When a toyline goes on for long enough you run into a problem. Your promotional media has been tied to a select group of characters even if the line itself allows for more characters. If enough kids already bought your hero then that toy becomes a pegwarmer, but at some point a new year of kids may get into the toys and want one of the hero from the show that they love so much. You could try removing that character, but ask Hasbro how well that worked out with Optimus Prime.
The usual go-to solution is to re-release the character with a new toy and some new gimmick. In the case of He-Man you have self-repairing battle armor, a backpack that supposedly boosts his punch to a level Iron Fist would be jealous of, and so on. This ensures that your hero (and your villain, as Skeletor needed his own new gear) stays fresh on the shelf and everyone gets some version of the character. Note that all this was before the adult collector market. I’m just talking about kids here.
So what kind of upgrade did He-Man’s sister get in her battle against evil? A new cape and a new crystal dye job for her horse. What kind of power enhancements does that come with? It…looks prettier? Good thing the toy version of the Princess Of Power wasn’t the one fighting off a conquering horde or I might be worried. Yes, it’s time to return to minicomics She-Ra, where they completely misunderstood why He-Man & The Masters Of The Universe even had a spin-off cartoon and made it girly as heck…while racking up an impressive death toll. Who’s getting turned into a butterfly this time?
Princess Of Power series 2 #1
Hey, we have credits for this issue!
WRITERS: Tina Harris & Eric Frydler
PENCILER: Jim Mitchell
INKER: Todd Kurosawa
COLORIST: Charles Simpson
LETTERER: not listed, but still more credits than series 1 gave us
EDITORS: Joan Dumbauld & Lee Nordling
You can try to read along at He-Man.org but they don’t have the pages in proper order, so have fun searching like I did. This wasn’t a problem before.
We open on Etheria and wow has the art taken a dive. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen worse easily and it’s not terrible, but this is the first sign that while the Mattel years were friendly to Masters Of The Universe the sister line was not faring as well. By the time we’re done with Princess Of Power we’ll actually see the series devolve into illustrated booklets, the polar opposite of what the boys were getting. Heck, this story has more narration than dialog. It’s not garbage but it is a step lower in quality.
Anyway, Adora and her friends are relaxing on a nice day and having a picnic. Bow and Josh…Josh? Who the heck is Josh? I know Bow was basically the Teela of this toyline and even on the show the only males we see him hang out with are Kowl and his horse Arrow but now we’re just inventing people out of nowhere as if they’d been there the whole time. That’s how we got the Sentry, folks. Adora’s sitting on the blanket watching Glimmer feed sugar cubes to Spirit and Arrow when out of nowhere Glimmer challenges Adora to a race. We don’t even see her ask Bow if she can use Arrow. Next panel Adora’s on Spirit, Glimmer’s on Arrow, and Bow is firing the starter arrow. That sentence could be confusing if written by a lesser writer. That’s the benefit of nearly 12 years doing this site.
As the race goes on we’re told the two horses are neck and neck until a strange burst of light appears in front of the racers. Arrow stops short because he’s not getting a dye job this story, throwing Glimmer off in the process. He’s smarter than Spirit anyway because he slows down but still walks right into it. One would think this is a bad idea, but we’re talking a world where people bury dress-up clothes for adults in the backyard of magic castles. Who knows what anyone is thinking in Etheria.
The boys, who want to see who won the race, help Glimmer up and wonder what happened to Adora, who calls out from the light that she and Spirit crossed “the Crystal Light barrier”. That whole sentence is in caption but the next panel has Adora using a word balloon declaring they’re lost in a “strange and wondrous world”. I don’t know, that first panel suggests you can just turn around if you can hear each other across the portal. Bow offers to come get her but Glimmer tries to talk him out of it and Adora even says it’s too dangerous, so maybe she can’t turn around? We don’t see the portal on her side so I don’t know. Again, most of this conversation is done through narration in panel 1 with panel 2 having Adora say they’ll look for help. This is how the whole book goes and it makes me wonder why they didn’t just go right to the illustrated booklet since it seems that’s what they want to make. It’s too bad the letterer isn’t credited because he or she (or they if there’s more than one) is doing most of the work this issue!
After walking around admiring the pretty place Adora and Spirit come upon a group of horses of different colors. No, this isn’t the My Little Pony crossover you didn’t realize you wanted until just now. Here’s some confusion for you. They come upon the winged, crystal-like horses and are sure they found help, yet are surprised when the horses talk. Spirit doesn’t seem to talk like he did in the show and we know Arrow can’t so why did she assume the horses would help? Mini-comics She-Ra hasn’t shown her cartoon counterpart’s ability to communicate telepathically with animals so if you assume they were able to help you then what were you expecting them to do?
The speaker’s name is Crystal Moonbeam and this still isn’t the My Little Pony crossover, I swear. He tells them that soon they too will turn to crystal. Not actual crystal I assume because internal organs made of semi-transparent rock is not a healthy makeover, but some kind of magical state similar to crystal like Moonbeam and his pals. Adora has been safe because she’s been on Spirit’s back the whole time and hasn’t touched the ground. Moonbeam says there’s a chance but I have questions. Where do these Pegasuses (Pegasusi?) come from and why is he treating this like a death sentence? They’re all glittery and semi-transparent but they don’t otherwise look in bad shape, and in a world where they’re food supply is all shiny rocks you’d think that would be a problem. Meanwhile the spirits of the catmen She-Ra turned into stone that one time still scream for vengeance from beyond the grave. And they’re their own head stones.
Moonbeam gets his sister, Crystal Sun Dancer…still not the crossover and apparently everyone is named Crystal X around here. I guess if Adora ever does touch the ground she’d have to call herself Crystal Adora. Sun Dancer knows the way across the barrier…somehow…but in order to get them across they need to be able to fly. Luckily the power of Grayskull reaches into this place so Adora transforms into She-Ra and Spirit into Swift Wind because at this point the mini-comics have abandoned any semblance of a secret identity. I wonder if the producers of Princesses Of Power just read the mini-comics and assumed the show was like that without watching it? It would explain so very much. By the way it’s taken 11 pages to finally get Adora into her superhero form, about two-thirds of the comic that is at best three panels per page, with most of it done in narration, including dialog. Was this their first comic?
Apparently walking in the world gave Swift Wind a crystal sheen but not yet turned him to crystal. So they and their new equestrian friends fly off through the light barrier but apparently She-Ra does need to change back to keep their secret. In the mini-comics Adora has transformed into She-Ra right in front of her friends and wore the headpiece in both identities. The mask was on during the transformation and only then. I think the cat has left that bag and gone fishing. By the way, nobody mentions that She-Ra’s cape has a sunburst pattern and nobody seems to care. Odd considering Sunburst She-Ra and Crystal Swift Wind were the toys they were pushing with this one and it came packaged with both the Sunburst She-Ra figure and the two pack with both of them. And yet Swift Wind is Crystal for all of five minutes and that’s three minutes more than She-Ra shows up with her pretty new cape.
The group make their way back to Etheria where Glimmer, Bow, and Josh (who has odds on never seeing Josh again?) have been looking everywhere for them. WHY? You know where she went, just not where exactly she ended up…outside of the fact that she was in another dimension! Where did you expect to find her, waiting back at the picnic site? Adora introduces her friends and Spirit still has his shiny coat, the end.
So in case you haven’t guessed this comic isn’t very good. The art isn’t terrible but it is a downgrade from season one. Most of the comic, including dialog, is told in captions with only the really small panels having one word balloon of unnecessary comments, and the story doesn’t make a lot of sense. The superhero identities are such an afterthought it could be a modern Marvel comic and I don’t know if Sun Dancer and Moonbeam are staying or not, where the Light Barrier portal to Crystal World came from, or what the purpose of this story even was outside of giving Spirit a paint job. She-Ra’s new sunburst cape isn’t even acknowledged and it doesn’t seem to do anything and the new Crystal sheen does jack all for Swift Wind beyond looking pretty. It’s way too girly, which would be fine if the story meant anything. Remember, this toyline only exists because girls saw that He-Man show their brothers were watching, saw strong but feminine warriors, and liked it. Mattel capitalizes on this not with a toyline that allows the boys and girls to play magical sci-fi adventures together but He-Man if it was all girly. I’ve seen action shows and comics for girls and this is not that. I don’t expect this to cater to boys but I do expect it to cater to the girls who liked their brothers’ cartoon enough to create this spinoff line and once again the only media that understood that was the Filmation show. At least nobody dies this issue.
Next time we return to Symbion to see what our favorite bug people are up to this time.