Monday, November 25, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Disney Movie Villains

Well, here we are at the end of the inaugural Disnovember on Old School Evil and there’s just one more question I bet you’re asking – who are my favorite Disney movie villains?  With so many to choose from, this list was easily the hardest to write.  Do I pick the evilest or the most cunning or even the funniest ones? I tried to pick ones from across the board, like the one that made me laugh the most or made me outright hate them for the stuff they did.  I think I’ve got a great group here to fill your every need.  So let’s take a look at the worst of the worst!

Madam Mim – Sword in the Stone

There’s something incredibly gratifying when you have a villain who’s just crazy, who doesn’t have an evil plan, but just likes raising mischief wherever she goes.  When Arthur is turned into a bird and inadvertently makes his way into her cabin, she sings him a song about her powers and ow she plans to use them to kill him.  Merlin shows up to save him and gets caught in a magical duel with Mim, which she cheats in, of course.  I just like how she wasn’t even doing anything when Arthur shows up – she wasn’t planning an attack or anything.  She’s just hanging out, sees an opportunity to piss off her nemesis, Merlin, and takes it.  She’s just a simple, yet mad villain.

Judge Doom – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Yeah, I’m probably riding the line including him in a list of cartoon villains, but when it’s spelled out in the movie that he is one, it counts.  Christopher Lloyd does such an incredible job spending most of the movie as the straightest of villains.  No sense of humor, not even a hint of a smile.  And then at the end of the movie, after surviving getting run over by a steamroller, he’s revealed to be a Toon himself and hams it up.  It’s such a huge turn, he would have easily gotten a spot on my Top 5 Villain Portrayals if only he’d actually said more once he starts trying to kill Valiant in earnest.

John Silver – Treasure Planet

I talked about this guy in the last list where he goes back and forth being a mentor to Jim Hawkins, then an enemy, and finally redeems himself at the end to save him.  Part of the reason I like him so much is that change, but the other part is how cool he looks.  The way they were able to combine the 2d and 3d animation in his arm and leg looked incredible.  I would still like the character if he was fully 2d, but he wouldn’t be this high on the list without it.

The Horned King – Black Cauldron

John Hurt does a fantastic job bringing to life the most grotesque villain has put out to date.  The Horned King is like nothing before or after it – a truly terrifying monster, his flesh mottled and rotten, his face constantly in a sneer.  Not to mention his plan to bring to life an army of undead warriors to take over the kingdom.  Like I said in previous list, there’s no wonder it took Disney so long to bring this out on home video.  It’s the first Disney feature to be rated PG-13 and most of that falls squarely on the Horned King’s ghoulish shoulders.

Lyle Tiberius Rourke – Atlantis

It’s no wonder that Atlantis is my favorite Disney movie.  Forgoing the songs and cutesy design of many of Disney’s previous movies, we’re presented with a story that has one of Disney’s highest body counts, with almost the whole crew of a massive sub dying on screen, not to mention most of Atlantis being destroyed in the first few minutes of the movie.
We’re introduced to Rourke as the commander of the ill-fated expedition, all business, barking orders all the time, but still taking time to show respect to his lost crew.  Only once they find Atlantis still living underground do we get a hint at his nefarious plan.  “This changes nothing.”  Finally stealing the crystal-infused princess at the end, he dooms all of Atlantis to death.  He turns on his second-in-command and tries to kill her.  And like he deserves, Rourke suffers two deaths at the end, turned into the monster he really is.  

So who are your favorite villains?  Do you like normal human villains like Cruella De Vil?  Magic-users like Jafar?  Or just crazy monsters like Chernobog?  Speak up and let me know!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Deaths

Disney Movies used to have a problem – while trying to stay as family-friendly as possible, they still needed to kill the villain to get closure.  Obviously, the bad guy couldn’t die on screen, but the one way to get around that was a great fall until they disappeared.  Look at the evidence – Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Rattigan from The Great Mouse Detective. Even the original Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, has the Evil Queen falling off a cliff.  Disney has gone a long way to get past it lately, showcasing some surprisingly violent or gruesome deaths.  Let’s take a look at how close Disney’s come to torture porn, because there’s no question that these bad guys are freaking dead.

5. Shan Yu – Mulan

After their supposed defeat high in the mountains, Shan Yu and his remaining Huns have infiltrated the Chinese Emperor’s palace.  Shan Yu loses the Emperor because of Mulan’s involvement and realizes she’s the cause of the avalanche that killed most of his troops.  Their fight takes them to the very top of the palace where a Mushu-guided firework carries him into a nearby tower filled with gunpowder and fireworks.  A massive explosion follows without a trace of the Hun leader anywhere.

Dying in a fiery explosion is one heck of a way to start off this list.  It’s such a decisive end for the villains like there’s no way you can doubt he was dead.  The fact that it happened on screen as well, not just seeing some small part of it while the rest is hidden from us.  It also ranks high on the list considering the previous movies (1996’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and 1997’s Hercules) had villains die by falling, even though the former fell into a massive fire, and the latter – not really a death, mind you – fell into a pit of lost souls.

4. Sykes and his dogs – Oliver & Company

Fleeing from the brutal loan shark Sykes, Fagin takes his animal crew through the New York streets before steering into the subway.  Sykes follows in his massive sedan, shredding his tires on the rails.  When Penny falls off the cart onto Sykes’s car, Oliver and Dodger fight the loan shark’s Dobermans, DeSoto and Roscoe. Both dogs fly off the back of the car and are electrocuted n the subway’s third rail.  Sykes continues his chase, even when a subway car barrels toward him, turning his car into a fireball before sending it crashing into the river.  

Replacing homeless kids with cute puppies and kittens made Oliver & Company one of my favorite Disney flicks.  And I’m not sure how unpopular this opinion is, but I like Billy Joel’s soundtrack way better than any of Elton John’s stuff.  Anyway, even though Sykes’s death happens just off-screen, we still see the fiery explosion of his car immediately after it leaves the picture.  While this normally wouldn’t register that high for me, the fact that we see one of his two dogs get electrocuted on the rails (we only see the second dog fall and hear the surge) pushes it near the top for me.

3. Rourke – Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Even after watching the Heart of Atlantis change Princess Kida into a living crystal, Rourke’s plan of selling the kingdom’s treasure hasn’t changed.  Rourke and Milo’s fight on the hot air balloon during their escape breaks the glass on Kida’s chamber, which Milo uses to cut Rourke’s arm.  The energies within the chamber consume Rourke, turning him into a crystal as well.  Milo’s relief is short-lived as Rourke unleashes an unnatural scream and lunges across the balloon’s structure.  The shifting weight brings Rourke up into the balloon’s propeller, shattering the villain.

I love the fact that Rourke gets two deaths.  You expect Rourke’s transformation to kill him, it certainly looked painful enough as it happens.  But then he keeps coming before being torn apart by the propeller.  Either one of those would have been bad enough but putting them together is just adding insult to injury.  And I love it.

2. The Horned King – The Black Cauldron

Using the power of the Black Cauldron, the Horned King has brought to life his army of undead warriors. As our heroes watch in horror, their cowardly friend Gurgi summons up all his courage and plunges into the cauldron.  Purified by his sacrifice, the evil magic is reversed.  The Cauldron-born are destroyed and the Horned King is sucked into the Cauldron, his decayed flesh ripped from his bones before his skeleton is pulverized.

There’s not one thing about the Horned King that belongs in a Disney movie.  He’s got an incredibly ghoulish look, with rotten skin and half his face eaten away.  His plan is to revive an army of skeletal warriors that immediately murders his henchmen.  And then there’s his death, which is the most graphic we’ve ever seen.  It’s no wonder this movie took thirteen years to be released on home video.

1. Clayton – Tarzan

As Tarzan and Clayton’s final fight leads them further up in the trees, the hunter’s losing his cool.  Tarzan gets Clayton’s shotgun and after threatening to use it against its owner, he breaks it in half.  Reduced to using his machete, Clayton chases Tarzan through the vines, slashing wildly.  Tarzan tries to stop him as the vines catch around Clayton’s neck, but it’s too late. Clayton cuts through the last vine holding him up.  He drops down out of the tree, the vines strangling him.

While Clayton’s death isn’t nearly gruesome as some of the other deaths on this list, I just love the imagery of it.  Most of Disney’s fall deaths are shown from above as the body disappears out of view, but here we see it from below, the machete falling into view right as the lightning strikes, showing his limp shadow.  There’s something almost beautiful about it.

So which villain did you think had the best death?  Do you prefer the more gruesome demises?  Or the most poetic justice?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Portrayals

One of the things I love most about animation is that a character can look like whatever you wanted.  There were no limits.  If your movie was about a living blender, you just drew the blender, maybe slapped a face on it, and there you go.  But that only gets you half way to a good character – the other half, usually at least, is an excellent voice actor, someone who can really emote with just their voice.  I’ll be honest with you, a good vocal performance in an animated movie has a much higher chance of bringing me to tears than any live-action performance.  And if they can do that, just imagine how much they can terrify as well.

5. George Sanders – Shere Khan – The Jungle Book
I really do love a smooth-talking villain, someone who can seduce a victim while sharpening their claws.  In The Jungle Book, George Sanders pull this off perfectly with Shere Khan, the tiger with an obsession with killing the human Mowgli.  Giving the Bengal tiger a British accent honed over decades in film and television work gave him a regal tone.  Besides having experience with playing royalty as the titular role in King Richard and the Crusaders, he had played a popular villain the year before Shere Khan when he was cast as Mr. Freeze in Batman (1966).
Favorite line – “You're trying my patience. Five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN!”

4. Pat Carroll – Ursula – The Little Mermaid
There’s something to be said when you can tell had a good time.  Familiar to a few of us doing voices in cartoons like Pound Puppies and Foofur, Pat Carroll has a much longer filmography than anyone on this list.  Surprisingly, she’s still playing Ursula to this day in Kingdom Hearts.  She exemplifies the manipulative witch so wonderfully, and unlike most of them before her, she doesn’t play the quiet evil like Maleficent or the crazy evil like Cruella De Vil.  She just enjoys being evil, and that’s great in my book.
Favorite line – "Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I can't stand it! It's too easy! The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince!"

3. James Garner – Lyle Tiberius Rourke – Atlantis: The Lost Empire/Brian Murray – John Silver – Treasure Planet
I couldn’t choose between these two heel turns.  Both of these actors do a fantastic job playing the supportive characters to our main men, whether they’re in a leadership or mentoring role.  And then halfway through the movies when they show their true colors, the changes each character makes are different but equally great.  Garner’s Rourke shifts ever so slightly to still trying to be friendly but never dissuaded, while Murray’s Jones becomes over-the-top villainous, while still being reluctant to hurt the one person standing in his way.  Both portrayals really make their villains stand out from the rest of Disney’s obviously evil bad guys.
Favorite line – From Rourke: “It takes a lot to get under my skin, but congratulations, you just won the solid-gold kewpie doll.”

2. Keith David – Dr. Facilier – The Princess and the Frog
Here I am talking about Keith David again.  I could listen to this guy narrate pigs having sex and I’d still be cool with it.  I really enjoy how quickly he shifts from his cool persona to anger so quickly and back, like when he explains that he can’t use voodoo on himself.  It’s certainly different from the voices I’m used to hearing from him, but it’s a blessing because it tells me he could do absolutely anything and I’d still love him.
Favorite line – “Come on, Tiana... You're almost there."

1. Eartha Kitt – Yzma – Emperor’s New Groove
This is the biggest surprise for me.  Famous for her portrayal as Catwoman in Batman ’66, (the second Batman bad guy to make this list!) nearly 35 years later, here she is “scary beyond all reason.”  She plays a completely over-the-top villain, making up an incredible plan to get rid of her emperor that just sounds funnier the angrier she gets.  I just love hearing her complain about her imbecilic assistant, Kronk.  The only thing funnier than her normal voice work is the high pitch once she changes and how she just accepts it.
Favorite line – “I’ll smash it with a hammer!”

So do you have any favorites?  Do you like Jeremy Irons's Scar or Tony Jay's Frollo?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Songs

A long time ago on the blog when I was doing my villain retrospect series, one thing I’d never do is Disney stuff.  I can’t even remember my reasoning, maybe the focus on humor over action, but whatever it was, it was a bogus excuse.  With the wide selection of villains to choose from either their movies or the television shows, it was a daunting task to pick my favorites from either of them.  But this month I christen Disnovember because I’m going to be taking a look at the bad guys from the cinematic ventures.  I want to consider a few different facets of the nefarious evil-doers, so each week of this month will have a different list. We’re starting with something that doesn’t apply to all villains this week – their songs!

I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not musical in any regard. I don’t listen to a lot of music myself, and I can’t even tell you if a song is good or not.  All I know is these songs are the ones that send chills up my spine when I hear them.

5. Savages – John Ratcliffe – Pocahontas

As the final battle comes close in Pocahontas, Radcliffe’s colonists and Powhattan’s tribe prepare for war, both sides singing half of the anthem.  Axes are sharpened and cannons are loaded. Natives dance around the fire.  As the song goes on, the two armies march towards the battlefield where John Smith is due to be executed.  Pocahontas breaks in, trying to reach her lover before his brains are bashed in.

When I made up this list, I wasn’t sure of duets with the protagonists of the movie would have counted as villain songs, but considering I like this song a ton more than Ratcliff’s “Mine, Mine, Mine,” I figured it deserved a spot.  While I’m far from a fan of this movie, “Savages” is a part I always enjoy.

4. Trust in Me – Kaa – The Jungle Book

While sleeping in the trees, the massive python Kaa sneaks up on Mowgli, intent on hypnotizing him before swallowing him whole.  His first attempt fails, but when he finds Mowgli alone in the woods later, he hypnotizes the boy again, this time adding in the dreamy tune, “Trust in Me.”  The perfect lullaby, Mowgli’s lured into sleep, being rocked in a hammock made of Kaa’s own coils.

The Jungle Book’s soundtrack is one of the best ones out there with a lot of enjoyable songs and only one real stinker (I never cared for the vultures’ song at the end).  It even has two villain songs with this one and King Louie’s “I Wanna Be Like You.”  The latter is a real fun song, but the former is easily more villainous.  Even better, being sung by Winnie the Pooh’s Sterling Holloway is just icing on the cake.

3. The Mob Song – Gaston – Beauty and the Beast

After learning about the Beast from Belle’s magic mirror, Gaston riles the townspeople up into a frenzy, singing about the threat he could pose to their children and homes.  The mob hold up their pitchforks and light their torches before marching to the castle.  As bash the door down and sing about storming the castle, the refrain goes up, “Kill the Beast!”

This song has the same back-and-forth energy of “Savages”, but I do enjoy this one a little more because of how manipulative Gaston is without knowing anything of the enemy.  There’s something crazy about how manipulative he can be, turning their fear into a fervor strong enough to storm the castle.  While Gaston’s song in the beginning could be called a better song, the inherent evil quality of this one with the Kill the Beast refrain tops it for me.

2. Poor Unfortunate Souls – Ursula – The Little Mermaid

When Ariel seeks help from Ursula to marry Prince Eric, she’s told there’s a simple price for the Sea Witch’s assistance – her voice!  Ursula extolls her generous virtue, how she’s helped mermaid and merman alike, these “Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” using her magic to make their dreams come true.  Over the course of her song, as she pressures Ariel to accept the terms, Ursula knows she’s got her when she brags to her eels that she’s “on a roll!”

Who didn’t expect this song to show up on here?  It’s been one of the most popular villain songs ever and on everyone’s favorites list you see online.  Do I even have to list why this song rocks?  The way the energy of the song ramps up until Ursula’s basically screaming at Ariel to sign the contract?  Her “body language” crack?  Everything about this song is just the best.

1. Friends from the Other Side – Dr. Facilier – Princess and the Frog

Seeing his opportunity to take control of New Orleans when a handsome prince visits, Dr. Facilier lures him in with a card reading while his shadow trips up and kicks the prince’s servant, Lawrence.  The Shadow Man discerns Prince Naveen’s financial situation with the use of tarot and concocts a plan:  turn him into a frog and replace him with his puppet, Lawrence.  After shaking both of their hands together, the transformation is complete thanks to help from his friends on the other side.

I love everything about this song – the high and lows as he reads the cards, Facilier’s comments during it, the huge tonal shift after the handshake.  But most of all, I love Keith David’s smooth voice.  I’ve been a huge fan of his work since Gargoyles, so for him to finally make his way into Disney’s theatrical works - and as a villain no less - made me extremely happy.  I never expected him to have a song of his own, but I was so satisfied that he sang it himself instead of a stand-in.

So what are your favorite villain songs?  What villain do you wish got a song of their own?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Top 5 Real Ghostbusters Episodes

With Halloween approaching, anyone that’s a fan of cartoons like me is thinking of one show in particular – The Real Ghostbusters.  If any show embodies the spooky holiday, it’s that one without a doubt.  Some cartoons may have had a Halloween—centric episode (the Gargoyles Halloween episode comes to mind), but every episode of Ghostbusters was freaky, and it only ramped up with they did their own Halloween episode, like When Halloween was Forever.  To be honest, as much as I like the episode and Samhain in particular, the episode isn’t in my top five.  And with that, let’s take a look at what beats it out.

After a tussle with Peter, the boyfriend of Ichabod Crane’s descendant is almost killed by the current version of the Headless Horseman. Accused of putting a ghostly hit out on the boyfriend, a detective hounds Peter and the rest of the Ghostbusters as they attempt to catch the headless menace once and for all.

My favorite episodes of The Real Ghostbusters are ones that involve well-known folklore, and this episode uses one of the most popular stories out there, giving it a present-time twist.  I actually liked the story of the police accusing Peter of using the ghost as a hitman, the cop felt like something that should have come up more often.

Ray runs into a 100-year-old ghost trying to find his way home, but he runs off when a dark spirit draws close.  Ray learns the Simon Quegg stormed out of an inn, swearing to the devil he’ll be home before daybreak or never get there, and has been seen by locals for years, always asking for directions.  When Ray is stuck on the buggy in Simon’s place, the ghost is forced to face his shadow to finally make his way home.

I really liked the sad tone of this episode and simple premise.  We never even find out how he dies, he’s just perpetually on the road, and always a jerk.  I guess it could be a lesson on being nice, when he decides to help Ray on the buggy and face his evil half, but who expects lessons in a show about catching demons.  I was surprised to find out it was based on a folklore story as well. It turns out it’s inspired by a story called “Peter Rugg: The Missing Man.”

When the Ghostbusters get lost in a winter storm, they wander into a town and find three ghosts harassing an elderly man.  Without hesitation, they lasso the ghosts, then make their way home where they find out Christmas has been erased. They realize the man they saved was Ebenezer Scrooge, meaning the ghosts were the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.  They travel into the containment unit to rescue them and Christmas itself.

Probably the three most famous ghosts in the whole world, you knew the Ghostbusters would happen upon them someday.  It’s even better that they’re immediately seen as the bad guys of the episode. The Real Ghostbusters had a bunch of good Halloween episodes, but it’s great that they have a Christmas one as well.

A reporter is interviewing the Ghostbusters and asks how Slimer as become their friend.  Peter tells the story of what happened immediately after the battle with Gozer in the film while they rebuild the destroyed containment unit.  Peter is told to destroy the suits they were wearing, which had absorbed Gozer’s psychokinetic energy, but forgot to do it. The energy creates ghostly version of the Ghostbusters intent on destroying the originals, and it comes down to Slimer to save them.

One thing that you’d hardly ever see in an 80s cartoon was continuity.  Something that happened in one episode was never mentioned in another. The Real Ghostbusters has a good reason to do it, though: to connect the series to the movies.  While the series could have just told the story of Slimer without referencing the movie, it was great seeing the whole episode revolve around what happened in the movies.  

When the Ghostbusters are pain in a bag of gold coins to go to a remote village, they’re introduced to real vampires.  The team gets split in two, with a pair of Ghostbusters ending up with each side of a warring faction of vampires. Egon and Winston end up in a dungeon filled with the town’s original inhabitants – werewolves!  Once they’re released, a huge fight breaks down between the two species, with each bite transforming the victim! The Ghostbusters blow up a damn, trapping the creatures on an island, and drive off without waiting to see the winner.

I’ll be honest, this is my favorite because I love werewolves.  I remember as a kid wondering the same thing that this episode answers – since werewolf and vampire bites both produced more werewolves and vampires, what happens when they bite each other?  I know the whole idea is the focus in the Underworld series, but I honestly like this episode more than those – especially since the Ghostbusters decide to just let them fight it out instead of getting further involved once they were stuck in the island.  It also has one of my most endearing quotes –Winston in regards to Egon, “Brilliant man, but the attention of a tumbleweed.”
So what are your favorite episodes? Who's your favorite ghost?  Sounds off below and let me know!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A long Overdue Update - October 2019

It's been a while since I've made a post that covers my upcoming plans for Old School Evil and everything else I've got going on.  I posted something to Facebook a few weeks ago, but I wanted to do one that more for everybody.

So there're a few things on the horizon for me, starting with the biggest, which is NaNoWriMo.  I've done NaNo a few times before, doing Old School Evil, its sequel, and a spin-off called Keystone.  I took off the last few years, because of family obligations, but I think I'm ready to try again.  I'm planning to do another spin-off of Old School Evil based on Scooby-Doo and his imitations like Speed Buggy and Funky Phantom.  I'm going into it just like I did with the original Old School Evil - a few character ides and a simple concept.  No outlines, no ending in mind.  It'll be fun to just see where it goes.  I do still need to finish up one thing before I go into, which is something I did before the original, and that's making up the cartoons that will populate this world.

Since NaNo is going to be taking up all of my time in November, I'm working on some stuff before the end of this month to post.  It's another theme month just like last year's SepTMNTber, but it won't be nearly as in-depth.  Just 4 posts called Disnovember that will be looking at Disney's animated movie villains.  I'm really looking forward to this and I'm thinking next year I'll be covering Disney's cartoon shows.  I'll be posting one list each Monday in November, so look out for the first one - Villain songs - on November 4th,

I do have one other thing I'm posting before the end of the month.  I wrote up a list of Spooky cartoon bad guys for The Retro Network and it got me thinking I need to post my own list for Halloween.  So next Monday I'm posting my Top 5 episodes of The Real Ghostbusters.

Lastly, I finally posted the last round of Bad Guy Beatdown before the quarter-finals.  Once I am finished with NaNo, I'll be posting a recap of what happened in this tier before diving into the first bout - Skeletor vs. Megatron.  It's going to be a DOOZY!

Anyway, I'm going to wrap this up so I can post it tomorrow morning.  There'a lot of stuff coming up and I'm pretty excited about it!  I hope you are too.  Along with the Disnovember posts, I'll be doing a lot of updates on my NaNo progress, whether they're on here or just on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 24 - Results

Word of the human ship crashing on Skalorr was enough to bring Mon*Star to the planet.  Hoping to find something on it capable of defeating Quicksilver, the Planet Smasher quickly found the wreckage of the ship.  Steering his steed, Sky-Runner to the surface, he investigated what was left of the Galaxon. He realized the news of the crash was outdated, as the ship was stripped for salvage and nothing worthwhile remained.
He dismounted and entered the derelict starship, hoping to find anything useful.  As soon as the outside was no longer visible to him, he felt a huge crash outside.  He ran out to find that Sky-Runner being chased away by huge amounts of laser fire. He followed to shots to their source, a massive blue robot, firing blasts from a cannon mounted on its shoulder.
“You’re trespassing in Terrakor property,” the robot booms.  “Remove yourself or you’ll be terminated!”
Another voice came from within the robot without the tinny squeal of a speaker.  “Just destroy him now!” it said. “He could be here to help Exetor!”
“That creature is a human?” the robot voice asked.  Mon*Star wondered why the creature would be arguing with himself but didn’t interrupt as it gave Sky-Runner a chance to return.  “Your kind can get uglier than you?”
“Shut up, Nemesis.  Just squash the alien and get it over with.”
As the robot returned its attention to Mon*Star, he took the opportunity to fly up to face his attacker.  Underneath the robot’s bird-like face, he could see a human sitting in a cockpit built into the robot’s chest.  Even if he didn’t look like him, the sight of the human reminded Mon*Star of that insufferable Commander Stargazer!  He steered Sky-Runner into the atmosphere, bathing him in the light from the Moon Star. Taking the power in, he outstretched his arms and cried out, "Moon Star of Limbo, give me the might, the muscle, the menace, of Mon*Star!"  The flesh and hair covering his body ripped to shreds, revealing metal panels and rivets. His face distorts, the flowing mane of black hair replaced by metal spikes. A light flashed as his ruined left eye is returned and glowing with the energy of the Light Star.

“Whatever that creature was, he knew well enough not to face the power of Nemesis,” the robot said on the planet’s surface.  
“I’m just glad I don’t have to look at it anymore,” Kanawk replied.  “Now, let’s finish stripping the ship. As soon as we’ve pilfered its armor, we can attack Argus and retrieve Compucore.”
“And the sooner, I can abandon you on this worthless rock.”
Kanawk stewed at Nemesis’s open contempt.  They have not been working together for long, but Nemesis should have realized Kanawk’s contribution to his power by now.  As he contemplated taking full control of the robot body they worked with, he noticed a streak of light through the sky. “Nemesis, look!”
The robot turned to face the flying object and immediately took a penetrating blast of laser fire on the side of his face.  A barrage of lasers followed it, striking Nemesis’s body. While not as powerful as the first shot, the continued blasts made him stumble backwards.  Nemesis raised his claw to his face and felt the metal panels next to his beak had been ripped away. The streak of light emerged into the sky, revealing itself to be the flying squid they’d scared away earlier, this time with a different pilot, now an orange metal monstrosity.
“Bring him to me!” Nemesis screamed and inside the cockpit, Kanawk worked his controls.  The red claw at the end of Nemesis’s left arm shot out on a cable. The claw latched around the squid’s pilot, forcing him to drop the star-tipped rifle that had torn into Nemesis’s cheek.  Nemesis yanked back the cable, holding him face-to-face.
“No one can hold Mon*Star the Planet Master!”  Squeezing his captive as tightly as possibly, Nemesis still struggled to hold him. Mon*Star lifted his arms and fired the rockets in his elbows, blasting the claw with super-heated exhaust.
Nemesis flinched in pain and released his target, who flew back up to his steed.
“Now let’s see how you both stand up to the Light Star!”  Mon*star’s left eye glowed bright red, the light spinning around.  In a flash, the disc of light shot out from the eye, streaking through the sky towards Nemesis.
“Don’t let that touch you!” Kanawk yelled.  Nemesis flailed around, trying to knock the energy disk from the sky.  On one swing, the disk connected on the giant robot’s forearm, sending incredible energy through its circuits.  Nemesis’s body shuddered, unable to move any of its limbs.  
“You’ll make a fine addition to my mob,” Mon*Star said, guiding Sky-Runner closer to his prize.  “I think I’ll give you to Hardware and see what he can do with you.”
“I hope you’re not forgetting about me!” Kanawk said from inside the insulated control center.  Using the interface to take control of Nemesis’s systems, he activates Nemesis’s red claw again, this time turning it into a saw blade.  Mon*Star barely had time to scream before the spinning weapon bisected both Sky-runner and its pilot. 
Click here to see Nemesis's and Mon*Star's respect post. 

While Kanawk could be considered a disadvantage in Nemesis's first battle (since he was a fan of Misfits, something I came up with to give them even a little chance), here he was a huge advantage.  While I'm not even sure Mon*Star's Light Star could affect the Robotix, I'm pretty sure that even if it could, the command center would be insulated from it.  I mean, the robot body was made for construction; obviously, it would have to protect its user from any kind of industrial threat.  The Light Star does seem to cause electrical damage to the victim since it has a paralyzing effect, which is the most basic problem engineers would deal with.  And without the Light Star, Mon*Star didn't have a chance to defeat a massive robot.

The Winner

Click here to see Nemesis's opponent in the quarter-finals and click here to see the rest of Bad Guy Beatdown's preliminary battles.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 24- Nemesis vs. Mon*Star

It’s finally here!  The last battle in Bad Guy Beatdown before we reach the quarter-finals!  In today’s battle, we’ve got two literal giants of space – Nemesis from Robotix vs. Silverhawk’s Mon*Star.  Let’s start with Nemesis.

Nemesis is a worker robot from its home planet that has had the mind of the Terracore leader implanted into it.  On his own Nemesis is already an imposing figure, being a 54-foot tall robot (I measured him compared to a human, something I left out of his original respect post) strong enough to throw other Robotix around one-handed.  However, his powers are kicked into high gear when a human enters his command console and takes control.  While the Protectons showed more variety in the forms they could change into, Nemesis himself got the ability to change his left hand into a variety of tools and weapons.  Normally, it acts as a 3-pronged claw but it can turn into a saw blade, a grappling hook, an energy whip, and a laser beam.   Other abilities include a laser cannon on his shoulder and tank treads and rockets on his feet.

Nemesis made it here without any real challenge, crushing the Misfits under his foot.  That’s about it, but you should click here and read it anyway because I think it’s pretty funny.

Mon*Star, the Planet Master comes to us from the Silverhawks and is the leader of some kind of cosmic mob.  You can read about him more here, but in short, he’s just weird.  Originally, he’s about twice the size of a normal human and covered in hair.  He’s strong enough to bend metal panels and bars, but that’s about it.  But when the light of the Moon-Star hits him, he changes into his more destructive Planet Master form, which looks like a robot with a lion’s face on his chest and bunch of spikes on his head.  In this form, he’s got rocket boosters on his elbows that allow him to fly and he carries a big star-shaped laser rifle.  His main power, however, is the Lightstar, a flying red energy star that comes out of his eye.  He can control wherever it goes (though not always very well), and it can paralyze its target or bend them to his will.  Lastly, he has a steed called Skyrunner, which is a flying, armored squid with a few lasers on it.

Mon*Star earned his way to this point against Tormack, and you can read it here.  After failing to penetrate Tormack's Sacred Shield with his regular attacks, he figured out that he could control his Lightstar to bypass the shield and take Tormack out.

Make sure to check back here soon to see who wins this fight before we get into the quarter-finals!

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 - Nemesis

Oh man, I've been waiting for this one. One's a 50 feet robot, and the other is three mean girls.

Technically that's not true.  While Nemesis does have all the strength and abilities, not all of it is accessible to him.  Let's do a very brief history of the Robotix and you'll see what I mean.  The home planet of the Robotix was inhabited by two main races - the peaceful Protectons and the reptilian Terracores, which Nemesis lead.  When the planet was threatened by destruction, both races decided their best course for survival was to enter suspended animation and send their ship into the stars.  To preserve their bodies, the ships main program, Compucore, was able to upload the Protectons' and Terracore's essences into the Robotix, large robots they used for manual labor.

I know it's a lot of info, but we're almost there.  The good and bad Robotix began fighting as soon as they were awakened, but they were unfamiliar to their new bodies, so they couldn't do much more than throwing a punch.  But when humans landed on the planet, they went into the Robotix's control console and were able to interface, which granted the Robotix with more abilities, weapons, and configurations.

Nemesis was joined by Kanawk, the leader of the selfish humans on the space crew, who was as much a schemer as Nemesis.  While Nemesis was capable of just about nothing besides tossing Protectons around before, Kanawk was able to activate a bunch of weird configurations in him, starting with an extending drillbit from Nemesis's mouth that opened up to expose a camera.  That's just about the weirdest thing you'll see in the cartoon - I mean, why couldn't it have come out of his hand?  Instead, it looks like he's puking up a metal worm.

Anyway, beyond that, Nemesis mostly gets upgrades to his hands - in fact, instead of reconfiguring his entire body like most of the Robotix can, turning them into vehicles or ladders, even, Nemesis doesn't change his shape at all.  Rather, most of the changes are in his left hand, which is a small three-pronged claw, which he can extend before interfacing.  He's got a cannon on his shoulder, but I'm not sure if interfacing is required to use it.  His other hand, which is also a claw but closer to a pincher, I guess, has two extra features - an energy whip, which can cut through a tree big enough to support Nemesis's weight, and then a data link to control a computer.

While the other Robotix can convert into wheeled or even flying vehicles, Nemesis is too good for that 95% of the time.  Only on two occasions did he move by other means and one of them you can't even tell what he's doing.  I think his feet have turned into tank treads, but it's hard to tell if his feet always looked like that.  The other time, he flew with rocket boosters on his feet.

That's it for Nemesis's abilities, but how is he at leading?  Definitely not good since halfway through the movie - I should mention that this wasn't a full series, but was a movie made up of 16 shorts - Nemesis is taken out by his second-in-command, Trannix, shot in the back and knocked off a cliff.  What is it with Hasbro cartoons where the leader has a backstabber as his lieutenant?  He comes back a few minutes later and doesn't even do anything for revenge on Trannix.  That's lame!  He could have at least yelled at him, but the next time they're together, there's not even a mention of it.  He was able to capture two of the Protectons and replace their programming with other Terracores, including their leader, but that one was reversed pretty quickly.  The other one was left as a spy, but it didn't amount to anything.

It's really telling that a villain's only real defining feature is Peter Cullen's villainous voice - unlike Venger, who had the voice but kicked ass as well.  Nemesis is probably the most disappointing thing about his cartoon - the most boring robot mode, no other configurations, and loss of control over his 4 - yes 4! - subordinates.  I'd say that doesn't bode well for him, but I think he lucked out with his opponent.

Click here if you want to see my original thoughts of Nemesis from when I was a kid for some more degradation of this guy.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 23 - Results

Genghis Rex’s shuttle sped after the small craft, steering deftly between the jagged metal structures.  Huge plumes of smoke bellowed from many of the towers, making the chase difficult enough that Rex contemplated cutting off at every turn.  Somehow, the small jet made the turns with ease, as if it were familiar with the weird topography. Rex scanned the vehicle, small enough that not even a small human could fit it in, like the Dinosaucer’s cursed Secret Scouts, searching for a pilot.
Instead, the results showed that the craft itself was alive, or at least close to a living being.  That made the ship even more valuable, as it was able to evade most of the Reptilon’s sensors after their ship crashed on this planet.  As Ankylo made repairs to their ship, Quackpot noticed the small craft flying in circles overhead, and Genghis gave chase.
The ship led him back to this apocalyptic terrain and flew directly to the largest spire.  As it flew in circles around the tower, Genghis got a sense it wanted to land there but didn’t want to leave itself vulnerable.    It finally broke its patrol around the building and flew its erratic course through the clouds of smoke.
As Genghis chased the craft his temper began to get ahold of him.  Where he wanted to catch it in working order before, now he would be happy to pick up the wreckage once he’d shot it down.  He aimed his lasers and fired.  
The ship spun around once to dodge the fire, then stopped in mid-air.  The jet glowed in for an instant and changed shape into a tank. “What the--?” Genghis shouted at the sudden transformation.  Unable to stop his course, Genghis’s shuttle crashed into the tank and it rolled over the cockpit. Genghis felt a clang and turned on an exterior camera. 
Two arms on the tank, flanking a hideous painted face, were digging into the shuttle’s armor. “Two can play at that,” Genghis said, powering up the grabber claws installed on the ship’s sides.  The articulated appendages snapped out and folded towards the top of the shuttle, the two giant claws clamping shut on the tank. Genghis steered his shuttle back towards his base, his transforming prey safely clamped down. 
Alarms blared in the cockpit alerting of significant damage to the fuselage.  Looking at the exterior camera again, Genghis saw the tank was no longer a tank, and now a giant drill. It bore into the engine, shredding through the propulsion system.

With the ship’s engine disabled and the shuttle descending towards one of the Horde’s factories, Hordak changed his shape from a drill to a small four-legged mechanical insect.  His smaller form allowed him to squeeze his way out of the claws holding him and he leapt from the craft before it crashed through a smokestack. He landed on the roof a dozen yards from the crashsite and changed back to his regular form.  
When he reached the cockpit and he found it empty, he shifted his right arm into a cannon form and began sweeping his surroundings.  A laser shot out of the smoke and struck the ground below him. The metal surface of the building changed to brittle stone and collapsed under Hordak, dropping him into the factory.
During the fall, Hordak changed his form to a rocket and flew back up through the hole.  He changed form high above the building and as he fell, he fired his laser cannon at the crash site.  A few shots struck the shuttle and triggered an explosion, shaking the building and reducing the ship to scrap.  Hordak landed and changed his eyes to binoculars to see through the smoke.  
A blurry figure came crashing down right in front of Hordak, throwing him back.  In the second it took his eyes to revert to normal, the figure fired his weapon directly at Hordak’s chest.  
Hordak clutched at his chest, feeling his whole body change.  His arms bulged with muscle and his forehead sloped, the scales on his face shifting down.  His mind began to devolve, the ideas in his head starting to slip away in a jumble of abstracts he couldn’t understand.  He felt his whole consciousness crumble but forced one thought to the front of his mind.  
As Hordak further regressed, his giant red opponent stood over him and gloated.  “Even on this planet, you evolved from mindless oafs,” he said, but when Hordak roared, he flinched. 
Before Hordak could strike him, he forced his body to glow blue again, turning himself into a spinning top.  Four arms stretched out from the top, turning him into a flailing machine. Multiple punches at high speed struck the reptilian creature in the gut, throwing him back and dazing him.  Hordak reverted to his original form, his constantly changing body able to reverse the devolving effect of his opponent’s weapon. “Interesting trick,” he said, picking up the weapon from the ground and imagining what it could do to She-Ra.  He changed his arm again and aimed at his foe, this time spewing a tongue of fire.
The red creature burst into flames as Hordak resumed his rocket form and flew back to his throneroom.
 Click here for Hordak's and Genghis Rex's respect post.

In this fight, the real advantage only came down to Hordak's shape-shifting availability.  He could easily counter anything Genghis's ship could do, which is half of the stuff Genghis has going for him.  Besides that, he's got his two weapons, but I personally think that since both weapons are able to change the traits of the target, Hordak's shape-changing could counteract them.  Both weapons also seem to have a delay in changing their targets, even giving one of the Secret Scouts a chance to explain what was happening to him.  That time could possibly allow Hordak a chance to reverse the effect on him.

The Winner

Click here for the previous fight and here for the rest of Bad Guy Beatdown.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 23 - Hordak vs Genghis Rex

Sorry for the delay in this round - on a personal side, my autistic son started going to Pre-K on August 19 and it's been a big adjustment at home.  He's taken to it really well, already showing some progress, even gets onto the bus by himself without any fights.  Another positive from it for myself is that I used to put him to bed every night to give my wife a break from watching him all day.  Now that he's in school, she going to put him to bed, giving me a few hours to myself at night.  That's going to give me a ton more time to write on my book and the blog, and that's awesome for both me and you.

Anyway, let's get to the combatants. We're starting with the scourge of Eternia, Hordak, and you can see his original post here.  Surprisingly, Hordak only appeared in eight of the first thirteen episodes of She-Ra, so I had five more to watch.  And it was worth it because he showed a ton more forms he could take.  Besides the laser cannon and flamethrower we've seen earlier, he can change his right hand into a magnet, a suction cup, a claw that can cut through a metal cable, and a shield strong enough to block one of Skeletor's blasts (a later hit knocked Hordak out for half the episode).  In addition to the rocket and drill, he's turned his whole body into two different kinds of tanks, one with spider legs and one with regular treads and grabber claws, and a jet. At this point, we can just assume he can change into practically anything. 

Hordak got to this point in the tournament by defeating Hun-Dred from Robo Force, a robot that was killed by being thrown into a wall.  You can read the battle with Hordak here, but it ended the same way as his cartoon appearance - Hordak slammed Hun-Dred against a wall and he blew up.

Ghengis Rex, on the other hand, showed up in twelve of his thirteen episodes and the last one I watched didn't help him at all.  You can read about his powers here, but I'm going to save you some time.  Genghis Rex has the approximate strength of a creature his size, probably twice that of a normal human.  His real advantage is his arsenal. He uses two weapons: the Devolver Rifle and a Fossilizer.  The first one turns its target into a brainless version of itself - a Dinosaucer turns into a normal dinosaur and a human into a Neanderthal.  I didn't expect this, but he's actually a decent shot with both of them.  The Fossilizer turns its target into stone.  Lastly, Genghis flies a ship that is armed with lasers and grabber claws.

To get here, Genghis squared off against Cobra Commander and you can read it here.  To no one's surprise, Genghis's ship destroyed CC's helicopter before Genghis turned him into a statue and shattered him.  It wasn't much of a fight.

check back next week to see how Hordak fares against the leader of the Reptilons!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 22 - Results

Darkstorm cursed Merklynn for his powers.  Ever since being imbued with his totems, Darkstorm had become the wizard’s errand boy.  Why could he not send the lower ranks of the Darkling Lords, like that sniveling Mortdredd?  Because he wanted success, that’s why. Darkstorm’s confidence won out over his reluctance as he told himself that his rival, Leoric, wasn’t even Merklynn’s first choice.
As the wizard cast his spell, Darkstorm’s reality warped from his castle on Prismos to another unknown world, deep in a cavern.  He struck the end of his staff on the ground, causing the image of the winged creature to glow, banishing the darkness. He could see a faint red light coming from a large room ahead of him and the heat emanating could be felt through his armor.  Whatever resided ahead of him liked it hot. Wielding his axe, Darkstorm entered the room before seeing his intended target. He again cursed that damned magician when he saw the behemoth before him. 

Metlar sat in the boiling lava, soothing his aching bones.  He relished his newfound freedom from Manticore, won through the intervention of a group of armored humans.  Though they proved to be an annoyance in their own right, at that very moment they were off licking their wounds.  Metlar banished Tendril and D’Compose to he could tend to his own injuries and plot his revenge.
Metlar shot up in the lava tube.  He couldn’t believe his eyes – another human had invaded his sanctuary!  Metlar scooped up a handful of the molten rock and tossed it toward the interloper.  The human scrambled out of the way, narrowly avoiding the fireball, before disappearing back into the tunnel he had arrived in.  
Tired, Metlar dismissed the human.  Its armor was a different design than the Earth Corps’s bulky protection and it only held a staff with a glowing picture on it.  Perhaps it was a spelunker that just found its way to Metlar’s home. Whatever brought it here, it didn’t concern Metlar enough to give chase.  He leaned back, closed his eyes, and let the lava do its magic.  
Curiously, the tingling sensation of the heat had migrated to the top of his head.  After a moment, it transformed from relaxing to pain, a burning he had never felt before.  Even the humans’ laser fire hadn’t burned like this. He opened his eyes and spotted the cause; a bright green stream of acid falling from the ceiling.  As soon as he looked up, the caustic liquid increased in flow, from a dribble to a torrent, spilling on Metlar’s head and shoulders. He smoked under the corrosive as it slowly ate through the scales that made Metlar’s dermis.  
He swam to the other side of the lava pit moving from under the flow.  He sank down into the lava again when the spray of acid resumed on his head.  He climbed out of the pool, spots hitting his back and singeing him. Out of his bath, he found the source of the acid, a larger than usual snail clinging to the cavern’s ceiling.  It spewed the acid out its mouth, almost striking Metlar in the face.  
“Let’s see whose spit is worse,” Metlar said, reaching into his own mouth and pulling a handful of lava from his boiling throat.  He threw the fireball at the mollusk, smashing the cavern wall under it and causing it to fall to the floor. The glowing green creature dissolved, replaced by the human that had trespassed earlier.  
It staggered to its feet and held up its staff toward Metlar, a humorously pathetic attack.  “By what creeps, what crawls, by what does not, let all that grows recede and rot,” the human shouted.  The image on his staff came to life, emerging from its frame and growing large enough to envelope Metlar with its leathery wings.
Great pain surged through Metlar’s body and weakened him to the core.  The being retreated back into the staff, releasing its hold on Metlar. He dropped to one knee and focused his rage onto the being’s master.
“What?” the human said.  “You should be near dead, aged beyond your years!”  
“Foolish human, Metlar is eternal!  I’ve lived a million years and will live a million more!”
The human staggered back from Metlar but could not escape the giant the giant fist slamming down on him.
 Click here for Darkstorm's and Metlar's respect post.

Originally, I gave Darkstorm a pretty decent chance to defeat Metlar, mainly for his Decay totem.  After some more analysis, though, I realized Decay wouldn't work on Metlar since he's basically an eternally-living creature.  Since that wouldn't work, the only advantage Darkstorm had was the Mollusk's acid spit, though I didn't think it would do a whole lot of damage if lasers couldn't harm the Inhumanoid.  Unfortunately, Darkstorm didn't have any defenses against Metlar's strength and fireballs once the Mollusk effect wore off.

The Winner

Click here for the previous fight and here for the rest of Bad Guy Beatdown.