Hello again, gang, and welcome back. For the last month or so we’ve been taking a look at a handful of animated shows you’ve probably never seen before but should, and this week we wrap up the series with a doozey. So far, we’ve gone into the depths of space, portal hoped across the globe, and traveled back to a time of fantasy and magic, so where else is there left to go except deep underground to the very core of the Earth itself. This week we’re checking out one of my all-time favorites and horribly underrated shows, and that’s Inhumanoids.
Inhumanoids began in 1986 as part of Sunbow’s Super Sunday series, a kind of anthology show that featured short segments of different animated series lumped together. Inhumanoids began as one of the initial entries along with Robotix, Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines (don’t ask), and the more popular Gem and the Holograms. Along with Gem, Inhumanoids was the only other segment to be spun off into its own solo endeavor, and if you ask me it was well deserving, even if it never did hit the heights of the aforementioned Gem.
Inhumanoids takes place in the near future, where a government sponsored geological team, Earth Corps, has just unearthed a giant amber monolith with some kind of creature preserved inside. During its public unveiling, the creature, D’compose, awakens, breaking free of the amber with the aid of another monster, the plant like Tendril beast. Together, the pair nearly decimate San Francisco, but are thankfully driven back underground before they can do too much damage by Earth Corps. The giant monsters then set about to find and free their leader, Metlar, who is imprisoned near the Earth’s core, and together reclaim the planet from the “flesh slugs” as they call the humans who live on the surface.
What Inhumanoids did really well was build a strong and cohesive world, especially at a time when kid’s shows had tight, unconnected, half hour episodes that were by and large one and done. There was a bit of filler here and there, but generally the plots stretched on for two, and sometimes three, episodes at a time, which was great for the character development. There was also an interesting backstory for the monsters themselves, the Inhumanoids apparently engaged in a millennia old war with another species, the Mutores, who come to aid Earth Corps in the battle with their ancient foes. It’s got a twinge of Lovecraft to it when I think about it, which makes a refreshing origin when compared to the usual toxic waste monster storyline the 80s too often cam to rely on.
Earth Corps is comprised of the team of Herc, Auger, Liquidator, and Bright, a group of scientists who have vowed to stop the Inhumanoids from destroying the planet. They of course have designed and built special equipment to allow them to do so, that being special battle suits and vehicles that make it possible to take the fight deep into the bowels of the Earth and survive. They come to be helped by the collective species known as the Mutores, made up of the underground dwelling Granites and the surface living Redwoods. The Granites are rock men who have warred with the Tendril creature for eons, while the Redwoods are sentient tree folk (think tree ents) that have battled D’compose for just as long. But Earth Corps’ most powerful ally is Magnakor, a being of stone and lave that can split himself in half and create a powerful magnetic field. Together, Earth Corps and the Mutores try to stop the Inhumanoids once and for all, but the giant monsters prove to be no pushovers themselves.
The Inhumanoids consist of Tendril, D’compose, and Metlar, and are dead set on throwing Earth back to the prehistoric days when they ruled the surface. Tendril is a plant-based beast inspire by Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and is by far the least mentally developed of the three. He is known for a berserk dance of destruction, and can replicate himself from pieces that are cut off or separated from his main body. D’compose, my favorite by the way, is a towering undead horror, able to inflict the curse of death on others by touching their bare flesh to turn them into one of his minions. He rules a vast subterranean kingdom called Skullweb, which is populated by thousands of his servants collected over the ages. Oh, and did I mention he’s voiced by Chris Latta, which means anytime the dude that brought Cobra Commander to life is involved, I’m in.
Last of the big brutes is Metlar, the leader of the Inhumanoids and the lava fiend that makes his home at the center of the Earth. When the series begins, he is being held captive by the magnetic field of Magnakor but he is quickly freed by the other two to begin a new reign of terror. He’s incredibly strong and nearly invulnerable, and can fling balls of lava from his mouth and use the molten sludge to animate objects. In one episode he brings to life a group of Civil War memorial statues and then in another he animates the Statue of Liberty, which he tries to marry but then promptly breaks up with. But he and the others aren’t the only bad guys to deal with, as we also have the traitorous human, Blackthorne, who tries to control Metlar with his own magnetic battle suit, which fails miserably thanks to D’compose. There’s also the toxically reanimated Nightcrawler, as well as a few other creatures creeping out of the depths to ensure that Earth Corps has its hands full and we get a great show.
I’ll be the first to say that I love me some giant monsters, so Inhumanoids was always going to be an easy sell when I was a kid. The heroes are all the standard cookie cutter types, but the bad guys more than make up for it. And if we’re being honest, they’re who we’re really here for anyway. I have to say that the art and animation style are really nice, too, relying on deep shadows and having a decent amount of detail when compared to other shows of the time. The voice work for the monsters works as well, and with the longer plots and cliffhanger endings, its story is far above the average. And since it’s from 1986 you know what’s coming next, the requisite toy line that every show of the era seemed to be saddled with. The Earth Corps figures were all kind of lame and just big inarticulate plastic in their battle suits, with tiny little heads that were horribly out of proportion and came off looking strange. The Inhumanoids and the Mutores, on other hand, were the stars of the show here much like with the series, and just fantastic toys to play with when I was a kid. The Mutores all looked great and the big baddies measured in at around fourteen inches tall to try and keep everything in scale, and needless to say I so wish I still had mine today, because they were just plane awesome.
Inhumanoids only lasted one season, which is a shame because I would have liked to seen if more monsters or Mutores might have shown up if the series had continued. Unfortunately, the show irked some parent groups at the time with its above average violence, as quite a few of the beasties took grievous wounds, were roasted in acid, or just plain torn to bits. But I guess I was a weird kid and had a cool mom, because she got me all the toys and watched right along with me, so it was a bonus for yours truly. If you like the sound of what I’m laying down see if you can track down a few episodes for yourself, because Inhumanoids is definitely a buried treasure worth digging up.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our series of articles on animated series you’ve probably never seen before but should, and if anything, I hope they’ve inspired you to take a look at a few of these lesser known gems, or at least rekindle a bit of nostalgia if you’ve already seen them. Next week I think we’ll return to our old RPG stomping grounds, checking out a couple old school inspired systems that are both great, if not very different, in feel and theme. If that sounds interesting to you then be sure to be here, so until then, take care. Later, gang.