Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zodak is NOT a hero!

The Hero vs. The Anti-Hero

Although no incarnation could ever replace the classic, Mike Young Productions created an amazing reboot that changed the way fans look at He-Man, and whilst I never really cared for the original character of Zodac, the updated version has become an all-time personal favorite of mine. Drop the "c," add the "k," and that is just the beginning of the Cosmic Enforcer's makeover because times they are a-changin'! No longer subject to the hurdles and red tape of ordinances that blocked Filmation, M.Y.P. not only enhanced the action and animation quality of the program, but also sought to make the characters more three dimensional than ever before. One of my favorite over-all character arcs from the series, was that of Zodak's want for revenge against King Hiss for devouring his brother. Forget all that you know, in terms of vengeance from the classic He-Man show because Evil-Lyn and Kothos got nothin' on Zodak! (See the original He-Man's "Revenge is Never Sweet" for reference.)

When we are introduced to Zodak, in "Snake Pit," the Cosmic Enforcer is very much a loner, and does not want the aid of the Masters, as Kobra Khan makes his first attempt at freeing his ancestral snake bretheren. In the end, Zodak realizes the error of his ways by not taking up his allies on their offer, but a disturbing dream that details his brother Zeelahr's final moments as well as a vision of the Snake Men conquering the planet, in "Rise of the Snake Men" Part 1, blindsides him. Obviously, the guilt of not being able to rescue his brother is what ultimately fuels Zodak's quest for vengeance, which keeps the story and the character very riveting because these are sentient emotions that everyone succumbs to.

Upon the arrival of Evil-Lyn, Kobra Khan, and Rattlor, the audience really is not sure if the villains did indeed overpower the Cosmic Enforcer, or he allowed for his staff to be taken in order to open The Void. In true Evil-Lyn fashion, the witch sarcastically remarks about the "great" Zodak's defeat, but as his enemies depart, the Enforcer's eye are wide open. During the beginning of the second part, Stratos states, "Three mere warriors defeating the Cosmic Enforcer? Hard to believe," which makes it painfully obvious that Zodak intentionly conceded; thus, allowing King Hiss to be released upon Eternia. When he declares to He-Man: "My brother... My battle... My vengeance..." there is no turning back for the character. Disregarding the consequences of his actions as well as ignoring He-Man's pleas, Zodak can no longer be looked upon as a "hero." The irony of the whole situation is that He-Man himself, in this particular series, has only taken up the sword and mantle of Grayskull for a very brief time, and even he can see the pitfalls in his allie's path.

Initially, his justification for his actions is to handle the snake men "forever," and although he defeats King Hiss twice, the price of the snake king's re-entry has been a costly one. Devastation and turmoil aside, the demise of a caligar, in "Rattle of the Snake," as well as the destruction and loss of lives in the village where He-Man first encounters Serpos, brings He-Man's final line, and that of the series, into question. When King Randor states that the entire kingdom should offer their gratitude to He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe replies with, "You should thank Zodak." The Cosmic Enforcer's thirst for revenge makes him somewhat responsible for the events that have transpired, and he should be held accountable for his actions. I love the internal conflict and struggle that arises in the anti-hero, but that last line is just totally inappropriate. This mis-interpretation is just one of the few qualms I have with M.Y.P.'s season two, and its a shame that they were not given the opportunity of an additional thirteen episodes because they would have definitely added the necessary depth to the character. All and all, Zodak remains one of the best characters to be explored throughout reboot, but he is not hero!

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