Leafing through a giant hardback compilation of an entire run of newspaper comics, even a series with as relatively short a run as He-Man (especially compared to something like The Phantom or Prince Valiant), is you don’t really get to see or notice everything. For example I did see Gwildor, the creator of the Cosmic Key in the Masters Of The Universe movie with Dolph Lundgren. He actually has a recurring role in the comics for whatever reason. Mattel only made toys of the movie character because it was a movie based on their toyline. (Although I don’t think they gave us movie versions of the regular characters, whose costumes were so far off you’d think it was a ripoff rather than an officially licensed adaptation…and it’s STILL a better adaptation than Super Mario Brothers.)
However, looking briefly into this month’s chapter I noticed two other movie-born characters had signed up–namely Skeletor’s movie minions Blade and Saurod. So how will they be introduced into comic strip continuity? In our fifth trip into this collection we’ll take a look and see. I’m actually quite curious.
Evil Under The Stars
WRITER: Chris Weber | ARTIST/ORIGINAL LETTERER: Gerald Forton |
COLORIST: Connie Schurr | EDITOR: Karen Willson
At some point I should have a dedicated format for these credits. Getting Finally Watched right on the first try was a fluke. Just look at the early Scanning My Collection articles.
Blade and Saurod attack the village of Ettlain, bringing Teela and the royal guard, and later He-Man, into battle. But it’s a distraction so Evil-Lyn can disguise herself as a Theurian female, Gwildor’s species. She’s after a weapon that can allow her, Blade, Saurod, and Beast Man to travel to Blade’s home planet of Merrian. Tired of Skeletor’s war on He-Man, the quartet plan to take over that world instead. But when Evil-Lyn’s disguise ends up getting in the way of her going along, Blade decides to take over in her place. Can she sneak a ride with the Heroic Warriors and still salvage her plan?
The overall story is actually pretty good. Watching Evil-Lyn’s scheme unfold, fall apart, and forcing her to deal with Gwildor’s advances is kind of funny. The main feature here is the comics debut of movie characters, with the exception of Karg, and yes I had to look him up. Gwildor is a more refined version of his movie counterpart, Saurod is given a flamethrower to play with, and Blade gets some actual character development as we learn about his homeworld and see him do some pretty good swordfighting. It’s a good showing for all of them. Although I do wonder why Beast Man looks more like the live-action version than the toy and cartoon version. Evil-Lyn and everybody else still looks like they should. Maybe it’s just me. Gwildor gets more reddish skin than he had in the movie, while Evil-Lyn’s disguise as Thalia looks more like a dwarf than Gwildor does, and with a more “Caucasian” skin color, like movie Gwildor had.
Also for some reason Weber really wants to add romance to this franchise, and add it hard. Evil-Lyn tricking Gwildor is one thing, but Teela starts making passes at He-Man. On the original show she once noted that she wanted a man with Adam’s smarts (or compassion or something like that, I last saw the episode a few months ago) and He-Man’s courage, but here she’s all into He-Man, even stealing a kiss at one point, rattling her father a bit…AND THE SHIP THEY WERE ON WAS ON IT’S WAY TO CRASHING! Seriously, Teela, time and place! I don’t mind that Teela is showing some interest in He-Man but this is out of nowhere, taking some vague hints by certain writers and going full-bore. We also get a reminder of Verona from the previous storyline that feels like Weber was just forcing in a reference to the last story, which back then if you didn’t see you had no idea who Verona was, and with no compilation or internet you were never going to know. I’ll all for continuity but it has to be done right.
Then there’s the sudden addition of Man-At-Arms’ work partner (other work partner besides Gwildor), Miranda. I also don’t mind Duncan getting a girlfriend, but it would have been nice to see that relationship properly develop over time rather than suddenly have a new love interest out of the blue. And she’s a regular character now too. Were Weber and Willson newlyweds at this point? Is that why Weber is so romance-minded at this point?
There are also more Earth references here. I can overlook the microwave since I’m sure Marlena referenced it once and Man-At-Arms decided to make one. However, He-Man makes a joke reference to Better Homes & Gardens and tells Blade when wrapping him up “did you think there was only one hero who could bend steel in his bare hands”, a reference to the opening to Adventures Of Superman. I know there are stories where He-Man teams up with Superman during the various DC runs from back in the day and the fairly recent crossover between DC’s new continuities, but why is he referencing the TV show? It’s just confusing.
But what really gets me is the ending. Without spoilers I thought the resolution was a bit of a rushed cop-out. I wonder if Weber had a set amount of strips he could do at the time, either imposed by the publisher or something writer Weber and/or editor Willson imposed on their own, because that’s what it feels like. It could have used one more week, giving a decent wrap-up if need be to pad out the week since new storylines start on Mondays.
Otherwise it was a good build-up and at least half the ending works, just not the last Sunday page. I did enjoy the story and that’s what matters, but I hope we don’t get any more cut-short endings.