Last night I looked at the four minicomics that were made for the He-Man toyline and their introduction to this new direction for the franchise. Tonight we see how the newspaper comic strips handled the journey to Primus. For those of you not interested in the toys’ pack-in minicomics I’ll summarize the situation: With the Masters Of The Universe line down, Mattel didn’t want to give up the property so they switched things up. Where the original was about a magical world with a dash of science (that science fiction factor soon bringing not just vehicles and lasers but robots and androids) the new He-Man line would be science fiction with a hint of fantasy, mostly coming from He-Man and Skeletor. He-Man the toyline is basically Masters Of The Universe the years backwards.
While the toyline and accompanying cartoon, titled The New Adventures Of He-Man (the name the “He-Man” toys are referred to as since the first cartoon, He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe, often leads to the Masters Of The Universe toyline being referred to as “the He-Man toys”), failed to capture the same level of attention, I think both were actually pretty good. I’ll talk about the cartoon another time and I only bought one figure out of curiosity, the original version of He-Man (which is how I got the first issue of the minicomics) which may or may not be a Clutter Report in the future. Tonight we’re talking about the newspaper comics, but the most interesting thing is that this was the last newspaper comic. For whatever reason Mattel didn’t continue the strip, so this is the last story we’ll be reviewing. Does the strip end well? What was their take on He-Man’s adventures on Primus? Let’s take one last trip into the newspapers to find out as He-Man meets…
The Last Survivors
WRITER: Chris Weber | ARTIST/ORIGINAL LETTERER: Gerald Forton | EDITOR: Karen Willson
Again. Connie Schurr’s colors were not available in the collection I’ve been working from (so I did some more coloring practice–click the images for a larger view), and there are whole weeks missing. Debuts of characters are not shown, but at least we get to see the end of He-Man and Skeletor’s last comic battle. There will be a big spoiler section but I’ll warn you about that and put up the proper notification for when it starts and ends.
The Sorceress is surprised by two strangers who suddenly appear in the heart of Castle Grayskull itself. It’s our old pals Hydron and Flipshot, who were a bit off-course in their journey to Eternia. They’ve come from the future, where they know Adam is He-Man, to ask for He-Man’s help in protecting their planet of Primus from Flogg and his mutant band. He-Man agrees, with Orko disguised as Prince Adam to cover his disappearance. Of course Skeletor tags along to cause trouble. Can He-Man defeat the mutants and still get himself and Skeletor home?
The comic borrows quite a bit from The New Adventures Of He-Man. While He-Man and Skeletor don’t change their MOTU appearances the trip is similar to how Hydron and Flipshot came to Eternia, only this time Skeletor sneaks aboard rather than tricks them into letting him board. Master Sebrian and Mara, characters from the cartoon, appear here, and are close to their character model. Sadly we don’t get to see what colors Schurr gave the Primus cast. Adam also takes up a secret identity, but instead of the merchant disguise he takes up in the show he becomes a robot technician, which given his history aiding Man-At-Arms might be up his alley. Plus it beats the more dangerous jobs of teacher, police dispatcher….wait, what do you think a dispatcher does, Adam? The teacher one is a neat joke as well as one I’ll save for the readers (remember that these guys worked for Filmation), but a dispatcher just organizes emergency calls and sends folks out. At least they didn’t go with merchant because technician wouldn’t cause him the same problems it would for TV Adam had comic Adam stayed around a while.
I do have to question the Primus cast’s characterization though. Sebrian is just fine, although now he has the mental power to trap Skeletor and send him to the moon while he isn’t trained in running the shield. Yes, the shield around the planet also comes from the cartoon and not the minicomics. Hydron and Flipshot are rather incompetent compared to their other counterparts. I know He-Man has to train the world at peace to fight but they’re almost living the jokes I made in the minicomic review yesterday. Mara is that “cold fish” that just needs the “right man” to warm her up but that kiss came out of nowhere. We can have one comic that doesn’t involve romance, Mr. Newlywed, especially when you don’t have time to develop it. Also, the vehicle selections (the ones that Dark Horse’s team could find) do not match the toys at all. Starship Eternia looks more like something Flash Gordon would fly during his Defenders Of The Earth years than the one Mattel made. You had the characters (except for Mara, who is off-model) but not the toys? Sebrian didn’t even have a toy and Mara wouldn’t get one until near the end of the line!
There’s also some interesting lore here as in this version the Mutants were kicked off of Primus for reasons never explained and they want to conquer the planet out of revenge. This could have gone the way of Power Rangers Time Force where the villains turned evil because they were mistreated for not being perfect. It’s another thing that could have been explored had the comic strips continued in this direction. That’s unique to the trio of New Adventures stories.
The story itself is pretty good. While the collection is missing some of the cool visual scenes they have descriptions of what was in the missing strips and it mostly makes up for it. (I hear they’re still looking for them.) I think the time sphere malfunction is meant to show just how out of their depths the Primus defenders are but they really could have used that time for the final battle as the reason Skeletor gives us feels like more “we ran out of time so we need something” issues that has been my one big complaint about the comic strips. I also question why He-Man couldn’t call on the power of Grayskull on other worlds but somehow Primus has enough of the “power of the good” (a line from the cartoon; we were just missing “the way of the magic”) so that Adam can transform. The secret identity angle really went nowhere in this story and wasn’t needed. As for where it was needed…oh, wait, THIS is the spoilery part.
WARNING: BIG SPOILER REVEALED HERE. SCROLL DOWN TO AVOID!
The comic ends with Adam revealing his identity, presumably just to his parents but there’s no real reason given for the reveal. All we get is “A person’s time is too short to play games with loved ones.” but he was never “playing games” with his parents. He had to protect his identity from them as well to protect them. Yes, in The New Adventures Adam does reveal his identity to them, but that was as he was leaving the planet possibly never to return. (And I don’t believe they hint he will at the end of the show, although one episode hints that he might be able to.) It’s kind of a big deal so not being here is also kind of a big deal. Also, the artist forgot to draw Adam in his proper outfit again in this scene, making it look like he’s still He-Man but being recognized as Adam. Don’t give the “glasses crowd” any more fodder. (You know, the folks who think Clark Kent’s disguise is just glasses and immediately writes off Adam because the audience can see the resemblance while the other characters can’t.)
SPOILER’S OVER. RESUME READING THE REVIEW
Overall the story is pretty decent. There are hints here of things that could have been done had the strip continued and told new stories on Primus. There are even a few things I thought the comic did better than the other two versions and stuff I thought they did better. This could also be said for the entire series and in our last installment I’ll do a postmortem on the newspaper comic strips before reviewing the collection as a whole for The Clutter Reports. I’ll shoot for the next week or two since I want to get that video done by the end of next week.
As for that cartoon I keep talking about…well, tomorrow’s Saturday. Long time readers can tell you what that means. In the meantime here’s a link to yesterday’s review of the He-Man minicomics so you don’t have to scroll back up if you missed it.