He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #16–18 (DC) are written by Dan Abnett and illustrated by Pop Mhan. Here, Space Boots He-Man and Adora arrive at Anwat-Gar, where grim and gritty serious business ensues.
The center of this story—Adora murdering (or, if you prefer, “murdering”) Space Boots He-Man with the Cursed Blade—generates no suspense, for several reasons. Obviously, Space Boots He-Man can’t be dead, and obviously, Adora can’t still be evil with “The Origin of She-Ra” all over half the covers, so we tread a lot of water until we finally get to the explanation.
Abnett greases the story through the pipe with a bunch of mystical mumbo-jumbo plotting—the Teela-Sorceress makes Adora jump through all these angsty hoops because she “moves in mysterious ways.” Understandably, Adora’s mad that she got all this convoluted mess instead of an upfront explanation—her beef is the same as the reader’s, and it’s totally legit. The whole encroaching-Fright-Zone-dispelled-by-the-power-of-Grayskull business is glossed over pretty quickly, too, and seems like little more than an excuse for that splash panel.
All that said, within this misguidedly R-rated vision of He-Man (with He-Man lying, throat slit, in a huge puddle of his own blood, I think that’s fair to say—and if there were ever questions of whether you could share these comics with your small children, there certainly aren’t anymore), Adora’s ultimate decision for good—more gradually arrived upon than in the original origin story—is decently satisfying. Overall, is it a good origin story? Not really—it’s okay, but it isn’t in the same category as Filmation’s haphazardly plotted Secret of the Sword (which, don’t get me wrong, I like quite well).
I’m pretty happy with Mhan’s art here. Particularly nice touches include Tri-Klops flying the Roton and He-Ro as the son of King Grayskull. She-Ra’s new design doesn’t thrill me, but it’s better than anything He-Man’s worn this year, and I’m quite impressed with how un-scanty and un-fan-servicey it is. But why does the Sword of Protection change mid-scene from its classic form into that impractically pointy paddle?
On the whole, the second half of this “Blood of Grayskull” arc is DC and Abnett doing more DC and Abnett things. I may not be enthusiastic about it, but I can live with it, and that’s something.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT