Andy’s Read Pile: He-man & The Masters of the Multiverse

GhostAndy

img_5202Howdy Gang! It’s your old friend and rabid Masters of the Universe fan, Andy Larson, back to deliver the Power from the Gates of Castle Grayskull straight to you, my loyal GotS readers. And speaking of Castle Grayskull, this week saw the amount of regret that’s been slowly building within me over the past couple months over not buying the Mega Construx version of this famous playset.

Amazon had been selling for nearly $100 bucks off it’s original asking price of $250 bucks back in April through about mid June, and I can’t tell you how many times I had moved it into my cart. Whether that was me justifying the purchase as a late birthday present or a father’s day gift to myself, I came within seconds several times of buying it.

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But at the last moment, I would always pull back for a variety of reasons. Whether it was the fact that I dropped 300 bucks on the MOTU Classics Castle Grayskull that now just sits in my basement collecting dust or the fact that for all the articulated charm Mega Construx has over Lego, their building sets are no where near as intuitive or easy to build, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it.

And of course now that another week has passed and the price has gone up once again to over 200 for the set, I’m feeling those pangs of remorse wondering if in the end I made the right move. This is especially true due to announcement of even more of these awesome little MOTU sets on the horizon which I’ll cover in my “Fun Facts” section later on.

But given I needed a little pick me up, I thought I’d cover a recently released Masters of the Universe comic mini series which DC had published over the first part of the year. With all the shake up at this titanic comic company, I’m really glad that this 6 issue series was released in full before someone got the axe…and I don’t mean He-man’s sweet double sided one.

Similar to other recent MOTU comic book releases like their crossover with Thundercats or the battles in the Injustice Universe, this series too bucks the previous trends of doing a traditional Masters comic with straightforward continuity in lieu of something more fun and exciting. That namely  hitting head on the notion that He-man, like so many other fictional characters, has actually a ton of different interpretations. From the Filmation version, to the Dolph Lundgren movie version, to the savage mini comic version, the Most Powerful Man in the Universe has appeared in a variety of ways to the variety of fans.

So what if those different versions of He-man joined forces against a common foe? Author, Tim Seeley and artist Tom Derenick, hope to answer that question with today’s Read Pile review series “He-man and the Masters of the Multiverse”!

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10 Cent Synopsis:

By the Power of Hellskull! Anti He-man is on a mission!

The devilish denizen of the only universe in the multitudes of realities where He-man is a force for evil vs. good has cooked up a scheme that rivals any we may have seen from his bone faced arch enemy, Skeletor. Anti He-man is traveling throughout the multiverses, slaying the He-men that live there, and combining the power of their Grayskulls to his own in a plan to bring death and destruction to all of existence!

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To combat this nefarious scheme, the Dolph Lundgren He-man from the 1980s movie universe is using the Cosmic Key to unite those He-men still surviving to stand against their rogue “brother”. However, he knows he is going to need more than the power of might and right to win the day, and so he enlists the Keldor from Anti He-man’s universe to assist. For those of you not savvy with the importance of this, Keldor is in fact Skeletor before his more famous alter ego, so He-man is banking on the fact that a benevolent Skeletor will be the ace in the hole they need to succeed.

However as this “good guy” Keldor begins to travel through all the alternate dimensions filled with the various versions of the MOTU mythos (from space, to barbarian, to cartoon), the uniqueness of him being the sole Skeletor that isn’t a Lord of Destruction seems more and more predominant. In fact, it makes him start to question whether a Skeletor will always end up evil regardless of where they might start from.

Will the seeming inevitability of Skeletor’s lust for power corrupt even this kind hearted Keldor dooming this mission to stop Anti He-man before it’s too late???

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Initial Thoughts

Of course, I thought this comic book was beyond AWESOME! The entire notion of pulling a “Crisis on Infinite Earths” type story with the various different interpretations of He-man that have popped up over the years whether through officially licensed materials or continuities that fans had propagated so heavily that they forced themselves into the MOTU canon as it were. I also thought it was good idea to showcase pretty much the main ones that are most familiar to long time fans in issues 2-5 as we see turns taken with the Space He-man from the early 90s, the 200x reboot He-man, the classic Filmation version, and finally the “Mineternia ” verison that appeared in the original mini comics included with the very first figures of the line.

As an aside, for anyone that knows me, that was honestly my favorite issue of the entire series, given that the Mineternia continuity is the version of He-man that has an adult and long time fan of the series I love the most. This is the continuity that shows He-man as a barbarian from the Vine Jungle chosen by the Goddess to protect the two halves of the Power Sword from falling into the hands of the extra dimensional invader known as Skeletor. There’s no mention of Prince Adam or the politics of Eternia, just a savage mysterious land shrouded in ancient dark secrets centuries after an apocalyptic “Great War” that ravaged the land.

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In fact, issue 5 of this series does such an incredible job of distilling that backstory from the original comics and modernizing it, that it’s my humblest wish that Tim Seeley gets an opportunity to revisit this interpretation of Eternia in a follow up series as I for one would welcome even a limited series comic that got to explore this wonderful Mineternian world and reconnect folks with the base He-man story that helped launch this mega toy phenomenon.

Plus, as a minor spoiler, a limited series would more than make up for the “poor treatment” of Mineternian version of He-man as he’s ultimately defeated by the evil Anti He-man, where as the inferior Filmation version gets to run around playing the hero (as you might have guessed I have a very love/hate relationship with the Filmation cartoon…but that’s a topic for another day…)

Anyways, in the end though, this series is really more about the character journey of the good “Skeletor” aka Keldor posing those serious questions about the debate of “nature vs. nuture”. Through the course of the story, Keldor meets progressively more villainous and evil versions of himself capping off with the Mineternian “Alcala” version which describes himself as the “scream in the abyss”. As a result, Keldor begins to question whether he’s doomed by his own destiny to become corrupted by a lust for power or if he has it within himself to remain true to the sense of justice he has in his heart.

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It’s an extremely strong and relatable core message which I feel taps into the morality that has been at the foundation of the entire Masters of the Universe franchise. The notion of good triumphing over evil, and that we all have the ability to choose the path we walk in that struggle, regardless of what others might feel is inevitable due to their preconceived notions of us.

So again, despite the very MOTU specific window dressing, I think this is a series that has somewhat of universal appeal and can be enjoyed by both fans and non fans alike.

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Fun Facts:

If you haven’t noticed, there has been a massive doubling down on Masters of the Universe as a property by its parent company Mattel in terms of toy merchandise recently, and that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

In addition to the Masters of the Universe Origins line which promises to put action figures in the hands of young boys and girls this fall, as I mentioned before, Mega Construx is following up on some of it’s previous building entries like Castle Grayskull and the Wind Raider which some exciting sets just in time for Christmas. Many of them focus on some of the all time classic vehicles from the MOTU franchise which is a great move for this major competitor of Lego, and worth me showing off on today’s entry.

First off, there’s arguably one of the most important baddie rides in the MOTU universe in Rotor, which comes complete with the previously unreleased mini figure of the Ocean Warlord himself, Mer-man, as well as the classic Battle Armor variant of He-man. Additionally, the set comes with a Battle Cat which I believe you will be able to buy separately but is still amazing to be bundled up in this all in one set!

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Second, we’ve got my all time favorite MOTU figure making his Mega Construx debut with a Tri-Klops mini figure courtesy of the Battle Ram building set! Yeah, the set also comes with a Mekaneck and features real rolling wheels for playability, but really who cares about that?!? The set has a Tri-Klops!

That’s always been the number 1 way to ensure Mattel gets my hard earned money is to deliver another version of MOTU’s answer to the “bad ass”ness of Boba Fett. Plus with the detachable Sky Sled being a part of this preeminent Eternian armored tank, this is one toy set as a fan you can’t pass up!

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Finally, if there was a set that got me more excited than the notion of purchasing a Tri-Klops mini figure, it had to be the pending release of the Point Dread/Talon Fighter set!

Coming fully bundled with three mini figs with Battle Armor Skeletor, Cosmic Enforcer Zodac, and a Temple of Darkness style Sorceress, this bird shaped dive bomber works as it’s own solo mini playset or in combination with Castle Grayskull as a parapet attachment! Now you see why I’ve been agonizing about the fact that I didn’t pick up the Castle Grayskull set on sale earlier!

This Point Dread set is the must buy set for me now. Sure, without a Castle Grayskull to attach it to, its like eating Oreos without milk, in that it’s still super tasty, but you miss out on the true treat of pairing it with it’s rightful companion!

 

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Damn it! Now I know I’m going to pay through the nose to get that Castle when I could have saved all that money before…anyways…let’s get back to the comic book review.

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Final Thoughts:

As an lifelong MOTU fan, I throughly enjoyed this series. I think Tim Seeley did a great job weaving in all of the different continuites that have been presented in the MOTU mythology and giving us a tantelizing glimpse in those worlds to see how exactly they would have played out if left to their own devices.

Although I mentioned the Mineterian example of this above, another good one is the 200x world.  In that continuation of the cartoon continuity, we are given a look into a world where that version of Skeletor would ultimately gain dominion over the planet by focusing his efforts on collecting as many magical artifacts as possible and combining their strength in a way that allowed him to banish He-man into limbo. If you are a fan of that excellent short lived cartoon show as I am, reading this issue is a treat because it lets you flash forward a bit to pick up the story several seasons after its cancellation and gives you a conclusion of sorts.

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I will  say that the Filmation He-man is given a lot more attention than the other versions which could be seen as somewhat cringe worthy given the notion that some of us consider that cartoon very campy. But at the same time, Tim Seeley reinforces the fact that despite the camp, that version also is the most “hopeful” and that the Filmation He-man is one of the more important versions out there as he has resisted temptations that have resulted in the downfall of his other “brothers”.

Additionally, I was a big fan of the use of the Dolph Lundgren version to act as the battle hardened He-man that had lost his way in some respects through his obsession for vengeance against Anti He-man for taking away everything he held dear. It really hearkened back to the notion that there is always a fine line between justice and revenge and that even someone as heroic as the mighty He-man must beware of the temptation in crossing that line.

The King Adam and the He-Force was also a nice little twist on the same old story as it’s wonderful to see a universe in which He-man shared his power with an Avengers style team of warriors. If that doesn’t sound like a spin off book, I don’t know what does.

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But as I mentioned above, really, this story is as much about Skeletor as in is He-man, and I won’t lie that I got some major feels in the end to see the climax of Keldor’s character arc in issue 6. I won’t give too much away in terms of spoilers, but let’s just say some folks, through their determination and dogged crusade against the forces of darkness, have always had the power.

Now if we can only get that Mineteria mini series next with the classic He-man and his adventures with the Council of Masters. That was another major feel moment for me, seeing the original Tee-La defending Castle Grayskull like I remember from my mini comics!

You see, I too have a weakness for Teelas.

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Andy’s Read Pile Grade: A

 

 

 

 

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