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The Guild of Calamitous Intent is a fictional organization of supervillains in the Adult Swim program The Venture Bros. The Guild was first mentioned in the season one episode "Home Insecurity", with its first major appearance being in "The Trial of the Monarch". According to Doc Hammer, the Guild was created specifically to allow the "super scientists" and "supervillains" in the Venture universe to co-exist for the episode "Tag Sale – You're It!".
In The Venture Bros. series the Guild of Calamitous Intent is the largest organized labor group representing supervillains. Its direct competitors are The Peril Partnership and the Fraternity of Torment, both of which control less than a tenth of organized havoc to the Guild's overwhelming majority. In the episode "Fallen Arches", a promotional video sent to the character Dr. Orpheus states that the Guild was founded in 1910, and it is "the recognized leader in organized havoc." They credit their large numbers to the fact that they offer protection from authorities and benefits such as health and dental insurance to all members, as well as access to henchmen and other technology to help villains commit crimes. In exchange, Guild members are required to follow a code of honor (see "Honor Code").
The Guild approves heroes, or teams of theme-appropriate colleagues, to be assigned their very own certified super-villains. A "villain screening" may be scheduled to allow the hero to select a villain. Having a member of The Guild as your own "arch-enemy" is a highly sought after status symbol for some heroes in the Venture Brothers universe. In the episode "Fallen Arches", Doctor Venture becomes jealous of Doctor Orpheus's approval and seeks to entice villains waiting in line for the screening by salaciously washing his "giant walking eye" invention while shirtless. The Guild even assigns potential arch-enemies to its members, but do not approve killing them on the first day, as The Monarch did to Dr. Dugong and possibly many others.
The Guild of Calamitous Intent's policy of "controlled costumed aggression" has led to some popularity and acceptance in society, even with law enforcement. This is seen in The Guild's official motto: "Hate You Can Trust" ("The Trial of the Monarch"). Through at least the 1980s, both the public at large and major intelligence agencies believed The Guild did not exist, dismissing the concept of the organization as "the bad guys from the old Rusty Venture TV show." Such secrecy keeps people from objecting to The Guild's existence, so its own covert agents have also worked to keep it hidden from the public eye. O.S.I. Agents Brock Samson and Hunter Gathers were the only two agents investigating The Guild, and both were reassigned after a botched operation ("The Invisible Hand of Fate").
The Original GuildEdit
A flashback in "ORB" reveals that the Guild existed during the Victorian Era, and had been "founded to protect and serve humanity's best, not to be a guild of calamitous intent." A cabal of Guild members, including Colonel Lloyd Venture (Rusty's grandfather), his body guard Eugen Sandow, Fantômas (grandfather of Phantom Limb, as revealed in Phantom Limb's origin story), Aleister Crowley, Samuel Clemens, and Oscar Wilde, had devoted their lives to "perfect and protect" a mysterious artifact known as the Orb, which had been crafted over the centuries by Archimedes, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Galileo and other great minds in history. Colonel Venture's group eventually came into conflict with another faction of the Guild and had to flee with the Orb aboard an airship while being pursued by Nikola Tesla and the Avon Ladies. Some members of this Guild parallel the characters of the present day, Colonel Venture and Sandow being Dr. Venture and Brock, Aleister Crowley being a more menacing Dr. Orpheus and Fantômas being the Phantom Limb.
The Guild members had different ideas about what to do with the Orb—Colonel Venture and Oscar Wilde both wanted to use it "for the good of mankind," while Fantômas argued that the Guild should be the ones to "decide what is best for mankind." When Crowley tried to seize the Orb for himself, Fantômas and Colonel Venture put aside their differences to throw him out (literally) and then agreed to use the Orb against Tesla. However, before Colonel Venture could figure out how to work the Orb, Sandow claimed to have murdered him, believing it for the best of humanity that the Orb remain unused.
However, in a later flashback revealed in "The Revenge Society", Sandow mercifully destroyed the Orb itself to prevent from having to kill his master; the Orb was made to appear as if it had been repaired, and the story carefully covered up to prevent the truth from getting out.
How this early version of the Guild eventually came to be an organization of mass villainy remains unrevealed, although "ORB" implies that Lloyd Venture was the member most strongly opposed to the semi-villainous Fantômas; similarly, "The Revenge Society" discloses that Fantômas was a usurper of the Guild's leadership.
The Orb's effect on the Guild's unity became synonymous with the Guild itself, to the point that the schism in its ranks is commemorated through their logo, which consists of a heraldic dragon atop an Orb-like object wreathed with leaves and bearing an amalgamation of the letters G, C, and I.
The highest ranking individual in The Guild goes by the title Sovereign. Should something happen to the current Sovereign to prevent them from fulfilling their duties the next highest ranking member takes over the title and duties of Sovereign.
The Sovereign usually communicates with fellow Guild members over a "tele-screen", appearing as a heavily distorted, red tinted image with a modulated voice.
At the end of the second season, the then-current Sovereign was revealed to be musician David Bowie, who in the Venture Bros. universe is a shape-shifter.
Bowie is first (heavily) referenced in the opening of season one episode "Ghosts of the Sargasso" during a flashback to the original Team Venture. A pilot (Major Tom) flies an experimental aircraft for Dr. Jonas Venture, and numerous song lyrics are quoted or referenced in dialogue; including an apology about the "TVC 15" (also a song title), Dr. Venture calling the ship a "tin can" (referencing Space Oddity's line "here am I sitting/floating in a/my tin can"), and Major Tom quoting "Ashes to Ashes" stating that he's "got a message for the Action Man...". Later in "The Incredible Mr. Brisby" from the same season mercenary Molotov Cocktease re-captures his trained pet panda from Mr. Brisby.
The Council of 13Edit
A group of super-villains whose actual position in the Guild's hierarchy is unknown, though they seem to be high up. They seem to act as judges within the Guild, and were seen judging the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, providing video footage that was secretly recorded by the Guild for evidence. They quite literally move as a group, are only seen in shadow, and constantly argue with each other. Despite this, when they are presiding over trials and passing judgment on Guild members, the Council can only be viewed through separate monitors, and they don't seem to know where each member's individual chamber is located. They presided over the marriage ceremony of Dr. Girlfriend and the Monarch with Dr. Killinger acting as a priest.
Red Mantle and DragoonEdit
Later, in "The Revenge Society", Councilmen 3 and 8, being the eldest of the group, are kidnapped by the deranged Phantom Limb under his codename "Revenge". 3 - is revealed as an old, thin man named Red Mantle who wears a costume similar to that of a Mongol warrior mixed with a monk's habit, while 8, whose voice resembled that of Silas Greenback and whose silhouette bore a resemblance to the Rhino, is revealed as a fat, elderly man named Dragoon who visually resembles Greenback but is a white caucasian male and wears a supervillainous variant on the uniform of his namesake. He loses his body during the assault and, consequently, in order to keep him alive, Revenge kidnaps and forces Master Billy Quizboy to attach the head to Red Mantle's neck and now they both share one body, each controlling half. The two are implied to be Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper in flashback, recruited or abducted prior to their fateful plane trip by an elderly Fantomas. So far, they are the only two members of the council to be revealed in the series.
Phantom Limb / RevengeEdit
Phantom Limb was a high-ranking Guild operative, having achieved his lofty position through years of service inside the Guild. Limb was powerful enough within the Guild that he was able to seize command following the apparent assassination of the Sovereign, David Bowie.
Phantom Limb's rank within the Guild was such that his home (which appears to be identical to the Frank Lloyd Wright Ennis House) would occasionally serve as a secondary base (Location "B") of operations for the Guild. Phantom Limb had free rein over the resources of the Guild.
After Dr. Girlfriend dumped him to accept the Monarch's marriage proposal, Phantom Limb and a group of loyal "Strangers" attacked the ceremony. In the midst of the ambush, it was revealed that the true objective of the attack was to kill the Sovereign, David Bowie, who was attending. With the Sovereign apparently dead, Phantom Limb assumed command of the Guild and moved to completely wipe out the Monarch's henchmen. However, Bowie used his transformation powers to fake his death and, after transforming back to human form, brings down Phantom Limb's aircraft. Following the crash, Bowie casually reconfirmed his position as the Sovereign and declared that his traitorous former subordinate was now the Guild's archenemy. It appears that Phantom Limb's appearance may now be more than superficial, as at least two invisible body parts were detected at the crash site.
Watch and WardEdit
The Sovereign is personally aided by two assistants, Watch and Ward. They oversee the Guild's various espionage programs serving as a link between Sovereign and his number two. Despite their position with the Sovereign, they are extremely deferential to his number two. They also serve to assist recruitment and assigning of supervillain identities.
The two characters are based upon show creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, both visually and in their dialogue, the bulk of which is taken from casual, everyday interaction between the two creators.
Besides its vast membership of supervillains, the Guild employs its own henchmen, called "Strangers". Strangers are the main field operatives of the organization. Currently they consist of a fleet of cyborgs specially trained in espionage and assassination, who dress in black, fur-lined trench coats and wide-brimmed fedoras, much like the silhouette of the Neighborhood Watch signs. Strangers in previous eras had similar uniforms, albeit modified to fit the style of the times. It is unknown when the cybernetic enhancements were introduced. They are much more efficient and skilled than the generally comical henchmen provided by the guild for supervillains.
What separates the Guild from most fictional villainous organizations is the complex Honor Code by which its members abide. The code was partially conceived as a set of rules and outlined in the Guild of Calamitous Intent's official handbook and has since been expanded over the years with the signing of various treaties between major heroes, such as Jonas Venture Sr., and unspoken "gentlemen's agreements" forged with various law enforcement organizations. These involve the Guild providing resources such as new police cruisers to local precincts, and banning its members from harming local cops under any circumstances, in exchange for the police turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by Guild members.
Following the Honor Code is required by all Guild members as a condition to join the group. While some members willingly follow these rules and don't question them, others see the rules as a bothersome formality that must be followed so as to ensure that they can still receive the Guild's very generous health and dental plans as well as a level of immunity from local law enforcement groups.
The code of conduct is complex; among the rules enforced are:
- Villains and their henchmen are severely limited in their choice of weapons, according to the severity of their situation and their target. (Hate Floats)
- Crimes such as rape and sexual assault are forbidden and result in expulsion from the Guild
- In the case of some crimes the Guild will allow the member to continue as a member of the Guild but suffer a penalties under law, such as restraining orders against members who engage in inappropriate behavior (Sergeant Hatred being a noteworthy example).
- Any hero who is associated with the Guild through its "Arch-Nemesis Assignment Program" will be paired off with a villain of approximately equal power and inclination, and this is often decided via an interview process.
- Local law enforcement officers are off-limits and can not be harmed under any circumstances. (The Trial of the Monarch). In turn, they seem content to occupy themselves with "regular crimes" and not "super-crimes."
- Conflicts may not take place on any hallowed ground, parodying the Highlander series of movies.
- "If protagonist aggression exceeds Level 8, the antagonist, in case of survival or escape, is granted Extended Vengeance. This includes Guild sanctioned immediate relatives." (The Lepidopterists).
- A New Mental Health Clemency Clause of the Guild's rules (called "a Section 8" or "pulling a Section 8" by Henchman 21), a villain must release his arch if they have to receive psychiatric help as long as the arch has a note from their doctor (Self-Medication).
Furthermore, all Guild members are required to follow and honor all treaties signed with the super-hero community, a number of which were negotiated personally by Jonas Venture Sr. These include treaties banning Guild members from attacking heroes on holidays. Another treaty, "Rusty's Law" states that a Guild member must allow a hero and their children to leave their custody in the event that the hero's child becomes injured during the hostage situation to receive medical treatment (though apparently, the hostages are then required to voluntarily return to their captor's custody once the injury has been treated).
Despite their honor code and rules the guild does encourage and/or tolerate certain behaviors, one such behavior they encourage is the double-cross (likely because it is viewed as part of the villainous lifestyle).
Breaking these rules and/or acts that leave the Guild no choice but to abandon a member can result in expulsion and revocation of any form of immunity from law enforcement. In one particular case, King Gorilla was abandoned by the Guild after he eviscerated and sodomized (in that order) Mötley Crüe member Vince Neil on national television (though King Gorilla protests that he "only sodomized half of him"); Phantom Limb claimed that there was virtually nothing the Guild could do to have him avoid imprisonment.
The Guild's rules, regulations, code, and treaties lead it to function far differently than one would expect a criminal organization to do. Most Guild actions involving violence seem to involve villain-on-hero conflict - regular civilians are left alone, or at worst knocked out harmlessly with such things as paralytic agents (The Trial of the Monarch). The exception to this are those associated with heroes - for instance, it appears kidnapping the Venture Brothers (And in his youth, Rusty Venture) is almost a constant.
In the episode The Lepidopterists, Jonas Venture Junior questions Brock on the advisability of playing along with these rules. Brock points out that without the code of conduct, "You are looking at a bunch of pissed off nutbags with rayguns and giant, I don't know, a giant octopus/tank with laser eyes." Further, in that same episode, when Jonas Venture Junior informs The Monarch that he is "about to deliver [his] killing stroke, then what?" Dr. Girlfriend replies, "Then the Guild steps up their game. You throw a rock, they throw a knife. You throw a knife, they come to your house when you're sleeping and murder your family." These points suggest the Guild's code structure acts as a way to control and direct the aggressiveness of Guild members - and also prevent them from conflict in an age of super-science, super-heroes and super-agents like OSI.
The Guild is shown to be respected by both Brock Samson & his mentor, Col. Hunter Gathers, despite the fact their attempts to reveal its existence to the OSI in the 1980s. An organization made up of rogue OSI agents, called S.P.H.I.N.X., lead by Col. Hunter Gathers to hunt down and kill any supervillain who doesn't join up with the Guild, as the supervillains not under Guild control or sanctions are deemed by S.P.H.I.N.X. as too dangerous to the public, and are viewed to be loose cannons.
- ↑ Tracey John. "BROTHERS IN ARMS". http://www.wizarduniverse.com/magazine/toyfare/002817276.cfm?page=2. Retrieved 2007-01-04. "The Guild of Calamitous Intent actually came from ‘Tag Sale.’ When Doc [Venture] was trying to get rid of his father’s miscellanea - who would want it? Basically the super scientists and the evil supervillains. But to get them in one place, you needed a governing body. You couldn’t have them agree for one moment to co-exist. So the Guild actually started as something to facilitate a ridiculous script idea."
- ↑ The Revenge Society
- ↑ The Revenge Society
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