After the Filmation series became a way of selling kids on the Masters Of The Universe figures, Mattel parted ways with DC and started their own comic. In a previous installment I looked at the tail-end of that run. Tonight we look at the first…that I saw anyway. He-Man And The Insect People isn’t the first mini-comic appearance of Prince Adam. That would be an adaptation of the episode “Dragon’s Gift”, the beginning (I think) of Michael Halperin’s run on the mini-comics. The comic we’re looking at tonight is the first comic I picked up from his run.
Even though Halperin’s first comic was an actual adaptation of the episode (and some of the character designs and story elements reflect this), there are a few changes…although that’s all on the artist’s side, since I don’t think he watched the show.
Masters Of The Universe Series 3 #4
Mattel (1983)“He-Man And The Insect People” WRITER: Michael Halperin ARTIST: Alfredo Alcala PACKAGED WITH: Battle Armor He-Man, Beast Man, Buzz-Off, Mekaneck and Prince Adam. I probably got mine with Prince Adam since I didn’t have any of the other figures.
The Royal Family is in the library when an earthquake rocks the palace. Adam gets his mother to safety outside but the doorway was blocked by falling debris. Adam goes outside and calls out his usual catch phrase, but not by holding his sword aloft. Instead Adam (who is clad in a blue tunic instead of his traditional outfit…that was on the toy this came with) just stands there, calls out “By The Power Of Grayskull”, and becomes He-Man, who IS holding his sword up as well as his shield, which the toy had and I don’t think was really used on the show. He had A shield at some point but not this one, and only on occasion. (Also, He-Man wears the shield on his back and the sword on his belt…when it’s actually drawn or he isn’t holding it.) He-Man breaks Randor out when the Sorceress calls out to him that the earthquake was no accident.
So many questions about these two panels. The first is…where did Teela, Mekaneck, and Buzz-Off suddenly come from? They just kind of show up in that panel. The second is wondering if Alcala ever saw any version of Castle Grayskull. It doesn’t look like the TV show or the toy. In previous versions of the mini-comic we didn’t see the throne room but I’m pretty sure Mattel would have given them a picture of the castle playset’s interior to use as a guide.
Anyway, the Sorceress sends He-Man and friends into the tunnels. Tunnels you hope Skeletor’s flunky (actually, saying one of Skeletor’s group is involved might be a spoiler…there are actually stories that don’t involve toy characters in this run) doesn’t know exist. Sorceress doesn’t look well in that panel and you can guess it would be easy to get through there while the champion of Eternia is spelunking in a cave. Our heroes come upon a “borebug”, which just seems to be standing on a rock ledge making noise. So He-Man punches the thing to dent it’s powerful jaw. Then Teela just shows up in a spider’s web. I don’t know how she got in there. The pacing is a bit fast, and there is rarely more than two panels on a page. As someone who has made mini-comics that’s still bad use of space.
The spider (and possibly the borebug…I give Halperin credit for not simply mixing real animal names like “wolfbat” or something) are under the control of Beast Man. He is holding the queen of the Kex (a subterranean race that has wings but never seems to fly) hostage, planning to take control of the newborns as an army to conquer Eternia. That’s right, folks. Beast Man is hoping to take babies straight out of the eggs and turn them into an army. The Kex aren’t human but they aren’t animals any more than the other non-humans running around Eternia. They’re at least humanoid (or possibly insectoid like Buzz-Off) so I’m going to assume it takes awhile for the babies to be old enough to conquer a sand castle much less the royal palace or Castle Grayskull.
The queen gets angry at Beast Man’s plan and tries to break the magical bonds, but that only causes another earthquake, threatening to take the wall down, so He-Man punches it and it..I don’t know, learns to behave or something. I’m assuming the Kex keep their eggs in the holes in the wall but still, wouldn’t a He-Punch be enough to take the wall down instead of making it stay up?
The boys decide to go after Beast Man, who threatens Teela…far enough away from the creatures that Teela, the warrior goddess according to her toy, could smack Beast Man one and make a run for it, but instead some of the eggs start to hatch. Teela points it out, Beast Man turns to look, and He-Man sees an opening, ordering the others to attack. And Teela is involved in the fight as well.
If the dialog is to be believed, Halperin intended for He-Man to be stabbing that creature with the Power Sword. If that’s what’s happening in the art then He-Man is doing so with his left hand. Remember when people were worried about violence on the SHOW? This would be the third time between Friday Night Fights and Free Comic Inside that we saw something murdered, not counting alluding to a demon being slain in yet another comic. I don’t think it matters because it looks more like he’s about to powerbomb the thing right onto Beast Man. Buzz-Off leads the Kex to save the queen. I’m not sure what they do since we never see them fight. Maybe as a group they’re able to break her bonds? Next time we see her she’s loose.
He-Man confronts Beast Man, grabbing his whip and then (in a panel that includes the creature on the ground either dead or knocked out) picking Beast Man up and tossing him into some kind of body of water, Beast Man yelling “ARGHH! I’m ruined!” Then the queen shows up with a whip (possibly Beast Man’s) and chases the fuzzy fiend off. The foursome are made honorary members of the Kex, end story.
This is not as good as the DC run. Thanks to seldom having more than two panels (some pages have three, usually as an insert, and the one where He-Man punch-dares the wall to stay up had five) the pacing is too fast to really get into. Compared to the DC-produced mini-comic stories this just isn’t as good. Hopefully he’ll get better at this in later stories. There’s a good idea here but he needed more panels. This is available to read online thanks to He-Man.org, but I still have my copy.
Say, if you guys know of some other pack-in mini-comics besides Masters Of The Universe, Princess Of Power, the Drakes Marvel stories (the second series of those I’ll get into in our next installment) or Super Powers (I finished MASK already) online or you can send me scans of, let me know. I don’t want to get into a rut here.