Free Comic Inside returns to Etheria to see what’s going on with our favorite He-Man sibling. On our last visit we saw He-Man and She-Ra meet for the first time and saw how Adora became She-Ra. It…could have been worse? So let’s jump ahead to the third comic in the run and see how this version treats Bow. One thing we’ll learn is that Filmation loves throwing mustaches onto characters, like there has to be at least one toy with a mustache added. It was Man-At-Arms in the original, and it’s Bow in the spin-off. So what other changes are we in store for? Let’s find out.
Princess Of Power: “The Hidden Symbols Mystery”
PACKAGED WITH: Bow & Kowl
no credits given
Bow decides to explore the dark forest where everyone says evil spirits live because that’s always a good idea in a land where magic and evil spirits are known to exist. Instead of monsters, he gets a witch–namely Catra and you can read that any way you want. Actually, Catra has more magical powers than the “wear a mask and turn into a cat” gimmick she had on the show, which I guess makes sense when you have only one villain in your toyline.
(Sidebar: I realized while typing this that this is the case for a lot of girls’ toylines. Your storyline is that your heroines fight evil but there’s only one villain, as if girls don’t like playing out adventures where they save the day from evil. Think about it. Rainbow Brite had two, but that’s an exception. Even Sailor Moon only had, I think, Queen Beryl and that’s in America, were we make action figures for the henchmen while in Japan their toy companies tend to shun villain characters altogether. How many girls hero figure line had more than one villaness to fight? I can’t think of any offhand, but I’m a boy.)
Kowl sees what happens (apparently Kowl isn’t Bow’s sidekick like in the show but they’re still friends) and hurries to warn Adora, because even here he knows she’s She-Ra. Which shouldn’t be that big a surprise. This seems to be done by the same folks that were doing the Masters Of The Universe mini-comics at the time so they have some clue how to make Adam different from He-Man. I don’t care if the She-Ra action figure didn’t have a huge change from Adora to She-Ra, you can fudge it for the comics. Here, She-Ra is just Adora in the exact same outfit wearing a mask I don’t remember from the show…except when she isn’t. Complain all you want about how similar Adam and He-Man looked on the show and the action figures of the time, but they made Adora and She-Ra look different enough that anyone bought the change. Here, they didn’t even try as hard making She-Ra and Adora look differently as Filmation did her brother. And later (spoiler?) when She-Ra and Bow escape there’s no hint that she tried to hide her identity from Bow when they speak later. Also, her magic phrase is “by the honor of Grayskull” rather than “for the honor”. I wonder if that was a last-minute change by Filmation that didn’t reach the minicomic team yet?
Back to the story, though. Catra tries to talk Bow into joining her side and whatever mystery plan she has (which is connected to a cloth Kowl found at the scene of the kidnapping) but he won’t have any of it because his heart belongs to Princess Adora. Not She-Ra, which he is often shown having at least a crush on in the show, but Adora. I think in this version Bow is Adora’s boyfriend. And Catra wants him for herself. Yes, they’re fighting over her boyfriend. Later stories have them fighting over magic jewels. You learned NOTHING from Filmation, did you Mattel?
She-Adora and Kowl go to their version of the Goddess from the first two Masters Of The Universe mini-comic series that doesn’t have an actual name here and she helps them decipher than Catra wants…something in a part of the forest. It wasn’t all that clear, either. The cloth is a secret map into the depths of the Dark Forest. That’s pretty much it. Our heroine arrives but it’s too late. Catra has put Bow’s heart in a box. Not his beating heart, except maybe it is and not the metaphoric symbol of love or whatever…yeah, this part doesn’t make any sense. She-Ra tricks Catra and uses her sword to somehow return Bow’s heart to him and it starts beating I really don’t know. They escape on Swift Wind, cue moral in red (which the MOTU comics were also doing at the time) about not going into dangerous places and end comic.
Overall, the comic was close to what Mattel was putting out in the sist…I suppose it would be “brother” line in this case. Then again, those comics were never on par with the stories Gene Colan did while DC handled the co-production. There were a number of changes (or lack thereof because I can’t get over how little effort the artists put in not making Adora and She-Ra look any different, and this holds true for the first two issues at least) from what we all know from the She-Ra cartoon. Kowl speaks a bit differently but not too much. Adora and Bow appear to be a couple. Catra can actually do more than turn into a cat (and yet she also does that to trick Bow into her clutches). So while somethings are an improvement or at least interesting, some really aren’t.
Still, it’s better than what’s coming as I’ve read ahead into the run. We’ll see some of that in a future installment. My final analysis is that She-Ra fans need to stick to the show. You’ll be better off.