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Wizards (Thundarr The Barbarian)

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ThundarrGemini

The wizard Gemini, aptly the only Thundarr foe to appear twice

Thundarr The Barbarian was a 1980 to 1981 Saturday Morning cartoon adventure series shown on ABC Television in the United States. Its premise centered on (what rapidly became) an alternate future beginning in 1994, where a planetary body passed too close to the Earth, sending it into apocalyptic ruin. By the end of the 40th Century CE, new civilization has finally emerged, but at an extremely primitive level. In the ruins are found remnants of old technology that now seemed like magic, some elements of a highly advanced science that goes even beyond that which is known today, and some elements that can only be described as true magic, though it is rarely depicted as such.

The chief power-brokers in this shattered world are techno-savvy men and women called Wizards, though again they are almost exclusively using technology, fear and the gullibility of those around them to get by. While some few are heroic or at least neutral knowledge-seekers, most are power-hungry egomaniacs ruthless and uncaring of who has to be crushed so they may obtain the remnants of times past to enhance their abilities. They are often rulers of small kingdoms or fiefdoms, enslaving frightened and powerless locals to be used as cannon fodder in their quests. Almost to a one, they do not get along, and often hate each other as much if not far more than the series' protagonists, Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla.

While never depicted, one wizard is actually central to the show's very premise, after the ancient apocalypse that created that world. Named Sabian, he was the one who enslaved the barbarian Thundarr and the Wookie-like (the show's creators conceded the obvious inspiration) Ookla The Mok. He was also stepfather to Princess Ariel and may have taught her the sorcery she uses to fight alongside her headstrong allies. Their escape from his clutches set them on the path to oppose and shut down all wizards everywhere.

Unlike Ariel, armed with surviving history of the world that was, these wizards often seemed as deluded as any of their followers as to the origins of their own abilities and the nature of the power they sought. Very often, the passage of time and the wholesale nature of the disaster meant that the artifacts had shifted from their original purpose or had otherwise become unstable. In a staple of the series, the wizards often dwelled in barely-recognizable ruins of known cities in North America, with locals or enemies fixating on things both important and trivial as having almost religious meaning.

The heroes and villains all shared an impressive animation and comic book pedigree, with the likes of Mark Evanier (Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, Garfield & Friends) Steve Gerber (Man-Thing, Howard The Duck), Roy Thomas (Writer of most Conan works in the 70's and 80's), Gerry Conway (Punisher, Power Girl), Gil Kane (Artist for both major comic companies and co-creator of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern) and most of all, comics titan Jack Kirby, whose work on The New Gods, Kamandi and OMAC were direct inspirations for much of Thundarr's look and feel.

Noted wizards seen in the series include :

  • Sabian, Ariel's evil stepfather and slave-master to the two male heroes
  • Gemini, a literally two-faced being whose evil face evoked no less than Kirby's Darkseid
  • Mindok, a disembodied brain seeking an android body (Voiced by Alan Oppenheimer)
  • Morag, a life-thief using piracy to gain victims (Voiced by Alan Oppenheimer)
  • Styria, a witch who commanded humanoid sharks
  • Infernus, an evil wizard ironically needing the heroes' protection against the Werewolf Chieftain Zevon (who was likely named after 'Werewolves Of London' singer Warren Zevon). Zevon himself may or may not have been a wizard; in the end, while all other werewolves cured reverted to Human, Zevon was revealed to have once been merely an ordinary wolf. How he achieved his hybrid form is not known. His very touch was all that was needed to pass on lycanthropy, and then those of his converts.
  • Showlow, Basim, Skorpos and Chom - Wizards engaged in a contest (resembling a race like the Wacky Races or Cannonball Run) the heroes unwittingly become pawns in near the ruins of Las Vegas and Hoover Dam
  • Crom (Also the name of a prominent god in Conan) a time-traveling wizard threatening a group of Humans in Fort Alamo
  • Kublai, a wizard near San Francisco, who used another barbarian to fight Thundarr while seeking an artifact that could be used against him
  • Judag, another former wizard's slave who sought power like theirs from a 'demon', again not understanding its true nature
  • Skullus & Octagon, two evil wizards at war with one another and using innocents as their armies
  • Lord Argoth, a multi-eyed being using robots as his army and seeking to force Ariel to wed him
  • Circe, a cursed witch who switches bodies with Ariel and who may have been the Circe of legend
  • Sarott, who sought a device that could restore a miniaturized city of evil-doers to serve as his army
  • Yando, who raced a depowered Thundarr to a restorative pool
  • Artemus, a weapon-master and opportunist who framed a friend of Thundarr's for theft
  • Vashtarr, who sought to prevent a prophecy concerning his downfall - (Voiced by Michael Ansara)

While the final outcome of the heroes' struggle against these wizards is not known, one thing can be inferred. Even without the heroes around, these beings rarely understood the power they sought, so that the question becomes less whether they were defeated, but how many innocent people had to suffer and perish as they rose and fell.

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