For those of you drawn here by the Seduction Of The Innocent reviews, welcome aboard. You should know that Chapter By Chapter is usually one article a week as I review fictional books one chapter at a time. The rest of the week we talk about other media, like television, movies, songs, and comics. In comics we talk about comic books, as you’ve seen in the daily reviews, but also web comics and on occasion newspaper strips. For example:
The last time we looked at the He-Man comic strips our heroes had just chased off King Hiss, which was after dealing with the Evil Horde. Now we get to toys that have never appeared in any cartoon. (King Hiss was in the re-imagined series but as far as I recall not the original.) Today’s trio have appeared in the mini-comics that come with the figures (I have an article series just for those as well–wish I had an opening to write one of those lately) and the He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe magazine and Star Comics run but not any of the shows.
But what makes this story stand out is that it does something the cartoon didn’t do very often, and actually has He-Man’s secret identity hamper his transformation for more than a few minutes, and expands on both the Power Sword and the Havoc Staff. And by doing so raises a few questions.
Ninjor Stalks By Night
King Hiss is gone but it isn’t long before a new threat emerges. Prince Adam, Orko, and Teela are concerned that Man-At-Arms and Extendar has both gone missing. The council is worried as well, so Randor orders extra guards on all of them, including himself, Queen Marlena, and Prince Adam! That’s going to make it hard for Adam to sneak off and find his friends as He-Man, which is made worse when Ninjor, Scare Glow, and Blast-Attack still manage to break in and kidnap King Randor, forcing Adam to take up his duties until all three are found. But Ninjor’s true goal is to draw out He-Man…but not for the reasons Skeletor thinks. Are you surprised this is his plan? But what is Ninjor’s true intentions? Since the book is still new (and available here) I’m still following the no spoiler rule in deference to the collection team of the book.
Something I just noticed in this book is the design of the Power Sword. With the pages still hard to scan I’m lucky the cover to this compilation has what I need.
This is something that bothers me about this franchise, the inconsistent design of one of the most iconic weapons in fiction, or at least kid fiction. The original Man At Arms team (no connection) made the weapon reality…and still the design was off. But as I looked through the Power Sword entry at Wiki Grayskull I realize just how long this has been going on. I kind of understand the minor changes between the various series of mini-comics, the original DC and Star comics, and even the cartoon. But for the He-Man line the Power Sword underwent a huge alteration, and did so again for the re-imagined Masters Of The Universe, and their cartoons followed suit.
And here we see yet another design. It’s reminiscent of the classic sword but still off. Here’s a whole ton of images just from the 1980s comics.
I know newspapers have a tighter deadline when it comes to comics, but how hard is it to match up the design? The first two strips we’ve looked at had a larger base for the blade with two lines trying to replicate the holes, but here they dropped that. I did these sketches on an old receipt.
Maybe it was harder to do at the size? I don’t know, but if I noticed it I have to question it. It’s somehow less flashy than the movie sword (which just looked like a sword they found in the prop department), although still closer than the blade Dolph Lundgren was carrying around, nice as it looked. Sorry to focus on this. It’s become a pet peeve when it comes to this franchise.
It’s also the only complaint I have with the story…no, wait, one more. If Randor is kidnapped wouldn’t it actually fall to Queen Marlena to assume his duties, or does Eternia work differently (and possibly sexist) from Earth royalty? Yes, Adam might take on more duties but it just feels like an excuse to keep him out of action. On the plus side, it leads to Adam coming up with a solution he can take credit for with He-Man’s “help” rather than He-Man taking the credit and thus earn his father’s praise for a change.
Ninjor, Scare Glow, and Blast-Attack are used well in this story. Of course even this franchise couldn’t escape the 80s craze that was ninjas, but instead of just being a flunky Ninjor earns the title credit by being the threat of this story, although I hope not every tale is some third column out to cause trouble for hero and villain alike. This is the third storyline thus far and all three have used this. That said, Ninjor proves to be a clever threat and I guess it’s a good thing he isn’t in Skeletor’s “employ” anymore but I wouldn’t mind if he showed up again.
Back to the Power Sword, we learned a few things about the sword and the Havoc Staff in this continuity. One panel has King Randor thinking that the sword is a family heirloom and he hopes someday Adam will be worthy of it. This showed up again in the recent DC continuity so I’m wondering how many comic and cartoon writers of the 2000s had seen these strips previously between this and King Hiss bringing Snake Mountain to life? We also learn that Skeletor’s Havoc Staff is actually stolen from a wizard named Tylgar, who isn’t from Eternia. I wonder if this will come up again in later story arcs?
Overall another good showing, and I’m still enjoying this collection and wishing my local paper carried these comics. But I guess it’s back to Doctor Wertham for a while. I could use a little power of Grayskull right about now.