Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Call for Help

When I started my Villain Retrospectives last summer, I had a huge list of bad guys I wanted to go over. I counted out seventeen villains, ranging from Megatron - the one I was most familiar with - to ones like Venger and Mon*Star who I knew little to nothing about. Unfortunately, now I'm all out of villains!  I've spoken out about all the cartoon bad guys I know, so I'm asking for help finding other villains I might have missed.

What I need from you amazing readers is the names of other 80s cartoons that have been left off my lists.  Please check out the Villain Retrospects that I've linked above and tell me who else you'd like to see on here.  There are a some rules though - I went over a few of them on my Honorable Mentions post, but I'll go over them again here:

1. No adaptations - I'm talking most Disney cartoons, any movie-based shows, and any anime dubs. I'm looking for original cartoons, so this knocks out Real Ghostbusters, Duck Tales, and Voltron.

2. It needs a discernible villain - There are a few cartoons I had to take off my list because there wasn't a dedicated bad guy. Thundarr the Barbarian had a rotating cast of bad guys, and only one came back for a second appearance.

I've got a few in mind I'm planning to check out, like Visionaries, Dino Riders, and Bionic Six, but I need a lot more.  Once I go over all of them, I've got something big planned for all of the villains put together that I think is going to be pretty cool. 

So let me know what cartoon baddies you'd like to see get some recognition here.  I'm depending on you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Venger

Today, I end the first half of the Villain Retrospective series with another show I can't really look back on as I never watched it. Maybe this should be the beginning of another series where I look at villains from shows I'm not at all familiar with. There are plenty of them, like Visionaries, Bionic Six, and Galaxy Rangers.

Dungeons & Dragons, though, I knew about as a kid just like Silverhawks. While I did know more about Silverhawks, I knew D&D strictly from its villain - Venger. I had no idea what cartoon he came from, but I knew that no nose, one-horned sorcerer was a real bad guy.

From the Cartoon Scrapbook
Since I had no memories of Venger besides that wicked look of his, I had to brush up on the cartoon. I went through the first few episodes and I gotta say I'm impressed. Venger is leagues above his peers!  It's not very often that a cartoon's main bad guy is as successful or imposing as Venger is. This isn't a cartoon where the villain loses and has to run away at the end of every episode, his tail tucked between his legs. This is a show where the protagonists are lucky to get away.

Dungeons & Dragons tells the story of six kids who get trapped in a mystical land after a roller coaster ride goes bad. Real bad. They're given empowered weapons and classes by the Dungeon Master, which are sought after by Venger. Venger's already the most powerful wizard in the world and there's only one force that can stop him, the dragon Tiamat. As far as I've seen, the kids only escape Venger in the end by pitting him against Tiamat or another stronger force, like an army of ghosts or a rival wizard, which Venger is able to dispatch.

From Dungeon's Master
Besides sheer power, Venger relies on trickery more often than his peers. He disguises himself as others like Merlin, or employs illusions to his accomplices. His plans don't rely on ridiculous schemes. He doesn't run around with a group of lackeys that plot against them at every opportunity. He's what the other bad guys should aspire to be!  How successful could Megatron or Skeletor be if they were as committed or competent as Venger was?  Everyone could learn from this guy.

Let's rate him!  Coolness: 8. I mentioned in my Nemesis retrospective that Peter Cullen's villainous voice was a huge departure from his more familiar Optimus Prime. Here again, he delivers an intimidating part as Venger, and comes across as even better since he doesn't need to sound as robotic. He's incredibly powerful and looks like a bad-ass demon to boot with his horn, fangs and even wings. 
Effectiveness: 7. Honestly, he's one of the most successful villains I've come across in here. He's been able to steal the kids' weapons before (though they were drained of their powers before then), and he's only defeated through interference by other forces. If the kids were on their own, they'd have lost in the first episode.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Big Boss

C.O.P.S. was your typical cops and crooks cartoon with mostly ordinary and a few extraordinary characters. For the more creative characters you had to look at the bad guys like Dr. Badvibes - the brain-exposed mad scientist - and my favorite, Buttons McBoomBoom.  What a freaking awesome name! Not to mention he had twin tommy guns built into his chest. 
From the C.O.P.S. wiki

The majority of the boring characters feel into the good guys though. There's Mace, LongArm, Mainframe - names that have shown up in a ton of other franchises - mainly because they're boring as hell.  But there's one name more boring than all the others. It's about as uncreative as you can come up with - Big Boss.

It's like the writers didn't even try. C.O.P.S. had the added strain of coming up with real names for all their characters, and I guess when they exhausted all their creativity coming up with "Brandon Babel" they gave up and tossed Big Boss in there with it. Unfortunately, since they were all out of originality, they gave Big Boss here a generic fat-guy-mob-boss look and to fit in the cartoon better, they glued on a metal hand motif. He's basically Marvel's Kingpin + Dr. Claw, without the charm of either.

I really feel bad for Big Boss. Old School Evil has gone through a ton of awesome bad guys - Megatron, Mumm-ra, Skeletor, even Cy-Kill - and Big Boss is just completely outclassed. He's incredibly bland, given a totally clich├ęd crime boss voice and to top it off, he's got a pet that has the same metal hands he does. He has no powers besides "faster than a fat guy should be" speed and a hand that can break through a desk. He's doesn't even get involved in most of the capers his cronies does, instead sitting at a desk (eating most of the time) and telling people what to do. In fact, most of the episodes don't even end with him getting in trouble, though it comes across as not really worth the effort to catch him. Even Dr. Claw fares better than him for having at least an imposing voice. And a better looking pet.

I think out of all the villains I've gone though with the villain retrospectives, Big Boss is undoubtedly the most pathetic.
On a rating on 1-10 for coolness, Big Boss comes in as a 0. That's how terrible this bad guy comes across. When almost every one of your cronies is more interesting and better looking, you've got a problem, Big Boss.
As far as effectiveness, I'm not sure how exactly he even came upon his name. He may be big, but a Boss, he ain't. Big Boss is a big 0.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Crossovers Part II - He-Man/Thundercats

With IDW just finishing up it's massive Revolutions crossover, which brought M.A.S.K., ROM, and the Micronauts into the fold along with the Transformers and GI Joe, that combining different cartoon together into one story is pretty cool. While reviews of the comics themselves aren't completely favorable (at least among the long-time Transformers comic readers I see online), there's no denying how cool the concept can be when done correctly. 

It seems there's another comic company taking the idea and running with it as DC has combined their respective adaptations in a He-Man/Thundercats limited series! 
Image via Nerdist
Pitting Lion-o and He-Man against the combined forces of Mumm-ra and Skeletor is a pretty awesome idea and rife with potential. I haven't been following the story as well as I should (a new baby makes comic collecting less than feasible), but it appears in issue 3, dropping December 21st, Skeletor has stolen Mumm-ra's power and gained He-Man's power sword and the only ones able to stop him now are the Thundercats. Nerdist has posted a preview of the issue, showing the team taking on He-Man's foe, and though it looks like they're fairing well, I'm assuming the next pages shows just how strong Skeletor really is.

Now if only they were able to throw Bravestarr into the mix!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Doc Terror

"Power Extreme!"

Image via
Centurions was a great idea. A modular action figure with almost unlimited customization.  Kids could take the over-sized toy and plug pieces of their different suits into ports that covered the figure's body. The cartoon used this play pattern to create three heroes, each with expertise in land, sea, or air combat and specialized weapons that matched the terrain (or lack thereof). They fought against an arm of land and air robots created by the villainous Doc Terror and his minion Hacker.

Doc Terror defies the expectations that watching the Centurions creates. From the look of him and his henchmen, you'd think he'd be a power-hungry monster, a brain-dead lackey, and a Baroness-type spy girlfriend. But you'd be so wrong because none of them match that at all.  First, you've got his look:
He looks like a cybernetic Moe Howard from the Three Stooges.  He's got a coarse voice angry voice. But he's supposedly genius robotics engineer. He's got a dopey looking sidekick named Hacker, who doesn't have the dopey sidekick mentality (think Cliff Dagger from M.A.S.K.). He's got his daughter Amber working with him who he cares for deeply. Okay so, some of the things are not as apparent: I still remember Hacker being kinda stupid, and I'm not sure how much Amber is even involved in later episodes. 

Image via Power Extreme Wiki
I'm getting off-topic. Doc Terror here is half-robot, half-human. The left side of his body is a cybernetic unit called Syntax. I can't find any pictures of his whole body that isn't of the toy, but he looks ungainly and awkward. He has the same ports on his body that the Centurions has, allowing him to combine with some of his drones. I can't remember if he ever did that in the cartoon, though. 

In truth, I remember this cartoon more for the good guys while the villains were these ugly guys that I didn't even want to play with. I had a Jake Rockwell toy, my brother had Ace McCloud, but I never knew anyone that had one of the villains or even any of his drones. I think the creators went a little overboard with how ugly the bad guys were and that made them less desirable to kids. Still, he had a cool name, I'll give him that.

Image via
Let's get on with the ratings! 
Coolness: 1. That 1 point is for the name. The rest of his look is utterly disappointing. His colors are bland, his face is half covered cybernetics that have almost no tech detail. I'm not sure what that silver thing is next to his head. And he's got just five teeth. How odd. 
Effectiveness: 1. I'm going strictly off memory here, but I don't recall him ever being successful in any of his plans.  Most of his plans had to do with wiping out humankind so he can replace them with robots, which in and of itself is kinda dumb since he isn't fully-robotic. Since his plans mainly deal with killing off the human race, wouldn't his human half still die the same way? 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Nemesis

When I was going through all the cartoons I'd watched as a kid, I was surprised one of them wasn't a full cartoon at all. I remembered Robotix being a full series, but almost every sighting of it online says it was just a movie. So what gives?
From the Metal Misfit
The Robotix was a series of short 6-minute episodes based around a building set. You had the good guys, the Protectons, that fought the bad guys, the Terrakors. All of them were robots of varying shapes and sizes that were brought to life when their planet was threatened and the leaders of their two races had their brains uploaded into their machines.

When a space exploration ship crashes and strands the human crew on the planet with the warring Robotix factions, the good ones join up with Argus and his Protectons, while the mean, selfish, and stereotypically evil humans make a deal with Nemesis, the leader of the Terrakors. What an amazingly creative name!

Sounds like a cross between Transformers and Go-Bots to me. But instead of changing into earth vehicles, the Robotix were able to change their bodies into all sorts of weird shapes and forms, especially when being piloted by a human. Argus changes into battering ram at some point, and multiple smaller limbs fold out of their bodies to perform different tasks. That's the good guys though - besides a snake-themed Terrakor that turned into a hovercraft, none of them do anything at all.

Which leads us to Nemesis. That red crane-claw?  That's the only thing he changes, turning it into a spinning blade or shooting it out as a grabbling hook. Why doesn't he turn into a tank, or another vehicle of some sort?  The other Terrakors either fly or drive away, but he's left running like a sucker.  No wonder he gets betrayed by his second-in-command.  Still, he has a cool look and a surprising voice actor - it's the Transformers's own Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen!  He does a great job doing a villainous roll, and I'd love to hear him take it on again. And yes, let's make a Nemesis Prime joke.

In fact, there's a lot of stuff taken from Hasbro's other properties. The voice cast, the sound effects, the music, the setting, even the MacGuffin (the master computer called Compucore). The whole series feels like it's been recycled from the Transformers and GI Joe cartoons. The Robotix has actually been assimilated into Transformers comics lore.  I really wish it had a chance to differentiate itself more from Hasbro's other cartoon fare.

Let's look at some ratings:
Coolness - 5. Peter Cullen providing a villainous voice goes a long way to make this guy sound less generic. He's got a decent look, but I really wish his shape-shifting powers extended beyond just his left hand.
Effectiveness - 2. It's not uncommon for a bad guy to get betrayed by his first lieutenant, but Nemesis takes the cake for being knocked out of commission for a good portion of the show. And since this is only a hour a half movie, there's not much of a chance for him to make it up. So he doesn't.