BraveStarr served as a premature exclamation point to the glorious sentence that was Filmation, the studio that enriched our childhoods with quality programming such as: The Archie Show, The Archie Comedy Hour, Archie’s Funhouse, Archie’s TV Funnies, The United States of Archie, and Archie’s Bang Shang Lollapalooza Show. Ah, Archie’s Bang Shang Lollapalooza Show. Many a youthful Saturday morn in the Miros household was spent in the company of Archie, Veronica, and the gang; warmed by the ambient glow of the cathode ray and the mild ebullience of ABSLS. Ah, youth. Ah, memories. Ah, Jughead. BraveStarr? Never heard of it, but that won’t stop us from taking this journey. Together.
What's all of this then? Check out the first episode of The BraveStarr Compendium for a bit of background on BraveStarr and a breakdown of the ratings system.
In episode 2, we find our diligent writers attempting to distill an identity from the deep space/old west sour mash concocted in the decidedly flaccid series opener. Today’s story is firmly rooted in the traditional Western genre, pitting BraveStarr against his erstwhile mentor in what amounts to a showdown at high noon. We aren’t exactly blazing trails here, but at least there’s a thrust. And an antagonist. An argument could actually be made that writing occurred here. Let’s meet the new meat.
Jingles Morgan is a better character than this show deserves. It’s as if Lee Van Cleef were dropped on a planet of cartoon assholes. He was a commander at the marshal academy who, by BraveStarr’s own admission, taught him everything he knows about being a marshal. He also happens to be the fastest draw in the galaxy. But Jingles Morgan arrives on New Texas a wanted man. Wanted for the crime of… MURDER. The present-day incarnation of Jingles is menacing, desperate, and volatile. Sure the writers piss on him by giving him the ultra-ridiculous name Jingles (on account of his spurs), and his reasons for turning to crime are childish and half-baked, but this is clearly a dangerous man. And although the format demands that BraveStarr emerge victorious, you can’t help but wonder…
What children’s show would be complete without a bartender? When he isn’t busy peddling “sweetwater” and vice, Handlebar occasionally accompanies BraveStarr and company. He’s the first guy they call when forming a posse, if you will. Apparently he weighs 14 tons (which must be hell on the various furnishings of New Texas) and is hard as stone, so you’d think BraveStarr would pin a goddamn badge on his chest. But apparently Fuzz is all the deputy he needs.
Because one recurring Prairie person just isn’t enough. Clearly that lovable scamp Fuzz needs a villainous foil. Skuzz is the evil Prairie companion of the nefarious Tex Hex. Why everyone on this planet keeps one of these useless buck-toothed gasbags around is beyond me. Reminds me of Christmas 1998, when Furbish was adopted as the official language of obnoxious children across the land. Skuzz does have that awesome punk moniker, but his only discernible ability is his mastery of the Backwoods Wild ‘n Mild Cigar. Also, I’m fairly certain he suffers from emphysema. All that’s missing is the oxygen tank. Again, writers, this is a program aimed at impressionable children. Might have been a good idea to jettison the unceasing cigar smoke.
Tex Hex is the day-to-day rapscallion on the planet of New Texas. Apparently he’s threatening. Never really strikes me as anything more than exceptionally purple, but everyone seems to fly into a tizzy when Tex comes around. If nothing else, he serves as the ringleader of the various baddies that pop up throughout the series. He does possess some vaguely defined powers. At one point during this episode, he shoots red death lasers from his eyeballs… to turn on a security monitor. That seems useful enough. No more searching for that pesky remote. He resides in something called the Hexagon, which is, oddly enough, not shaped like a hexagon, but rather an X. Perhaps they should have gone with the Exagon, or maybe just a better floorplan.
Robots were all the rage in the 1980s. So when you need a few generic villains to fill out the roster… robots. Thundertstick is a robot with a laser arm. Lasers were also a pretty big deal. Two birds, one stone. What sets Thunderstick apart from the crowd, you ask? He stutters. A robot with a speech impediment… that’s just poor programming. I feel compelled to make a perceptive, yet sidesplitting quip about those balloons you bang together at sporting events, but I have to write 64 more of these things, so I’ll keep that one in my back pocket. For now.
In Today's Episode
BraveStarr is lazing around, reminiscing about his hero, Jingles Morgan, when Fuzz alerts the diligent marshal that the man he once idolized is now a wanted criminal. Cut to Jingles Morgan enjoying a double whiskey… er… “sweetwater” at the local saloon. I can no longer stomach referring to him as Jingles. It’s insulting. Henceforth he shall be known as Mayhem Morgan, a much more befitting title for a character of such eminent badassery.
Mayhem shatters his glass and blows a hole in the saloon wall, just because he can. That’s why they call him Mayhem. He decides to seek out Tex Hex, with the intention of joining his gang of outlaws. Seems to me Mayhem ought to be running said gang of outlaws, but perhaps he prefers the anonymity afforded by shadows. Tex Hex arbitrarily decides that Mayhem must earn his way into the gang by killing Marshal BraveStarr. Wait a tick, Tex Hex’s ‘gang of outlaws’ includes an asthmatic fuzzball and a spindly robot with a cactus on his head (aptly named Cactushead), and suddenly he’s got standards? What could Skuzz have possibly done to earn his way in? Discolored the walls of BraveStarr’s posh apartment with his smoky discharge? But now when BraveStarr’s ass-kicking mentor who has inexplicably turned to a life of crime shows up on your doorstep, you decide he needs to earn his fucking keep? And the test is to kill BraveStarr? Obviously that’s more than Tex himself has been able to accomplish. If Mayhem were able to complete such a task, why on earth would he have an ounce of use for that mauve piece of shit? Clearly Morgan should have just turned his gun on the lilac bastard then and there.
You’re probably wondering why someone as awesome as Mayhem Morgan turned to a life of misconduct. Well, it involves him getting knocked into some mud by a lizard man. I refuse to go into the details, because it’s really just another indignity heaped on the character by writers desperately seeking to justify their decision to make Tex Hex the series’ primary antagonist.
BraveStarr pursues Mayhem to the Hexagon, intent on bringing him to justice. He makes short work of lava men, anthropomorphic cattle skeletons, and tragically neglected topiary on his way to the final showdown. He makes a big show about needing to handle Mayhem on his own, underscoring the notion that it was a personal quest for BraveStarr to best his Fallen Idol… with honor. He then uses his SUPER POWERS to outdraw Mayhem. How noble of you, BraveStarr. Nothing like a fair fight.
Mayhem is apprehended, shipped off to some intergalactic prison, and never mentioned again. Decisions like this are why you only lasted one season, BraveStarr.
If someone you admire does something bad like take drugs or steal or hurt someone, well, this doesn’t mean you should do it too. Bad things are bad no matter who does them. And remember, there are plenty of other heroes out there who are good.
Rating: Strength of the Bear
One of my favorite things about this episode is BraveStarr’s open disdain for Fuzz. Fuzz blathers on incessantly about BraveStarr being his hero, and you can almost hear the revulsion in his voice as he responds with an obligatory gee thanks. This is how every character ought to be reacting to the Prairie People under the best of circumstances. And this was indubitably the best of circumstances, as far as I’m concerned. I anticipate things will get a lot rockier from here.
The BraveStarr Compendium Compendium
Professor Gruber interprets the author's drivel so you don't have to!
If the author has ever watched a single Archie cartoon, I'll eat my hat.
If you don't know who Lee Van Cleef is, you really ought to watch more movies.
Call me when something fails to remind the author of 1998.
Furby was the "it" toy of that particular holiday season. It was a primitive robot designed to resemble a Mogwai. It's shtick was that it could 'learn' new words, movements, etc. Very annoying.
Because comedy works best when someone holds your hand.