Villain Spotlight: Zorak!
Good morning evil doers! Following on the heels of the immensely popular and world renowned Villain spotlight from last week featuring everyone’s most hated teacher, Dolores Jane Umbridge, today I bring you a sort of reverse piece. Whereas last week we had a villain who brought tyranny to her students and coworkers, this week we have the opposite. A villain who is oppressed by his Hero boss, who really only wants to be left alone….to scheme and plot the demise of his keeper. Ladies and gentleman, I give to you the front man and dastardly Mantis….Zorak!
Beginning his reign of terror in 1966, Zorak has plagued Space Ghost with threats and evil plans to bring about his untimely, albeit spectacular death. Speaking in an insect tone to amplify his horror factor, Zorak would constantly attempt anything and everything to try and get his way. Battling Space Ghost and his sidekick Dino Boy, Zorak was one of the most feared villains in the galaxy. Never one to be outdone by other villains such as Moltar and Brak, Zorak was simply pure evil, whereas the other two seemed more misguided. Except Moltar, who in short bursts can be just as evil as Zorak…albeit not anywhere near as awesome. However, even though he was an evil genius and overall terrible creature, he was never an honest match for Space Ghost, and would constantly be defeated. After Space Ghost ended, so did his schemes….or did they?
In 1994, Cartoon Network began producing its very first talk show entitled Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and it brought a revival to the franchise. However, it was not the same as before. Not merely a parody of talk shows, it was a legitimate comedy show where guests would come on and be interviewed by Space Ghost, and with him as always (even if he hated it) was Zorak. The leader of the Space Ghost band, Zorak played dirges on the keyboard worthy of the most magnificent of funerals. Never one to sit quietly and let the Ghost have all the spotlight and fun, Zorak took pleasure in tossing one liners and hateful jabs at the host, and even the guests. No one was able to escape his comedic wrath. The show itself was brilliant in its observations and mocking of traditional talk shows. It marked a change in the character from standard evil doer, to a comedy villain delight. Which was a welcome change in my opinion as it broadened the range of not just Zorak’s character, but everyone involved with the show. It gave everyone a relatively fresh start, and showed that even older character could still have a good life.
Not one to be upstaged, with the inclusion of Moltar and everyone’s favorite bologna sandwich demanding monster, Brak, Zorak played off of their stupidity and malevolence with an air of snide appreciation. He hated them just as much as Space Ghost, but he dealt with them (even forming a rocky friendship with Moltar). Zorak and the others attempted to make life and the show hell for Space Ghost…that is until the host fried his eyeballs repeatedly with his Power Bands. The banter between the whole crew of the show was phenomenal in its originality, and essentially was the progenitor for the Adult Swim programming block on Cartoon Network. It paved the way for shows such as Aqua Teen and the like….especially the underrated Brak Show.
After the demise of the talk show, Zorak was featured in a main role on the Brak Show as Brak’s neighbor and “friend. “ And by friend, I mean that one friend that nobody likes, mainly because they are an evil alien insect constantly attempting to kill everyone in horrific fashion. I highly recommend the episode where Zorak gets into a staring contest with Brak’s father. By far one of the best pieces of television I have ever witnessed. I urge you to locate it and watch it. It was also one of the first shows to feature the style of animation made popular by such shows like Aqua Teen and Archer. The sort of less expensive, but oddly just as detailed and well done animation that quite a few shows adhere to now. It was a nice change and really solidified the fact that shows did not have to be at least a half hour now. Going in blocks of 15 minutes, they were quick romps into hilarity and fan service.
It is an unbelievable shame that Zorak has been left dormant for so many years after the cancellation of Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the Brak show. I find him to be a very capable villain, and has the comedy chops to back it up with some great one liners and jokes. The thing for me is, I can definitely get behind any sort of villain, but if said villain can crack jokes while destroying your livelihood and the city you live in….I’m all for that. Comedy can definitely be used as a weapon in certain instances, and Zorak knows exactly what setting to have it on….Side Splitting. Here’s to you Zorak. Please keep away from the bees, or at least keep your eyes shut. Just for safety’s sake.
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