He-Man: The Eternity War #1–3 (DC) are written by Dan Abnett and illustrated by Pop Mhan. Here, Giger-abomination Hordak turns back into regular Hordak and forges himself a Power Sword, because all the cool kids have one these days and I hope you brought enough for everybody.
Welcome to the new He-Man, same as the old He-Man. As expected, there’s a heavy dose of lore here, especially in issue #1, which is mostly recap so as to serve as a jumping-on point for new readers. Castle Grayskull is back somehow, and so is pretty much everybody else of note, including Skeletor, who can apparently use his awesome magic powers to come back to life but not to conjure himself a new jawbone.
In issue #2, Space Boots He-Man leads the snake troops into battle, while in issue #3, She-Ra chases MacGuffins. Meanwhile, Man-at-Arms fights a bunch of snake men allies for no other reason than to get back onto our radar and then becomes Iron Man. Lots of fighting ensues; most of it just feels obligatory, necessary to offset all the exposition we have to slog through.
Space Boots He-Man finally moves to the forefront in issue #2, although pretty much only because there’s a giant monster that needs killin’. He’s still not worth a damn as a character, though, because he’s got no real personality: he’s a generic hero shouting generic inspirational heroisms while fighting whatever bad guy is directly in front of him (and She-Ra’s almost exactly the same way, only more matter-of-fact and less angsty).
At one point, Man-at-Arms tells him, “You’re the strongest man I’ve ever known. Not because of the sword or the power of Grayskull. Because of you.” If only that were true, I would probably like these comics. This version of He-Man hasn’t done anything at any point to merit that praise, mostly because Abnett doesn’t seem to have a clue what to do with him. This He-Man’s got no wisdom, no compassion, no cleverness, no sense of humor—none of the things that made Filmation He-Man (and, to a lesser but still significant extent, 200X He-Man) such an endearing and admirable character. Not that Abnett’s left any real room in the story for these qualities anyway—his He-Man is little more than a grim and merciless killing machine, a video game character, and not at all someone who’s fun to hang out with or read comics about.
Mhan’s art is fine as usual, and the battle scenes are well done. There’s an awful lot of posing, though, especially in issue #1, since it’s mostly folks just standing around talking. And I will say, Space Boots He-Man does look slightly less terrible with that He-Dolph cape, although Battle Cat, like so many other characters in this series, looks completely ridiculous. Also, tell me that the Hordak-ified Castle Grayskull doesn’t look like the idol from the old Fireball Island board game. Stick a big marble right in there.
I’ve made fun of a bunch of stuff here, but honestly, these comics don’t actually do anything wrong per se. But the fact is, with all these one-dimensional characters and the throw-in-everything-as-fast-as-possible approach, I just don’t care—there’s no reason for me to care, nothing (and, more to the point, nobody) in particular to care about (in these three issues, we’re supposed to wonder whether three notable characters are dead—it just doesn’t matter). This all still feels like pretend He-Man to me, like weak fan fiction from folks who think grim and gritty = trendy = awesome, and no matter where Abnett, DC, and Mattel go with this story (I expect the expected), that seems unlikely to change.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT