HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #14 written by Dan Abbnet with art by Pop Mhan isn’t quite beefy enough for my tastes.
I’ve heard quiet whisperings from various places of this He-Man reboot being good, I’ve really liked Abbnet’s works with Andy Lanning, and at different points in my life I’ve been interested in He-Man, so this is a book I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now. I’m pretty glad I finally did! The cover prominently features She-ra and promises “The Origin of She-Ra.” That’s not in this issue! There was some other stuff though!
The issue got off to a good start in media res with a blue woman being chased through a forest a thousand years in the past. The narration boxes are wonderfully overblown. It set just the right tone that I was hoping for from a He-Man comic. I particularly liked Mark Robert’s colors in this sequence. Everything is shaded with a lush green that instantly changes to a dark and menacing red the the force that is chasing the woman is revealed. The overwrought narration continues as the story moves into the present day where we find Adora, the sister of He-man and future She-ra. Her outfit covers every inch of skin that is not on her face, yet also manages to not be a painted on, skin tight body suit. Well done there.
He-man shows up riding an absolutely humongous Battle-Cat, which I loved. His arms were large enough and showed some veins, but I was hoping for some more. Most of the issue had him explaining various goings on in Eternia. As a first time reader, this was a pretty interesting glimpse into the differences between this series and the classic ones I’m vaguely familiar with. It was certainly enough to pique my interests and I’m pretty interested in going back and checking out the back issues now.
The later parts of the issue deal with Hordak’s Hordes. I never watched any of She-Ra so Hordak and the Horde are not something I know about at all, but here they are shown to be very technological. Much more so than the standard magic technology usually seen in He-Man stories. The last page is really neat, It looks like a view from sort of computer database-backed security camera. I think this is a pretty cool idea, if this is a series about science versus magic, and once again, I’m more than interested in checking out the rest of this series.
Most of the things I wrote about in the Positives section have a negative flip side. That awesome purple prose narration I mentioned? Completely disappears once He-Man shows up on page 6. Despite Adora’s costume being tasteful, Teela, as the new Sorceress, isn’t wearing a shirt at all and is relying on her headdress to keep her partially modest. Almost worse than that, He-Man is wearing pants! What sort of travesty is this? I probably shouldn’t be disappointed in this, but I was really really hoping that She-Ra was going to be super buff, which she’s not. Oh well.
He-Man’s arms meet the bare minimum for large enough, and the whole comic just isn’t as big as I want it to be. Part way through it very, very abruptly transitions into a very claustrophobic action scene. The framing is so tight the characters fighting just don’t have any room to breathe. This is a He-Man comic! I want it to be big and epic and flashy. After a few panels the “camera” pulls back to reveal that He-Man and Adora had actually taken out a very large group of enemies. I guess this was supposed to be the payoff to the abrupt, narrowly focused action scene, but the reveal that I missed out on a huge action scene just left me feeling more cheated.
I praised the back story that this issue spent a large part of its time telling, and as a first time reader, it got me very interested in the series. However, I imagine that if this was a series that I had been following since day one, this long info dump would have probably been pretty boring, And here’s my big problem with the issue. Most of the things I praised and complained about are more general things that probably apply to the whole series, like character designs and structure, not to this issue in particular. While the overall story works, the issue itself lags and doesn’t really have too much to recommend it.
In one sense, issue 14 of HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE does its job. It made me want to read more. On the other hand, as a single issue of a comic book, there’s not too much here.
Pick this one up if you like purple prose, a fresh take on an old toy commercial, or *shudder* pants on He-Man.