Earlier in the week I made a crack about The Venture Bros. having more characters than Game of Thrones. And dammit, they do! They have more characters than any cartoon has right to, but I wouldn’t wish for single one to be cut. The world created by Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer easily rivals the depth and richness of Westeros, except there are no winners and everyone’s an utter failure.
The show’s littered with washed-up heroes, vengeful but incompetent villains, and former child adventurers gone mad. Drawing inspiration from Johnny Quest, comic book superheroes, to any and all 70s pop culture references, The Venture Bros. features a vibrant world with dozens of insanely, colorful characters. Here, I’ve gathered what I consider to be ten of the best “other” characters from the show. Not the boys, or Brock, or The Monarch. Not even Molotov Cocktease or Shore Leave made the list. And not because they aren’t great characters, they’re two of the best, but because I wanted to showcase those one-offs or rarely recurring characters who add that special ingredient to an already robust cast.
After a childhood of adventuring with his father, Dr. Benton Quest, adopted brother Hadji, and bodyguard, Race Bannon – all whom make appearances at some point in the series, Hadji even works for Jonas Venture Jr. – Johnny struggles with drug addiction and severe emotional trauma related to his father and his former boy adventurer lifestyle. Once he was a motivational speaker at Rusty’s Day Camp for Boy Adventurers, but that ended badly when he was reunited with former arch enemy Dr. Z and lost his shit. Through therapy with other boy adventurers, including Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture, Johnny’s rehabilitation had a promising start, that is, until his therapist was killed.
His striking resemblance in both body and voice to Sean Connery is PURE COINCIDENCE, though the character’s something of an amalgamation of James Bond and Alan Quartermain. An original member of Team Venture along with Jonas Venture, Otto Aquarius, Kano, The Action Man and Major Tom, Colonel Gentlemen now spends his days in Tangier, Morocco with his boy servant, Kiki, updating his journal. Topics include: Toys Colonel Gentleman Wishes He Had When He Was a Lad but They Weren’t Invented Yet, Colonel Gentleman’s Good Names for an Imaginary Friend, and Colonel Gentleman’s Hollywood Actresses Who Need a Smack in the Mouth. Possibly gay, but likely bisexual given his many sexual conquests, it was in his memoirs, Gentlemen Prefer Gentleman, he admitted to sleeping with many of Team Venture’s ex-super-villains.
Again, the resemblance to one Walt Disney is totally unintentional, as is his media empire built on the back of a cartoon bee. He suffered a massive stroke while trapped under an animatronic Abraham Lincoln for several hours, but has been able to sustain himself with the curative properties of panda milk, supplied by his com-panda, Li-Li. Brisby was a former associate of Dr. Venture’s father, Jonas, who helped design many of the rides at Brisby Land, which young Rusty reluctantly helped test. Served by his bodyguard, Mandalay, he dreams of one day cloning himself, allowing Brisby to oversee the future of his new venture, Brisby Life. Which may or may not be a colony of loyal Brisby subjects living within a giant bee hive.
Yes, that’s really her name, and yes it’s meant to reference that Hitler. Originally an adviser to Baron Ünderbheit, she led the Ünderland resistance movement, The Ünderground, with her lover, Colonel Catclops. After Ünderbheit’s failed attempt at marrying Dean Venture and his fall from power, Girl Hitler succeeded the Baron and now rules all of Ünderland. Hoping to soften the image of Ünderland, Girl Hitler exiled Baron Ünderbheit instead of executing him, as was customary under Ünderlaw.
Mr. Doe & Mr. Cardholder
These fellas are a couple of smooth-talking, shady OSI agents and amateur lepidopterists, making them experts on The Monarch. They assisted Jonas Venture Jr. when The Monarch was assigned as his arch-villian as The Monarch has a penchant for killing whomever he’s arching, and have previously worked protecting the Venture family. That is until it was revealed the two were actually spies for The Guild of Calamitous Intent with plans to depose OSI leader, General Treister, forcing the government to place them in charge. They were later arrested with the help of SPHINX when they attempted to murder Monstroso and cover their deceitful tracks.
Dr. Henry Killinger
Were former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Mary Poppins to have an evil love child, it’d Dr. Henry Killinger. I don’t know, maybe that is what happened because where Killinger came from is unknown. He appears out of nowhere on a couple occasions, always with his trusty, magic murder bag from where he can conjure almost anything. First he helped The Monarch whip his henchman into shape and reunited The Monarch with Dr. Girlfriend. He even presided over their wedding. Dr. Killinger also helped Dr. Venture reinvigorate Venture Industries, though unknowingly to Rusty, was also turning him into a super-villain.
Powered by, you guessed it, the sun, Captain Sunshine can fly and produce powerful bursts of the sun’s energy. The effect these bursts have vary from a mild sunburn to burnt to a crisp. Captain Sunshine is a member of The Super Gang along with Barbie-Q, U.S. Steel, Ghost Robot, and Brown Thrasher. These same folks also comprise the Action 5 News Team with their civilian identities Chuck Scarsdale, Barbara Quantos, Sam Turgen, Weatherbot 5, and Neville Brown (with sports). Sunshine’s sidekick, Wonder Boy, is a role filled by many as Sunshine either disowns them when they grow too old, leaving them with crippling emotional issues, or they die. Being such a death prone gig, Captain Sunshine is creepily protective of his Wonder Boys, making him a hero most parents wish their kids would avoid.
Guiding Dr. Venture’s neighbor, Dr. Orpheus through a “patois of symbols, allegory, [and] the occasional abasement,” is The Master. A shape-shifting demon, The Master has appeared in a variety of forms: Cerebus, Catherine the Great’s horse, Orpheus’ ex-wife Tatyana, and to Triana Orpheus as an old Dean Venture. The entrance to his realm, The Necropolis is also through Triana’s bedroom closet. He uses these alternate forms to teach his lessons, like when he became Catherine the Great’s horse to teach Orpheus not to bite off more than he could chew or when he showed Triana her bleak future were she to shack up with Dean.
The Sovereign/David Bowie
Leader of The Guild of Calamitous Intent as well as musician, songwriter, and occasional actor is The Sovereign, a.k.a. David Bowie. Though it’s sometime before we learn the two are one in the same. As The Sovereign, Bowie’s been pulling the strings of the Venture-verse for years. In fact, it was he who hired Molotov Cocktease to retrieve the panda, Li-Li, from Brisby after he lost the panda in a trivia contest. He’s fought off several coups, one led by his underlings Klaus Nomi and Iggy Pop, the other by Phantom Limb. Bowie’s also a shape-shifter, able to take on a variety of forms like an eagle or a pack of cigarettes. Beware his Diamond Dogs.
Grand Galactic Inquisitor
The 12 foot tall, horned helmet wearing Grand Galactic Inquisitor is a visitor from some far off planet who comes to Earth to pass judgement on all humans. Using criteria unknown to any but himself, he chooses Dr. Venture to represent all of humanity. His mission is to observe humans acting naturally and loudly reminds everyone to ignore his presence, frequently. “IGNORE ME.” The Inquisitor has exceptional observational powers, even being able to view someone’s dreams, which he does to Dr. Venture. “THAT WAS A WEIRD ONE.” Just before “THE GLORIOUS MOMENT OF JUDGEMENT” could occur, another alien disguised as Jonas Venture arrives and shoots the Inquisitor in the head, killing him, and saying otherwise the Inquisitor would have wiped out all life on the planet.
There you go, my picks for the ten best “other” characters who’ve popped up on The Venture Bros. But if you’re a regular viewer you know there are countless more! Who are some of your favorites? Who’d I leave off my list you’re absolutely disgusted I didn’t include?
Don’t forget to tune in Sunday night, June 2nd, at midnight on [adult swim] when The Venture Bros.‘ return – FINALLY! – for its fifth season.