Monday, January 23, 2017

Villain Retrospect - General Spidrax

You've got to appreciate how easy cartoons like Robotix, Robo Force, and the Sectaurs make it to watch them by being so short.  And it's a good thing too because I don't think I could handle more than five episodes of Sectaurs.

On a distant planet called Symbion, scientists working on some chemical formula that went wrong, causing all the inhabitants of the world to mutate.  Much of the technological advancements of the planet were lost, but the resulting races of humans had gained the ability to telekinetically connect with insects, which have reached massive sizes and are called Insectoids.  The world has been separated into two regions - the Shining Realm and the Dark Doman and the leaders of each side are racing to the Hyve, where they can find the Wisdom of the Ancients (sound familiar?). In an interesting twist, the "wisdom" are actually the technological advancements lost in the show's intro.

Sectaurs is genuinely one of the ugliest cartoons I've ever seen, whether it's intentional or not.  The Sectaurs are so incredibly gross looking, I mean look at this guy:

Those ugly cat/bug looking eyes, the antenna, that massive unibrow. And this is one of the good guys!  Even their names are ugly, like Pinsor and Mantor. Even worse though are their insect partners, each of them having weird, teeth-filled mouths and the same cat-like eyes. The Insectoids are weird amalgams of different bugs, like crosses of ants and crabs, with some looking more reptilian than anything.  It's just gross looking.  Even the settings are nasty, like the inside of this living ship.

The disgusting nature of this cartoon doesn't stop with it's visuals - it is one of the hardest cartoons to listen to, full of generic bug noises (Frank Welker must have been having an off day), and worse than that, each of the Sectaurs is constantly making this weird undulating war cry. I have never heard the word "maggot" used so much either, and by both sides no less. Even the sound effects are messy, with chomping sounds accompanying swipes with a bug's claw into the ground.  It's like the sound director had something against this show.  It is certainly strange hearing Dan Gilvesan (Bumblebee) leading a team that includes Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime).

This is General Spidrax, leader of the bad guys from the Dark Domain. He carries a whip make from the venomous antenna of some species of bug.  He's telebonded with Spiderflyer, and yes, all the Insectoid names are this generic.  Spiderflyer is a flying Tarantula, even though it only has six legs.  It shoots a poisonous web that renders anyone it touches unconscious, though I've never seen it in the cartoon.  I don't think Spiderflyer does much of anything besides help Spidrax retreat.

In the beginning of the show, Spidrax invades the Shining Realm to steal a map that leads to the Hyve. The first episode sets the show up as a chase with the Knights racing to the Hyve (luckily the creator of the map remembered what it looked like), leap-frogging past each other and gaining big leads out of nowhere.  But then the third episode has Spidrax going to s slave camp and sitting on a throne like he forgot his entire quest.  He's got some severe ADHD, I think.  With only five episodes, you'd think the creators could have added a little more depth to him, but this was the 80s we're talking about. In the end, Spidrax got better treatment than Hun-Dred, retreating to fight another day - which never came.

Let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 5. Spidrax is a decent-looking villain, matching the evil purple color-scheme of many of his peers. His helmet above invokes the insect theme without being too goofy, like the rest of the characters. And he's got a great voice provided by Arthur Burghardt who also voiced Destro from GI Joe.  Among the generic swords and guns used by the other Sectaurs, his whip stands out very well.   And his Insectoid, Spiderflyer, is pretty danged cool, especially since it doesn't have added teeth in its mouth.
Effectiveness - 1. That whip I mentioned?  It never touches a single Sectaur.  Get used to seeing that imagine to the left.  Every time he fights with it, Dargon ends up dancing around it over and over.  We're talking like a dozen or more whips and missing every time because Dargon jumps a foot to the side.  And twice, he just ends up cutting the whip off at the handle.  Spiderflyer's wasted by never employing his webs.  But worst of all, is that Spidrax never accomplishes a single thing in the cartoon once he gets the map.  He forgets what his plan is half the time, going on diversions that hardly seem worth it.  From the very beginning of the show he had a head start.  If he'd just kept moving, instead of getting distracted or trying to set traps, he could have gotten to the Hyve and won.

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