One of the most famous properties from the 1980s returns thanks to DC Comics– He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Originally, a massively successful toy line from Mattel, the swords and sorcery concept was adapted to a beloved animated series and a live action movie, cementing itself as one of the most cherished lines of the time.
This series is a continuation of the original, built upon the idea of what would happen if magical villain Skeletor had ultimately won. The former He-Man (known as The Most Powerful Man in the Universe) is now a simple woodsman, living in the forest, caring for his ailing father Fedor (not Randor and no sign of mother Marlena). He is, however, plagued by dreams of a seemingly impossible reality, where he is a might champion, joined by other brave heroes, to oppose Skeletor and his forces. Adam finds himself visited by a familiar orange and blue falcon, whose name “Zoar,” magically pops into his head.
He decides to go on a quest but encounters the orange-furred Beast Man in the woods, who knows who he is. The scrap and Adam is startled to discover that he can actually hold his own and even injures Beast Man who flees. Adam is confused as to why he was attacked and how Beast Man knew him, but carries on, following Zoar. Finally, Skeletor himself makes an appearance, setting up the rest of this series.
I was a big fan of the original toys in the 80s and I enjoyed the cartoon for the most part, although it tended to skew much more juvenile than other action series of the time like ‘G.I. Joe.’ But the idea of combining futuristic science and magic remains a unique concept with a load of potential. There isn’t, however, very much science here, so that may have been toned down.
All in all, it was enjoyable and while there were nods to the original line, a new reader could come in and find this easily understandable. It’s a fresh start and who knows how much of the old continuity will surface. To be honest, considering that He-Man and company have appeared in three separate cartoon series, various comic book series including the mini-comics that came packaged with the toys and a live action movie, who knows what the real continuity even is anymore. The new concept is introduced and clearly established, leaving a lot of room to build upon.
The art by Philip Tan got a bit too stylized at times, but for the most part it’s solid. Some of the characters have been redesigned somewhat, with some being more faithful to the original designs than others. Teela should be appearing next issue. Her brief cameo (in a dream sequence) in this issue had her looking the most different from the original and more like the recently released “Battle Ground Teela” figure with long blonde hair and a metal bikini.
So overall, I think this was a great start for what will hopefully prove to be a popular new book, which may re-invogorate the He-Man franchise.
HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Philip Tan
Cover by Tan and Dave Wilkins