DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe collects the eponymous 2013–2014 six-issue mini-series written primarily by Keith Giffen and illustrated primarily by Dexter Soy. Also included is DC Comics Presents #47 (1982), which we looked at some time ago. Here, Skeletor has fled to Earth, where he plans to drain the world’s magic—until a greater threat forces everyone to team up.
This is a Masters of the Universe-centered story—non-He-Man fans probably won’t get much out of it (unless, perhaps, Justice League Dark gets you excited). But given Giffen’s previous work on Masters of the Universe, it’s unexpectedly unterrible, especially for a crossover.
Oh, it’s full of the problems that plague Giffen’s MOTU writing, including tons of inane bickering and plenty of characters lapsing into “hip” teenager-speak. But to those of us who have been travailing through DC’s MOTU comics, it’s worthwhile for its backstory and its tolerably satisfying conclusion of the red skull arc.
It’s not all sunshine and bunnies, though—there’s plenty of stupidity. This is most glaring in the middle act, where, while the reader is patiently waiting to hear how Superman’s not really dead (come on, that’s not a spoiler), everyone in several Justice Leagues who isn’t named Batman is an idiot. (MOTU character: “Excuse me, can we have a rational conversation?” DC hero: “Rah! Fight you!” Repeat.)
Even when cool things happen, dumbness is right behind, grasping at the heels. We get Marlena, finally—only she’s been “cursed never to return” to Eternia, which just makes everybody shrug and go home; meanwhile, we never get an explanation for how the Justice League gets unpossessed.
Of course, the big news in this story is the resolution of the red skull business. The red skull, as you’ve no doubt deduced if you’ve kept up on your reading, is Horde Prime, who is also Orko, because eff yo childhood. Orko as a Diablo-style evil demigod is as terrible an idea as it sounds, but that horse left the barn a long time ago, so ugh, fine, let’s just go with it.
(The conclusion is rather abrupt on this front, too: “Nice job, the bad guys are gone forever.” “Um, we didn’t save Orko.” “Enh, we’ll get around to it later.” “But what about trying to free Marlena so she can finally go home?” “THE COMIC IS OVER, MAN, CAN’T YOU SEE THERE’S ONLY ONE MORE PAGE? GET IN THE PORTAL.”)
Sigh. Let’s end on a positive note.
Soy’s art is pretty good here, and a good fit—not too dark, not too cartoony. He also gives us quite a few more backgrounds than we usually get in these MOTU comics. Assuming he’s not responsible for Skeletor’s new look, I’ve got no beef with him.
So then: while DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe is chockfull of flagrant dumbness, it isn’t as bad as I expected.