We’ve seen how the minicomics that came with the He-Man toys told of He-Man’s journey to Primus to fight a new enemy. We’ve seen how the newspaper comics told the same story. Now let’s see what the cartoon did with the idea.
The New Adventures Of He-Man may or may not be a continuation of the original Filmation series. It doesn’t seem like it to me but Wikipedia believes it to be. However, Wikipedia is not always the best info source. I often use it for the sake of convenience. The cartoon is a lot different from the minicomics. The creators knew that kids liked the transformation sequence, even though they cut the time down and there’s no Battlecat in the He-Man toyline. Produced by Jetlag Productions, because Filmation had since closed, the show switches the science and fantasy around. The toyline had been going more and more in a science fiction direction with the addition of robots and cyborgs as I mentioned in the minicomics review, so it is a logical next step for the toys.
I’ve already gone over the toyline history by now so let’s get right into the first episode. Originally airing (at least around me) as a TV movie based on the first five episodes, I’m only going to show the first two episodes; that should be enough for you to get a feel for the show. If you want to see more it is available on home video and I like to support the official releases even if I don’t have it myself. Oddly this is the only series I don’t have on home video while I have season one of the other two shows. That’s just circumstance as I rather enjoy the show.
Since the focus is on He-Man and Skeletor getting a change of address let’s talk about the changes here. Campbell Lane seems to looking more towards the Joker than Alan Oppenheimer or Frank Langella. he’s more apt to crack a joke, while Oppenheimer’s Skeletor did so only from an audience perspective or to insult his underlings when they botched something up. The bionic implant idea of the minicomics is gone. Skeletor just have a new look now and a new Havoc Staff to match. I actually like this interpretation. It’s interesting to see him manipulate Flogg and the mutants while showing such disrespect for them as he would Evil-Lynn or Beast Man.
He-Man also sports a new look. Gone is the harness and he just has a belt around him to carry the Power Sword, plus now he wears jeans but no shirt. I’m not much into his new fashion but his design is otherwise okay. He certainly fits the show’s art style. There’s also a big difference between Adam and He-Man. While the “Kent glasses” crowd I talked about yesterday complained about how similar the designs were here there are big changes but you the audience can still see the similarities, mostly because we’re looking for them. Adam has longer hair that gives his face a different definition. His new outfit hides his physique so even if he does have muscles he won’t be mistaken for He-Man. Even their voice actors are different. While the other two shows had one voice actor altering their performance in each identity, Doug Parker plays Adam while Garry Chalk (who would go on to play Man-At-Arms in the 2000s series) portrays He-Man. And yet they sound just enough alike that the audience can hear them as the same person while believing the people around him can’t. What I can’t figure out is why once Adam reaches Primus his callout is “by the power of Eternia” when he still says “Grayskull” when on Eternia in episode one. Unlike the minicomics Starship Eternia doesn’t contain the power of Grayskull and the only time he had to change the incantation in the previous show was when he was on Trolla because of how magic worked there.
The biggest, and my favorite, change is the Power Sword. While the 2000s design is a favorite because it actually transforms with Adam and looks like a Sword Of Power, this one has actual magic. In other words, the Power Sword actually has powers. The design itself isn’t too bad. It offers some minor variety in how it can be held with that hole in the middle, but it still doesn’t have the “force” that the 2000s design did. Give that sword the magic of this one and you have a perfect blend. Outside of the early Masters Of The Universe minicomics and some of the illustrated books that came out at the time this is the only one that has any real magic powers and that’s what I love about it.
Somehow these two video kept freezing on an image of Skeletor. Weird. So let’s talk about his new pals. Flogg is the leader here and he seems to prefer brute forcing his way through while Skeletor is more of a schemer. It makes for a good paring and sometimes Flogg can see what Skeletor is doing but ignores it because of the promised glory. All Skeletor claims to want is He-Man’s demise so that serves Flogg’s needs. The others are the same incompetent boobs Skeletor usually works with except for a mutant woman named Crita who takes an interest in Skeletor and is probably the only competent one among the mutants. It’s like Evil-Lyn reincarnated.
The good guys, referred to as the Galactic Guardians as the series goes on and in the toyline, are also pretty good. I’m not sure why Hydron wears a scuba outfit considering what little time he spends in the water but that’s on Mattel. He’s a good commander, on level closer to the minicomics than the strips. Flipshot is a bit laid back but does his job without major screw-ups. I like him. Master Sebrian is wise with a bit of magic of his own, and since science and magic are related in He-Man’s multiverse that’s not a huge surprise. Mara will go on to be a headache for Adam, this mysterious nephew her father figure never mentioned. She was taken off the show way too soon and in a really dumb way but that’s a discussion for another time. Exclusive to the cartoon are Drissi and her brother Kaz. Drissi doesn’t live in denial but she does have a time share did. She abhors fighting to the point that when the shield around the planet starts to break down she doesn’t want to admit it even when mutants are in her front yard. She also has the ability to communicate with animals, which comes in handy in at least one episode as I recall. Kaz is basically every bad kid character who is just likable enough to not be annoying. Unlike for example Scott Trakker from MASK Kaz has a habit of tossing himself into danger because unlike Scott, who only rarely stick his nose in and when he does in helpful, Kaz is usually in the way but his heart at least is in the right place. He wants to help, he’s just not ready to do so yet.
The miniseries was five episodes long, one of three such storylines in the 65 episode run. It first aired as a movie and has a decent ending. The series itself actually ends on a full ending with an opening for a second season had it been greenlit. That’s rare for a kids action show, especially one selling toys or lacks a season-long arc. That makes the show kind of stand out.
With that our little trilogy is over. I hope you enjoyed this look into the second series. As for who told it best, each got something right. The show had more time to develop the characters and the Power Sword actually does something beside reflect lasers and smash stuff. The minicomics made the enemy seem more threatening, although the TV going for manipulating the mutants over conquering them helped give Skeletor his own identity here. It also embraced the science fiction and acknowledged Castle Grayskull more. The comic strip…may actually be the weakest of the three but was still a good story and allowed He-Man to go home at the end. It also gave us the classic designs in the new line setting, which was neat. Choose your favorite I guess but for all-out balance I have to go with The New Adventures Of He-Man.