In praise of the bad guys

Curio & Co. considers classic 60s animation Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures. Curio and co.

Every story needs a strong villain, but in the case of Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures, it’s the villains’ weakness that makes them so hilarious.

Each episode of Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures saw the intrepid, but dimwitted, hero Spaceman Jax facing a variety of perils – at the hands of menacing mercenaries-for-hire the Zalfonen, wily industrialist Tarloc, or quite often, Jax’s own ineptitude. But our favorite galactic bad guys were the Mantagons, who proved that knowing your own weakness was everything.

The Mantagons hailed from the planet Mantagon, in the Crang Cluster, and the single goal that all Mantagons worked toward was to dominate whatever was worth dominating in the galaxy. Naturally, the idea of what was worth dominating changed quickly (and “why” was never an important question for the Mantagons). Physically, the Mantagons weren’t intimidating: they were pretty skinny and definitely not strong. So their need to dominate probably came from an inferiority complex (especially with the bigger and stronger Zalfonen around). But what they lacked in physical strength they more than made up for in weaponry. They never did realize that the “secret weapon” that Farlo claimed he had was just his ability to manipulate their greed for newer ultra-turbo-zap guns.

Clearly, the Mantagons were the strongest armed fleet in the galaxy, despite their shaky and instable government. In fact, the Mantagons kept their armed fleet and its functions completely independent of their home rule, preferring to “Keep what works, safe from what doesn’t.” The Mantagons even viewed their elections and elected leaders like characters in a soap opera: amusing to watch, but not related to real life. (My favorite running joke on the show was how their presidents changed daily and citizens were sometimes surprised to find that they’d been elected though they never ran for office.) 

I guess it figures that on a show where the hero succeeds solely because he has no idea just how inept he is, the Mantagons were a powerful force in the galaxy precisely because they knew just how weak they were. Sometimes knowing your own weaknesses is the greatest strength. (That, and an ultra-turbo-zap gun. They weren’t taking any chances.)