Joined: 18 Dec 2005
|Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:34 pm Post subject: Masters of the Universe Classics: 3-part Mini-Comic story
|Greetings fellow He-Fans and She-Ravers,
As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration for Masters of the Universe a three part mini-comic story was produced by Mattel and Dark Horse comics. Each part came with a separate quarterly variant figure in a nod to how mini-comics were packed in with the vintage line. As I mentioned in those reviews I purposely waited until I had all three parts so I could review the story as a whole. Actually though it was more that I had a good deal to say and wanted to keep those reviews focused more on the actual figures instead.
Now the first issue is actually a rewrite of the final mini-comic from the vintage line; "The Powers of Grayskull: The Legend Begins". This is one of the rarer mini-comics as it came out at the end of the line packed in with the three dinosaurs Bionatops, Turbodactyl and Tyratnisaurus Rex. It was meant to bridge the gap and serve as an introduction to the Powers of Grayskull spin-off prequel series that ended up not happening. This is why we didn't ever get the other parts of the story. You can actually read the whole mini-comic on He-Man.org's archive here:
And this brings up a point -this review will not have a lot of detailed pictures because I don't want to risk any copyright issues by posting the whole comic. Also, it should go without saying that I will however be talking about the whole story and so this is your one and only spoiler alert. If you don't want to know the whole story including the ending then turn back now and read no further.
Still here? Okay, get ready for a long read as I'm going over the whole three issues. Well the best way to review this first issue is to recap the original vintage version of the comic and then show the differences with the new version.
In the vintage mini-comic He-Man is hanging out at Central Tower and concerned that many of Eternia's ancient legends (Snake Men, the Tree Towers) are coming true and posing a threat. Sorceress takes him into the tower and through a portal linked to the Cosmic Key into the Preternian past (going with him) so that he can learn what he needs to know. Basically it's meant to be a history lesson field trip nothing more. By contrast the new version opens with an exposition page setting it in the new continuity. It's been years since the defeat of Serpos (aka the end of the 200X cartoon) Skeletor took over Eternia, banished Randor into Despondos and drove the heroic Masters underground turning them into a resistance force. But then The Horde returned and so did the Snake Men, driving Skeletor from the throne and creating a multiple front battle for control of the planet. As if this isn't bad enough Man-At-Arms has been turned into a Snake Man and The Sorceress is dead forcing Teela to take her place.
I've ranted on and on about how killing the Sorceress is the worst idea to ever hit MOTU. I mean this is Spider-Man One More Day times ten. It doesn't matter that this is meant to be a finale end of the war story, Sorceress should NEVER die. Period.
Anyway things start to look up a bit for the heroes because She-Ra and several of the rebels come from Etheria to help and then Randor returns along with his father/He-Man's grandfather King Miro. Teela summons He-Man to Grayskull to discuss how to put an end to the war once and for all. She also insists that He-Man call her Sorceress not Teela.
Uh.. no. You're not the Sorceress, you are Teela! More to the point she and He-Man/Adam have been friends since childhood and obviously love each other so there's no reason he can't call her by her actual name! The only thing I can figure is she was basically telling him that they can no longer possibly be together so it's best if he thinks of her as the Sorceress, Castle Grayskull's guardian and not Teela, the woman he loves. (In case it sounds like I'm defending this line, I'm not -I think it sucks!) He-Man expresses sorrow for the losses of her parents and says he thinks she'll make a good Sorceress and, "I like what you've done with your hair."
Really? That's all your going to say about how/why Teela is suddenly blonde now? (another stupid move) I know you have limited space to tell the story but come on! It'd actually be better if they had said nothing! At any rate Teela (I will not call her Sorceress!) takes He-Man to Central Tower and uses the Cosmic Key to send him back in time in order to find what they need to defeat the Snake Men once and for all. Notice the key difference there. History lesson vs. quest for the Macguffin. Also why doesn't anyone raise the obvious question: if such a thing existed in the past why wasn't it used then?
Let's jump back to the vintage version while I'm still somewhat sane. He-Man and Sorceress (the actual Sorceress!) while in the past see the Snake Men attacking a village. He-Man wants to go help, but Sorceress holds him back stating that he cannot interfere or he'll risk altering history. Only under "special circumstances" can he get involved. Meanwhile since they both went into the past no one is there to stop Skeletor from entering Central Tower where he finds the portal and goes into the past as well. He, of course has no qualms about altering the past to suit his needs and seeks out King Hiss offering his help to overpower the Elders. Hiss, thinking Skeletor may be an emissary from the "Unnamed One" agrees and they set out to attack with Skeletor given Turbodactyl to ride.
Two things there. One the mention of the "Unnamed One" was meant to be a lead in to a recurring villain in the Powers of Grayskull line. It was later revealed that the Unnamed One could turn out to be a time displaced Keldor from before he became Skeletor. The other thing is Turbodactyl is supposed to be a heroic beast so why does King Hiss have him to let Skeletor ride? Might be worth noting that the US version of the mini-comic actually says Pterodactyl while the UK and Canadian versions call him Turbodactyl. He also does not have his jets in the comic so maybe this was going to be covered in the other parts we never got.
At any rate upon seeing Skeletor attacking Sorceress decides now He-Man has to get involved, but first she disguises him and then conjures up Bionatops for him to ride into battle.
Things are not so smoothly handled in the new version. Teela sends He-Man back, saying she'll cast a spell of disguise on the Power Sword but does not give He-Man himself a disguise. Also she does not go with him but stays in the present communicating with him telepathically. Apparently this must take all her concentration as Skeletor sneaks into the Tower and runs through the portal right behind He-Man. The panel actually shows him coming through the portal in the past while He-Man is standing there with his back to him and does not notice. Not to mention he would have had to run right past Teela to get into the portal and she says and does nothing about it. Can you say plot hole?
He-Man comes across Snake Men who have captured a Bionatops and decides to rescue it. Teela tells him he's free to interfere as long as he disguises himself first. No concern about changing the past whatsoever! (So then why don't you go back in time and stop Sorceress from getting killed?!?) He-Man gets his disguise by stealing it from a Snake Man. Yes for some reason there was a Snake Man wearing a hooded robe and, more to the point, a domino mask! Also it just happened to be the right size!
He-Man drives off the Snake Men, which consists of Rattlor, Sssqueeze, Tung Lashor, and a few generic soldiers. (note this) He frees Bionatops who is suffering from a techno-organic virus that replaces parts of his body with cybernetics. (this will also prove important later) Meanwhile Skeletor finds King Hiss and offers to help him against the "Masters of the Universe". So apparently the good guys were always called that? Sssqueeze then informs Hiss that a stranger dared to stand against "two of your men". Wait, it was more than two and Sssqueeze was one of them! ERROR! Hiss launches an attack on a village as retaliation. So we see He-Man's actions did have repercussions which alter history! I wonder whose ancestors got wiped out of existence because of this!
In both versions He-Man and Bionatops drive the Snake Men back until Hiss K.O.s Bionatops with the Tyrantasaurus' mecha-drone. In the vintage version Skeletor then swoops down on Turbodactyl and snatches the Power Sword away, noting that it looks like He-Man's sword but he doesn't realize the disguised stranger is He-Man. In the new version Skeletor does nothing but watch the battle but he does recognize He-Man.
Vintage version: an unseen figure blasts the Turbodactyl making it drop the sword which He-Man uses to force the Snake Men back. The unseen man then casts a spell sending everyone back where they came from, thus also sending He-Man, Skeletor and Sorceress back to the future and wondering who it was that saved them.
New Version: He-Man is down and King Hiss is about to deliver a killing blow when he's blasted away by an unseen man. More blasts come and the Snake Men retreat shouting that the Masters have shown up. Skeletor questions the presence of the Masters in this time.... wait a minute he told Hiss he would help against the Masters not two pages ago. ERROR! The shadowy figure helps He-Man to his feet then vanishes before he is seen, leaving He-Man in the past wondering who saved him. In both cases it's He-Ro but we don't get to see him exactly.
I've been going on for a while now and only covered the first part. To be fair though I was comparing the versions so I basically covered two comics so far. The next two parts will go faster. The second and third parts of the vintage story were never written. I've heard conflicting stories on how much was outlined in notes but one thing I am certain of is the next two parts we get here are NOT what was going to happen in the vintage line.
Okay part 2: "The First Ultimate Battleground". We open with Megator attacking a Gar village demanding Tytus come out to fight him. Instead He-Man shows up and knocks the evil giant out with one uppercut. Where exactly this village is supposed to be I'm not sure. The Gar soldiers trying to repel Megator are all dressed liked Sy-Klone (presumably they don't have radars in their chests though) and the structure has a Japanese architecture style to it much like Anwat Gar. However Anwat Gar is an island so how could He-Man have gotten Bionatops there? He-Ro fully appears and says he's been watching He-Man battle and wants him to join up with his allies as Preternia needs heroes. Wait, they actually call it Preternia... during Preternian times? Isn't that like someone calling it the Middle Ages while still in the Middle Ages? He-Man says he's been trying to fight off evil but new ones keep popping up for everyone he defeats. So obviously he learned absolutely nothing about the consequences of interfering with the past after what happened in the last issue.
With He-Ro riding a Turbodactyl that does have jets, they go to Grayskull tower where King Grayskull invites He-Man to join his Masters of the Universe which include two characters we've never seen before; Gladiatior and Beast Lord. Who pretty much appear in this one panel and that's all we learn about them! Okay Beast Lord seems to be of the same race as Beast Man only a good guy but still we know nothing and it's doubtful we're getting figures of these guys anytime soon. Another thing is Veena's color scheme is wrong as she is shown in blue and orange instead of the brown and gold like we saw her in the 200X cartoon.
He-Man joins them in fighting the Snake Men outside the three towers but then the Evil Horde shows up. Hordak declares he holds the key to the Snake Men's destruction... the Spell of Separation! Come again? The spell that nearly tore the whole planet in half, totally changed the geography, created the light and dark hemispheres... had to be stopped early by Hordak to avoid killing himself along with everyone else... that's the key to defeating the Snake Men and not dying in the process?
Well at any rate it seems to be enough to make the Snake Men run away but the heroes aren't backing down. Skeletor decides to take advantage of the distraction to get into Central Tower but is blocked by He-Man who delivers an actually pretty good line of dialogue, "Future, present, past... it always comes down to the two of us doesn't it?" Meanwhile Hordak declares himself unimpressed by King Grayskull and raises his hands to blast him with magic. He-Ro jumps in front of Grayskull and takes fatal hit to which the king asks "why?"
GOOD QUESTION!!! By all appearances He-Ro had enough time to blast Hordak first, or throw up a magical shield, or just plain push Grayskull out of the way. For that matter Grayskull had time to dodge but he stood his ground -with his shield in front of him! If He-Ro had taken the hit while pushing Grayskull out of the way I wouldn't say anything about that, but the way it's shown it's like he wanted to get killed. He hands the Sword of He (ARGH! I HATE THAT NAME!!!!!!!!!) over to Grayskull and dies. So while the cover says "He-Ro Unleashed" it should say "He-Ro Undone" as pretty much all he does in the comic is die! I've expressed in my reviews before how I hate the fact He-Ro's origin was changed and he got the shaft in favor of King Grayskull, but this just makes it a hundred times worse. This also proves my point that this is not what was going to happen in the vintage one. It was supposed to be an introduction to Powers of Grayskull. He-Ro was going to be the main character so obviously he wouldn't have been killed off in the first story!
Seeing this Tytus knocks Megator away into the jaws of Central Tower, which keeps with Megator's bio but contradicts Tytus' which states he died too to stop Megator. Grayskull uses the sword to cut off Hordak's hand -possibly implying why he has the Hurricane Blaster later. Then Eldor casts a spell making the three towers sink beneath the ground. (Why no one ever just went through an entrance to Subternia to find them is beyond me) The Mighty Spector calls "King He-Man" in the future to tell him "the battle is over. Mission Acomplsihed" And the mission was what again? The Horde withdraws and He-Man knocks out and captures Skeletor. He-Ro is placed in a glass coffin and Eldor declares a plan to construct a castle in his honor -which they'll think of a name for later. Another contradiction here, Tytus' bio says he helped construct one of the three towers AFTER he helped make Castle Grayskull!
He-Man heads home taking Skeletor and Bionatops with him, again altering history by bringing the dinosaur. Okay so maybe in the original history it died so he's not changing much there, but this whole thing still goes against the argument given for why Spector can't go back and save Sorceress and Duncan, yet he could bring Laser Lot to the future. They say he can't change history but both Spector and He-Man were doing that by fighting in the battle! They changed a lot without thinking twice so what's the deal?
Let's just finish this. "Part 3: Battle for the Fate of the Universe." We open with a gathering of heroes and rebels including Glimmer and Frosta as Teela goes over the plan. They need to fight to buy time for the Spell of Speration to be cast on the Snake Men... by Orko. Yes Orko! I love the little guy but you're really giving him this important, cannot be botched job? In order to assure victory the heroes will be fighting alongside Skeletor and his warriors -much to Ram Man's disgust. Another bio contradiction as we were told in several bios how everyone was fighting each other. Fearless Photog's bio states he defeated Clawful and Whiplash in the battle yet this comic shows them on the same side!
Well anyway what follows is a series of three double page spreads showing huge battle sequences where just about every MOTU character, except Filmation characters, appears. It's sort of a "Where's Waldo" feel to spot everyone you can. Some things to note: He-Man is wearing his Flying Fists armor, Skeletor is wearing his his Terror Claws armor, She-Ra is wearing her Bubble Power armor and Hordak is wearing his Hurricane armor. King Hiss is holding Skeletor's havoc staff, which explains why Skeletor's powers are diminished though we don't know how he got it. For that matter the Snake Men and the Horde are fighting alongside each other for some reason. Also the independent villains like Count Marzo and Evilseed are on their side. As is Evil-Lyn who appears in her banana slug yellow skin and blue outfit. We also see Ditstoyer from the Fighting Foe Men there. The other two I didn't see, although we do see the Talon Fighter but can't tell who's flying it. There is a new guy in the crowd. A skull faced villain wearing purple armor and a helmet with horns that curve up and connect to an orb. Toyguru has said this is the Black Wizard mentioned in Draego-Man's bio. Finally, in addition to Man-At-Arms, poor Mekaneck has been turned into a Snake Man and is fighting on their side.
Because of so much space taken up by these two page spreads the rest goes quickly and seems like an abridged highlights version of the battle. Teela defeats Evil-Lyn and takes away her powers. Strangely she calls her Morgan, which is her middle name. More attention is taken to the fact that on the previous pages Lyn was her yellow version and now defeated she is her flesh tone with purple outfit version. This seems to confirm my suspicions that the Battleground variant we got, the one in her more familiar and generally preferred by the fan base appearance is reserved for what she looks like only after loosing all her powers. Again I say this is a huge middle finger to the fans and I am very angry about it.
You hardly have time to be upset about that though before the big annoyance hits and Clamp Champ kills Duncan. Look at that! This isn't a case of self defense. It's not a mercy killing. Clamp Champ got annoyed and decided, "the hell with it". There was no reason he couldn't have simply knocked him out or pinned him with the clamp so he was captured. Instead he just runs him through. This is probably why King He-Man had to recruit Laser Lot as his new Man-At-Arms. Clamp Champ was probably kicked off the team or forced to resign in disgrace after this, assuming he didn't face any criminal charges himself for it!
Especially with what happens next. Orko completes the Spell of Separation casting it on the Snake Men and they all basically turn to smoke and are no more. It's a bit confusing going by what is shown. I guess the difference here is the spell was cast on the Snake Men instead of the planet, hence no ripping the world apart. According to Toyguru, the spell separated their DNA basically splitting the Snake from the Man. In the case of the natural Snake Men this seems to be fatal. That's right, the heroes win by committing genocide. It isn't shown what became of Mekaneck. We don't know if this acted as a cure or if it killed him too. Assuming it would cure a victim of the Serpent's Ring that makes Duncan's death all the more pointless. I'll admit I always pictured Man-At-Arms dying in the big finale, but I pictured him going out in a heroic sacrifice, not skewered by a D-lister hero.
Well with King Hiss dead Skeletor gets his havoc staff back and regains his lost power. She-Ra calls for him to join with her and He-Man to take out Hordak but he knocks them away and fights Hordak one on one. It's not about honor though, he just wants the power for himself. Skeletor drains Hordak's power into him. Though apparently fatally wounded, Hordak uses the last of his strength to shoot Skeletor with his buzzsaw weapon, mortally wounding him in return. She-Ra offers to heal Skeletor but rather than accept her help he "cures" himself by absorbing the techno-organic virus out of Bionatops. It "heals" his wounds turning him into his NA form. Overloaded with power Skeletor says he "hears the universe calling", forms a mystic bubble around himself and flies off into space telling He-Man he can have Eternia. Skeletor plans to take over the Horde Empire and rule the whole universe instead.
Later, though all the evil on the planet appears to be defeated, He-Man is troubled knowing Skeletor is still out there. At that moment Hydron and Flipshot arrive saying they need He-Man and She-Ra's help to defeat the Space Mutant army and their new leader.... Skeletor. "There's that crack at old bonehead you were asking for," says She-Ra and she and He-Man join the galactic protectors on Starship Eternia, taking off for some "New Adventures."
Well there you have it. Overall I'd give it a C-. Okay as a fan-fiction account of the final battle, but really crappy as an official Mattel sanctioned canon. It's full of things that disrespect beloved characters, there are tons of inconsistencies and errors, and generally it fails to live up to high expectations for a 30th Anniversary tribute. I'm actually not so hyped up for the next one we're getting with King He-Man as a result. If you do still want the issues, the first came packed with Thunder Punch He-Man, the second with Snake Man-At-Arms, and the third with Dragon Blaster Skeletor all of whom are sold out. Until next time when we get back to some good figures, Good Journey.
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