I know the last one wasn’t that long ago but we seem to have a obtained a theme this week between Free Comic Inside’s going over a Masters Of The Universe “comic”, and then ending up looking at the new She-Ra cartoon in production. So why not see it through? Last time He-Man fought off evil Elsa’s attempt to freeze the world solid. This time Adam faces the greatest challenge of all…surviving a vacation being a hero in an action story. Seriously, how many evil-fighting series have you heard of where vacations go off without a hitch?
But I did get what I asked for in earlier installments; it’s a storyline without Skeletor sneaking in somehow AND a story where Adam has to save the day without becoming He-Man. All in the same story arc. And my birthday was last week.
A World In The Balance
WRITER: Chris Weber| ART/LETTERING: Gerald Forton| COLORIST: Connie Schurr| EDITOR: Karen Wilson
After all he’s been through lately Adam needs a good vacation, and after an argument with the King he gets one. Except Gwildor uses the opportunity to convince him to test his new spaceship while heading to a good spot to relax. Orko comes along as well, but solar flares cause a crash-landing. And that’s only the beginning of the surprises waiting for our trio on planet Naxos. With the solar flares interfering with Orko’s magic and even the power of Grayskull itself will this be Adam’s LAST vacation?
Before getting into the story itself there is a notation I have to make about the Dark Horse collection I’m reviewing from. (One of the creators behind the collection has asked me not to spoil the story, which is why I’m not fully diving into this like other comic reviews.) Some of the Sunday strips in this story do not have color. I’m guessing they couldn’t find color strips, although previews on He-Man.org have shown daily comics with color so “color” me confused. If someone who worked on this wants to explain in my comments, please do so. I know there are pages they couldn’t find at all (there’s been some discussion in the forums about trying to find them) from near the end of the series so it is possible they worked with the best version they could find.
As for the story itself, we get something rare for a Masters Of The Universe tale, a story with no actual villain. Not only is Skeletor not poking in somehow no villain comes in to cause trouble from our heroes. There is a threat in the form of the solar flares, a man-eating plant (which should feel like home for Orko and Gwildor), a one-time monster (also like Eternia), and the adventure Adam came to Naxos for in the first place, but that’s it. It’s a nice change of pace for the story, although it might be easier to read in one shot rather than every week, where I’m betting readers were just waiting for Skeletor to show up, given the “warning” Duncan and Miranda weren’t able to give our group because of the flares. (That was the warning by the way, the solar flares.) I like that they got one in. I’m about half-way through the book at this point and I’m not expecting it again, so it was nice to see once.
And except for that one monster He-Man is not involved. Adam’s adventure, to take a picture of a sea creature, doesn’t require He-Man, and every other problem after that is after He-Man is unavailable. So we get to see what Adam can do and that even without the power of Grayskull behind him, the prince can be quite brave, even standing up to his father with a typical father/son argument where Adam has a point. (Of course Randor doesn’t know Adam’s busy work isn’t just about the paperwork but the He-Work so you do sympathize with his point of view at least.) And we see he’s a bit down because Duncan and Miranda are planning their wedding, meaning Man-At-Arms and Adam don’t hang out as much. Adam’s even smart enough to warn the other warriors that he’ll be busy and leaves Battle Cat (that must have annoyed Cringer) to make contact with the Sorceress. (I don’t know if Man-At-Arms can still telepathically communicate with her like he did in the Filmation series.) This line was very much Adam’s story but Orko and Gwildor do get some good moments as well.
It’s not all good though, but it’s a minor yet kind of major in a way mistake for one group of strips. When Adam and Orko return from their sea monster photo trip Adam should be putting his shirt back on, or at least his undershirt, but he’s actually drawn with his He-Man harness on. This goes on for multiple panels and even the Sunday strips. This isn’t caught until Adam has to become He-Man (in the black-and-white dailies, which must have been confusing) to fight one of the monsters, and when he changes back to Adam he’s in full Adam clothing, including the vest. You’d think someone would have caught that.
Overall though, “A World In The Balance” is a solid Adam adventure, and a good story overall. But what has Skeletor been plotting all this time. You know he hasn’t taken a storyline off to work on his souffle recipe.
Next time: At The Edge Of The Darkest Night