Monday, April 17, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Darkstorm

I remember growing up thinking that the heat-rub insignia on Transformers were the coolest thing ever - stickers that only became visible when you pressed your fingers on them.  The technology behind them was so hard to fathom - but them came along holograms.  That was some real space-aged futuristic stuff there and they were everywhere.  They were even on my dad's credit cards!  A few toylines started using them as their main action feature as well, including Battle Beasts.  But then we got Visionaries which took the idea so much further with an awesome cartoon.

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light told the story of a world where all its technology is lost and the people are forced to return to its medieval roots, with castles and knights becoming commonplace.  A wizard named Merklynn offers to anyone that would beat his challenges special magic in return for doing his bidding every so often.  Fourteen knights complete the quest and are given magical totems based on their strengths - by calling forth their powers, they become their creature avatars.  Ten of the knights also receive power staffs which, when an incantation is read, summons a powerful creature the bearer can control.  The other four are given the ability to power the once dead vehicles.

The knights are clearly divided among the virtuous and villainous sides, but only a few are aligned to the main hero or villain in the beginning.  Darkstorm, the big bad of the series, gains the allegiance of the rest of the evil characters by saving them from traps during Merklynn's trials.  I'm not sure how they were all captured since they had escaped or beaten their rival good guys, but whatever.  It's not a strong allegiance anyway, as they all fight for the right to treasure two episodes later.  It does last long enough for them, now calling themselves the Darkling Lords, to capture all of the heroes and steal their power staffs.

Darkstorm himself a pretty decent villain, and I'm glad to see how he gains the servitude of most of his lackeys (two sniveling cowards were working for him at the beginning of the series).  Only his unflinching greed stops him from maintaining his group's loyalty.  He also pledges a truce to all the knights after gaining their powers so they can use them to help the people.  Of course, he doesn't keep the truce, but that "general sliminess" is how his powers are determined.  His power staff grants him the power of decay and the incantation to call it is only freaking awesome:
"By what creeps, what crawls, by what does not; let all that grows recede and rot!"
The winged creature above flies out and just by touching a person, ages them greatly.  He can also revert the power by calling out a second spell:
"Power of rot, obscuring truth, what once was old restore to youth!"
His totem creature is a little underwhelming in comparison: the Mollusk.  Half of the Darkling Lords gets disappointingly small or weak animal totems, and Darkstorm falls into that lot.  Using his power, he transforms into a giant snail with spindly arms.  He does, however, have the only ranged attack in that form, shooting acid. It's a fitting creature for a guy like Darkstorm, but I'm not sure which I'm more surprised at: that he didn't get a more imposing creature or that he didn't complain about it.

So let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 6. Darkstorm is an example of a villain done right.  He's got the imcomparable Chris Latta  providing his voice (though fellow bad guy Cravex gets Latta's usual rasp).  He's got a good dark color scheme that makes him stand out among the consistent red and purples of his underlings.  His powers are some of the strongest and stand out among the others.  And he's a greedy bastard as well.  What else can you ask for in a villain?
Effectiveness - 5. There's no denying he knows what he's doing.  In the first episode, he manages to gain a tenuous loyalty to his fellow bad guys by saving all of them from off-screen traps.  In the next episode, he manages to capture all of the good guys and lock them in a dungeon.  He even manages to steal one of the heroes's totem animal.  I'm not even sure how he did it or how the hero got it back.  Anyway, up until then, he's probably one of the most successful villains around.  But then he ruins it all by claiming all the treasures to himself and not giving his men a cent.  And when all your lackeys are mercenaries and thieves, that's a big mistake.  The third episode has the Darkling Lords turn against him and each other, allowing the good guys to escape.  The bickering continues as the two teams fight and ultimately leads to the bad guys' defeat.  If only Darkstorm was willing to share. But what kind of villain would that make him?

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