He-Man: The Eternity War #4–6 (DC) are written by Dan Abnett and illustrated by Pop Mhan. Here, She-Ra has a showdown with Hordak, Skeletor returns, and Space Boots He-Man sees a vision of the future in which he becomes a brutal dictator.
The characterizations continue to be extremely weak. The only interesting character here is Skeletor, because he’s the only one with any personality; that is, he’s the only one who isn’t a pretentious speechifying cardboard cutout.
We get a little bit more lore here, and in a very palatable dose. The implication, however, is terrifying: the religion of this Eternia is one in which the goddess seems to be whatever the ruling party wants her to be. That’s one small step away from Lovecraftian horror, and that shows you exactly how misguided this series continues to be.
We are explicitly told that this is a parallel universe to the Eternia(s) I care about, the one(s) I have loved since childhood (although the iPhone game?! Really?!). That does make me unclench my buttocks a little bit, but it also underscores the fact that bleak Lovecraftian Eternia is a weak-sauce universe, and I for one would much prefer to be back in one of the better ones. Nothing to be done for it, alas.
While it fits in this world, from a broader perspective, He-Man-as-evil-dictator is a laughable premise, one that’s impossible to take seriously. Nevertheless, it’s used as a hypothetical here to decent effect.
Mhan’s art is solid as usual, but we’re reminded again just how bad the designs of Skeletor’s warriors are. Hordak, the Evil Warriors, She-Ra, He-Man—it’s just bad character designs across the board these days. There are also flashes here of what I called the “techy and off-putting designs” at the end of The Art of He-Man, plus that Battle Cat person, which has me bracing myself in expectation of this property taking a turn for the severe worse (I mean, honestly, as disappointing as this grim and gritty version of He-Man has been, who thinks grim and gritty New Adventures would be any better?).
As the covers of these issues clearly indicate and as their contents confirm, these still aren’t remotely close to being comics you can share with your kids. As someone who has derived a great deal of pleasure from indoctrinating my small children with a passionate love for the old Filmation cartoons, this continues to be profoundly disappointing (This is the last time I complain about this, I promise. It’s not going to change; I know that.).
In short, in spite of the many things they do badly, a coherent if unimpressive story and a decently interesting and much-needed plot turn at the end of #6 keep these issues afloat.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT