Saturday, June 19, 2021

Thundarr the Barbarian in "City of Evil"

In “City of Evil,” Thundarr, Ookla and Ariel chase down Skullis, a diabolical wizard who has acquired a magical gauntlet from a human village near the ruins of Boston.

They retrieve the gauntlet, but Skullis stumbles into an experimental research laboratory from the twentieth century, and discovers a miniaturized city inside.  If he can get the gauntlet back, the sinister sorcerer will have the power to restore the metropolis to its full size, and turn its people into his new army.   

Skullis makes a deal with the citadel’s leader to help them return to the normal world, but he has not reckoned with Thundarr’s tenacity…

“City of Evil” is an interesting story, even if does raise some intriguing historical questions.  

Foremost among these is, simply, why is the Citadel is so advanced and futuristic when we know that the apocalypse occurred in 1994, when the world looked much as it does today. 

In other words, how come a city existed in 1994 with the technological to miniaturize itself? 

And since the city has survived in all the 2000 years since, why bother with returning to normal size?

The miniature city or society meanwhile is a great and familiar genre trope. A famous episode of The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964) “And There Were Giants” concerned astronauts discovering a miniaturized city.  And a Year Two Space:1999 (1975 – 1977)  story, “Seed of Destruction, similarly, deals with the “Seed of Kalthon,” an object which, with massive infusions of energy, can restore an entire civilization to the universe at large.  

In the DC Supergirl mythology, the city of Kandor was miniaturized, as well, and held captive by Brianiac.

In Thundarr the Barbarian, the city -- I believe called Thebes -- is restored to normal size, and then almost immediately destroyed, with its denizens made homeless in a space of hours.  So the people who live there basically waited 2000 years safely for a return to normal size, and in less than a day, their city was destroyed.  That’s a pretty tragic story.

The visuals in this episode of Thundarr are as exciting and resonant as ever. We see a battle on a bridge and interstate highway near Boston, and there’s some great imagery of the Barbarian battling tiny warriors from the city on their jet glider vehicles.  They strafe by Skullis's face like angry bees and Thundarr notes “We’re under attack…but I see no attackers!”  Then Ookla the Mok swats the ships away handily..


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