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Zodac is an enigmatic cosmic enforcer in the Masters of the Universe mythos. In general, the character is portrayed as being neutral in the battle between good and evil. However, the difficulty in presenting such nuance in a children's toy line has led to inconsistencies in his character across various forms of continuity.
Although the original toy was labeled "Zodac," the spelling of the character's name has varied between "Zodac" and "Zodak." When the character was redesigned in 2002, he was remodeled as a black man to add more racial diversity to the Masters of the Universe brand, and the spelling "Zodak" was settled upon. In the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line, the two designs were recognized as separate, distinct characters, with Zodak adopting the name in honor of his colleague, the original Zodac.
Zodac was one of the first characters to be conceived by Mattel in the development of the Masters of the Universe toy line, in 1981. His action figure is tagged as "Evil Cosmic Enforcer" and his action figure, despite being human, is given claw-like feet, a standard trait of the line's evil characters. However, he does not appear in any of the toys' accompanying minicomics, leaving many buyers unsure of the exact nature of his character or what role he plays in the story. The description on the back of his toy card read "Zodac attacks the Heroic Warriors with all the evil power at his command", an ambiguous description, which one can interpret as signifying either a generic Evil Warrior, or a universal enforcer of evil who somehow epitomized all evil power. But if Mattel's approach to the character seemed vague, the mystery surrounding Zodac is heavily exacerbated by his use in the DC Comics, which features him acting as a neutral character who seemingly oversees the whole conflict and serves to maintain balance between the two sides of good and evil, ensuring when he can, that both sides get their way, and helping either side when they need it. As a watcher of the universe, he naturally knows that Prince Adam is He-Man. Although he does not appear in any of the regular minicomics, he appears in the book and record that comes with the Point Dread & Talon Fighter playset, which also presents him in such a neutral role. However, as this playset was less commonly owned than the standard figures, many fans never saw this appearance and thus were still confused. It is generally believed that this "neutral" role was Mattel's original concept behind Zodac, and the labelling of him as 'Evil' was done purely to even out the evil figures against the heroic, but Mattel has never confirmed this. Later on in the toy line's run, Zodac figures were packaged purely as "Cosmic Enforcer", with the "Evil"' tag dropped to avoid confusion.
Filmation SeriesIn He-Man and the Masters of the Universe by Filmation, Zodac appears in three episodes of the show's first season: "Quest for He-Man", "The Search" and "Golden Disks of Knowledge". The show's portrayal of the character is generally in-keeping with that of the DC Comics, although it is clear in the cartoon that he leans more towards the side of good and serves essentially to help maintain peace within the universe. As the cartoon never shows him acting on the side of evil, he never shares any scenes with Skeletor, many viewers of the show perceive him as one of the good guys, even though this is not entirely true. It is his portrayal on the cartoon that heightened the confusion over the character, as viewers of the show who saw him as a good guy were perplexed when they went out to buy his figure.
In the cartoon he is clearly an all-powerful character who sees and understands all. The most important of his three episodes is "The Search", in which he sends He-Man out on a quest to prevent Skeletor reaching the Star Seed, a powerful object that will give him control over the whole universe. A twist ending reveals that Zodac set up the whole affair, telling Skeletor of the Star Seed and sending He-Man to defend it, in a test of He-Man's ability to resist the temptation of using the Star Seed's power for himself.
The episode "Golden Disks of Knowledge", meanwhile, reveals that Zodac is the last remaining member of the Council of the Wise, (often referred to as "The Council of Elders") a universal council of knowledge and wisdom-keepers. It is revealed that Skeletor achieved most of his power after he stole the Golden Disks of Knowledge from the Council of the Wise after corrupting another of its members, Zanthor, into selling them to him. The end of the episode features the reformed Zanthor donning a uniform like Zodac's and leaving for the stars together with him to watch over the universe.
The series bible delves more into the history of Zodac, telling us that not only was Zodac a member of the Council of Elders, he was also the leader, and the only member to retain his human form after the Council became the spirit of Grayskull. He then vowed to sail the universe, keeping watch over Eternia but not interfering in the natural course of events.
Other media to produce Masters of the Universe stories throughout the 1980s took radically differing approaches to the character of Zodac. Some storybooks, most notably the UK Ladybird Books, portray him as a wholly evil character in servitude to Skeletor. In this storybook series he is portrayed as just another of Skeletor's bumbling henchmen; the complete opposite of the noble deity-like figure of the cartoon series.
Several other books and comic series portray him as a fully heroic character, while others are more in-keeping with the DC Comics and Filmation's portrayals. Given that many fans in the 1980s purchased a wide range of these books and comics alongside the toys and cartoon, it is not surprising how so many people became confused over the true nature of Zodac's character.
- Zodac has the distinction of being one of only three characters not named in either series' opening credits to know the identity of He-Man (and presumably She-Ra), the others being Broom and Loo-Kee.
- The writer of the 1980s minicomic "Slave City" created a villain for the story whose name was Zodak, unaware that there was already a character in the toy line with that name. When asked by Mattel why the character in his comic did not resemble the toy, he realized that there was an existing character with the name of Zodac, and therefore changed his villain's name to 'Lodar'. Since the comics had already been printed, the text had to be physically altered, removing part of the "Z" to make an "L", and making the "K" into an "R".
- In the 1980s cartoon, Zodac hosts the moral/closing segment for two of the episodes he appears in: "Quest for He-Man" and "The Search". Being a duty normally reserved only for the "good" characters, this reinforces the notion of Zodac's default alignment being benevolent. However the evil character Flogg also hosted the moral segment of an episode, in "Quest for the Crystals".
- Zodac is the first character to wield a gun. Unlike the other characters, who have medieval-style mêlée weapons, Zodac carries a laser pistol. It is assumed this is due to his "cosmic" technological advancement. However, the Battle Ram toy of the same era also had guns.