The He-Man newspaper comic premiered on a Sunday with a quick explanation of the premise: Eternia is a world where both magic and science work together (oooh, imagine a storyline where a sorcerer hates science or a scientist hates magic, or both, and one is trying to expel the other from Eternia), that Adam is He-Man, and who shares that secret. Then writer Jim Shull, in his solo tale for the comic, goes into the first storyline, “Day Of The Comet”. The story took 14 weeks and managed to fit in a whole lot of characters and the “Laserbolts” vehicle.
Since the collection just came out and it was suggested by someone involved in the project that I limit the spoilers (not violently…he didn’t threaten to sick a flock of wolfbats on me or anything and congrats if you got the reference), plus this book being too heavy for me to put on my scanner (if there’s a strip or panel I really need to show you I’ll be using a camera), this will be a short summary, but there will be spoilers as necessary for the review. As this goes on and the book has been out longer I may end up expanding the plot summary as I refine the format. You may want to snag the book and I do recommend it because it’s great artwork. But today we start seeing if the stories follow suit.
I should also note that this storyline also utilizes the Evil Horde even though it’s based on Filmation continuity. Licensing is a curious animal. While Filmation and the rest of us treated He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe and She-Ra: Princess Of Power as the same universe they were considered separate properties, because as I’ve established during Free Comic Inside (and will again when we return to Etheria for FCI this month) Mattel really didn’t know what they were doing with the Princess Of Power toyline as an extension of its boys’ counterpart, to where I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be tied in to Masters Of The Universe from the start or was done so last-minute. So while this is the Horde from the She-Ra cartoon it might as well be the Horde from the Masters toyline considering how little is mentioned of Etheria. But on with the review.
Day Of The Comet
WRITER: Jim Shull | ARTIST/ORIGINAL LETTERING: Gerald Forton | COLORIST: Connie Schurr
The Plot: Skeletor has kidnapped Granita, the daughter of Stonedar and sister of Rokkon, to force Stonedar to take control of Gigo’s Comet and threaten Eternia with it. Rokkon escapes and, while pursued by The Collector, Skeletor’s ship from the show (oddly not named here), he is aided by He-Man and Man-At-Arms. This gives Hordak an idea to basically mess with Skeletor and slowly take over the operation, eventually betraying Skeletor because it was his turn, with the initial goal of presenting Stonedarr to Horde World but opting to destroy Eternia. So Skeletor reluctantly works with He-Man to save the planet and stop both the comet and Hordak.
Analysis: I don’t know why The Collector isn’t referred to by name. It’s clearly drawn as Skeletor’s cartoon-exclusive ship (if there’s a toy based on it I’ve not seen or heard of it) but not called that. I am thankful that they didn’t try to make Spikor sound like he did on the show, but disappointed that Mantenna does. Of the two I’ll take Mantenna but I never cared for it. Spikor had that weird sing-song but struggling to remember each word way of speaking that never caught on with me. Matenna’s only mildly bothered me. Also Spikor kept insulting Two-Bad with every “#2 pun/synonym for stupid” idea he could come up with every time he spoke to him. “Hey Two-Twit, what time is it? “Double Dimwit, where’s the coffee maker?” I don’t think he likes Two Bad.
We also see that they aren’t following every cue from the Filmation series. At one point He-Man has to go into space but unlike the cartoon he actually needs a space suit to survive and we’re even told there’s no air in space. In the cartoon we’ve seen He-Man push a moon and thrown a damaged missile at a chunk of space debris and both times he didn’t need a suit to do it. You could blame Filmation’s time and money-saving limitations but even on Star Trek they came up with those force field belts. And He-Man can be overwhelmed by sheer numbers to the point where even he says “I can’t punch my way out of this”. Of course he also leaps to and from The Collector without any problem (the landing part most confuses me) so nothing’s perfect. Otherwise it’s good that even the most powerful man in the universe has limits or these stories wouldn’t be that interesting. Also odd is the Comet Keeper, Zagraz, from the show is never even suggested as an option. This plus the unnamed Collector makes me wonder just how tied Filmation actually was to this project?
Near the end there is a scene where Skeletor is fighting Hordak, but for some reason he stops to interact with He-Man and Stonedar with no consequences and then just appears right back in the fight as if that scene didn’t happen. I guess Skeletor needed to be in on the plan without alerting Hordak but while I was reading it I thought the fight had ended off-panel between Saturday and Sunday only to have it on again on Monday. And both Mantenna and Leech do so little (Mantenna is the only one of the two to have any lines) that they seem unnecessary. Hordak and Shadow Weaver (who didn’t even have a toy until the recent Classics line) and his robot army are all the story really needed because that’s all they use. Then again on He-Man’s side only Teela and Roboto do much of anything on the mission to board Hordak’s ship and a day later I don’t even remember who else was there. My final thought is that Hordak straps both He-Man and Skeletor to a machine that drains their energy, which is only interesting because I watched The Secret Of The Sword recently, where Hordak was draining people’s energy and even zapped He-Man’s. I guess he just likes draining people. I don’t think that will catch on as an alternative energy source.
Overall, the first storyline was quite good. The establishment of the premise needed one Sunday strip and the first story was entertaining and action packed, overcoming the limits of a three-panel daily, seven panel weekly comic. Only a few characters are unnecessary, but everyone else adds to the situation, and the ending is satisfying. But that was Shull’s solo story, not being able to commit to the comic after this. Chris Weber takes over and next time we’ll see his first adventure, “Vengeance Of The Viper King”. I’m expecting the Snake Men.