Greetings from the Odinson,
“…Lo, they do call to me…They bid me take my place among them in the Halls of Valhalla…”
Those who have been privileged to see the cult classic film The 13th Warrior know exactly what these words mean. It’s a Battle Hymn, a prayer spoken before combat so the gods may look down upon thee with favor, and if the warrior should fall in combat, grant him entrance into the glorious mead hall of the gods and spend eternity alongside the brave, the bold, and the stalwart. This tale, loosely based on the Beowulf myths, is about thirteen brave men facing down impossible odds in an effort to protect those not capable of protecting themselves. These thirteen brave warriors are willing to lay down their lives for honor, for their king, and for the people they have sworn to protect.
In May, in the pages of Future Quest, DC Comics is resurrecting thirteen legends, bringing them out of obscurity, and once again shedding the much deserved spotlight on them. Jonny Quest, Hadji, and Bandit will be joined by Birdman, Frankenstein, Jr., the Impossibles, the Galaxy Trio, Mightor, the Herculoids, and Space Ghost with Jan, Jace, and Blip the Space Monkey as these Hanna-Barbera legends unite to save the world. As someone who remembers each and every one of these magnificent cartoons, the Odinson is here to say BRAVO, and long overdue. I remember once upon a time practically begging for the return of some of these legendary heroes (see The Odinson Talks about Some Heroes He’d Like to See Back in the Spotlight). The revival of these heroes in the pages of Future Quest got the Odinson thinking about another forgotten baker’s dozen of heroes he’d love to see return to prominence.
The Odinson’s Top 13 Forgotten Heroes
13 – MANTIS (1994) – This short lived mid-90s show was created by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and Sam Hamm (Batman Returns, Detective Comics), and was a precursor to the television super hero BOOM of the 2000s. A doctor who is shot in the back becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Determined to fight injustice, he develops an exoskeleton which not only gives him the ability to walk, but super human strength and speed as well. MANTIS was clearly inspired by the comic book medium and heroes like Daredevil and Batman. Too bad the TV audiences were not ready yet.
12 – Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (1987) – Yet another show that was way ahead of its time. In a dystopian future where Terminator-like machines rule the world with an iron fist, mankind’s only hope rest in a small battalion of freedom fighters led by the courageous Captain Power. Power and his Soldiers of the Future are able to go toe-to-toe with the machines because of their power suits, futuristic battle armor that grants strength, speed, and superior protection. Speaking of being ahead of its time, one of the main features of this show was that it was interactive. Using light-sensitive tech, there were Captain Power toys that could interact with the TV show and the VHS releases. That is pretty darn cool.
11 – Power Lord (1983) – Adam Power is an astronaut capable of harnessing the cosmic powers of the universe to transform himself into an unstoppable force for justice. He and his allies, Shaya the Queen of Power and Sydot, fight a never-ending battle for universal control against the sinister Arkus and his evil minions. This short-lived action figure line was meant to compete with the popular Masters of the Universe line of the time. One of the cool things about the figure that I remember is that he actually made the transformation from mortal to hero. With a push of a button, Adam’s torso would quickly swivel around to reveal the cosmically charged persona of Power Lord!
10 – Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors (1985) – Armed with awesome vehicles that could combine to form super WMDs, Jayce and his allies, the Lightning League, set out on a galaxy-spanning quest to find his missing father. His father may hold the key to finally putting an end to the evil Saw Boss and his minions the Monster-Minds, mutant plant-like creatures that can transform into powerful vehicles of destruction. As if that set-up were not awesome enough, this animated show was co-developed by writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Amazing Spider-Man).
9 – The Centurions (1986) – POWER X-TREME! In the not too distant future, mankind is constantly under the threat of the cyborg terrorist Doc Terror. The only ones brave enough and capable of standing against Terror and his mechanized weapons of mass destruction are the Centurions. Each member of the Centurions is a specialist with unparalleled expertise in warfare on land, sea, and air. Their incredible exo-suits allow them to adapt to anything Terror can throw at them as their satellite headquarters, Sky Vault, can beam down any weapon needed for any given situation.
8 – The Mighty OrBots (1984) – Go, Mighty OrBots! Speaking of being ahead of its time, the animation for this all too short lived series was head-and-shoulders above the other cartoons of its time. Five robots, each with its own unique personality and special ability, could merge to form a super robot piloted by the brave Rob Simmons, the genius inventor who created the OrBots, and his diminutive sidekick, Ohno! Though the adventures were pretty simple (OrBots make funny, giant monster attacks, OrBots merge and take care of business), in the right hands, the Mighty OrBots could be every bit as cool and beloved as Voltron, the rock star of giant robots.
7 – The Bionic Six (1987) – Like the OrBots before them, the Bionic Six featured some really incredible animation. What if the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman adopted a family Brady Bunch style, gave the kids bionic super powers, and protected the world against criminal super mutants and cybernetic terrorists? That’s the premise of this super cool gem from the late-80s. With a rich cast of heroes, villains, anti-heroes, and supporting characters, this universe is just begging to be explored in the 21st Century.
6 – Bravestarr (1987) – “…eyes of the hawk, ears of the wolf…strength of the bear, speed of the puma…” On the far off world of New Texas, a Keriumrush, a super mineral, brings out the outlaws by the score. On this desolate world of villains, bandits, and space pirates, there is only one man brave enough to stand against them – Marshal Bravestarr. Powered by the spiritual animal totems of the hawk, wolf, puma, and bear, Bravestarr and his cybernetic super-stallion, Thirty-Thirty, are a true force for justice. Much like other toons of its time (i.e. Masters of the Universe and GI Joe), Bravestarr had a message for its audience, tales of morality, and lessons to help know right from wrong.
5 – Crystar: The Crystal Warrior (1983) – In a world of might and magic, a race of crystal-skinned warriors fight a never-ending battle against an evil horde of lava men. Like Masters of the Universe, this was a sci-fi/fantasy that mixed the best parts of Flash Gordon and Conan the Barbarian. Not only was this short lived comic series, which featured awesome guest-appearances by Doctor Strange, Nightcrawler, and Alpha Flight, really super cool, but Crystar also produced one of the coolest toylines in the 80s, the Golden Age of the action figure. With current cameos in the pages of Weirdworld and Squadron Supreme, the Odinson has fingers crossed that these mighty crystal warriors will soon once again flourish under the banner of the House of Ideas.
4 – The Shogun Warriors (1979) – Before Pacific Rim, before the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, even before Voltron, there were these mechanized giant defenders of justice. Raydeen, Combatra, and Dangard Ace were planet Earth’s first and last line of defense against evil forces from beyond the stars. Like most of the names on this list, the Shogun Warriors also had one of the coolest toylines every produced. The Odinson remembers one very special Christmas morning unwrapping a present that was nearly as big as him to reveal the Great Mazinger, an oversized robot with blazing red sword and missiles that actually shot off his hands. And, as an added bonus that Christmas, I got the Shogun Warriors Godzilla, an equally mammoth toy with fire-breathing action and a launching fist. Yes, we need Shogun Warriors back in our lives!
3 – SilverHawks (1986) – These super cyborgs would fit right in with other intergalactic police forces like the Green Lantern Corps and Nova Corps. Partly metal, partly real, the SilverHawks fight bravely to keep the galaxy safe from the sinister gangster Mon-Star and his mob of cut-throat mutants and monsters. With the way they flip their space masks down and leap into the cosmos in formation, I always found the SilverHawks to be visually really cool. Plus, they reside in the same universe as the ThunderCats. Can anyone say “Crossover?”
2 – The Human Fly (1977) – Loosely based on the real life stuntman Rick Rojatt, this mysterious masked avenger was a stuntman who after a serious accident had his entire skeleton reconstructed and reinforced with steel. He would travel the world performing death-defying stunts and getting into capers fighting crime and solving mysterious. One of the best aspects of this dearly missed cult series is that it featured some of the most eye-catching, spectacular covers. Just hit the link above, scroll through the series, and enjoy.
1 – Thundarr the Barbarian (1980) – After a cosmic cataclysm sends the planet back to the Stone Age, two-thousand years later, Earth is reborn. It is a time of super science and sorcery, a place where cruel, sinister wizards and monstrous warlords rule over the scattered feudal societies and remnants of mankind. Only one man has the strength and courage to burst his bonds of slavery and fight back. He is Thundarr the Barbarian! Backed by his allies, the magic-user, Princess Ariel, and the mighty Mok, Ookla, and armed with his invincible Sun-Sword, Thundarr rides across this dystopian landscape bringing justice to the oppressed and battling evil in all its guises. This show has a great pedigree because its developers and creators include such legendary names as Alex Toth, Steve Gerber, and Jack Kirby! The Odinson cannot believe this fantastic sci-fi/fantasy playground has not been picked up and revisited for over thirty years now!
Like the Hanna-Barbera legends being resurrected in the pages of Future Quest, these forgotten heroes above are just begging to be picked up by a comic company, given to a talented creative team, and given a chance to shine bright once again.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell