Masters of the Universe

Back in the dark, primitive days of the early 1980s, action figures were NOT all based on existing movies and TV shows.  Some toys were simply… toys.  That was the case with what would go on to be one of the most successful collections of the decade– and a significant factor in the world of collectibles today– ‘Masters of the Universe.’

He-Man and the Masters of the UniverseThis line melded the worlds of fantasy and science fiction in a primitive world known as Eternia, populated by bizarre, monstrous beings with mystical and/or high tech abilities.  But considering that ‘Star Wars’ and other popular brands were built on existing universes with backstories, Mattel needed to provide a mythology for the ‘Masters’ collection.  Without another vessel– the popular cartoon series wouldn’t arrive for another year– Mattel had to come up with another way to provide a context in which kids could set their epic battles.  Their chosen format?  Minicomics.

The minicomics are fondly remembered and highly sought after by collectors, since being paper, they didn’t manage to survive as well as the sturdy toys themselves.  But avid readers are in luck, as publisher Dark Horse is reprinting all 49 minicomics (and more) in one hardcover volume.

Each ‘Masters’ action figure came with a small book that set up the premise of the line.  The first four were story books, with large art and text at the bottom.  Later batches switched to a more traditional comic book format with smaller panels and word balloons.  After the first four, Mattel produced more comics in each assortment and used them to highlight the new characters being introduced.

masters of the universeIn the earliest tales, He-Man was the champion of a barbarian tribe, entrusted with battle armor and mystic weapons by a green skinned Goddess (who looked exactly like the action figure Teela… except green), whom he rescued from a wild beast.  The world of Eternia was a desolate wasteland and the science fiction weapons and vehicles looked like ruins from a past high tech civilization that apparently died out.

All that changed, when the Filmation cartoon launched and established that He-Man was the powerful alter ego of Prince Adam of the ruling family of Eternia.  Though Eternia was comprised of some savage areas, the space age tech was abundant and in brand new condition and at the command of both the heroic warriors and the villains led by Skeletor, the hunkiest skeleton ever.

The comics were a popular feature and added elements that the show didn’t, and in some cases, attempted to reconcile inconsistencies between the cartoon and live action movie with established toy lore.

Mattel carried on the tradition of packing these comics with subsequent lines, ‘She-Ra: Princess of Power’ (a female-targeted spinoff) and ‘The New Adventures of He-Man’ (a sci-fi reinvention from the early nineties).  And guess what?  Those comics will also appear in Dark Horse’s collected volume along with loads of extras!

The book will be released on October 21st and is comprised of 1000 pages.

Here is the cover of the new tome:

Masters of the Universe

And here is the official description:

The toy juggernaut Masters of the Universe and its subsequent action figure lines featured memorable pack-in minicomics that aided in playtime for children across the world. This oversized hardcover collection features sixty-eight U.S. releases, including all minicomics from the ’80s Masters of the Universe line, the ’80s Princess of Power line, and the ’80s and ’90s He-Man line, plus an introduction to the minicomics in the current Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Relive the illustrated adventures that fueled your imagination!

Over 1000 pages of minicomics collected for the first time featuring interviews with the original comics creators!

Series Overview: This oversized hardcover collection features sixty-eight U.S. releases, including all minicomics from the ’80s Masters of the Universe line, the ’80s Princess of Power line, and the ’80s and ’90s He-Man line, plus an introduction to the minicomics in the current Masters of the Universe Classics toy line.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection is on sale October 21 in comic shops andNovember 3 in bookstores. Preorder today from Amazon.comBarnes & NobleIndieBound, or your local comic shop.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection HC
Tim Seeley (W),  Steven Grant (W), Phil White (W), Gary Cohn (W), Michael Halperin (W), Scott Neitlich (W), Bruce Timm (A), Mark Texeira (A), Larry Houston (A), Jim Mitchell (A), and Charles Simpson (C)
FC, 1232 pages
HC, 6” x 9”
$29.99, 978-1616558772

Will you be snapping up this sure-to-be-a-fan-favorite?  Or will you add it to your Christmas Wish List?

Source: Den of Geek