Sunday, July 22, 2012

HE-MAN AND THE POWER SWORD (mini-comic, 1981)

And now, to the beginning.

He-Man and the Power Sword (1981) is the original Masters of the Universe mini-comic (it’s actually a mini-storybook, as there’s one picture per page and all the text is in paragraph form at the bottom). No author or artist is credited, but it was written by Donald F. Glut and illustrated by Alfredo Alcala. Here, in post-apocalyptic Eternia, He-Man leaves his jungle tribe to defend Castle Grayskull from Skeletor, who’s busy trying to marry Teela and unlock the castle’s secrets. Everybody fights, and the Sorceress decides it might be a good idea to put a lock on the castle door.

This is, obviously, the pre-Filmation mythos at its most raw, and there are all kinds of idiosyncrasies for fans who are most familiar with the cartoon. The Sorceress is green, and she doesn’t live in the castle; that protector role is served by “The Spirit of the Castle.” He-Man has two identical harnesses: one that enhances his strength and a “forcefield garment,” both created “centuries before the Great War by Eternian scientists.” There are two halves of the Power Sword, and He-Man doesn’t have either of them. Teela is a “warrior-goddess” (but she still gets kidnapped). He-Man himself is kind of snarky.

It’s all very interesting. Not that this is some great story that makes a lot of sense, but that the MOTU world, in its primal stage and in this open, unstructured, primordial fantasy setting (this latter would be carried over to good effect in the cartoon), are brimming with potential. Alcala’s memorable art goes a long way toward this. His beefy, top-heavy characters tie in well with the action figures, his Skeletor is particularly menacing, and the use of color and shading give the book excellent atmosphere. On page 8, though, that looks like Stratos hanging out with Skeletor’s crew.

I was slightly impressed by just about every part of this except the plot. As these sorts of things go, that’s not bad at all.


Read it HERE

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