SpartanNerd Vintage Comic Review…He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 (DC 1982)

I picked up this book last summer for $10 at a comics store at Myrtle Beach…It has remained sealed since I purchased it on vacation at Myrtle Beach last summer of 2014.  Here is a pic of the cover, in its sleeve, with the price tag attached.  As far as I know, outside of mini-comics, this is the first ever strait-up He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic book!  It was printed by DC in 1982.  I’ve never read this book before…I’m going to break the seal and replace the bag and board.  Might as well read it!

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I must say, this book has some physical signs of oldness.  There is some discoloration on the pages, and maybe some mold or mildew.  As I read through, My eyes felt itchy.  Who knows…maybe its been in that sleeve since 1982?  I didn’t cause any of the damage…this book has been sitting in my nerd closet in a display thing.  I moved the whole thing to my office at work last week.

The subtitle across the top, “To Tempt the Gods” is what really caught my eye and inspired me to read this one.  As I started reading, I realized how I was thoroughly enjoying it, and decided I would begin this feature on SpartanNerd.com   And I have lots of vintage comics, so….
The cover art leaves a little to be desired as MOTU art goes.  This isn’t Earl Norem, sadly.  But it is a #1, and if I’m not mistaken, the first newsstand title for MOTU ever.  (Besides the elusive Justice League etc backup stories that featured MOTU a few months prior…a warmup for what DC was going to be doing!)  (And are still doing…if they only knew!)
I’m going to discuss the ads here as well.  They are almost as enjoyable as the comic!
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This LEGO ad seems so different from what LEGO does today.  (No minifigs, no special branding, a kid prominently featured, having built something.  This was from the Expert Builders series.  Seems serious!
The introductory page features…wait for it…Teela with blonde hair!  (Battleground Teela…I suppose!)  If you look past the colorful figures of Teela, He-Man, Battlecat, the Wind Raider, and Stratos, you can see the outline of Skeletor.
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More skin on the next page…the middle of the page shows a scantily clad royal lady partying down.  It is interesting how midieval Eternia is portrayed.  Randor has gray hair, and is sitting at a table while watching the party.  Man-at-arms is beardless, just like his action figure.
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We get our first appearance of Prince Adam on page 3.  He’s wearing blue!  Randor and Man-at-Arms have been bashing his lazy character, and we see that he has been with a lady friend!
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Page four we get some reminiscing…in this story apparently Marlena did crash on Eternia when on a space mission from Earth.
There is a Bubble Yum ad.  “It’s longer lasting!!!”  “It’s smoother and blows great bubbles!!!”  I promise after I read this ad, I felt like hopping to the gas station to try and find some Bubble Yum!
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Behind that ad is another interesting ad.  “Saturday Sept 25th is PAC-MAN day on ABC-TV!”  We get multiple spots…all of these were cartoons evidently…actually I’m not sure.  I remember Pac-Man and Richy Rich.  But didn’t know about the Little Rascals cartoon, or Mork and Mindy with the Fonz, or The Puppy’s New Adventures.  (I do remember Scooby and scrappy). I remember watching Mork and Mindy and Laverne and Shirly.  But not as cartoons.  I think it might have been too difficult or strange for them to put a screenshot in the ad, so they instead drew the characters.
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The next page features some edgy script.  “GODDESS!  Demons and monstrosities from hell…attacking me!”  I like how Adam says he has been keeping up his teenage rebellion facade to hide his identity.  It reminds me of the 200x series.(Filmation eluded to this too, but not as heavily).  Speaking of Filmation, this Cringer can talk!
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Turning the page presents us with a never-before seen transformation.  Adam and Cringer run into the Cavern of Power, and this triggers their transformation into He-Man and Battlecat!  (How come I never heard of this before?)  I would like to point out a tremendous hole in the plot.  What happened to the demons?  How were Adam and Cringer able to escape to the Cavern of Power.  On the page earlier they were talking to each other under the bed?  Weird!  Anyways, this is our first real glimpse of Skeletor.  And the MOTUC folks of today absolutely nailed the Alcala head.  It looks exactly like it jumped off the page of this comic book.  (I don’t have the head, so I can’t include a personal photo.  Sorry!  I do have the most recent Masters of the Universe comic alternate cover that has Skeletor sporting this head.)
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I love the way He-Man talks!  “Speak to me the TRUTH ‘ere my Battle Axe finds a place to rest ‘twixt your foul eyes!”  On this page He-Man refers to Skeletor as being from Hell again.  There is also some more banter about the Goddess.  Skeletor has her captured, and intends to get the two pieces of the power sword to open Castle Greyskull (this is how the comic spells it!).  He can then be king of Eternia.  Notice that the Goddess appears to be Teela with a snake mask on.  Anyways, I have always heard about people protesting Masters of the Universe in the early days, but never witnessed that or anything.  Reading what was printed here in this comic in 1982, I can see why!  Conservative Christians would have had a big problem with the fantasy side of He-Man as presented here.  And they would have said it was a way to target and corrupt the young children.  As an adult reading this, I am feeling highly entertained.  I don’t know if it is only the “He-Man-ness” of it all.  Or if I find it entertaining the same way as if I was reading Thor or Conan.  If my parents bought me this book as a four year old SpartanNerd, I wouldn’t have been allowed to read it.  I believe as a comic book, it was being aimed at the Dungeons and Dragons/Iron Maiden crowd.  But another part of me thinks it was written for children.  The toyline, the ads in this book.  Would I have let my four year old read it?  No.  I believe the nine-year-old Magic the Gathering/Final Fantasy loving SpartanKid could handle it.  (But wouldn’t be interested.  He reads Mega-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog comics…both of which are clean as a whistle.)  The Thirty-Six year old, liscenced minister SpartanNerd isn’t offended at this work as it stands today in 2015.  That’s what I have to say about it, if anyone cares!
Anyways, enough of that!
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The next page details some of the fight between Skeletor and the Goddess.  And we are interrupted by another ad.  This time for Lifesavers.  It is an ad with a maze to work.  Reading that ad makes me remember Christmas.  He-Man and Lifesavers.  Two things I seemed to always have at Christmas!
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The page after the ad shows how the fight ended.  The Goddess banished the sword to some dimension.  Skeletor was really mad.  So he PUNCHED HER IN THE FACE!  Then captured her.  The following page has He-Man charged by Skeletor to find three talismans.  One of the Sea, another of the sky, and another of the cosmos.  These three things supposedly will lead He-Man to the power sword.  Skeletor also can keep his eye on He-Man mystically…his floating head talking in the air reminds me of the 1987 movie, where Skeletor did the same thing.  And I can’t help but think the writers of that film were inspired by this scene.
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This book keeps surprising us!  The next page we see Zodac having some internal struggle.  he decides to wait and see what he is supposed to do.  Even here we see the dual nature of Zodac and his modus operandus.  I like the way he muses about Skeletor and He-Man, and he says that they are polar opposites.
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As the story continues, it is interesting to see that the guards do not recognize He-Man!  Teela has to intervene!  And He-Man says to himself, “Never before have I been in their presence as any other than their carousing son, Adam!”  So this was the first meeting of Randor, Marlena, and He-Man.
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Then we get a DOUBLE PAGE AD!  “STARCADE  Saturday Morning Megafun on CBS.”  Besides the loony toons characters, I don’t remember these cartoons.  It is interesting that Gilligan’s Island had an associated cartoon.  At the bottom, you get the schedule.  Notable is Backstar at 1:00, another Filmation show associated closely with He-Man!
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After the megafun mega-ad, He-Man says something startling about the situation of meeting his parents.  He says the same thing we’ve all been wondering all these years…”Save for my garb, what is there to prevent their recognizing me as the heir to the throne?”  Wow.  He-Man bro the fourth wall sort of!  The battle on the facing page in defense of the wizard Tarrak contrasts the fighting styles of He-Man, Battle Cat, and Teela quite nicely, Teela using a gun, He-Man his axe, and Battlecat pouncing and using his claws.  Since they are fighting “demons from hell” no big deal in killing them right?
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On the next page we have the famous image of Battleground Teela.  I believe this was used on her bio on the packaging.  When Man-At-Arms joins in on the next page, notable is the word “THOK.”  He-Man is messing up a demon!  And the battle ends with smiles and happiness!
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Another ad!  New from Remco toys.  “SGT. ROCK playsets”  The the way this toy looks in the artwork reminds me of The CORPS.  You know, the generic version of GI JOE.
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He-Man gets mad and hits the table.  Out of character for his later stories.  And this makes me wonder who else might be after the constellation talisman?  Not Hordak, this early in the career….probably Zodac.
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Tele says something especially original on the next page.  “Deeds’ Chain!”  Another thought.  I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of Tarrak before?  On the next page, we see Avion.  So it looks like Stratos’ story was developed this early.  However it appears that everyone here isn’t of the same species as Stratos.  That’s a different touch.  Several things that look like Beastman’s now attack!  The book explains on the next page that these are Beastmen.  This is a similar concept to what we saw in the Sir Lazer-Lot One Shot.  And I can’t help but think Geoff Johns was inspired by this page.
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Another ad follows…Star Frontiers.  Reading this, I gather it is a D&D knock off, with a science fiction twist.  I don’t recognize TSR The Game Wizards brand.  That bears researching, I suppose.
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The Beastmen follow Stratos into the air on the backs of dragons on the next page.  Tarok makes Stratos invisivble on the next page.  I think it odd that Stratos was able to fly to Eternia so quickly…I’ve heard arguments that Eternia must be a small planet.  This book seems to think so, or Avion is really close to the Palace.
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On the final page of this action packed story, Stratos finds safety with He-Man, Teela, and Tarrak, and He-Man seems to rip that amulet from Stratos neck and shout, “This is one of the Talismans!”  (in my translation.)
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Four ads follow this page.
An ad for a comic called “Camelot 3000”  There is a hand holding up a sword gleaming with energy. reaching out of a pool…I gather the Lady of the Lake holding Excalibur.  But it is interesting that this image appears in a He-Man comic book.
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A toy offer for “Tough Wheels.”  and “Burnin’ Key Cars.”  This toy was manufactuerd by KidCo.  Something else I don’t recognize.  One of the few ads to have photographs in it.
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An ad for Milk Duds, Clark, and Zagnut.  Interesting that Zagnut is mentioned here…this is the candy bar that was recently shoplifted by Plastique in DC’s weekly (and wrapping up) Futures End.  You could mail in some wrappers and get a headset radio.
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Finally, WOW!  They’re Out of this World Super Heroes Character Time Sticks, Time Capsules, and Watches.  I don’t know what Time Sticks and Time Capsules are….Oh yeah…a description.  Time sticks are ink-pens with a watch build in.  Time Capsules are some kind of sticky watch face that you can put anywhere.  The Wonder-Woman watch here does look nostalgic to me.  And these are digital items.  So 1980’s!  These seem to cost a lot of money for 1982…the pens were $8.00.  That’s like $20 in today’s money!
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Hopefully, oh Hub City Geeks, you have enjoyed reading my summary and commentary of this classic book.  Here’s what I like and what I don’t like about it….
The art is OK.  It’s not McFarlane, but it is good for its time.  Teela can be seen in the same pose a few different times, which is odd to me, considering this was art done the old school way without computers.
It is refreshing to see Blonde Bombshell Teela.  I am convinced that the Skeletor and He-Man presented in this book are actually different characters than what most people, including me, know and love.  They just aren’t the same as the Filmation version.
I don’t like the “small Eternia.”  I don’t like that in any media.
I do think this book pushed the edges a little bit for young children.  Aside from the demons, the word “Damnation” also was uttered.  A little too edgy for the four and five years olds.  Maybe not the ten year olds of today, but of 1982, probably so.
I like how this book has echoes in other media.  The reference in the live action movie to Skeletor communicating as a head in the sky.  The Beastmen.  Avon became a regular stop in the Mike Young cartoon.  Yes…this was an influential comic.  Why the Cave of Power?  I don’t know.
I’m glad to own a copy of this piece of history.  I won’t bother giving it a rating.  If you want to know my rating, you should read this entry on what I consider the “Gold Standard” of comics.
Good Journey, and keep reading!
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