Masters Of The Universe Encyclopedia Season One
Crossgen Publishing/MV Creations (December, 2003)RESEARCH: James Eatock LAYOUT/DESIGN: Matt Tyree COVER ART: Emilano Santalucia, Enza Fontana, & Nathan Baertsch CHARACTER/VEHICLE PROFILE IMAGES: Emiliano Sanalucia, Enza Fontana, & Val Staples SCREEN SHOTS: James Eatock & Mike Young Productions BIBLE IMAGES: Mattel & Mike Young Productions EDITOR: Leanne Shaw
After the original toyline ended, Mattel tried a revival some years later with the “He-Man” toyline. As far as I know the only comics produced for this line were four mini-comics that I will get to during Free Comic Inside in the future. In the 2000s, Mattel tried a revival of the “Masters Of The Universe” line. As someone who does toy reviews on the other site I can tell you I hated most of these figures. They were partially locked in poses like the Playmates Ninja Turtles figures only more stable and more disturbing. I have little from this line because I didn’t want anything. When I heard the Four Horsemen, the studio who designed the figures for this line, were coming back for “Masters Of The Universe Classics”, a mostly online exclusive line making every Masters Of The Universe, He-Man, and Princess Of Power figure, I was worried but they’re actually quite good looking. If I still collected toys from these lines (to be honest I just want the comics) I would be happy to get them.
Then there was the cartoon by Mike Young Productions. It’s very well written and beautifully animated. That said, while I like it the show didn’t impress me like the Filmation run not out of nostalgia but personal taste. The show, produced for Cartoon Network, has a darker tone and people like to land with thundering booms. The “message of the day” also never connected to the show and just felt tacked in just to keep the tradition, a fate shared by The New Adventures Of He-Man, based on the aforementioned second toyline. I totally recommend the re-imagined series and wish I had more than the first season (the same goes for the original series while I currently have none of New Adventures) but I have a definite preference for the more lighthearted version. I’ll explain more if that SFDebris style review series ever finally happens.
Val Staples, who runs the He-Man.org site I use for Free Comic Inside images, was able to work on the re-imagined series via the comic adaptation which will be starting next week. However, this came across my view first and I wanted to discuss it. Please note that I have not sat down to re-read all of the entries as of this review but I do know and remember enough to give a proper review of the overall product and I trust James Eatock (who now maintains the Official He-Man YouTube channel) to get his facts straight. Also note that this is the first issue of an intended but cancelled series, which is where the strengths and weaknesses of this comic come from.
The book is split into four parts. The first contains character profiles for characters in the new series both re-imagined and original (there is only one original character in this issue, Dekker). The profiles are more thorough than you usually get, going into detail about their histories, powers, gear, and other things that are unique to the character, like pets or personal transport. There is also a stat box for each character.
Then there are the vehicle profiles, which also have stats on the vehicles, a section about comics set in the re-imagined continuity, and a set of episode synopsis. The art in each of these, whether original or the show or production bibles, are beautiful and really captures the designs of the characters and vehicles, while the episode synopses images are mostly just the title. There was a lot of work put into this.
And that’s kind of the problem because this is about the size of a regular comic book. There are only seven character profiles, some taking up two pages, four vehicles, four comics, and six episodes since the book treats all three parts of the pilot as separate entries. Compare this to the Marvel, DC, or Dreamwave Transformers character guidebooks, which are in alphabetical order (it should at least start with Battlecat before Beast Man, although Cringer/Battlecat had little to no personality on the new show compared to the original) and mixes the characters and special entries (like the vehicles) to make them easier to find. Had this become a full series as intended it would have been a pain to go through book after book to find the entry you wanted. What they made well as far as the profile layouts and artwork they lost in misusing the space they had. The introduction compares this to Marvel’s old official handbooks and it really doesn’t measure up.
Had there been a proper collection of these entries I might have recommended it. As it stands you only get a handful of characters and vehicles in one issue so it’s not really worth tracking down. Next week we start the comics from MV Creations to see how well they stack up on their own and tying into the show.
Sounds like a real collector’s item due to the series not being completed.
While not really to be compared with the 2003 “Season 1 Encyclopedia” — there is coming out in May 2017 the new MOTU Character Guide and World Compendium book by Dark Horse.
That will be as comprehensive as possible, including info on characters, vehicles, locations etc from Minicomics, Filmation, 87movie, She-Ra, NA, 200x, german audioplays, italian comics and more! 😉