It was the Golden Age of Eternia, a time for love and a time for livin'. King Randor and Queen What's-Her-Face-With-The-Tiara birthed a handsome son named Adam, and while his formative years lent credibility to all who'd call him a daisy toting girly girl, he ended up becoming He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe. Of course, such claims were good for effect but not all that factual, since nobody on Eternia ever brought He-Man and two-ton dumbbells around every known galaxy to see if he was really stronger than everyone else.
Nevertheless, He-Man fended off all of Eternia's villains with ease. The evildoers, led by Skeletor from deep within the insidious walls of Snake Mountain, seemed to be fighting a losing battle. Nobody was gonna beat He-Man. Or, at the very least, nobody who already tried taking over Eternia had what it took to get the job done. He-Man had won all the wars, and had little reason to believe the hot streak would end. Admittedly, he was becoming a tad complacent - maybe even a little lazy. He-Man used to wear pants, you know.
But times were changing, and the 'Golden Age' quickly began being thought of as a misnomer. Other, newer villains were beginning to surface in and around Grayskull, and they weren't bad guys He-Man already beat up 45,006 times. No, these guys had a clean slate. And a bad reputation. He-Man tried his luck with Skeletor's band many times and proved his worth, but while nobody in Eternia would admit it, a great deal of concern swept over the orange horizon - could He-Man defeat these new villains?
Could He-Man defeat...The Snake Men?
They were lean, mean, and slimy. Aligned with Skeletor only on the surface, the Snake Men certainly had their own agenda. They wanted to hiss their way into Eternia's top political positions. Not for the added power and influence, but rather because Snake Men have this sick fetish for cobalt blue satin, the primary color and material used in any Eternian king's robes. Teaming up with Skeletor is something they view as a temporary measure - once they use his experience and abilities to rig the voting ballots, they'll swallow him whole like so many rats. With no allegiances to anyone but themselves, these filthy dickhead snakes are some of the most dangerous foes He-Man will ever face.
When questioned about the Snake Men's fearful chances at completing their goals, He-Man had this to say: "You know, before I was officially christened 'He-Man', the Sorceress asked if I had any weird afflictions that might keep me from doing my duties. Now that I think about it, I probably should've mentioned that I'm a severe ophiciophobe." We asked him to spell 'ophiciophobe,' but he said the reason people make themselves as tan as he is are so other people will be too busy comparing their skin to coconut shells and horse crap to ask them stupid questions.
He-Man's a real cockface sometimes.
Up above is the evil henchman of the Snake Men, Rattlor. He wasn't very bright, but considering that he's a snake with clothes and the ability to speak, I think he's done pretty well for himself. The bulkiest of the group, Rattlor mixes intense agility and immense strength to protect his superiors and wear down their adversaries. When not in the midst of battle or a global-domination plot, Rattlor enjoys miniature golf and collecting those small, wooden umbrellas Chinese food restaurants use to garnish cocktails. When asked about which wooden umbrella was his favorite, Rattlor gleefully relayed the tale about "the one that looked like Jesus," citing the irony when he somehow found God the same day he found a copy of Danzig's Mother single under a park bench. "Isn't that hisssssterical?!" Yes it is, Rattlor. Yes it is.
His special power? Rattlor's snake neck can extend to enormous lengths. It comes in handy when the Snake Men are trying to decide who gets to place their order first at McDonald's and depend on the time-honored tradition of Reverse Size Order. It's also a psychological advantage over his foes - He-Man rarely does battle with anyone taller than him, mainly because Snake Mountain's ceilings are so low, and everyone who lives there had adopted this sort-of permanent slouch. If there's anything Rattlor believes in even more devoutly than Catholicism, it's the benefits of good god damned posture.
Rattlor was the brawn of the family, now here's the brains. Snake brains!!
Tung Lashor, the second-in-command, is one of the smartest adversaries He-Man's ever faced. A psychologist at heart, T.L. sought to confuse his enemies by painting his skin all these various pastel colors, which make him appear like less of a threat. In truth, he's a powerful opponent with no remorse. He won't just kill you - he'll chop your legs off, eat them, disgorge them, and eat them again just so you're totally creeped out before he sta bs you through the face with knives. Despite his intelligence, Tung Lashor is known for being the sickest, most vile of the Snake Men. On more than one occasion, T.L. has coiled himself around the neck of his adversary just long enough to make their eyeballs pop out and fly clear across the room into one of the other Snake Men's gaping mouths. He calls the maneuver the 'Snack of Victory.' Only, when he says it, it sounds more like 'Sssssssssnack of Victory.' In the evil secret underground grade school where Snake Men go to learn their trade, there's only one lesson heavily enforced: stress those consonants!
Tung Lashor isn't just brains, no sir. His special move is the 'Poison Kiss', where his amazingly purple tongue flies out of his mouth, zapping his helpless victims to near-death or worse. And there's only one thing worse than near-death. No, I'm not talking about the Rosie magazine scandal making the front page news. I'm talking about real, 100%, official, plooky plockily, absolute death. T.L.'s tongue is a killer. It's also the only tongue in Eternia long enough to wrap around Teela's thigh. This was proven at the ill-fated New Year's Eve party of '88, of which very little is documented. When we asked him to elaborate, Tung Lashor insisted that we 'ask Teela.' So we did, but she told us to 'ask Buzz-Off.' Again we complied, but all we could get out of Buzz-Off were a few muffler noises before he started stinging us.
We asked Teela to explain any potential romantic feelings about Tung Lashor, but she maintained that she found the thought of getting it on with any of the Snake Men 'revolting,' succinctly adding, "...and that's coming from someone who lost their virginity to a guy with three heads that spin around in a blue cylinder." There might be more to the story, but nobody's talking.
Rattlor and Tung Lashor were mighty villains and worthy foes, no doubt. Still, He-Man remained confident that he wouldn't have much of a problem taking them down a few notches. After all, he's the same guy who once thwarted an oncoming, 4,000 pound boulder out of his path just by breathing on it. What's two stupid snake guys gonna do, hiss him to death? No, it wasn't until he met the third of the Snake Men - the leader - before He-Man finally realized the scope of the task at hand.
King Hiss was as mysterious as he was deadly, his past shrouded in lies and half-truths, his intentions masked by a skintight green vinyl hooded sweatshirt. He-Man had no idea what to make of the guy - King Hiss' blank stares gave nothing away. He acted slowly, deliberately, and never showed his cards. Unlike Skeletor, who enjoyed the added risks of announcing his plans in their entirety to anyone who'd listen in a 50-mile radius, King Hiss liked to keep the element of surprise on his side. This is partly because it makes winning battles easier, but even King Hiss himself admits that a lot of it has to do with his unquenchable thirst for jumping out from behind bushes, yelling "SURPRISSSSSSE!"
I had the King Hiss figure as a kid, and it's easily one of my top favorite toys of all time. It's also one of the few I never picked up again over the years, so I kind of consider it one of the more elite MOTU figures - the kind that gets me to asking Rattlor about Jesus to see if he'll answer my prayers and bring me a new one so I won't have to pay 84 dollars for six-week shipping off eBay. If you're looking at King Hiss and wondering why any kid would've liked him so much, there's more than meets the eye with this particular figure. King Hiss has a secret!
In the first ever meeting between He-Man and his newest arch-rival, the moment was tense and the crowd was hushed. Who would come out victorious? Who had the iron balls? He-Man was sure it was him, but King Hiss felt differently. See, King Hiss is only masquerading as some boring human-like guy in shitty clothes. That's his cover. Underneath all the lies and fabric and fake skin, something hideous resides. Once He-Man gets a glance at King Hiss' true form, he's not so sure the battle will be won so easily.
HE'S A SNAKE! NO WAIT, HE'S THREE SNAKES! KING HISS IS A BIG SNAKE WITH MORE SNAKES FOR ARMS!! That's a lot of snakes, more snakes than even He-Man could handle. For the first time in history, the Guardian of Grayskull retreated, opting to fight another day. There's not much to add to the story besides a few well-placed buck buck buckaws. If He-Man's too scared to fight a pile of snakes, there's not much hope for Eternia.
In their first encounter with the heroic forces of Eternia, the Snake Men have come out on top. It's hard to say if this will lead to a larger, grander victory in the future. At the very least, it would seem like King Hiss is well on his way to nailing that high political position he's after. I'm just glad he wants to run for office in Eternia. I don't think I could live through all the State of Addresses where King Hiss has to say 'United Sssstatesss' a million times. He'd cut at least fourteen more minutes out of the 6 PM reruns than normal presidents do whenever they run a special report.
Rattlor, Tung Lashor, King Hiss. Three snakey snake guys who form one giant snakey snake conglomerate hell-bent on ruling the universe. All we can do is wait things out. We can't stop the Snake Men, only He-Man can. Until he's ready to fight, we'll have no choice but to suffer through having all our firstborns swallowed alive and our grandmothers constricted to death. It sounds really bad, but I never liked either of my grandmothers all that much anyway.
Eh, you know what they say...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. From now on I'm on a strictly frog diet, and next week I'm gonna have cobra ear flaps made of felt sewn to my head. I just hope the Snake Men take me under the wing instead of killing and/or eating me. King Hiss, if you're out there somewhere reading this, I just want to mention that I own Anaconda on DVD and my favorite baby toys were rattles. I'm with you, guys. Teach me your life lessssonssss.
Bonus Article: I wrote about the fourth, rogue member of the Snake Men back in May of 2001. To learn more about this elusive sssuper-villain, click here!