Somewhere, out in space, live The Herculoids! Sometimes you hear them mentioned on Venture Brothers
, Harvey Birdman
or during sex with me, but most people don't actually know what a Herculoid is.
The Herculoids were a group of sort of superheroes who lived on the planet Amzot in the late 60s. For reasons that are never made clear, anyone passing by this planet had to land and try to kill them. And it never went well for them.
Normally when you fight a superhero, you capture them or take away their powers or something before they come back and triumph. You might have seen this basic structure in literally every television show and movie that has ever been. But "Herculoid" is Space for "one who doesn't give a fuck." Most times, the villain barely gets introduced before the Herculoids hit it with 2000 lasers and then unmolestedly murder his henchmen for nine more minutes.
Tundro the Tremendous!
Tundro is an armored rhino-dinosaur that launches exploding meteors out of its head, which can also turn into a drill if the occasion calls for it. Depending on how tired the animators got, he also had up to 30 legs. It was all the cartoon ideas they had for the next 40 years in one creature. Tundro is what happens when everything that can kill you has a baby with everything that wants to.
Igoo the Giant Rock Ape!
Most cartoons in the 60s were careful about showing violence. Fights tended to be two guys throwing rocks near each other until stalactites fall around one of them in a cage shape. For some reason, the censors didn't have a problem with a rock ape getting fucked up. Every missile and energy beam ever launched landed square on Igoo's face, and nothing created a sense of tension like seeing that the villain's best weapon, under the best circumstances, has zero chance of hurting the good guys.
Gloop and Gleep, the Formless, Fearless Wonders!
Gloop and Gleep are chittering slime blobs that can turn into any shape. This is very handy on a planet where literally everything shoots lasers. If they ran into cavemen, they carried stone axes that fired lasers. If they stopped for a drink at a lake, it shot at them with a laser.
In 1968, 80 percent of the Korean population had a job drawing lasers for Hanna-Barbera, and not very many of them could read a script. Entire lines of dialogue were often replaced with a steady beam of mouth laser. So Gloop and Gleep's main job wass either turning into doughnuts to avoid all the lasers, or turning into laser-proof igloos to protect any dumbass human-Herculoid who wore diapers or a nightie to the laser fight.
Zok the Laser-Ray Dragon!
Whatever Zok could do in the original script, the animators changed it to "Fires lasers out of every hole. And fuck it, his tail too." If there was ever a writer that could come up with a reasonable challenge for a dragon whose leading export is laser, he certainly did not write for The Herculoids
Zandor, the Human!
Zandor is the leader of the Herculoids, but it's never made clear why they need one. They're a group of unemployed monsters who do jack shit until something comes from space and attacks them. And when that happens, Zandor's brilliant plan is to split everyone up into absurd teams. "There is nearby danger! Zok, Igoo, Tundro-- you shall stay here with Gloop and Gleep and make your own puppets from the provided materials! I will take the little boy and these blindfolds to investigate the noises coming from the pit of vampire traps!"
Sometimes, when Zandor is traveling through the jungle, he does this fucking awesome thing with vines.
It takes a miracle for anything to have a chance against the Herculoids, and Zandor's idiocy is that miracle. To make matters worse, he delivers his insane orders with a phony, over-enunciated way of talking. He sounds like someone making fun of white people. I think he's probably insecure about being the dumbest Herculoid when two of them are single-cell organisms.
Tarra was a female, and in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon in the 60s, that was a lot like being born with a wheelchair for a head. When the writers came up with enemies for Zok or Igoo to face, they had to create ways to attach lava to a laser and still leave room for the robot dispenser. With Tarra, they would just have her trip into a pit. If Tarra is riding Tundro near a chasm and the Herculoids are suddenly attacked by nothing, she'll throw herself off. It happens so often that Tundro has a defense attorney on retainer.
Tarra is the only superhero that needs a spotter to walk. The jelly beans are constantly turning into trampolines and parachutes to save her from her own suicidal stupidity. Whenever you see a cartoon character walk off a cliff and not fall, that's because gravity was busy over on the Herculoids, trying to kill Tarra.
Zandor's son, who is the very opposite of laser proof. And raising a laser-susceptible child on the planet Amzot is like trying to breed penicillin inside Tila Tequila. It's going to die! For nothing!