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Time to die, Chosen One!
~ Skullmaster

Skullmaster is the main antagonist of the cartoon series Mighty Max which is based on the toyline of the same name. In spite of his unimpressive and rather simple name, he was easily one of the most terrifying villains ever across 90s cartoons.

He was voiced by Tim Curry, who has portrayed villains like Drake, Maestro Forte, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Hexxus, Lord Dragaunus, Kilokahn, Long John Silver, Pennywise, Captain Hook (Peter Pan and the Pirates), and Doviculus.

History

Five thousand years ago there was a great and noble people that lived in a city hidden beneath the waves. But rumours began:the end was nigh, their doom was at hand. There was one among them who played upon the people's fears, claiming that he and he alone could save them from catastrophe. But that one, was Skullmaster. Diabolically, he convinced the king that if all his people yielded up their souls to the crystal, they would survive-for where the souls go, the bodies can safely follow. The king ordered his people to transfer their souls to the stone. But the people hesitated, so Skullmaster used his dark powers to topple the very walls of the city, and the people quickly conceded their souls to the stone. But Skullmaster killed the king, and escaped with the crystal. And never released the souls inside, condemning them to the torment of being neither alive nor dead. With the power of the crystal, Skullmaster ruled the Earth for centuries-until the original cap-bearer arose to lead the last of the free people against him. But the Souless Ones were the hero's downfall, and he was trapped. In the end, the hero tricked Skullmaster into falling through the main portal to the center of the Earth. He left his cap behind, so that he and Skullmaster, would never return...
~ Virgil tells the tale of Skullmaster's destruction of Atlantis and his imprisonment in the underworld
The archenemy of the "Mighty One", Skullmaster is an ancient fusion of warrior and sorcerer whose lust for power has driven him to destroy at least two civilizations - the Lemurians and the Atlanteans.

He destroyed the Lemurians out of wrath when they wouldn't give him the secrets of the key, and he used the souls of Atlantis to power his Crystal of Souls. At some point, he was imprisoned deep within the earth, where he sealed the reigning king, Lava Lord, into solid rock and took control of his minions. During the second season, Skullmaster was free to roam the earth and proceeded to cause all kinds of trouble until he was defeated once more by the new "Mighty One" - Max.

Personality

There it is, Warmonger. Zero Island, the earth's geographic center. Zero degrees latitude, zero degrees longitude. Where, since the beginning of time, Hydra, last of the Titans, has maintained the balance between the positive and negative forces, in nature. Do you realize the significance of this balance, Warmonger? No, of course you don't. And by the time your feeble mind can comprehend it, it shall not exist, since, with the power of the Lemurian Arcana, I shall shatter that balance, forever!
Skullmaster is an extremely power-hungry and ruthless creature, the latter of these two aspects being what has made him so recognizable among 90s animated villains, especially ones as obscure as him and that come from cartoons aimed to advertise and sell toys. He fully embraces his evil thoughts (not that there's any good in him to begin with) and makes gruesome threats to the main character of the series, who is just a child, and consistently kills and destroys all who stand in his way (or in his quest for more power) in a variety of ways, from simply erasing them into nothing to dropping them from a high altitude and letting gravity do the job for him. His old friend and teacher Virgil considers him to be the greatest evil the world has ever known.

As a warrior with thousands of years of experience, Skullmaster is also somewhat honorable and enjoys physical confrontation, and given his intelligence, he will consider an alliance with the enemy if it benefits him.

Lava Lord: Skullmaster, you thief, 5000 years ago, you stole my kingdom! But now I'm back, to take my revenge!
Skullmaster: Lava Lord, only a mewling coward hides behind machinery. A true warrior would meet me sword to sword!

Powers and Abilities

Warmonger: I lost this round to the Mighty-One, but now that I've gotten rid of Skullmaster, the world is still mine to conquer!
Skullmaster: Really? And what makes you think, I'm gone?
Warmonger:(Cowers in terror) Skullmaster! I, it was all a mistake, I, I never meant to...
Skullmaster: Kill me? I know. Everything that happened was according to my plan, not yours. The Lemurian sun-symbol, was the one power I feared, and so I forced the Cap-Bearer to waste it battling Hydra, so he would be unable to use it on me!
Warmonger: But I saw you die!
Skullmaster: The pages of the Arcana grant many powers, illusion is one of them. Once again, Warmonger, you have proved yourself an excellent servant. But we must prepare for the final triumph-for now there is nothing on earth that can stop me!
~ Skullmaster reveals himself to be alive after Warmonger thought he had killed him
Skullmaster was a fearsome warrior and strategist, commanding legions of rock monsters, skeletal turtle creatures, giant crab-like creatures and lava beasts before Lava Lord escaped his captivity and the lava beasts returned to his rule. After escaping from the center of the Earth he also freed another of his servants, a giant dragon that served as his primary mode of transport. It may also have been the source of the "blood of the dragon," a potion Skullmaster forced his human minions to drink to turn them into "Zilards," evil reptilian creatures. Skullmaster himself was also fairly strong, as his appearance would suggest. He defeated the Monkey King off-screen and smashed his metal helmet with apparent ease.

His most powerful weapon was the Crystal of Souls, a magic gem energized by captive souls. He could use it to see events from afar, command the soulless husks of those whose souls it contained to do his bidding, and entomb an enemy alive in rock (which the victim might well have only survived thanks to being living rock already). Its powers were so great he was able to use it to sink Atlantis and to resurrect many of Mighty Max's other enemies during the series finale. In the end he intended to use it as part of a ritual (along with Max's magic hat) to gain control over the flow of time itself. For unknown reasons he could not use it to free himself from the center of the Earth.

Probably's Skullmaster's greatest asset was his cunning mind, having thousands of years worth of experience and knowledge. In one instance he anticipated the treachery of his servant Warmonger, who appeared to use a stolen magical rune to kill him but which Skullmaster had built a plan around him doing so. This plan succeeded in forcing Mighty Max to use up a powerful magic spell that might've stopped Skullmaster himself to prevent another disaster of Skullmaster's own creation.

Quotes

Dig. Swallow. Chew. Eat me a hole so I may bring... pain! A tunnel to unleash my torment... upon them. Up... on the surface... in the sun... Dig a path for me to be freeeeee!
~ Skullmaster's first line in the series
BRING ME HIS BEATING HEART… and I’ll eat it raw!
~ Possibly Skullmaster's most famous threat
Welcome, "Mighty One." Enter, and die...
~ Max, alone, enters a dark cavern containing the Crystal of Souls, and a hidden Skullmaster
Skullmaster: At last... the Chosen One. Turn around, so I may see you.
Max: No, no, don't tell me, let me guess-Skullmaster, right?
Skullmaster: You're the Chosen One? Prophesighed to destroy me? *scoffs* You're a worm, heh, an insect... HA! A nothing!
~ A dumbfounded Skullmaster meets Max, a kid that is supposed to kill him
Max:(while nervously backing away) I think I hear my mom calling me. You know I'd really love to stay and chat, but she's a real monster if I'm not home by dinner...
Skull Master:(Emerges from the shadows) More than me?
~ Skullmaster reveals himself to the Chosen One
And now the end, Cap-Bearer. Fire, and eternal pain and torment, for all but my followers.
You can't escape. I’ll rip your limbs from your body, and slowly suck the marrow from your bones!
(Skullmaster throws the crushed helmet of the monkey king after their off-screen battle, revealing the victor) Alas, poor Hanuman. Ah well, he'll soon have company. And the last to die will watch the first five go before him.
Fool. Work your lackey's magic, and let me loose again! Crack the planet that dares to chain me. Wake the dragon, so that it may set me free!
At last! The Crystal of Souls! Rejoined by the Lemurian arcana. Forged by dragon fire. Listen to it beat: like an inhuman heart. But it does not yet live…Not yet…For that, it needs souls—simple, willing souls.
The crystal! You destroyed my crystal... Enjoy the few seconds of life which remain to you! I will teach you a thousand subtle shades of pain, a hundred ways to die, until I finally lay your lifeless body at my master's table!
Lava Lord:(Lava Lord is released from his fiery tomb) To move, to feel... It must be-the Crystal of Souls is shattered! Skullmaster! That gutless thief corrupted its power to cage my might, and steal my kingdom! But now that I am free, I will have my revenge!
Skullmaster:(watching through a shard of the crystal) And I will be waiting... The shattering of my crystal released you, Lava Lord, but your freedom will lead to obliteration, not revenge! And as for the Cap-Bearer, who caused this disaster, I crave nothing more, than the chance to shatter him, in return!
People of Dragon Island, you have given your bodies and minds over to evil. But that is not enough, evil is ever hungry... Will you freely give your souls? (they roar the affirmative) Then join me, my villains, and you shall ghave unimagined power! And now, all that ever was, and ever will be, will bow before the ultimate power-Skullmaster!
~ Skullmaster steals the souls of his lizard slaves
Virgil: Quickly Mighty One, we must flee, if Skullmaster obtains the Cap before the Winter Solstice, I can't say what will happen!
Skullmaster: But I can. All of eternity will be mine. I shall control time itself!
Max: Hey, you don't want much, do ya?
Skullmaster: What I want is the past, the present, and the future-something you have precious little of. My spirit is everywhere, Cap-Bearer! The Crystal of souls has summoned evil from every corner of the earth! You can run, but you cannot hide...
Max: I hope I never see old boneface again...
Skullmaster: How unfortunate. And I was so looking forward to this little reunion.
Max: Whoops. Sorry about the boneface crack.
Virgil: But how?
Skullmaster: I always did outplay you in chess, old friend. And now, check, and mate!
Max: I'm alive!
Skullmaster: For now, Cap-Bearer, for now. And so is a certain chicken of our acquaintance.
Max: That's foul, actually!
Skullmaster: But I will, how shall I put this delicately, kill him, unless you come to Stonehenge, and give me what I want.
Virgil: Mighty One, Skullmaster's power is too great, I cannot move!
Skullmaster: Pity, but you can die! Or do I get the Cap?
Max: You promise to let him go?
Skullmaster: You have my word.
Virgil: Don't do it, Mighty One!
Max: I have no choice, Virg, I can't let him kill you! Take it...
Skullmaster: At last! (Upon being given the Cap, Skullmaster betrays his word and destroys Virgil)
Max: Virgil! You promised!
Skullmaster: Yes, I did, didn't I?
~ Skullmaster makes a promise... and immediately breaks it
Skullmaster: Hold him, Warmonger. But don't harm him... yet. I want him to understand what he's done. In just a few moments, when the sun sets through the great Trinodon, I shall stand in the centre of Stonehenge. The Crystal shall send out its rays, containing the greatest power in the universe, the power to transform time! Only He who wears the Cap, can absorb this power! And once I have it, I will not only control the present, but the past, and the future!
Max: I'll believe it when I see it!
Skullmaster: And you will! I will soon be the supreme power in the universe, and you and all others will bow before me, not only in the present, but in your memory, and forevermore!
~ Skullmaster prepares for his ascension
Hydra's Good Side:(the Titan Hydra philosophizes over the nature of darkness and light, but is surprised and brainwashed by Skullmaster) Blessed light, the wondrous force which gives life to all!
Hydra's Dark Side: Bah, it is the darkness which permits the oblivion of sleep!
Hydra's Good Side: Oblivion is waste, light is the ultimate good!
Hydra's Dark Side: Then why is it that the good and pleasurable things in life, are so often called evil?
Skullmaster: The answer is obvious, Hydra. It is because evil is the superior force. And that is why, I shall now invoke the power of the Lemurian Arcana! That the dark, the evil side of Hydra, may vanquish utterly, the side of light! And insufferably insipid "good!"
Hydra's Good Side, Hydra's Dark Side: A new age of darkness has begun!
Virgil: Let the boy go, Skullmaster!
Skullmaster: Reveal the location of the Arcana and I will. Deny me, and I'll cut the boy a new smile!
Skullmaster:(Skullmaster tortures a monk for information by dangling him over a cliff) Welcome, venerable one. I seek an ancient book of power. A book whose secrets will enable me to rejoin the shattered Crystal, of Souls. I seek-
Monk: The Lemurian Arcana? But this book is hidden in the lost city of Devagon, innaccessible for thousands of years. You'll never find it, even the city's location is a secret!
Skullmaster: Secrets are bad for the soul, venerable one. So much so, if you do not tell me what I need to know, I shall be forced to teach you, to fly...
Monk: It is impossible! (Skullmaster drops the monk to his death)
Skullmaster: Pity.
Skullmaster:Ah, the Arcana! Of course, you didn't expect to leave this room alive, did you?
Max:(laughs nervously) Well, you know, call me optimist! Uh, why kill me if I'm not really the Mighty-One?
Skullmaster:(chuckles diabolically) Oh, but you are the Mighty-One, Maximillion is just my unwilling slave, sent to pose as the Cap-Bearer to ensure my victory this day. And now, I have the Cap, the Arcana, and my revenge!
Behold, the most powerful book on earth, the Lemurian Arcana! With its power, I shall make the Crystal of Souls whole, and the world my kingdom!
Virgil: Now quickly, before anyone knows we've arrived in Skull Mountain, we must... Oh dear.
Skullmaster: Your strategic manoeuvres were always so painfully easy to anticipate. I knew you would come to pick over my dead bones, old friend.
Max: You know, I was afraid of something like that.
Skullmaster: This time, we'll be picking over chicken bones... Attack!
~ Max and company secretly arrive in Skullmaster's realm but are quickly ambushed
Skullmaster: Don't you see, Virgil? There are only two possible results if you pursue this ridiculous prophecy to the end:either your Cap-Bearer succeeds, and we both die, or your Cap-Bearer fails, and you die, all by yourself. There is however, a third possibility.
Virgil: I'm listening.
Skullmaster: You know you can't count on this worm of a Cap-Bearer you call Max-whereas my strength and your mind can ensure that the wisdom of Lemuria will prevail.
Virgil: And so you are suggesting?
Skullmaster: A partnership.
Virgil: Oh, hmmm... An intriguing proposition.
Skullmaster: Of course, the key to making our dream come true is the Cap.
Virgil: Of course. The Cap, it is.
Skullmaster: Well?
Virgil: I will agree! But only if you spare the boy. Spare Max!
Skullmaster: Very well... But I must have the Cap!
Virgil: Agreed. Now listen carefully Skullmaster, I am beginning-yes indeed, I am beginning to formulate a plan...
~ Skullmaster and Virgil make a deal
Skullmaster: It's good to see you, Virgil, "old friend." But I've been thinking, even though you were my teacher in those distant days of Lemuria's golden age, there were many lessons I learned that you never taught.
Virgil: Lessons of cruelty and selfishness?
Skullmaster: Lessons of effectiveness and realism! In case you haven't noticed the world is a very cruel place. Take for example, the destruction of my prized possession, the Crystal of Souls, by your nasty little Cap-Bearer... On the other hand, friendship also has its place, old friend.
Virgil: Do you imply that I should use my wisdom to help restore your crystal? Why should I?
Skullmaster: So I can stop your Cap-Bearer from destroying me, of course...
Virgil: You want me to interfere with your destiny? It's impossible. What is written, must be.
Skullmaster: In case you've forgotten, old friend, it is also written that your destiny and mine, are inexplicably bound-when I die, you are doomed as well. And the treasures of the ancient wisdom will perish with us, forever. So, old friend, which will it be? Life, and sovereign power with me, or death?
~ Skullmaster interrogates a captive Virgil
Skullmaster: Congratulations, virgil. The Cap-Bearer is doing exactly what you said he would. In fact, it looks as though I have judged you unfairly all these thousands of years. It seems, that your deviousness and trickery, more than match my own!
Virgil:They most certainly do...
Virgil: What are you waiting for, Mighty-One? Shoot now and be done with it forever! Your final destiny as a hero has come!
Skullmaster: Before you do, Cap-Bearer, consider-if you destroy me, Virgil dies as well!
Norman: Mighty-One, what are you going to do?
Max: I don't know...
Virgil: Mighty-Max! You promised to follow my orders exactly, no matter the consequences, and my directions are, to fire your missiles, now!
Skullmaster: Cap-Bearer! The other world is just over those falls! The choice is yours-either kill your friend, or take us all through the portal, to the upper-world!
Virgil: Listen to me, Mighty-One, it is written that when Skullmaster dies I must die as well! As Cap-Bearer, you must destroy us both to save the world!
Max: Oh get outta here, Virgil, you know I can't do that!
The sun-the sun! Ah... to feel the sun again. To feel the wind. To be, free! So much for your prophecy, old friend. And thank you, Mighty-One, for the role you played in my destiny!
~ Skullmaster is finally free from the underworld
I am back where I belong! Back to force all to bow before me, as they will forever. The final conflict, has begun!

Gallery

Images

Videos

Trivia

  • In the episode "The Magnificent Seven", when Max destroyed his Crystal of Souls he threatens to put Max's corpse at "His Master's table" suggesting he might work for someone else or referring to Virgil. If he does as another master he was working for this whole time then we might never know who or his master might be due to the show ending in it's series's finale.
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