As I reported last week, I found the three-issue DC mini-series of Masters of the Universe at my local comic book store. I just finished reading them and am on a delirious, but ever confusing, He-Man high. If you’re a fan of MOTU, you know that there are as many origins and versions of the story of He-Man and Eternia as there are evil schemes by Skeletor. It was all sort of a big mess before Filmation came along with the animated series and pretty much set the whole thing in stone. The original mini-comics that came with the toys told the story of a barbaric world where He-Man was a simple jungle boy who stumbled into a Cavern of Power one day and became the most powerful man in the universe. The cartoon told the story of a more civilized age full of princes and kingdoms and depicted a more traditional superhero set-up and transformation for He-Man. The comic books I just read act as sort of a bridge between those two versions. Published in late 1982 and early 1983, they precede the debut of the animated series (September 1983).
In the DC mini-series, Prince Adam is depicted as a lothario, who must hide any semblance of heroics to protect his secret identity as He-Man. To become He-Man, Adam must travel to the Cavern of Power, where the Godess hangs out and watches him change clothes. Not a bad gig. The Goddess, by the way, is the snake armored Teela as depicted in the mini-comics. Teela is a separate character, but is established as Captain of the Royal Guard and Man-At-Arms’ daughter. No mustache for Man-At-Arms yet. In the DC series, He-Man has his magic vest, shield and axe, but no Power Sword. In fact, the whole plot is about Skeletor forcing He-Man to help him track down the two halves of the Power Sword. Apparently, whoever holds both halves of the Power Sword gains access to Castle Grayskull and becomes the true king of Eternia. A lot of people mention finding the “true king of Eternia,” which must hurt Randor’s feelings a little bit. By the way, Marlena is an astronaut from Earth in this continuity.
Everyone speaks in a pseudo-medieval dialect with a lot of “ayes,” “nays” and even a “mayhaps” thrown in, except for Teela, who talks like an early 80s teenager for some reason. One of the things that I loved about the barbarian continuity of the mini-comics, storybooks and elements of this DC series, is that people rarely call Teela by her name. Everyone from Battle Cat to Skeletor, just refers to her as “woman.” When I was a kid, I learned the word beauteous from reading descriptions of Teela in the MOTU books.
The first issue of this series was released in December of 1982, presumably in time to teach kids what to ask their parents for Christmas. In terms of product placement, all the characters used are pretty central to the plot and story, except for Man-E-Faces, who just seems to be walking by when he’s forced to serve Skeletor. That happens to Man-E a lot, it seems, in every continuity. Of course, the most fabulous part of this trip down memory lane was seeing all the ads for early 80s cartoons and toys. ABC was pushing their Saturday morning lineup which included Pac-Man, Richie Rich and the Mork & Mindy and Laverne & Shirley cartoons. And CBS seemed inexplicably proud of their lineup of Pandamonium, Meatballs and Spaghetti and Gilligan’s Planet. With that as competition, it’s no wonder the Filmation MOTU series became a huge hit.
All said, a thoroughly enjoyable read and a fun find. I leave you with a little sampling of dialogue from the big, blonde stud himself: “Your foul tongue forms lies as ever, demon! The Goddess is far too powerful for even one of your ilk to seize her against her wishes. I shall warn you but once, evil one—speak to me the truth ‘ere my battle axe finds a place to rest ‘twixt your foul eyes!”