Greetings, everyone, and welcome back for another go around. I hope you’ve all been doing well considering the tumultuousness of our current environment. Last week we began our journey together in taking a look at a few animated series that you’ve probably never seen before but should, kicking things off with 1993’s Mighty Max. I hope you guys took some time to check that one out and if you did let me know what you thought. This week we’re looking at another show with strong action and horror elements, but also one that throws in a healthy dose of science fiction and fantasy to boot, and that’s Skeleton Warriors from 1994.
Skeleton Warriors is set on the world of Luminaire and follows the adventures of Prince Lightstar as he and his family try to retake their home from the clutches of the evil Baron Dark. The baron has manipulated Lightstar’s younger brother, Joshua, into helping him steal the Lightstar Crystal, an ultimate source of power on Luminaire and the rightful possession of the royal family. In the initial conflict, the crystal is split in half with the baron and the prince each absorbing a fragment, the resulting explosion bathing Dark as well as Lightstar and his siblings in powerful rays of light, leading to the events that follow for the rest of the series.
After fleeing from the Baron’s forces, Lightstar discovers that his half of the crystal allows him to project powerful blasts of energy from his hands and sword, while his sister, calling herself Talyn, finds out she can now fly. Lightstar’s brother is cursed by the crystal for his earlier betrayal and jealousy, turned into a half skeletal monster with sunken flesh and glowing green eyes. He takes the name of Grimskull and vows to stop Dark and restore the crystal in hopes of regaining his humanity, discovering that he has the power to teleport through shadows in the process. The three siblings are joined in their crusade by their uncle, Ursak, the man taking the name Guardian and striving to mentor the young youths for his slain brother, the former king. Together, they all dub themselves the Legion of Light and swear to restore their world and kingdom, but the aforementioned Baron has plans of his own for Luminaire and his new subjects.
For his part, Baron Dark’s wicked nature was magnified by the crystal, turning him into a walking skeleton with powers all his own. He can wield dark magic and is nearly impossible to destroy, putting himself back together numerous times after being injured and even crushed on several occasions. But his most fearsome ability is transforming others into living skeletons like himself, plucking out the hearts of people with darkness in their souls and replacing them with a crystal of his own, creating an army of fleshless servants that gives the series its name.
While Skelton Warriors never did anything new or innovative, it did have a nice setting and an interesting mix of characters and premise, especially highlighting the visuals of the bad guys. Luminaire was a fun world to see explored through the heroes’ story, and Lightstar and his legion had all the standard troupes of the time period when the series was produced. The prince was the stoic leader and his sister, Talyn, the more hotheaded of the group, while Guardian was the voice of reason and experience. And of course, you had to have a mystery man, the role serviced very well here by Grimskull, who did an admirable job with spouting[BW1] overly cryptic and philosophical quips.
The baddies of the show, however, were what really gave the series its uniqueness, as the Baron’s minions of blathering skeletons had some great characters in its ranks. There’s the dwarfish, skeletal Dagger who is the requisite toady of the group, following the Baron’s every command in typical cowardly fashion. And what evil mastermind wouldn’t be complete without his own mad scientist, filled her by the creepy Dr. Cyborn, the half skelly half cyborg creator of the Baron’s creatures and big monsters that show up from time to time. There’s even an eight-armed brute named Aracula, a barbaric cross between man and spider whose people have been at war with the humans of Luminaire for centuries. Throw all of this in with laser guns and jetbikes and it’s a heck of a backdrop for a show, even if a lot of the plot is mostly just a rehashing of other series, but Skeleton Warriors was such a goodtime that the flaws can easily be overlooked.
I couldn’t mention this show without giving at least a quick shout out to the excellent toy line that went with it, as the action figures were really well done in a time when toys based on an animated series were by and large crap. I remember finding the toys a month or so before seeing the show on television, getting so excited to finally watch the cartoon that went with the badass new action figures I’d been playing with when it finally started to air.
Skeleton Warriors is one of those shows that brings to mind the feel of Thunder Cats and the like, with an alien setting, noble and brave heroes, and a weird band of bad guys that never seem to have anything go right for them, mostly due to their own ineptitude rather anything else. If you’re into that sort of thing then Skeleton Warriors should tickle your fancy just fine, and if not, watch a few episodes while you drink with your friends and make fun of the ridiculousness, either way it’s a goodtime for all. Next week we’re going to leave the fantasy and horror stuff for a bit to jump into deep space, taking a bit more of an adult look at a kid’s show than we have before. Until then take it easy, gang. Late