Missing my Nemesis

Everyone needs a nemesis. Superman has Lex Luthor, He-Man has Skeletor, and Peter Popoff has James Randi.

When two polar opposites eventually throw down, it’s going to be something special. More than just another fight, this is a clash of irreconcilable ideals that will reverberate throughout the universe. TMW takes a look at the best clashes of good and evil throughout the ages.

Darth Vader Vs Obi Wan/Luke Skywalker

Speaking objectively, the first Star Wars film is great, even if behind the scenes George Lucas was going bald from stress and Alec Guinness was renegotiating his contract every five minutes. It introduced us to classic characters and ideas that will forever be embedded in our hearts and the hearts of our grandchildren.

"Daddy! Why won't you hug me!?"

“Daddy! Why won’t you hug me!?”

Obi Wan Kenobi’s fight with Darth Vader is remembered as one of cinema’s great moments. Or should that be misremembered? Watching it today, in Space Year 2015, the whole thing seems a bit of an anticlimax.

The lightsaber battle is dull – I’ve seen slicker moves when my grandma sweeps the kitchen floor. And the old wizard decides that while he could use his Jedi magic to drop a spaceship on Vader’s shiny black noggin, he’ll just stand there and die. Although the concept of death in the Star Wars universe doesn’t seem to be clearly defined.

What’s the disadvantage of death, exactly, if you can come back as a sparkly ghost and perv on Leia taking a shower? You know you would, don’t lie. Lies lead to the dark side.

"Strike me down and I will see more boobs than you can ever imagine"

“Strike me down and I will see more boobs than you can ever imagine”

The later battle in Return of the Jedi between all growed-up Luke and Vader is pretty hardcore by comparison, even if he does spend twenty minutes being called chicken-shit by Mumm-Ra The Emperor.

It all gets pretty heavy when poor old Papa Vader kicks the bucket, but it’s a happy ending after all when Han Solo, two robots and the semi-incestuous Jedi twins have a dance with the teddy bears.

Optimus Prime Vs Megatron

This is when most of us learned that heroes sometimes fail. You probably learned this with tears streaming down your face, your tiny little hands balled into fists in a display of smoldering, primal rage.

"Oh, and Santa Claus ISN'T REAL. Mwhahaha!"

Back in the 80s, film characters stayed dead, kids.

This was the battle of the decade – after all those years of threats and posturing, Prime finally gave Megs the fight he asked for. And boy, did he give him a whupping. Optimus takes Megatron apart – it’s like watching Muhammad Ali take on that Mr. Glass guy from Unbreakable.

For all of us watching, it was intensely satisfying. Prime saves the day, and he has Megatron at his mercy. It was all going to be okay…

In 25 years, people will see how much of a pussy Megatron is in HD!

In 25 years, people will see how much of a pussy Megatron is in HD!

So mere human words cannot describe the horror of seeing the cowardly Megs take a hostage and blast Prime in the face with a concealed handgun.

Prime dies in an awfully protracted deathbed scene that mentally scarred 50% of the pre-adolescent population in 1986. For many of us, it was the day our childhoods died. For the rest, that probably happened some time in the mid nineties when they got their first modem.

The Shredder Vs Splinter

There was always a bit of “will they won’t they” with Splinter and the Shredder. Mortal enemies, their paths rarely crossed. So when they eventually did meet, you knew some serious shit was about to go down.

"No! It's step, jump, THEN sashay!"

“No! It’s step, jump, THEN sashay!”

Shredder always seemed to have an unfair advantage over Splinter. He was about four feet taller and covered in blades, for a start. But Splinter is like Yoda. Small, wrinkly, but still able to kick an ass or two.

Their first proper battle in the Technodrome sent our pulses racing, even if it was a proper rip-off of Star Wars. Shredder even seems to pull a sword from nowhere (he’s never again seen using one), furthering the obvious parallels.

"Your powers are weak, old man!"

“Your powers are weak, old man!”

Still, we didn’t care. The Shredder was one of the great cartoon villains – just hammy enough that you could laugh at him when the Turtles threw custard pies at his metal-plated face, but just scary enough that you took him seriously.

Of course, in the Turtlesverse good always triumphs over evil, and any adventure usually ends with high-fiving and delicious pizza. Except in the 2003 cartoon, where Leonardo cuts Shredders fricking head off. But that’s a story for another time.

"Hmm"

“Sounds like a pain in the neck”

We all know that Master Splinter is the real hero of the series, anyway. He taught us all that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but what is in your heart… As long as you have serious kung-fu skills. If you don’t, then you’re just a HIDEOUS FREAK.

He-Man Vs Skeletor

He-Man fought his nemesis all the time. It was like they had a playdate or something. They’d meet outside Castle Grayskull every Wednesday, exchange puns – occasionally waving a sword or staff menacingly in the others’ direction – and then go home.

"Take THIS!"

Spare a thought for the poor bastard on the tower in the background

Let’s not kid ourselves. No-one in the He-Man universe ever hurt or wounded anyone else. He-Man’s Sword of Power could have been used to slice and dice the entire evil horde, but instead he just used it to deflect lasers or cut conveniently-placed ropes.

Not that he even needed his sword at all; He-Man could rip Skeletor or any one of his minions in half like a Jelly Baby and feed them to Cringer. But he doesn’t. Because he’s a goodie, and with great power comes great… Uh… wimpiness?

Anyway, was Skelly really all that bad? In the He-Man Christmas Special, Skeletor kidnapped some children (admittedly a little bit evil) but then made lovely winter coats for them so they wouldn’t freeze to death (not at all evil). He even takes the time to cuddle the green robot puppy.

"Nyaa!"

“Nyaa!”

However, in the 2002 series, Skeletor was plenty evil, and made sure to keep his place on Evil Monthly’s Top 20 Maniacs list by throwing the reigning monarch off a cliff, throwing the crown prince off a cliff (the guy likes cliffs), and beating up He-Man’s pet cat.

Naturally, He-Man goes ape shit over that last one [Ape-Shit? I don’t remember him – Luke] and single-handedly takes down Skeletor’s entire army in an act of vicious but censor-pleasingly nonviolent retribution.

Sonic Vs. Super Sonic

Fleetway’s Sonic the Comic was awesome. We’re dead serious. Given the loose premise of Sonic the Hedgehog – in that there wasn’t one – the creators were free to do as they wished, and they crafted an unimaginably deep and dark universe for the Fastest Thing Alive.

Shit!

Not even Superman can make a 90 degree turn in mid-air!

It’s not too surprising that Sonic ended up with an evil alter ego – the concept is everywhere in the world of comics and cartoons – we have Judge Death, Bizarro, Captain Pollution, and Faker to name but a few.

Where Sonic is a cool, easygoing character, his opposite persona Super Sonic is enough to turn your blood to ice, despite having a slightly redonkulous name.

Super Sonic lived inside regular Sonic (or Sonic: Original, take your pick) and would come to the surface whenever he got stressed or angry. Sonic was basically a ticking time bomb, like Bill Bixby but without the flares.

Uhh, Bob Holness?

Uhh, Bob Holness?

Unstoppable, insane, and with an appetite for carnage and destruction, Super Sonic gave plenty of readers nightmares and caused all sorts of problems for Sonic and his chums. Things hit a high point when the ‘Super’ was split from Sonic and given form all his own, creating a menacing villain who was present 100% of the time, and hit a low point when Super Sonic lost his memory and went on lovely adventures with a magic cat lady and her friend Pajamas.

For real.

Depth Charge Vs Rampage

This one had us on the edge of our seats.

Beast Wars was high on character development, low on toy advertising. It’s the Star Trek of Transformers franchises, and despite the lack of ‘red shirts’, the creators of the show weren’t scared to blow a brother away.

The evil robot Rampage is introduced early in the second season, and he lives up to his name. Apparently indestructible, he’s a sadist who loves killing, maiming and listening to One Direction. He turns into a big crab which is a lot less stupid in practice than it sounds on paper. He has a long-term rivalry with goodie Depthcharge, and they clash several times throughout the series.

Crabs are like Super Spiders.

“Which one of you dickheads ordered the crab!?”

Eventually, the two meet for their final confrontation, and it’s a shocker. After a long battle, the warriors end up locked in a deadly embrace. In stalemate, Rampage gives up, calling our hero’s bluff. So what does Depthcharge do….?

He plunges the sword straight into his enemy’s beating heart. The resulting explosion kills D.C and presumably doubly-kills Rampage.

Funny Fact: Beast Wars was called “Beasties” in Canada because they thought the title was too violent. Makes you wonder what they made of this episode.

“Face your tiny”

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Off the Record

The Read-Along book n’ record was a children’s staple in the 70s and 80s. It allowed kids to have all the fun of a cartoon, without taking up valuable TV time and disrupting mum’s Coronation Street.jazzk1

I had a whole bunch of these, mostly from Ladybird. They were a little bit cack, especially the ones based on popular cartoons like Transformers, but I loved them anyway. At least, they never approached the awfulness that was Sun Raid – a story that sounded like it was recorded in a shipping container outside Hong Kong.

I no longer own a cassette player, so my story tapes have gone unplayed for many years. Eager to listen to them once more, I took to Youtube on the off chance that someone digitised and uploaded them.

On my travels, I came across a He-Man story record. I clicked it more out of curiosity than anything else, but I’m glad I did, as it’s fantastic.

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Master Baiting

I loves Masters of the Universe, I does. I had a handful of toys as a kid, and watched the cartoon occasionally on Channel 4 in the early hours of the morning. It’s a shame that I’m not quite old enough to remember the craze in full swing – the toys had long since disappeared from the shelves by the time I could go and explore the toy shops myself. Most were given to me by older friends and relatives. They were chewed up a bit, and smelled like engine oil and creosote, but I didn’t care.

One more thing I played with as a kid that they banned.

One more thing I played with as a kid that they banned.

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Fare Well

There are a few days that I look forward to every year more so than most – my birthday, Christmas, New Argos Catalogue Day, and the start of the New York toy fair. These all have to do with toys, naturally. There’s nothing quite like that little rush of excitement that comes with seeing a batch of virgin toys laid bare for the first time. It’s a short-lived feeling, so I try to bottle it up and mete it out slowly over the course of the year. Back in November, I accidentally used up my entire supply of Christmas Feeling when the decorator played Mistletoe and Wine on his radio. Humbug. Continue reading

Music To Mein Ears

Dubbing cartoons is a funny old thing. All cartoons are animated from a script, and everything from body movements to gestures and lip flaps (*splutter*) reflect the words and intent of the original author. So it’s a bit of a nightmare when the time comes to release the cartoon in another territory. A great deal of stuff we watch over here is made in (or more accurately for) America, so dubbing isn’t an issue. But people in distant lands have it tough.

It would be boring to go through a whole bunch of cartoons and see how they’re adjusted for export, so instead I thought I’d choose some popular ones and, if nothing else, listen to the theme songs and see how they differ from what we’re used to. They run the gamut from surprising to plain to just plain wrong. Grab your headphones and turn it up to 11!

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