Hey everyone! It’s Andy Larson, again, with another exciting read pile based on one of the largest comic book collected trades I have in my library, Dark Horse Comics republishing of the entire run of the Masters of the Universe Mini Comics. Now I know what you are asking yourself: how many times can Andy milk this particular segment given he’s already done it in the past two consecutive months?
Well, the answer to that question is: “As many times as I have need to given approaching deadlines and such!”
And we’ve definitely got a huge approaching one upcoming this weekend, as the Ghosts of the Stratosphere will be appearing at the Three Rivers Con, a fantastic comic con right here in the heart of beautiful Downtown Pittburgh right at the Waterfront! So definitely get your tickets now, and feel free to stop by this weekend and visit me at our booth! If you want to talk He-man though, make sure to try to some of this reading first!
The Tale of Teela
Written by: Gary Cohn
Art by: Mark Texeira
The secret relationship between Teela and the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull is revealed in dramatic fashion in one of the strangest MOTU mini comics ever. With the recent reappearance of the powerful structure known as Point Dread, Skeletor’s powers have grown to the point where he can finally complete an evil scheme he hatched many years ago. Mainly the fact that he had attempted to magically clone the Sorceress in order to give him a bride of immense power which he could use to conquer the universe.
Fortunately, Man-At-Arms interrupted the ceremony before it was complete and drove Skeletor off, but not before part of the Sorceress was drained into a magical baby clone, which she named Teela. She gave the baby to Man-At-Arms for safe keeping, but now that Teela as come of age, Skeletor wants his bride again.
He does almost succeed in his ghastly plan if not for the decision for the Sorceress and Teela to combine once again into one being and with their combined strength overcome the Lord of Destruction. At the end, Teela and the Sorceress separate back into two beings once more, but He-man is left feeling very confused as to the future for Teela as her own person.
Why it’s so good:
Well…I’ll just say this. I’m not sure I know of many comic books aimed at young children that have has one of their principle plot points being the magical raping of a woman by a skull faced wizard for the sole purpose of creating a daughter which he can then too rape.
I mean…WOW! That’s some severely dark, severely twisted stuff, right there!
I don’t want to hear arguments from the peanut gallery about how Skeletor is just a bumbling pantomime style villain when we are given this level of heinous and atrocious scheming. I don’t think even Thanos is capable of this kind of evil. This is downright serial killer/Stephen King stuff.
And that’s why I included this book as one of my favorites. Not because it’s particularly good, as honestly, I think the entire story line of the magical clone is extremely convoluted and unnecessary. I’m not sure why it was so hard to just say the Sorceress had sex and Teela is a result of her having sex, but the MOTU franchise danced around this topic for decades without really having to, as I’ll get to in a moment.
However, I include it mainly because I think it single handedly shows how incredibly despicable, deplorable, and downright horrific Skeletor really is. And that’s what we need from good villains, that level of pure unmitigated evil. More than a Teela story, it’s just a really good reminder of why we root so hard for He-man to stop Skeletor because if he didn’t, we would all be in world of hurt with Skeletor in charge.
Back to my original point of how weird it was that MOTU came up with all these stories to explain the relationship between the Sorceress and Teela other than the obvious one that she got pregnant and gave birth to her, I can say that this story wasn’t the only example of that.
For example, in one of the best MOTU cartoon episodes of all time “Teela’s Quest”, although they state that Teela is in fact her daughter, Man-at-Arms finds Teela in a bird’s nest while the Sorceress is in Zoar the Falcon form, which I always thought was bizarre. I mean, is that where the Sorceress was raising her? In a nest on a crystal mountain?
Not in an actual building like Castle Grayskull where she could care for her in human form instead of bird form? Y’know, nursing her instead of feeding her worms? Did Castle Grayskull hate unwed mothers and kick her to the curb? It’s all …very strange.
The 200x series did actually start to get it right with the episode “Out of the Past” which began to relate the story of how the Sorceress fell in love with a solider and the love produced a child. There was supposed to be continuing mystery as to whether the solider was Man-At-Arms or his brother, Fisto.
I personally always liked the straightforward explanation that Man-At-Arms is her actually biological father and that Sorceress asked him to raise her given because she had the responsibilities at Castle Grayskull, a decision that maybe he could have resented a bit. However, there were rumors that the 200x show runners might have thrown a curve-ball in making it be Fisto. Although I don’t agree with that, it still would have been more normal that what was previous related in the MOTU mythos.
But in the end, the show was cancelled before they could go any further into this story-line, so we never did get any definitive conclusion to Teela’s parentage. Yet another reason why the cancelling of that 200x was one of biggest bone headed decisions in the history of cartooning.
In closing, although the 200x series did attempt to simplify Teela’s origin, it wasn’t the last time this notion of the weird clone baby thing reared its ugly head. In a decision I still disagree with, for the story card backs of the MOTU Classic version of the Teela figure, they talked about again Skeletor magically cloning the Sorceress. I know that they were trying to incorporate all the aspects of the character’s history, but for me, this is one that was probably best left by the wayside.
The Search for Keldor
Written by: Steven Grant
Art by: Bruce Timm
Strange forces at work on the surface of Eternia. Since the return of the Three Towers of Eternia and their additional magical presence, King Randor feels there is finally a chance to pierce the veil of dimensions and find out whatever happened to his long lost brother, Keldor. To this end, he has enlisted the help of his son Prince Adam and fellow heroic warrior, Clamp Champ, as well as the Sorceress who due to the Towers additional power is able to remain human despite leaving Grayskull.
However, it seems as if Skeletor is hell bent to stopping Randor from discovering Keldor’s secret to the point that he comments that “They must never discover the secret of Keldor, for that knowledge could destroy me!”. And so, the Lord of Destruction enlists the help of new Evil Warriors in the form of Scare Glow and Ninjor, and together with Faker, his robot duplicate of He-man, they travel to the Three Towers to stop them.
After a short tussle between He-man/Clamp Champ vs. Ninjor/Scareglow, a real donnybrook breaks out between Randor and Skeletor, just as Randor was about to find out the truth. Then as it seems Randor is about to be killed, He-man jumps into the fray and throws Skeletor into the lion jaws of the Center Tower. This forces Skeletor to magically flee in order to save his life, but the damage has been already done. The heroes will have to wait until next year to try again to solve the mystery of whatever happened to Keldor.
Why it’s so good:
Well, other than the excellent Bruce Timm art which I’ve commented on before in my review of his King Hssss comic, this simple mini comic first introduces what would later become a nearly universally accepted concept in the He-man Mythology. The notion that Skeletor is actually King Randor’s brother, Keldor, and thus making him He-man’s Uncle.
Prior to this bombshell, it was often explained that Skeletor was some sort of inter-dimensional being hailing from Infinita, who wanted to take over Eternia in hopes of enslaving our universe and allowing his own demon like people to take our place. This was modified over the years to add little wrinkles to the story, such as the fact that he was a former apprentice and partner of Hordak, but overall the notion that he was not of this universe was pretty much an accepted fact.
Then came this story, and although it’s not expressly stated in the story that Skeletor is Keldor, the Star Wars style plot twist of He-man and Skeletor being related soon took hold among the fan community. So much so that by the time, that the 200x series started, Skeletor’s backstory was completely rewritten so that he was in fact Randor’s half brother, who due to his blue Gar skin, was snubbed for the throne and thus tried to take it by force. This resulted in acid being thrown in his face and after some magical intervention by Hordak, he managed to survive with that skull facade of his.
Although some people dislike this addition to the mythology, I for one think it makes much more sense than the previous backstory. In both fiction and actual history, there are countless stories littered throughout time about the evil uncle trying to usurp power away from the good king, and the king’s son needing to defend the family’s honor. I mean it’s the whole plot of the Lion King for God sake!
So yeah, this backstory tends to humanize Skeletor and tie him to Eternia in a better way than the original story ever could. It makes the reason why he hates Randor and wants to conquer Eternia so much more logical, that it’s weird now in retrospect that it took so many years before any writer of these mini comics ever connected these dots, the way Steven Grant did in this short story.
If you like this particular story of Skeletor being Randor’s brother, there is an excellent more modern comic book that you can pick up today at your local comic store that I feel tells the story incredibly well.
It’s call the “Origin of Skeletor” and it was put out by DC Comics in 2012 as their original He-man Series was coming to a close before rebooting it as Masters of the Universe: The Eternity War. By the way, issue 7 of that Eternity War series also has a pretty incredible story of Skeletor and how he and Shadow Weaver pretty much raised She-ra as their own child after Hordak kidnapped her and brought her to the Fright Zone…but I’m getting off topic.
There’s also a second modern retelling which occurs in actual mini comic form, however, it’s much harder to get your hands on, given it was a limited edition comic that was only released with copies of the MOTU classic subscription only figure, King He-man. It’s called the Secret Origin of Skeletor. Personally, I prefer the mini comic version, because it’s a tighter story, but I understand the difficulty in finding it.
They both tell pretty much the same story in terms of Keldor being the older brother and rightful heir to the throne, but being past over because of his blue skin. Yep, racism exists even on Eternia, folks. This leads him into getting seduced with promises of power by the exiled Hordak and thus he begins his long dark march into madness.
What with Hordak playing the part of the devil, and Keldor has the tragic victim of injustice, these stories really do resonate well in modern society and I feel bring a welcome level of gravitas to the MOTU mythology, similar to a Shakespearean play. Well…maybe I wouldn’t go that far…but you know what I mean…