Masters Of The Universe #1 (Star)

“Hey, turn off that light! We’re trying to sleep!”

Masters Of The Universe #1

Marvel/Star Comics (May,1986)

“The Coming Of Hordak!”
WRITER: Mike Carlin
PENCILER: Ron Wilson
INKER: Dennis Janke
COLORIST: Bob Sharen
LETTERER: Janice Chiang
EDITOR: Ralph Macchio

For centuries Skeletor has managed to hold back his former teacher, Hordak, and his Evil Horde. Now the barrier is weakening and Skeletor makes a desperate attempt to dig into Castle Grayskull with the Terror Claws. The Sorceress brings He-Man to the rescue but it’s too late…for Skeletor! Hordak breaks through the barrier and after battling hero and villain alike Hordak sends his men as well as He-Man, Battlecat, and Orko to the Fright Zone. Our heroes escape and Orko manages to bring the trio back. Joined by Man-At-Arms and Teela they drive off both villains but things on Eternia just got rougher.

I have no complaints about the story. Geared for a younger audience than, say, DC’s current take, the story is done well. You can tell Carlin was asked to put in as many toy references as he could, and he does a good job at that. The art isn’t the greatest, but it isn’t bad. Star’s art wasn’t in line with most of Marvel’s stuff at the time but it was decent enough.

The main reason I’m breaking format is that I have a lot of…not so much nitpicks (although there are a few) but observations from a fan perspective with how the story is presented. This doesn’t appear to be set in either the Filmation or mini-comic continuities, which shows in both the differences and the things borrowed for this tale. For example, Castle Grayskull is sitting on the ground instead of a rock stand surrounded by a bottomless pit. Teela is wearing her toy’s snake armor instead of passing off to original character the Goddess. These all came from the mini-comics. We also have the Evil Horde as a third faction as the toys suggested rather than being the ruler of Etheria as he was in the cartoons.

The Sorceress is guardian of Grayskull, which the mini-comics had switched to but turns to Zoar the falcon, which she didn’t always do in the mini-comics. He-Man’s Power Sword can fire mystic blasts, which Skeletor used to do with his half of the Sword in the earlier mini-comics but He-Man didn’t do until The New Adventures Of He-Man and then never again. (I actually like that change.) The Royal Palace looks like it does in the cartoon and Man-At-Arms has his cartoon mustache. Leech looks exactly like his figure, which actually makes him look stupid.

Then there are the things Carlin gets wrong from the continuities. Man-At-Arms doesn’t appear to know Adam is He-Man, which the original DC comics had. Modulok’s two head don’t have their own personalities (I always thought it was more like a hive mind of one) and didn’t work for Skeletor before defecting to Hordak’s side, which not only did both the toy and mini-comic have, but in the cartoons Modulok actually flees to Etheria to defect on She-Ra’s show. And while I like seeing Teela finally wearing her toy accessories we had already accepted that the snake armor character was a separate one and some kids may have bought two Teela figures at the time to have both Teela and the Goddess (which may have been the plot, considering toy companies insist boys don’t want female characters in their toys). Finally, the Horde are so scared of the Fright Zone that they decide to hide in his cell and hope Hordak returns for them after beating Skeletor, but it’s supposed to be the Horde’s base of operations. It’s like Beast Man being scared of Snake Mountain or Stratos afraid of Castle Grayskull. I’m not sure Carlin did enough research before making this series, possibly to create his own continuity apart from the others that came before and during it.

Minor nitpicks aside it’s an interesting story and not a bad introduction to the new characters. It’s worth checking out for the curiosity but older fans who don’t like “kids stuff” may not get the experience they want out of it. I liked it, though, and there are a few more issues from this run to go.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

4 responses »

  1. Sean says:

    Thanks for the review. This might be worth picking up a back issue of the 80s Star He-Man comic. When I was into He-Man, I don’t remember Hordak and the Evil Horde. Did that come later in the cartoons and toy line? I was into He-Man from 1982 to 1984. By 1984/1985 with Voltron (1984), Tranzor Z (1985), and Robotech (1985), I had abandoned He-Man in favor of the robot themed shows and toys. I do remember that Mossman was my favorite Masters of the Universe character. It certainly was an awesome action figure to have with what felt like real moss on the action figure!


    • Hordak was introduced later in the line as a third faction for the Masters Of The Universe toys. However, Filmation decided to use Hordak and his Evil Horde as the baddies for the spin-off She-Ra: Princess Of Power, based on the girls answer to MOTU. I’ll be returning to that subject in the future plus you can find a Free Comic Inside article of the first Princess Of Power mini-comic.


      • Sean says:

        Thanks. I only watched season 1 of He-Man (83-84). Because by the time the 1984-1985 cartoon season came around, I had become mesmerized by the giant robot cartoons of Voltron, Tranzor Z, and Robotech. He-Man then fell by the wayside for me. Robots ruled over barbarians!


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