It’s that time again pop culture fans! This time around for our “Versus” segment, we have two of the oddest skull-looking characters. In the red corner, we have the Red Skull from Marvel Comics. In the blue corner, we have Skeletor from Mattel! Who do you think will be the last one standing in this skull-to-skull matchup! We will provide some details about each character, and in the end we let you the fans decide who wins! Let’s get this started!
Skeletor (Mattel) [Masters of the Universe]
Skeletor is the most evil being and most dangerous threat on Eternia. His only goal is power, and to that end he will not rest until he possesses the secrets of Castle Grayskull, whereby he could become master of the universe. This places him in direct conflict with the only man powerful enough to stop him, He-Man.
The character was initially presented simply as an evil demon from another dimension, and in general his origins were not as important as his evil motives. However, the introduction of Hordak as Skeletor’s former teacher provided a brief glimpse into a past. Near the end of the original Masters of the Universe franchise, it was hinted that Skeletor might have once been Keldor, the brother of He-Man’s father, King Randor. The development of Skeletor’s backstory as a dashing, ambitious villain played heavily into his characterization in the 2002 relaunch of the franchise.
Skeletor was one of only a handful of characters that carried over to The New Adventures of He-Man brand, which sent He-Man to the far future to help the Galactic Guardians save the last of humanity from the Evil Mutants. Skeletor follows his enemy, and offers his services to the Mutants simply because he must rid the universe of He-Man.
Skeletor’s core personality remains the same throughout all incarnations, cruel and dominating with a hunger for power that fuels his ambition. Even sometimes calling King Randor names such as “You royal boob!”
Minor but notable differences can be found in the various Skeletors, such as The New Adventures of He-Man incarnation which was considerably more relaxed and laid back when compared to the Filmation or Mike Young ones. Often joking and taking his defeats with good mood, even having a “human” side to him in his genuine relationship with Crita and bonding with his pet Grr. Yet being just as cruel and power hungry as any other Skeletor.
The Langella incarnation was very much an evil overlord, preferring to have his minions deal with He-Man. This version showed emotions not seen in any other Skeletor, such as a poetic portion in his banter with the hero regarding loneliness.
The Filmation Skeletor showed perhaps the greatest extent of cruelty, often wreaking havoc for the sake of it rather than conquest. Taking great delight in tormenting his eternal nemesis whenever the opportunity presented itself, such as the devious scheme to trick He-Man into thinking he had killed an innocent man that almost broke the hero’s spirit completely.
Skeletor possesses an array of mystic powers that seem to vary depending on the whims of the particular writer using him at the time, however all portray him as an extremely powerful sorcerer with control over a vast range of dark magical powers. He also possesses considerable scientific skill, and is shown to have skill in creating various machines and devices in the Filmation and New Adventures animated series. A notable skill present in the Filmation series was Skeletor’s ability to instantly transport himself back to Snake Mountain, usually by saying “I’m going back to Snake Mountain”
He is usually armed with a magical weapon called the Havoc Staff; a long pole crowned with a small replica of a ram’s skull and a crystal ball embedded within. He can discharge bolts of mystic force from the head of the staff, or use it as a focus for more powerful forms of magic. Sometimes Skeletor displays the ability to discharge energy from his own body, as seen in the 1987 film where he casts lightning from his hands, and in the original animated series where he projects energy from his fingertips and even his eye sockets. In the 2002 series, his innate powers seem much more limited; though his abilities, when in conjunction with his Havoc Staff seem nearly unlimited in scope and highly potent in raw power.
In the early mini-comics, Skeletor sometimes possesses one half of the Power Sword. From this weapon he could also project magical energies. He also displays many other skills, such as the ability to teleport himself and others over vast distances, send telepathic commands to his minions, open gateways between dimensions or perform remote viewing. He has also shown himself to be a gifted swordsman. As a master of the mystic arts he is also privy to much secret knowledge about the universe.
Though mainly a sorcerer Skeletor is more than capable of physical combat, and has above average physical strength, as proven in numerous encounters with He-Man.
Despite his occasional bungling actions and personality, all versions portray Skeletor as being extremely cunning and intelligent but with a sense of hubris that invariably leads to his downfall.
Also, some toy versions of Skeletor have been featured in media, showing him with new abilities:
• Battle Armor Skeletor: Skeletor wears a protective battle armor. He is seen wearing it in some UK comics by London Editions.
• Dragon Blaster Skeletor: Featured in the 1984 minicomic “Skeletor’s Dragon”. In addition to Skeletor’s powers depicted above, he has some energy-draining chains and is aided by a little dragon who can spray a sleeping mist from its mouth.
• Terror Claws Skeletor: This version of Skeletor has claw gloves known as the terror claws. Strangely, Skeletor wears his “original” costume in all the minicomics which use the terror claws, including the Terror Claws Skeletor minicomic “The Terror Claws Strike!”. In the only minicomic that shows him wearing the “terror claws” costume, “The Cosmic Key”, he does not use the terror claws.
• “New Adventures” Skeletor: The Skeletor figure featured in “The New Adventures of He-Man”. In the minicomics, Skeletor uses that costume after becoming a cyborg. In the TV version, he is only wearing a different costume than the “original”.
• Disk of Doom Skeletor: The second “New Adventures” Skeletor version. This version first appears in the episode “Sword and Staff” and becomes the regular version of Skeletor for most of the series. This Skeletor version wears a skull-shaped chest armor and a white helmet. The figure came with a disk launcher, but in the series Skeletor continued using the Havoc Staff.
• Battle Blades Skeletor: Mostly the same as Disks of Doom Skeletor, except for lacking a helmet, which is replaced by a very small crown and some hair at the back of the head. Skeletor loses his helmet in the episode “The Tornadoes of Zil” and remains this way til the end of the New Adventures series.
• Battle Sounds Skeletor: This figure was made as a “talking” Skeletor figure for the 2002 toyline. In the TV episode “Skywar”, Skeletor transforms into his “Battle Sounds” version after eating Ambrosia, a miraculous food made by the Andreenids, Buzz-Off’s people. As Battle Sounds Skeletor, he is stronger and more powerful.
• Samurai Skeletor: With the power of the Legacy Stones, Skeletor transforms into his samurai version in the episode “The Mystery of Anwat Gar”. This Skeletor wears samurai armor, is stronger and, fittingly, has samurai weapons.
• Battle Armor Skeletor: Skeletor dons a battle armor. In the episode “Of Machines and Men”, a being called Sortech sends the battle armor to Skeletor. This is the 2003 Battle Armor Skeletor figure, and must not be confused with the 1983 Skeletor figure with the same name.
Red Skull (Marvel)
Johann Shmidt was born the son of an abusive, drunken German villager named Hermann Shmidt and his saintly, long suffering wife Martha, who for years endured abuse and beatings from her husband. Martha died giving birth to Johann, their only child. Driven to madness by the death of the woman he both loved and hated, Hermann Shmidt tried to drown the newborn infant, accusing him of murdering Martha. The doctor who had just delivered the baby saved Johann from his father, and the next morning Hermann Shmidt committed suicide. The doctor took Johann to an orphanage, where the child led a lonely existence. Johann ran away from the orphanage when he was seven years old and lived in the streets as a beggar and a thief. As he grew older he worked at various menial jobs but spent most of his time in prison for crimes ranging from vagrancy to theft.
In his late teens during the rise of the Third Reich, Shmidt got his most prosperous job, a bellhop in a major hotel. There he served the rooms of Adolf Hitler himself. By chance, he was present when Hitler was furiously berating an officer and swore he could train Johann himself, a simple bellhop, to be a better National Socialist. Looking closely at him and sensing his dark inner nature, Hitler decided to take up the challenge and recruited Shmidt.
Dissatisfied with the standard drill instruction his subordinates used to train Shmidt, Hitler took over personally. Upon completion, Hitler gave Shmidt a unique uniform with a grotesque red skull mask, and he emerged as the Red Skull. His role was the embodiment of Nazi intimidation, while Hitler could remain the popular leader of Germany. The Red Skull was appointed head of Nazi terrorist activities with an additional large role in external espionage and sabotage. He was spectacularly successful, wreaking havoc throughout Europe in the early stages of World War II. The propaganda effect was so great that the United States government decided to counter it by creating their own equivalent using the recipient of the lost Operation Rebirth, Steve Rogers, Captain America.
The two counterparts soon clashed in what would be a series of engagements throughout the war, ending with a final battle that left the Skull buried under the rubble of a bombed building. Because he was immediately exposed to an experimental gas there, he remained in suspended animation for decades.
Johann was eventually rescued in modern times by the terrorist organization, HYDRA. The Skull quickly subverted a HYDRA cell to his own ambitions of world conquest and the death of Captain America.
File:MikeFichera–RedSkull-CosmicCube.jpgThe Skull and Captain America resumed their personal war against each other. The Skull was consistently frustrated by failure; not even when the Skull possessed the reality-altering Cosmic Cube could he claim victory. At one point, the Skull’s health failing, he had Nazi geneticist Arnim Zola make him into an imitation of the Captain’s civilian identity, Steve Rogers, using cloned tissue from Captain America’s body. Under the alias of Mr. Smith, the Red Skull had Douglas Rockwell, the head of the U.S. president’s Commission on Superhuman Activities, make unreasonable demands upon Captain America, while arranging for the Taskmaster to train a replacement for Captain America, appointed the violent and mentally unstable John Walker. When the CSA’s requests forced Rogers to relinquish the Captain America identity, the CSA assigned John Walker to fill the role. As the new Captain America, Walker was manipulated by the Skull to act in a manner which publicly disgraced the image of the hero. The Skull then tried unsuccessfully to use Walker to kill Rogers (now “the Captain.”) When Rogers defeated Walker, the Skull tried to blow the Dust of Death on Rogers. Walker hit the Skull him from behind with his shield, exposing Shmidt to the dust. He suffered the signature facial disfigurement attributed to the Dust, yet survived due to years of exposure to low doses. Rogers later reclaimed the Captain America title.
After this, the Skull was attacked by the mutant terrorist Magneto, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who wanted to punish him for his involvement in Hitler’s regime. Magneto buried him alive with enough water for a few months. The Skull remained there until he was rescued by his henchman Crossbones.
Red Skull had control over multiple criminal organizations, including the Watchdogs, a group of right-wing militiamen, and the Scourge of the Underworld, an organization devoted to murdering super villains. He proposed an alliance with the Kingpin of Crime (Wilson Fisk), one of New York City’s top organized crime bosses, to bring a new designer drug to New York but the Kingpin refused to form an alliance with a Nazi. Fisk defeated the Skull in hand to hand combat, sparing his life on the condition he never come near the Kingpin’s territory again. However fellow Nazi Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, leader of the terrorist organization HYDRA, gratefully allowed the Skull the use of HYDRA’s resources after the Skull’s agents brought Strucker back from the dead.
Recently, Red Skull manipulated his way into the position of Secretary of State, under the alias of Dell Rusk. Rusk developed a biological weapon he tested at Mount Rushmore, releasing a deadly spreading contagion “red zone” but was bested by Captain America and the Avengers. Desiring the Skull’s Cosmic Cube for himself, former Soviet general Aleksander Lukin hired Rogers’ former WWII sidekick, Bucky (now known as the Winter Soldier) to assassinate the Skull. When the Skull was shot, he attempted to use the Cube to switch bodies with Lukin to survive, but the cube was weak. The transfer was only partially successful as the Skull only managed to transfer his mind into Lukin’s body; now the minds of the two enemies were trapped together in the same body. The Skull/Lukin formed numerous alliances with other villains, including Doctor Faustus, Doctor Doom, Arnim Zola and the Serpent Squad. The Skull used hypnotist Dr. Faustus to help arrange Captain America’s assassination. Under Faustus’ influence, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Cap’s occasional girlfriend Sharon Carter was brainwashed into killing Captain America herself. Freed from his ever-present nemesis, the Red Skull/Lukin raised a private army while attempting to arrange for Senator Gordon Wright to become president of the USA. The Winter Soldier became the new Captain America and overcame their plans. Arnim Zola transferred the Red Skull’s mind out of Lukin’s body and into one of his own spare android forms as a temporary measure. Shortly afterward, Lukin was killed by Sharon Carter and Zola was seemingly destroyed. The Red Skull remains trapped in Zola’s spare body.
Immortality Through Cloning: His psionic mind transference grants the Red Skull immortality. The Red Skull’s mind has survived his physical bodies’ death several times by being transferred through differing means to new bodies.
Artificially Enhanced Clone Body: The Red Skull’s consciousness was once transferred into a cloned body of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, which has been enhanced with the super soldier serum. While in this Rogers’ clone body, the Red Skull’s physical and mental functions were enhanced to the absolute pinnacle of human potential and perfection.
Some of the Red Skull’s physical senses were only above average due to his face and head being damaged by his own Red Dust of Death which deformed his cloned body’s face to resemble his “Red Skull” mask/helmet which lacks an external nose and ears.
• Peak Human Strength: This body allowed the Red Skull’s physical strength to be enhanced to the very peak of human potential, allowing him to military press around 800 pounds. See “Strength” below.
• Peak Human Speed: This clone body allowed the Red Skull to be able to run at a speed of approximately 30 miles per hour.
• Peak Human Agility: This body allowed the Red Skull to have agility superior to that of any Olympic athlete that has ever competed.
• Peak Human Stamina: This clone body allowed Shmidt to eliminates the excessive build-up of fatigue-producing poisons in his muscles, granting him phenomenal endurance. He can exert himself at peak capacity for an hour without rest before showing any signs of fatigue.
• Peak Human Durability: This clone body allowed Johann’s ability to resist or recover from injury and disease are superior to those of ordinary humans. This explains how he has survived the physical punishment during his career.
• Peak Human Metabolism: This clone body allowed the Red Skull an enhanced metabolism allows him to heal faster than normal when recovering from injury. Gunshot wounds and broken limbs heal within days, and lesser injuries can heal in just a few hours. This metabolism also renders him virtually immune to most poisons, including intoxication by consuming alcohol.
• Peak Human Mental Process: This cloned body allowed the Red Skull’s mental performance to be greatly enhanced, allowing his mind to operate in the most efficient and rapid manner possible. One manifestation of this is his tactical genius; the ability to quickly process multiple information streams (e.g., threat assessment) and rapidly respond to changing tactical situations.
• Peak Human Reflexes: This cloned body allowed Johann Shmidt to possess reaction time superior to any Olympic athlete that has ever competed.
• Peak Human Perception: This cloned body allowed the Red Skull to have exceptionally keen eyesight and hearing. Captain America once stated that he is able to dodge bullets because he “sees faster than them” Making it likely that the Skull is also able to accomplish such feats.
Since the loss of his cloned body, the Red Skull no longer has these abilities. It is unknown if he will transfer himself into yet another cloned body of Rogers.
And there you have it, ladies, gentlemen, and all animals around the world! Who would you like see win this battle? Who is the greater of these two evils? It just would not turn out well! We have given you a little insight on each character. So with all that said, who wins? We invite you not only to vote in the poll below, we ask that you join in on the conversation and discuss why you choose the character you did. Do you want to hear more about this “Versus”? Click on over to podcastunlimited.com, and look through our archives for episode 96, where we discussed this figure and everything about it. If you have a set of fictional characters that you would like to use to put in a future “Versus,” let us know Mailbag@podcastunlimited.com Till next time, this is the engineer signing out!
“Fool! You are no longer my equal! I am more than man! More than life! I… am… a… GOD! Now. You… will… KNELL! KNELL! ”