Masters Of The Universe: Rise Of The Snake Men #1
CrossGen/MV Creations (October, 2003)
WRITER: Val Staples
ARTISTS: Jonboy Meyers (including cover) and Andie Tong
COLORIST: Tony Washington
LETTERER: Ed Dukeshire
EDITORS: Monica Lopez, Vicki Jaeger, Ian Richter, & Geoff Walker
An adaptation of the first storyline from the final season of the re-imagined Masters Of The Universe cartoon from the 2000s, subtitled Versus The Snake Men. The season sadly ends on something of a cliffhanger since Mattel dropped the line, but we learn more about Skeletor’s backstory and the Snake Men become a third column, opposing hero and villain alike. “Rise Of The Snake Men” was the name of the storyline. I haven’t watched it in years so I can’t comment on the quality of the adaptation, so we’ll focus on how the comic itself works.
In an earlier episode Kobra Khan tried to unleash the Snake Men, his ancestors who once ruled Eternia until the Elders imprisoned them in another dimension, accessible only from Snake Mountain long before Keldor/Skeletor took it as his base of operations. He-Man and Zodac (whose brother had been killed by the Snake Men and their leader, King Hiss) sealed them away, with only Hiss’s general, Rattlor, and Kobra Khan escaping. Yes, this is all important to the events that follow in this issue.
Hoping to break free of Skeletor, Evil-Lyn teams with the remaining Snake Men to attack Zodac to steal his staff, which can reopen the portal to where the Snake Men are trapped. The villains defeat him…or maybe that’s what he wants them to think…and makes off with his staff. Meanwhile, the Sorceress has a vision that the Snake Men may be returning and warns Adam, and presumable Adam tells Man-At-Arms. Duncan recommends forming an alliance with Skeletor against the Snake Men, but Skeletor is unaware of Evil-Lyn’s treachery and the Snake Men’s plans (and possibly Zodac’s) and isn’t willing to hear about a truce. He-Man and Battlecat are coming, with He-Man given new armor by Grayskull that should help him should the Snake Men return, which thanks to Rattlor and Khan that’s exactly what they do. King Hiss is back on Eternia and his Snake Men are with them!
And there’s some gag comic that isn’t worth the time.
What they got right: In the minicomics (and I now I wish I hadn’t done the Free Comic Inside for this month already) Hiss and Skeletor formed an alliance, but the producers of the show (and maybe Mattel) saw a greater opportunity for the 2000s line in having the Snake Men as a threat to both the heroic and evil warriors, and that’s what they went with. And if you’ve seen the show you know that worked out very well, as the Snake Men become a huge threat. The art in the comic doesn’t look like screenshots of the show, but they are on-model with the animated characters.
What they got wrong: I’ve said before that I wasn’t a fan of the designs the Four Horsemen used in this series, although they did a better job with the current “Classics” line now taken over by toy makers Super 7 (because for some reason Mattel decided not to continue and licensed out their most popular boys toyline). And while the Snake Men are perfectly evil I’m not a fan of what they did with He-Man’s “anti-snake armor”. It only covers his sword arm and shoulder and his lower body, plus boots, and a snake grabbing thing that comes out of the gauntlet. That leaves a good quarter of his body open to attack and this version of the Snake Men bite and eat people so that seems like an incomplete armor even with He-Man’s endurance.
Recommendation: Things are about to get worse for both sides of the struggle for Eternia and the story is about to get darker, but still not as bad as what DC has done. (This is closer, but the heroes are still heroic and Teela isn’t a jerk.) It’s worth picking up if that doesn’t bother you.