Review: He-man and the Masters of the Universe issue #1

I know MOTU isn’t for everyone, but I grew up with the toys, the cartoon, and comics.  I first started collecting the toys when I was in the hospital as a 3 year old after my burn accident.  Apparently (though I don’t remember it) one of the times they took me out of my room for one of my treatments (which were unpleasant to say the least) balling I screamed at my dad that I wanted Beastman.  Why I screamed that, I don’t know, but he got me the Beastman action figure, and almost everyone who came to visit brought me a He-Man figure of some sort.  I built up a nice little collection of them!  Since then the toy company has periodically tried to bring them back, The New Adventures of He-Man in the 80’s, a new cartoon, toy and comic in the early 00’s, and now they have a line of “collectors” action figures, and starting the 4th of July, a brand new comic returning to there original publisher, DC comics.  It has a bit of competition, as I thought the 2002 comic was hands down the high point for the franchise.  So how does the new comic stack up?

Well, first I’ll look at the art.  Often art can make or break a comic, and in this case it’s very hit and miss.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not consistent either.  There are a few gorgeous pictures of Beastman in the issue, including one really stand out splash page.  The art however changes from one panel to the next, and some pictures are real angular and lacking detail.  The first couple pages (the dream sequence) are out right terrible.  Another thing to note is the redesigns on the characters.  Some of the colors are changed, some have new oddly segmented armor, and almost all of them seem to have random patches of scale mail armor added, and all I can say is WHY?  If you are going to do redesigns, at least do GOOD redesigns (see the 2002 comic).  It’s no surprise that the best picture in the book is Beastman who’s design unlike the rest is almost unchanged.  On the the plus side however, the cover is spectacular, and about as iconic and quintessential He-Man as you can possibly get.  If only the rest of the book had stuck stayed on par with the cover and the pictures of Beastman.  A few small bits I did like, the basic design of “woodsman” Adam, and the brief look we get of his father (apparently Randor??  though I could be wrong)  Oh, and the COMPLETE over haul of Teela into a generic blond in a metal bikini?  Are you KIDDING ME?  What lame brain came up with that?

Now, onto the story, which ironically, can ALSO make or break a comic.  While it is nothing stand out here, we’re on much better footing then the art.  The basic gist is that at some point, Skeletor won, and somehow erased everyone’s mind, leaving Adam thinking he’s a lowly wood cutter with no memory of being He-Man.  This starts to change however when he has dreams of his former life, and sees a mysterious falcon in the woods.  This spurs him on a sort of self identity quest, and he attempts to leave his forest, only to run into Beastman who is apparently supposed to prevent him from leaving– battle ensues!  Nothing complicated, and not great, but it does have a sort of classic fantasy feel to it, and better, it allows a reader to follow Adam and discover the world of Eternia for the first time through his eyes, making this extremely accessible to someone new to the world.  Apart from that though, this is just a small piece of the story, and I can’t give a more detailed and thoughtful review until I’ve read a few more issues, and get a clearer picture of where they are going.  Over all a solid, if not exactly stellar opening to what COULD be a very promising story.

Final Grade – 3.5 out of 5 stars

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