Thursday, June 13, 2013



Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Hordak is a 2013 DC one-shot written by Keith Giffen and Brian Keene and illustrated by Giffen and Scott Koblish.

Origin. DC He-Man people, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Zodac, eh? And he’s Hordak’s brother, eh? Is that what we’re doing now? Okay, I guess, although there doesn’t seem to be much point to it. This “origin” is little more than a protracted fight scene over which exposition is spouted (see also the God-awful Origin of He-Man); there’s none of the backstory needed to make us care about these characters, their relationship, or even the death of a million people.

The paper-thin plot doesn’t make a ton of sense either: Hordak can’t fight Zodac to the death in Backgroundless Rubble-Filled Place 1; they have to travel to the identical Backgroundless Rubble-Filled Place 2? Why? To make Zodac fight Leech for five minutes? And yet, there are the building blocks of a good story here: a mini-series chronicling the events Hordak and Zodac discuss, for example, could have worked quite well.

Aside from the fact we seem to be borrowing from King Hiss’s 200X backstory for Enforcer-fighting Hordak (which doesn’t really matter because they never make us care), his reimagining as a magical energy vampire works just fine. Meanwhile, however, Zodac apparently doesn’t rate having any of his backstory retained (it’s also interesting, given the fact that DC imported Dekker from the 200X series, that the decision’s been made to re-Caucasianize him).   

This one-shot’s connections to the monthly comic’s “present day” are also disappointing. There’s a little insight into Skeletor’s red skull, but that’s about it. The most burning question – how good old bat-Hordak became a Giger-esque abomination – is not addressed in the slightest.

Giffen’s art is as unimpressive as his writing. I appreciate the fact that his Fright Zone pays tribute to both the Filmation version and the playset, and he does a good job of putting emotion on Hordak’s face; however, his characters are angular, his layouts call to mind someone who can't figure out how to make his camera zoom out, and, while maybe it’s not fair to call this “Twenty Pages of Rubble and Glowy Magic,” the backgrounds are deal-breakingly few. And Hordak’s casting a Batman shadow, Giffen? Seriously?

In short, The Origin of Hordak relates a vignette in which everything of significance or interest has either already happened or is yet to come. The teasers for this comic included the question, “What the heck is a demigod anyway?” I’m not certain what sort of brain-damaged young people DC’s targeting with their Masters of the Universe comics, but they’re absolutely nailing that demographic.