobra Commander, not surprisingly, makes a number of disastrous blunders. First, the STUN and B.A.T. attack formation against the Joes is completely ludicrous. Having the STUNs circle around the Joes just so the incoming fire from the marching B.A.T.s takes them out is a sign of a very poor military commander, to say the least.
Also, as Tomax and Xamot note, Cobra Commander sends all of his forces against the Joes, leaving none in reserve in case something unexpected happens. Not only that, but he apparently pulls off all the STUNs encircling the Joes to attack the oncoming Sgt. Slaughter, since in the very next scene we no longer see STUNs circling around the surrounded Joes. How Slaughter is able to handle all of these STUNs is unclear, but naturally he makes it through unscathed.
The blame for this failure should not rest solely on Cobra Commander though. He is essentially correct when he faults the B.A.T.s for losing the battle. Any military robot that can handle numerous shots from laser rifles but is destroyed from a single punch to the face really should be field tested some more before being unleashed in combat.
A lot of the fault for Cobra's humiliating loss rests solely on the animators, and writers as well. The whole battle itself seemed like a hastily written affair, just so Cobra could be given an excuse to dethrone the Commander.
Even though the initial battle formation involving the STUNs and oncoming B.A.T.s was tremendously idiotic, the fact that those Joes surrounded escaped completely unscathed is laughable, to say the least. Hawk is right when he says that they deserved to lose; they most certainly did, and should have, even with Cobra Commander's blunders. Not only did the Commander take the Joes completely by surprise, but he had more than sufficient numbers to finish them off once and for all. Should he have used H.I.S.S. tanks? Of course. Should he have perhaps deployed the STUNs to both flanks of the Joes and set them up in a crossfire instead of that ridiculous merry-go-round formation? Naturally. But, with the resources the Commander had at his disposal, let alone the element of surprise, the only way Cobra could've lost is if they didn't attack at all.