M.A.S.K., or Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (yes, the good guys can't spell) is the private anti-terrorism task force set up by millionaire Matt Trakker to counter the activities of V.E.N.O.M. I find M.A.S.K. to be extremely boring and predictable, like all other cartoon protagonists, and will therefore dedicate this page to the much more interesting V.E.N.O.M. However, a little background information never hurts. It all started when (according to the mini-comics) Matt Trakker, his brother Andy, and Miles Mayhem were all working together, building the specialized masks and vehicles to use as an anti-crime force. Mayhem however, was upset with the lack of recognition and appreciation the heroic path offered, and therefore started a fire, killing Andy and escaping with half the masks and vehicle blueprints. Thus, M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M. were formed. Apparently Matt Trakker is so cheap (maybe that's how he made his millions) that he doesn't even pay the special agents of M.A.S.K. who work for him to help stop V.E.N.O.M. How do I know this? Well, just look at the show; every time an agent is summoned, they are interrupted in their regular occupations and must rush off to serve Trakker's bidding. All the identities of the M.A.S.K. agents are top secret, and must remain so, as we will see further along in the show. Also, M.A.S.K. is connected in some unknown way (whether officially or unofficially) to the P.N.A., this show's version of the U.N.
I've always considered V.E.N.O.M. to be similar to the early development of Cobra from G.I. Joe. There's a small main core of VIPs and a very small group of unnamed foot soldiers used as support personnel.
When we take into account the fact that V.E.N.O.M. is in its early stages of development, it becomes easy to understand the objectives of Miles Mayhem throughout the series. V.E.N.O.M. is in dire need of money to purchase military hardware, recruit agents, and generally cause trouble on the worldwide stage. This is why in virtually every episode of M.A.S.K., V.E.N.O.M.'s goal is to seek out and acquire a vast source of wealth, either through outright thievery, blackmail, or treasure hunting. Many have said that V.E.N.O.M. is unique in the world of cartoon villains in that they do not seek world domination. I see it not so much as being unique, but as being realistic-- World domination is a goal that Miles Mayhem has decided to be unattainable given V.E.N.O.M.'s current financial and fighting capabilities.
Therefore, Mayhem chooses to seek out much more concrete goals for the immediate future, and once V.E.N.O.M. is strong enough, then take on the world. A perfect example of this policy is seen in the very first episode of M.A.S.K., "The Deathstone". Instead of keeping the meteor to use as a weapon against the nations of the world, what does Mayhem do? He decides to sell it to the highest bidder. This makes perfect sense for V.E.N.O.M. at this time, since Mayhem probably lacks a sophisticated enough delivery device to make the meteor a feasible weapon. In the next episode, "The Star Chariot", Mayhem seeks to acquire an alien spacecraft buried in the desert to reverse engineer for a new generation of V.E.N.O.M. vehicles. These two episodes alone demonstrate perfectly the fact that V.E.N.O.M. is in its very early stages of development and Mayhem is willing to do anything to further the evolution of his organization. Had there been a true second season to M.A.S.K. (I tend not to count the racing episodes as truly a part of M.A.S.K. since it's ludicrous for an organization such as V.E.N.O.M. to be given legitimacy by competing in government sanctioned, foreign or otherwise, races with the M.A.S.K. team, and no efforts made whatsoever to take V.E.N.O.M. fugitives into custody) we might have seen more grandiose schemes by V.E.N.O.M., much in the same vein of what Cobra would do in G.I. Joe.
The scant few episodes where V.E.N.O.M. attempted major theatrics ("Death from the Sky" and "Assault on Liberty" come to mind) would serve as blueprints for these episodes. Of course, with the "conquer the world" schemes would come a greater chance for failure, although in cartoons the villains never won anyway. V.E.N.O.M. was no exception to this rule unfortunately, as it was guaranteed they would lose in the end, no matter how little their plan would impact the world (see the episode "Curse of Solomon's Gorge").
V.E.N.O.M. can claim minor victories in a few episodes however, most notably in "Dinosaur Boy" where the viewer can assume Mayhem successfully escaped with the world's largest pearls (no mention is made of their recovery by M.A.S.K.) and in "The Oz Effect" where the viewer learns that shipments of mined emeralds made it back to V.E.N.O.M.'s main headquarters even before M.A.S.K. figured out their plan. One of my favorite episodes where V.E.N.O.M. almost comes up with a victory is "Eyes of the Skull". This is also a fan favorite, seeing as how V.E.N.O.M. displays an enormous level of competency in this episode. After Mayhem discovers the true identity of the leader of M.A.S.K., he immediately has Scott Trakker kidnapped and contacts Matt Trakker with a list of demands. While there are never any deaths in cartoons, this comes pretty close, since Mayhem's demands, if carried out fully, would have made M.A.S.K. non-existent and put Matt Trakker and his pals on the sidelines while V.E.N.O.M. took over the world. Plus, unlike Cobra's plan in "Captives of Cobra" where Joe family members are used as weapons against the Joe team themselves (thus opening the door for a rescue attempt), V.E.N.O.M.'s use of Scott as a hostage is swift and decisive-- Had Mayhem succeeded, there would have been little, if anything, Trakker could've done to revive M.A.S.K. Finally, there have been moments with V.E.N.O.M., as with Cobra in G.I. Joe, that have really left fans of villains, such as myself, scratching our heads. As with the G.I. Joe episode "Lasers in the Night", the episode "Panda Power" is a real goofy one, with Mayhem's goal being to carve the likenesses of the four members of V.E.N.O.M. (Rax, Dagger, Vanessa, and of course Mayhem himself) into the faces of the moai on Easter Island. These episodes are just completely ridiculous, and do not further the cause of the bad guys in any way. Another episode with a questionable goal that V.E.N.O.M. is pursuing is "Plant Show". While the premise makes sense (blackmailing cities into paying exorbitant amounts of money) the means to achieve this goal do not. Anyone with an IQ above 10 will realize that cold kills plants, even though Mayhem tries to make it out to be some big secret. Lastly, there is the episode known as "Blackout". V.E.N.O.M.'s goal in this episode is never really made clear-- Do they mean to steal energy? How does one do that? Or do they mean to commit robberies when the power is out? Once again, we're never really told what V.E.N.O.M.'s main objective is with the Blackout machine, other than making things lose power. It sounds like Mayhem stole the thing just to keep in practice. Whether you love them, or hate them, I consider V.E.N.O.M. to be among the greater of the cartoon villains of the 80s, if for the simple fact that their goals are more attainable than those of their peers. Though lacking the flair of villains like Cobra, they still had great looking uniforms and transforming vehicles. Here's to the Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem!
Leader and founder of V.E.N.O.M., Mayhem wears two masks, Viper (left), which shoots corrosive acid, and Python (right), which emits constricting energy snakes or tentacles. While Mayhem wears a military uniform of some sort, no information is given about his former rank or branch. Presumably, he wears this uniform to project authority to his agents. While his orders are obeyed most of the time without question, there are rare occasions where his agents seek to usurp his authority. However, Mayhem is a rarity among bad guy leaders since he's able to keep his underlings in line most of the time. This is probably due to the fact that most V.E.N.O.M. agents are of below average intelligence, and Mayhem was once described as being a "tactical genius".
The only female member of V.E.N.O.M., Vanessa is very strong willed and intelligent, two qualities not common among V.E.N.O.M. agents. Warfield at times seems to have a rivalry with Mayhem, and most likely feels that V.E.N.O.M. would be better off if she were in charge. She also has a strong dislike of Sly Rax, and frequently uses her fellow agents as verbal punching bags. Vanessa has a mask called Whip, which can produce an energy beam capable of grabbing objects.
Sly Rax is your typical biker gang thug. A master of disguise and espionage, Rax seems to have a penchant for talking like Jack Nicholson and not really caring about V.E.N.O.M.'s plans or goals, as long as he gets paid. Rax is always willing to complain about any situation that displeases him, and never hesitates to question Dagger's intelligence or Vanessa's femininity. Rax wears a mask called Stiletto that fires darts that can sometimes emit a smoke cover.
Dagger is the go to guy when it comes to a job no one else in V.E.N.O.M. wants to do. Possessing more muscle than brains, Dagger is the typical strong man; hot headed, quick to anger but slow to comprehend, and always the butt of someone else's joke. Mayhem is usually able to keep Dagger in line though, probably because Dagger has no ambition of his own. Dagger's mask is called Torch, and is basically a flamethrower on his head.
Bruno is V.E.N.O.M.'s second strong man, but seems to have slightly higher intelligence than Dagger. However, that's still not saying much. Unfortunately there's really nothing else to say about Bruno, since he appeared late in the series and had minimal dialogue. Bruno's mask is called Magna-Beam, and it fires an energy beam that can grab and manipulate metal objects.
When it comes to V.E.N.O.M. agents, Floyd Malloy has more personal issues than most. Besides being overly paranoid, his natural state seems to be that of constantly whining about the situation he's put in and nagging about his compensation for it. Malloy seems to remind one of a very whiny Billy Idol. Since he was introduced late in the series, not much else is known about Malloy, and unfortunately his interaction with other V.E.N.O.M. agents is minimal. In his infinite wisdom he decided to change his name to "Birdman" in the second season because he hated the name Floyd. Malloy wears a mask called Buckshot, which fires ball bearings at its target.
Nash Gorey is an enigma. How he joined V.E.N.O.M. is unknown; he obviously would've been beat up by Rax or laughed out of the organization if he didn't have something going for him. Perhaps that something was nerd rage. Well, Gorey satisfied his nerd rage by joining V.E.N.O.M. Fortunately for him, he found the future love of his life, Miles Mayhem. Gorey practically worships the ground Mayhem walks on, and Miles can do no wrong in his eyes. Whether this is genuine adoration of Mayhem, or a clever ploy to move up in the ranks, we don't know. If it's the latter, this guy is the smartest agent in V.E.N.O.M.; if it's the former, then he's just pathetic. In my opinion, Gorey got the best mask in the whole series. While my favorite mask is Viper for its aesthetic value, Gorey's mask clearly has the best power. His mask, Powerhouse, has the ability to give the wearer super strength. There is really no situation where super strength would not make things better. Unfortunately this mask is wasted on Gorey, since he's so stupid he has to be reminded to use it when something is too heavy for him to lift.
Lester Sludge only appeared in the second season of M.A.S.K., and since I don't consider the second season to be a true continuation of the series, I'm not going to spend much time on him or Max Mayhem. Sludge had an annoying laugh, a pink outfit (yes, pink) and a mask called Mudslinger, which shot jets of mud. I cannot think of a more useless power.
Max Mayhem is Miles Mayhem's twin brother, even though no mention was ever made of him in season one. Max wears a mask called Deep Freeze that can produce cold and freeze things.
Mayhem's helicopter that transforms into a jet.
Vanessa's car that transforms into a jet.
Rax's motorcycle and sidecar. The sidecar becomes a one man submarine.
Dagger's SUV that sports hidden guns and armor plating in the front.
Or Scorpion, depending on the episode. Bruno Sheppard's GTO transforms into a tank with four guns mounted on the hubcaps, two guns disguised as exhaust pipes, armor plating in the front and a robotic claw that pops out of the trunk.
Floyd Malloy's touring cycle that transforms into a jet.
An oil tanker truck that transforms into mobile heavy artillery and command center. Operated by both Nash Gorey and Miles Mayhem.