Masters Of The Universe #1
DC Comics (December, 1982)“To Tempt The Gods” WRITER: Paul Kpperberg PENCILER: George Tuska INKER: Alfredo Alcala COLORIST: Adrienne Roy LETTERER: Adam Kubert EDITOR: Dave Manak
To discuss this comic (and I wish I had all three issues to do a proper Scanning My Collection article) I must explain a few things. While elements of the Gene Cohn mini-comics (produced by DC but published by Mattel to be packed with their toys) show up here, as you’ll see as the review goes on, there were odd changes made to the story that Filmation would build on for He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe. For example, Prince Adam and Cringer’s first appearance in the franchise was in DC Comics Presents #47, which featured Superman (you may recall that the series was his team-up comic) being drawn to Eternia so Skeletor could trick, and later mystically control, him into helping get both halves of the Power Sword. (Go back to some of the old Free Comic Inside reviews for more on the original concept for the line.)
And let me say this. Prince Adam as He-Man’s secret identity and Marlena being from Earth are unnecessary additions to the franchise. Sure, Filmation made them work and we can’t imagine the series now without those two elements but looking through the DC stories, including the preview comic that was put into various DC books to promote this miniseries showed how unneeded they were. Adam and Cringer need to go into a cave rather than use the Power Sword, added by Filmation possibly because they didn’t want to repeat the “twin halves of the magic sword” idea they did for CBS’s Blackstar cartoon. I look at tales like “He-Man Meets Ram-Man” or “The Power Of Point Dread” (the latter may be my favorite and I just found out that I never reviewed it–this month’s Free Comic Inside!) and then this story and feel that if it wasn’t for what Filmation and those who came afterward did with Prince Adam and the Queen’s origins that I would hate these additions. With that said, on to the review proper.
Adam and Cringer are forced to skip Marelna’s anniversary coming to Eternia when they are attacked by monsters, assuredly the work of Skeletor. At the Cave Of Power (which they walk into to become He-Man and Battle Cat) they find not the Goddess waiting for them but Skeletor, who has kidnapped the Goddess to force our heroes to find three talismans that may lead him to both halves of the Power Sword, including Skeletor’s half, which was lost during the kidnapping. However, other monsters grab the first talisman while Beastmen try for the second, owned by Stratos. Stratos escapes and finds our heroes, leaving the talisman count one a piece, hero and third-party villain.
What they got right: While I imagine the faux “King’s English” speak of the characters would get on some reader’s nerves, it was what the mini-comics were doing at the time. And Marlena still talks like an ordinary Earth person. The art is good and the story concept, being forced to help Skeletor to save their friend, has some potential that I hope the other two issues live up to.
What they got wrong: The endless exposition. Zodac alone sounds like Uatu The Watcher did the fusion dance with the Silver Surfer in talking about cosmic balances and his role in it. Skeletor explains his battle with the Goddess (and actually gives her credit as a worthy opponent, winning by being angry enough to deck her one for sending away his half of the Power Sword) in a way that is boring to read. A good narrator he isn’t. In this version Man-At-Arms isn’t aware of Prince Adam being He-Man and he goes on about how bad Adam is. Remember when I said the faux King’s English might bother some people? Unless you like Shakespeare reading pages of exposition like that is really going to bother you. I don’t usually mind it in the mini-comics but even here it got on my nerves. Maybe Cohn is better at it than Kupperberg? Also, if this is Skeletor, why bother sending goons and if someone else why are they using Beastmen, when BeastmAn is supposed to be one of Skeletor’s flunkies? This guy appears to know where the talismen are and don’t need He-Man at all. Finally, if Skeletor did sent the monsters and was waiting in the Cave Of Power does that mean he knows He-Man and Battle Cat’s secret? Or did the other party send the monsters and if so why? Did he miss the royal wizard, who had the first talisman?
Recommendation: For the curiosity factor alone this comic is worth picking up in hindsight of where the franchise went. I want to get the other two issues at some point and do a full review of the whole story at some point but right now that’s just not possible. I still thought I had the second issue and the DC Comics Presents crossover with Superman (unless I just read that online at some point but I know I’ve at least read it) but when I get all three expect a Scanning My Collection on the full story.