You may want to scroll down to the paragraph that starts “Rant over…” because I need to vent a bit before we begin.
So, I was trying to find a second issue for Legions Of Power, the next mini-comic on the list. Trying to find that only brings up a few auctions, stuff on the toy itself, and my review of the first issue. Look up “Legion Of Power minicomic” on Google and I’m second on the list, right after an eBay listing and if it wasn’t for eBay I would dominate the image search’s top line. It’s such a cold topic that Google is throwing in Legion Of Super-Heroes just to have something to talk about.
So I went to the next series on the list, the second series of Masters Of The Universe minicomics. Now I actually own “The Ordeal Of Man-E-Faces” but my copy is so old and overread that I wanted to find a better quality scan than I’d be able to do, though I’ll probably use some shots from a Friday Nights Fights I did with the comic years ago. Well, that was a chore. He-Man.org took all their minicomic scans down, probably because they worked with Dark Horse to produce the hardcover collection (I would rather have the actual minicomics I’m missing), but what gets me is that unless you just like the forum there is nothing on that site any more. All the toy archives, all the lists of books and audio dramas, it’s all gone. Just a forum, a shade of it’s former self. Long rant short it took me forever but I found a decent scan to use for this article, which is still one up on Legions Of Power, which I may never get to finish reviewing.
Rant over and now it’s time to get to the review. If you bypassed the rant we’re on Masters Of The Universe series two and “The Ordeal Of Man-E-Faces”, one of the two action figures I got the Christmas my grandmother ended up in the hospital. Thankfully this wasn’t the year we lost her but it makes him and Ram-Man (I’ve already reviewed that comic) a bit more special because despite being sick she still made sure us grandkids got something on Christmas. I had the best grandparents on both sides of the family and I miss all four. Additionally this is one of the first two minicomics and first two Masters Of The Universe action figures I ever owned. It’s also surprisingly important to Man-E-Faces history because how he’s introduced here has for the most part made it into other incarnations, despite being his only major appearance in the minicomics as far as my collection knows. So let’s see where he came from.
Masters Of The Universe series 2 #2
DC Comics/Mattel (1982)
“The Ordeal Of Man-E-Faces”
WRITER: Gary Cohn
PENCILER: Mark Texeira
INKER: Tod Smith
COLORIST: Anthony Tollin
No credits for letter or editor
This is where the idea of Man-E-Faces being an actor is. We first meet him as a one-man traveling acting troupe, though his performances use masks on sticks…yet he still has that silly helmet on his head. It made sense for the toy to hide the other two faces but it just looks silly for a traveling performer. Watching the proceedings are He-Man (remember this is the pre-Prince Adam years), Man-At-Arms, and Teela. For some reason Teela in these stories is thirsty. Not for He-Man, that was the newspaper strips. She’s more interested in Man-E’s real face and she likes what she sees. This is not the only time this will happen in this series.
Skeletor likes what he sees as well, but not for the same reason. This isn’t the Netflix version. Thankfully. No, the idea of Man-E using these disguises is what impresses him. After the performance Man-E arrives to find Skeletor in his wagon, and I’m sure he would rather it was Teela. So would Teela. Instead, Skeletor forces Man-E at sword point to drink a bad tasting potion. Leave it to Skeletor to use bad flavoring hin his evil drinks. (Remember again this is when the Power Sword was split in half, with the two haves shared between He-Man and Skeletor and each with their own power while combined serving as the key to Castle Grayskull…which will only appear on the cover this story.) This is the start of the origin of his three faces, which will never be explained elsewhere as far as I’m aware. Skeletor’s potion causes his face to turn into a monsters, but as far as the rest of his body he just gets longer fingernails and bad posture. Using the Power Sword, Skeletor turns him human again and makes him forget the whole thing. Man-E later wonders about the bad taste in his mouth.
Now here’s another first: the first appearance of a King and Queen of Eternia. Ignoring the early out of order reviews, stories prior to this just showed a harsh climate with a lot of trees and rocks. The previous story gave us a village but this is the first time we learned there was an actual ruler around here. They aren’t named in this story but all they do here anyway is invite Man-E-Faces to perform, having heard how the three heroes enjoyed his performance…especially Teela. And that’s when Skeletor shows up to ruin the fun, turning Man-E back into the monster, who grabs Teela. Granted she was hoping for a little grabbing later that night but I don’t think this is what she had in mind. Then he does his little vanishing trick, making the mistake of telling He-Man and Man-At-Arms that he plans to sacrifice his clone daughter ex-fiance (yeah, we already told that story–in which I referenced this one) to a demon for a way into Grayskull. Have I mentioned these comics are a bit weird?
He-Man sends a falcon (not sure if it’s Zoar) to call the Goddess for her aid, interesting considering her replacement the Sorceress would turn into a falcon to summon He-Man. They travel to Skeletor’s lair (not yet Snake Mountain) just as the demon arrives. He-Man goes right after the demon while the Goddess turns Man-E-Faces human again, and the fight I used for the Friday Night Fights begins. Teela joins He-Man in fighting the demon, and for those of you who think “strong women” started last Thursday…
…the demon is scared because he “cannot withstand the attack of both of these great fighters”. In other words He-Man and Teela together has this this soiling…well, the floor because he’s not wearing pants, but you get my drift.
What follows is a tug of war for Man-E-Faces, as Skeletor and the Goddess keep trying to change him back and forth, until finally Man-E calls out in pain and explodes from all the mystic energy. Now faces with all three heroes and his plans literally going kaboom, Skeletor gets lost. Of course if this is his lair all they have to do is wait around for him to show up…unless Skeletor is staying at his summer home for a while. It has a hot tub.
There seems to be a page missing, but it’s not exclusive to my copy or the digital version I’m working from. We just cut to Teela saying “…Man-E-Faces?” as if it’s the tail end of a sentence. There’s clearly a panel they either couldn’t fit in or forgot to add. Just Man-E is suddenly there as Teela finishes her sentence. Now he has the face of a robot, asking for instructions. Everybody’s happy, especially Teela–who is probably going to have a few instructions for him anyway…except the Goddess. She’s worried that the monster and robot, which we don’t get to see in action, are both part of Man-E-Faces now and Skeletor may want to use them in the future. We do see this in the DC shelf comics but is that even in the same continuity? Those comics also give us Prince Adam, who doesn’t exist here.
Overall this is a really good story, especially for a mini-comic given away with Man-E-Faces’ action figure. Skeletor’s plot is quite good, a demon dies, Teela gets to be damsel in distress and still help kick demon butt, and outside of not showing what the robot can do it’s a good showing for the character. While later versions would make the monster and robot always part of Man-E-Faces and with their own talents, the version here gives kids an interesting play idea that Man-E’s monster face means he’s under Skeletor’s control, though this is the only version like that unless he does that in the prose books. It wasn’t even in the ad for the figure.
It’s an interesting idea, but nobody goes with it. Instead the various faces come with different abilities. This is also the only time we see Teela being romantically interested in Man-E-Faces. At best they know each other but even in the 2003 version they were allies and not much else.
Next time unless I find a new series, it’s back to McDonalds and the Commandrons. What heroic rescue will they perform then? Wait and see. Or go find issue 3 now and be impatient. I can’t really stop you.