In the hierarchy of 80’s cartoons, none can dispute the “holy trinity” of He-Man, G.I. Joe and Transformers. However, there were a few others that aspired to reach the lofty heights of these three masterpieces. Among them was a team of space faring cybernetic law enforcers known as The Silverhawks.
Silverhawks was created by Rankin/Bass as a follow up to their previous series, Thundercats, and there are quite a few similarities between the shows, including the majority of the voice actors. There’s a little more sci-fi and a little less fantasy in this series, but overall, it’s pretty obvious the same hands were at work in both shows. Which is great, as Thundercats were pretty freakin’ awesome.
Silverhawks are pretty awesome too. The show is essentially a 29th century cops n’ robbers program that pits a team of flying heroes with cybernetic enhancements against the threat of Mon*Star and his ruthless gang of thugs. Mon*Star is your classic gangster, except for the fact that he flies through space on a giant squid equipped with laser guns and he’s got metal spikes sticking out of his head. His gang consists of a little troll named Hardware (the weapons expert), a giant robot minotaur named Mumbo Jumbo (the muscle), an environmental terrorist named Windhammer, who can manipulate the weather with a giant tuning fork, a shapeshifter named Mo-Lec-U-Lar (who looks a bit like an evil version of the grapes from the Fruit of the Loom commercials) and a punk rock chick named Melodia who uses a keytar that shoots lasers. Yup, they’re just your average, everyday mobsters.
Did I mention everyone can breathe in outer space? Apparently, the Limbo Galaxy, where the show takes place, has some sort of atmosphere, because people in space tend to fall downward relative to whatever vehicle or platform from which they lost their footing. If you’re looking for realism, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re looking for robot birds and spaceships that look like cars from the 1940’s, Silverhawks is your show!
Anyway, back to the forces of good and the stars of the show: The Silverhawks. Basically, they’re a bunch of sweet-looking flying cyborgs with names that are somehow related to metal. Quicksilver, the Copper Kid and the twins: Steelheart and Steelwill. Oh, and the pilot is a cowboy named Bluegrass who, similar to the evil Melodia, uses a laser-firing guitar. This is the kind of awesomeness our descendants have to look forward to and as I watched this show, I found myself cursing the fact that I was born nine centuries too early.
I suppose I should talk about quality at some point. Is it any good? Yeah, it actually is. Being a children’s program, it’s not the type of series that’s likely to inspire any deep conversations about the nature of good and evil or the possibilities of technological advances we might see in the future, but it is a lot of fun. If you grew up with the series and you’re wondering how it holds up, I will attest to the fact that it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than those “G.I. Joe” DVDs you bought a few years back.
The #1 thing about Silverhawks that I found really cool was the character designs. Sure, the plots are simple, but they’re not made for adults. But I defy any adult to find a cartoon with cooler looking characters! Practically every character on this show looks totally awesome, and with the exception of the lady with the keytar, it really doesn’t look dated at all. I think you could show this to a kid today and they probably wouldn’t even realize it was over 20 years old, as long as they didn’t hear the theme song.
The 4 disc set features 32 episodes. That’s over 11 hours of action! In addition, there’s a little featurette called Partly Metal, Partly Real: Remembering Silverhawks. It’s a nice program that recalls the origins of the series and features interviews with the producers and voice actors, who still look back on the show fondly. As well they should.
Silverhawks may not be remembered by quite as many people as the aforementioned “holy trinity”, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less good. As a matter of fact, it’s probably better and at the very least, it looks cool as hell. If you’re a parent looking for a slice of nostalgia that you can enjoy with your kids, you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Silverhawks Volume One.