SpartanNerd…Micro Reviews 1

New thing.  MICRO REVIEWS!

These posts will be brief summary thoughts concerning my feelings about various “nerdtainment” items.  This is becoming a necessity, as I am getting more content than I have time for a formal review.

 

SUICIDE SQUAD.  I promise, I will bring a full review after I see it a second time.  I saw this on opening weekend, and was impressed.  Very nice movie, that remained faithful to the comic book characters.  Harley Quinn stole the show…

 

HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: “THE THREE TERRORS” (Short Animation)…This is now available on iTunes, and I watched it today.  It is ten minutes of an attempt by Super7 to revive the Filmation style of animation.  This little cartoon hit it at about 80%.  Alan Oppenheimer still voices Skeletor, but he just doesn’t have the high pitches that he carried in his younger days.

 

SPEAKING OF SUPER7…I was shocked to hear of their takeover of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS.  I think their small figure line is cute and interesting, maybe even worth the $5 a figure.  But I don’t own any…I am in the camp with many other fans that jittery times are ahead.  Why would Mattel pass that property?  I am glad Digital River is done.  Maybe shipping will be cheaper.

 

METALLICA: “HARDWIRED FOR DESTRUCTION”…This is the only track and also is the title track) released so far, for an album slated to release on November 18.  It’s about time!  The few reviews on iTunes so far compare the song to stuff on “Justice for All.”  I think the singing might be a little smoother than what was on “Death Magnetic,” but the band’s all around sound is about the same.  Robert Trujillo is KILLING that bass!

 

YOUNG JUSTICE…I began watching this again…I watched it last year.  What a great cartoon!  I wish more would happen.

 

DC COMICS: REBIRTH..I have been reading Batman as well as Robin, Son of Batman, and also I picked up All Star Batman.  So far, the most powerful story is the Batman book that came out this week.  Batman #5 dropped a couple of bombs, that they are going to kill Batman ONCE AGAIN.  And that Duke Thomas is going to marry Gotham Girl.

 

MAGIC THE GATHERING: CONSPIRACY-TAKE THE CROWN…The spoilers released so far have fans scratching their heads.  This set looks to bring more power and almost better reprints than Eternal Masters and Modern Masters 2015.  Very odd!

 

First Ever Micro-Reviews!  Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

 

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Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection

I reviewed the Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection back in May, after having a tough time getting my hands on a copy.  Since then, I have slowly read through every page, and can give you more of a review of the contents rather than just the product.

VINTAGE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

First thing first.  “Miniternia” is definitely a favorite universe of mine now.  I was aware of it, and had read a few books from it.  When I was a kid, these books just confused me because they were so different from what I was used to (the Filmation cartoon.)  But reading these as an adult, there is a definite vibe to those books not found anywhere else.  There are comparisons to Conan the Barbarian, but as a Conan fan, I don’t think so.  Miniternia is a great comic story…an innocent story in a way, and in a way more pure of a story from a writers standpoint.  Mattel gave the writers carte blanche, as long as they depicted the toys.  The barbarian He-Man is awesome, and the miniternia Skeletor is more insane than his other versions.

I remember hearing that there were fundamentalist Christians boycotting and protesting He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  I was vaguely aware of this as a child (I AM a Christian, and was raised in a Christian home.)  But as an adult, I heard people talk about it on the Roast Gooble Dinner podcasts.  I can see how, after reading over half of the book, I’d bet the word “demon” and “devil” were invoked in almost every single story!  Watching the Filmation show, this also comes up…I don’t know if that was daring on the part of the writers, or what?

 

You can clearly see transitional guidance between Miniternia and the comics that more closely resembled Filmation shows.  The stories become even flimsier sometimes, and highlighting of the products becomes central, rather than story and character development.  Then one day, out of nowhere, the Evil Horde becomes more prominent.  As a kid, the Horde annoyed me because to me, Skeletor was supposed to be the ultimate baddy.  And Hordak was apparently his teacher.  I came to love the Horde as much as anything else in MOTU, but I can see why I felt that way.  Mattel began to push the Horde in the mini comics, and there were more Horde figures on the shelves, and the commercials depicted the Horde more.  They were supposed to be another faction…which worked well in a house with three kids.  Hordes became She-Ra’s main villain, but I didn’t watch She-Ra…(yeah, right!)

I remember the Snake Men story vibrantly from when I was a child…my oldest brother was very interested in them.  My mother (and grandmother) are deathly terrified of snakes, so…I never really thought of them as another faction…just as a side team that worked for Skeletor, which is exactly how the mini comics portray them.  Throw in that Kobra Kahn and Tongue Lasher appeared on Skeletor’s team on the Filmation show working with Skeletor, and you can see why.  It was the Mike Young 200x show that really highlighted them as another team…an even deadlier team that Skeletor’s bunch.

Of all of the things about He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I rarely ever complain. But now is my chance.  The “Three Towers” really annoy me.  It is one of the rarest toys to be found, and is therefore a valuable item.  But I don’t care.  The whole concept is STUPID.

Lets replace Castle Grayskull and Snake mountain with two smaller versions, and put a stupid lion tower in the middle.  We can connect the whole universe together with a roller coaster thingy.

There are SOO many reasons why I dislike the three towers.  It is billed as “playset Eternia.”  So the whole planet of Eternia can fit into one Playset?  This was EXACTLY how it was depicted in the minicomics.  I heard someone call it “Grayskull 2.0.”  Castle Grayskull was supposed to be this ultimate place of power.  But the Three Towers were meant to supplant all of that.

Eternia must be about the size of Spartanburg or upstate South Carolina…It seems it takes King Grayskull in the Mike Young cartoon about three days to cross the whole place.  Maybe the three towers fit that scheme?  There is a map in the He-Man art book, it came with certain characters if you subscribed to the “Club Grayskull” or whatever.  That map shows the towers stretched out across a huge central continent.  That MIGHT be plausible.  But why would they all connect together by a vehicle?  And if “Viper Tower” was meant to be Snake Mountain (It DID more closely resemble the cartoon version), and Grayskull tower was supposed to be the base for the good guys…just why?  I believe Mattel sensed that the vintage line was coming to an end, and were getting desperate.

SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER

The She-Ra comics were pretty cute.   One of the interviews mentions that there were strict guidelines for drawing female characters.  That is apparent…the depictions of all those she-ra women are not sexy at all.  Sometimes they are child-like and pretty.  The She-Ra comics “de-evolve” from Minicomics format into Storybook format.  There is an incorrect footnote in the first She-Ra story, that says the Evil Horde is not mentioned in the comics ever again after the first one.  But that was inaccurate as the final two She-Ra stories have Catra mentioning the Horde, and also depict Horde troopers.

These books give you less of a sense of “the great rebellion,” and more just sweet little stories.  Catra, “the jealous beauty” is the main villain in these stories, but she can’t really do anything worse than children do to each other, it seems.  She steals a treasure box, she crashes a party by spraying everyone with water.  She spreads a rumor.  SERIOUSLY?

I made it through all of the She-Ra books, and rather enjoyed them.  But they are far too shallow.  I enjoyed the way they usually depicted She-Ra with the mask and Adora with the headband…A device you never saw on the cartoon.  And I thought the story of “Crystal Dimension” was interesting, where Swift Wind was transformed into a crystal version of himself.

I never really got a sense that The Crystal Castle was a She-Ra’s place of power?  It seemed to be a place where she and her friends lived instead.  The enchanted forest was there.  But Catra seemed to be homeless.

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HE-MAN

As a child, I was just getting “too old” for toys as New Adventures came out.  My oldest brother wasted no time in getting a few toys, but I don’t think I ever saw a single episode of the cartoon.  I DID remember reading the comic, however.

I wasn’t aware that there were only four comics ever produced for that toy-line.  I DID know that it was short lived.

Basically, the vintage He-Man and Skeletor characters translated smoothly over to the futuristic versions, with Skeletor getting burned badly while witnessing Adam transform into He-Man, and having to “fix himself” with bionic parts.  The only idiotic thing is that He-Man’s sword is already a “techno sword.”  They should have been able to draw the classic sword in those few panels.  I always thought it was kind of stupid that the power of Grayskull had to be transferred into that starship…Really?  The art and the storytelling in these books is good, but different from the earlier ones.  As we read through all of these, we really see Bruce Timm’s art style mature up.  Once, He-Man even looks like we would see Batman on the nineties cartoon!  (Not in a New Adventures book…one of the final vintage comics.)

200x COMICS

I almost forgot!  The singular “pack-in” comic is included here.  With Val Staples and Emiliano Santalucia forming the bond that would become MV Creations, (and eventually break apart into the saddest schism maybe in the whole brand.) There are two comics here, one that never made it to print.

These are similar to the 200x comics that Image and Cross Gen would publish, but shorter and having a lot less content.  The art is just about exactly the same.  Emiliano is great!  (The second book was drawn by someone else, who somewhat emulated Emiliano’s style.)

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS MINI COMICS

Before the collection, I had no opportunities to read these stories.  I heard fans complain about them because they leave out a lot of story details that should be filled in.  The first one is a modern retelling of the first vintage Preternia book, and the following two pull together the entire story to include even the New Adventures.  An interesting detail, this story portrays He-Ro as the originator of the Power of Grayskull when he passes the Sword of He over to King Grayskull in death.  Funny how it ended, with a remark about building a castle and naming it after He-Ro.  (It would be named Castle Grayskull!)

I also thought the twist where Skeletor gets the techno virus from Bionatops in order to transform into his New Adventures form was also fun!  I was confused about King Grayskull, King He-man (he makes an appearance!) and King Miro.  What was that all about?

The art on these books are terrifically modern, and yes, they COULD have gave us more story.  I see how these serve the same purpose as the earlier mini comics…justify more toys.  They even introduced members of He-Ro’s team that have never been produced, simply to spark interest.  Ultimately, mini-comics aren’t the best vehicle for telling a grand story…they are a place to jump off and use your imagination.  And since Scott Neitlich was the guy in charge of these, that statement sounds exactly like something he would have said.

EXTRAS

The Mini-Comic collection contains lots of interviews…most of them seem to have come directly from Roast Gooble Dinner podcasts.  Maybe the DID actually re-interview some of the people…and maybe these are redacted and edited versions of those interviews.  I enjoyed reading them all, thought they didn’t teach me much of anything new because I had already heard it from the mouth of the person being interviewed.

So, just when I think James Eatock has astounded me with his intense Fanhood and knowledge of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, he surprises me yet again!

James “Bustatoons” Eatock apparently is the owner of a discarded and never produced mini comic, which is published at the back of this book.  It apparently never made it to the coloring stage.  I wonder if more stuff like this is out there?  And what a find…AND how does someone like him find all this stuff?  The comic is apparently the supposed pack-in with Flying Fists He-Man…it has some details issues, which might be why it was scrapped.  But it is a terrific read.

And finally we have an outline of a never-produced mini comic, which would have featured Faker prominently.  It is cool to read over, and I wonder if any fans who are good artists have made this book as fan art?

I enjoyed reading the Minicomics collection, and recommend it to anyone who is a fan of He-Man…a great value at under $30.  Reading this kept me from purchasing other comics for awhile…I always had something new to read, and this will make its way to my office at work to read in my “spare time.”

 

SpartanNerd Review…He-Man and The Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection

Thanks for all the views in my absence!  The SpartanNerd has been really busy with his real job.  But now, back to blogging.

Masters of the Universe “mini comics” were truly my introduction to comic books.  I had no Spider-man, Superman, or Batman comics as a small child.  The only comics I specifically remember were those packed with Masters of the Universe figures.  Me and my brothers would read these, and they would get stepped on, crumpled, left in the car.  Pages torn out.  Staples let loose.  Crayon marks.  Holes.  All kinds of abuse.  I cringe to think about it now, but I don’t think I would have had it any other way.  As a teacher, I know that these experiences led me to a whole-language approach to reading, and it helped my brothers as well, who weren’t as good at reading as me.

The other thing about the mini comics…they told inconsistent stories.  I didn’t understand that there were different artists, writers, and publishers with different ideas.  The public at large didn’t know all of the details that have been unearthed in recent years about the workings behind the scenes.  So when Skeletor says he and his people are from another dimension…that didn’t make sense with my largely Filmation understanding of the story.  This didn’t turn me off of the mini comics.  But it made me wonder “why?”

The story behind me getting He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection is sort of a frustrating one…I actually ordered it at The Tangled Web in Spartanburg SC back in November, before it came out.  This was supposed to be my anniversary present…It wasn’t a pre-order, so I didn’t pay up front.

But somehow, it didn’t arrive.  And so they re-submitted the order for me, at least three times.  I heard rumors online that the production run was shorter than expected…that demand couldn’t be met easily.  I was tempted to order from Amazon, go to Barnes and Noble maybe.  But I am loyal if nothing else, and in time I accepted that rumor as truth, and that the mini comic collection would be another rare thing I wouldn’t have a hold of.  I would pick it up eventually…(maybe.)

Apparently, sometime in the last month (While I have been away from the blog) the owner of The Tangled Web came across, and ordered the upcoming art-book thing that is all about the Filiation cartoon…He was telling me about it, and knew I would definitely want a copy.  (I DO!)  And so I asked him to look again about the mini comic collection.  A quick look on his computer and he said.  “We’ll have it in a week!”  He was right this time.  You have to love small business!

Does the mini comic collection deliver up to my expectations?  Keep reading!

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Here is the front cover…still sealed with cellophane!  The Tangled Web sold this to me for a slight discount, considering my situation.  I am quite appreciative!  Long live small business!  Love that store, and any of my readers who ever come through Spartanburg should come by and purchase something.  (Would Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Wal-Mart have cared ?  Of course not.)

The cover makes it clear what you are getting.  It is probably wrong to put She-Ra mini comics (storybooks?) in this and just call it He-man and the Masters of the Universe.  But they did.  I suppose by now, though most She-Ravers consign themselves to this.

 

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Here’s the back, featuring an image from “The Terror Claws Strike!”

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And the spine…showing that this is a Dark Horse product, as well as offering you a glimpse at how very thick this book is!  It is in fact 1232 pages long!

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A little comparison for you.  On the left is the Minicomic collection (now unwrapped.)  And  on the right is my only extant mini comic.  “King of the Snake Men.”  A gift from my wife…the italian version no less!  But anyway.  Look at the size difference!

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I found a page from “King of the Snake Men” in the collection, so you can further see the incredible difference “blowing this up” makes!  Good thing too.  The SpartanNerd’s vision fails him in his old age.

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For a book that is thicker than many Bibles, Harry Potter books, and encyclopedia’s…its a good thing they included this ribbon-bookmark!  And it is a very handy addition as well.  (I am reading the collection straight through.  I use this to mark where I left off.)

Now for the contents.

As you read, you get little footnotes.  See the bottom here.  This information helps you see the mini comics as pieces of Masters of the Universe history.  And they appear to be in chronological order, starting with the first “storybooks” given out…drawn by Alfredo Alcala.  These show “miniternia.”  The first story depicted in media about He-Man.  And this story is vastly different from Filmation and later stories.  He-Man is a barbarian hero in a post-apocalyptic situation, where technology and magic are lorded over the populace by experts such as Man-At-Arms, The Goddess (Sorceress), and Skeletor.

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The book takes some time to share interviews with the artists and writers.  Here is a pic of the interview with one of the earliest writers, Gary Cohn.

I haven’t read past “mini-eternia” yet.  (Just got to Filmation era.)  But I will go ahead and show you what else this book consists of.  Here is some of the She-Ra stuff.  They seem to have included it all!9

Tons of pink and pastels.  Not sure what the image below depicts.  But there are several pages of this book which I assume is some part of She-Ra lore preserved here.  AND, in a similar vein, the “read with me” story with a record about the Talon Fighter is in here too.  I remember owning that  and reading it as a kid, and being terrified.  (A terrified as you can be of a comic book.  Hey…I was like six years old…or younger!)

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Here is what I considered the sad story from the first New Adventures of He-Man mini comic.  Prince Adam is No More!  It depicts He-Man transforming in the presence of Skeletor, knocking him down and frying his skull.  (Which necessitates the “cyborg” version found throughout that particular incarnation of the story.)  All of the New Adventures stories are chronicled here.

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The comics by Val Staples and Emiliana Selucia from the 200x series are here.  These were the pack-in comics, not the monthly comics.  But the art is very much the same.  (The second Pack-In was drawn by Enza Fortana)

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The rarest of the mini-comics is here.  “The Power of the Evil Horde”

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And the Masters of the Universe Classics mini comics are here.  I haven’t been fortunate enough to own or read any of these.  I was very happy to get to see the maps in the Masters of the Universe Art Book.  And since I am reading straight through, I am avoiding the temptation to go ahead and read these.  (My readers should know…I am also re-reading the recent DC comics again.)  I don’t want too much fantasy bouncing around in my head!

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And here is what is on the last pages of the book.  Not sure what this is about.  A book that didn’t make it to print?

 

Reading what I have read so far has been extremely satisfying.  The larger pages lets me have a deeper appreciation for the art.  I have no trouble reading the script, either.  The colors seem to be “restored.”  I love the chronological nature of the collection as well, unfolding a history of the brand.  What a great way to pay homage to something so fundamental to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

I have read some of the mini comics online over the years.  (Is that piracy?)  I don’t buy many digital comics…I do use ComiXology and its associated apps, but what I read on that is usually Spawn or Conan the Barbarian books…things I don’t want laying around for my children to read.  But there is nothing like having the physical book in your hand.

If I had a choice, own a copy of every single mini comic, OR own this collected edition.  I would go for the collection.  Simply because of the large size.  And they are all collected in one volume, so that is convenient!

If I could rate anything higher than 5/5, then the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection would be a 6/5.  It is perfect!  I love the large pages, the chronological order, the interviews…all of it is spectacular!

 

SpartanNerd Review…He-Man: The Eternity War issues 12 and 13

Way back in November, I gave you my thoughts on the He-Man: The Eternity War story in issues 10 and 11.  Today, I bring you issues 12 and 13!

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I have read so many comics that NOTHING seems to happen in.  This hasn’t been the case with He-Man!  Each issue brings barbaric fighting, sci-fi goodness, high-fantasy magic, and the struggle for good to defeat evil.  The writers are giving us a great comic, with all-stops out!

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The two manifestations of The Goddess continue to battle it out.  The Sorceress of Serpos (Teela) and the Sorceress of Horokoth (Evil-Lynn) do this because the Sorceress of Zoar (…The Sorceress) was killed off by Skeletor way back at the beginning of this comic series.

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And while this epic confrontation wages, Skeletor has the power of Grayskull, and is making his own weapon out of Hordak’s sword and the Havoc staff at the Forge of Grayskull.  As he hammers away, planets are exploding out in the universe!

(The Forge of Grayskull is a repetitively used plot device in this series.  The writers have tied the power He-Man has to the forge, because it’s fire comes from the Star Seed…us long time fans know this as “the spark of creation.”)

Planets exploding…this strikes another nerve, as I just left my second viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

It is also remarked that the souls of all of the people killed as these worlds explode are feeding Skeletor’s power.  Pretty scary.

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Remember that scene where He-Man was Naked?  Evidently, the writers were showing us He-Man stripped down in his psyche.  The next scene shows what is going on in Adam’s head.

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We saw this scene before, but in that scene Keldor encouraged Adam.  We are seeing the memory corrupted by King Hssss.  And Adam doesn’t appear consistent in his mind…notice how as he fights, he suddenly was older and had the battle axe.

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He continues to change…

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And then is a psychological He-Man.  The axe is significant.  The is the He-Man inside of Adam, and he doesn’t need the power of gray skull.

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Adam encounters someone else in his mind as he goes deeper to protect his psyche from King Hsss.  His suppressed love for Teela is just at the top level of his sub-conscience.

And now for a HOLE IN THE PLOT.  Wasn’t Teela a blonde in this comic?  They even made a big deal about her dying her hair to red!

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Adam’s memory of Teela tells him to fight with all he has to protect a deeply hidden but crucial memory.  A memory shielded from even himself…It is represented by this little rock thing.  But then under attack by Hsss, Adam drops it and it shatters.  And then we had to wait for Issue 12!

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Issue 12 starts off with She-Ra fighting to get to Grayskull, and having a hard time slaying Skeletor’s Dark Riders…basically phantom skeleton warriors.

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She figures it out by suddenly knowing “Sword to Shield!”  I didn’t think they would use She-Ra’s sword-transformations in this comic.  The sword became  basically a sharp ended force-field.  COOL!

I am missing some pictures and am too lazy to re-take (after seeing Star Wars until 12:30 last night.)  Something that happened off panel was Man-At-Arms planting a bomb in Tri-Clops visor while he was “talking too much”.  And so that explodes, killing Tri-Clops and blowing a hole in Castle Grayskull/Fright Zone’s shields.

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And now back to what is going on in Adam’s head.  Adam is running towards the crashed Wind Raider…we saw this before…

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The memory is of the event that was recorded in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #19, which was sub-titled “Prelude to the Eternity War.”  This comic was a whole year ago!  And King Hsss is working hard to corrupt this memory…a memory so deep and yet so vital to who He-Man is.  In the memory, Adam as a child, taps into the power of gray skull in order to save Randor from death.  Apparently a hidden ability of the power of gray skull is the ability to control time.  And so, the word “eternity” makes sense.  The Sorceress and Zodac decided to allow Adam to briefly tap the power as a child to save Randor, so long as he “forgot” what he did, as well as how he did it.  That fundamental moment proves that Adam IS He-Man, with or without a power sword.

Man-At-Arms is apparently not dead after all, but seriously wounded in the chest.  As he comes around, he sees Adam having inner conflict, saying things that don’t make sense, etc.  And then he sees Adam grab the remnants of the power sword and cut himself open!

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I always thought King Hsss devoured his victims like he did in the 200x cartoon.  Now we see how he does it for real…and it is SOOO much creepier.  Instead of swallowing them whole, (which kind of doesn’t make sense…) he goes into the body and consumes it from the inside.  All the while also consuming their psyche and becoming that person for real.  He is the Master of Dissssguisssse.

And before he took control of Adam he was Mendor…(I thought their must be something suspicious about Mendor…his name ends with an “-OR.”  Clearly he was a bad guy!) As Mendor, he treated all of the snake men, and caused them to be “seeded with his venom.”  Which apparently meant they would self destruct when he died.

So King Hsss dies, as does the Eternian army.(Because they are the same thing.)

In a matter of issues we have seen two entire armies wiped out…the Horde Troopers and the Snake Men.  Never say “nothing happened” in a Masters of the Universe comic!

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The memory of Randor gives Adam some clarity.  But let’s remember, Adam is dying…he just cut himself open…

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We interrupt that very important drama with even more important drama.  Skeletor outlines his evil plan to the world.  He has tapped the Star Seed.  She-Ra is down.  Hordak is conquered.  As the chosen one of Horokoth, Skeletor aims to destroy ALL life.  And then rule the chaos that comes after.

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Finally we see the image of Skeletor transformed with the power of Grayskull.  It appears that as before, he is combined with the Havoc staff.  Or maybe I’m wrong about that.

There are definite movie overtones here.  Remember Skeletor becoming “god.”  (Also the actors changed from Frank Langella to Anthony DeLongis.)

And as he appears, in Adam’s final moments…

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He taps into the power of Grayskull as the chosen one of both Serpos and Zoar!  It appears now that Adam is either re-born, or maybe healed.  And now he is a supercharged version of He-Man!  (We also saw some of this pre-viewed in the art book.

The art book seems to give us a few more hints of what’s to come.  But for now, I am perfectly happy with how things have gone!  This is the greatest Masters of the Universe story ever told!

Do I even need to bother giving them a 5/5?  I think my readers already know that!

SpartanNerd thoughts…He-Man and the Eternity War Issues #10 and #11

I said way back in my 250th blog post that I would be posting a review of Issue #10.  My apologies, readers…life has kept me away from the blog.  And that is going to continue, it seems.  I find blogging to be a relaxing thing, so, I will do it when I can relax.

I think I’ll start with this photo…

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What….These two comics inspired me to produce and take this photo.  (Never realized how hard it is to put an alternate head on King Hsss….)

The events leading up to issue #10 and #11…

Basically, the Horde conquered Eternia.  Hordak had the Fright Zone infect the land, as he acquired the power of Grayskull and seemed to be bringing about the “Age of Horokoth”.  (He used the blood of Grayskull to resurrect his body…previously his spirit was trapped inside a robot life-support casket.)  He forged his own sword of power, etc.

The masters made allies with the Snake Men, who worship the Green Goddess (Teela) as the Sorceress of Serpos.  He-Man decided to eschew the power of Grayskull and only use the power of Adam…bad move, because apparently King Hsss…devoured him off-panel.  (So the main character of He-Man and the Eternity War has been killed….????)

Basically, Skeletor double crosses She-Ra into healing him from his missing jaw, and then uses the power of the Havoc Staff and the Well of Darkness to break into Hordak’s chamber of souls on Despondos.  He steals the souls and leaves She-Ra there stranded with the souls of those she executed as Despara.  Skeletor then teleports back to Eternia, unleashes those souls, which happen to re-possess their physical bodies (which are Horde Troopers,) and they mutiny.  He uses this moment of distraction to kill Hordak with his Horokoth Sword of Power.  (The moment I shouted for joy!  I’ve never been a big fan of the Horde.)  Also along the way, Evil-Lynn became the Sorceress of Horokoth.  Meaning now there are two sorceresses.

Which brings us to Issue 10.

The front cover…

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It has been hinted for quite some time that Skeletor was going to acquire the power of Grayskull.  This is why it seemed so odd that Hordak acquired it first.  And he acquired it in a very backhanded way…

I have this theory…I believe the writers are playing with the toys.  In fact, I think they might be basing their stories on their old childhood versions of the stories, or similar.

Skeletor holding a power sword wearing He-Man’s armor.  This is a strong hint.  I went and tried to duplicate this photo.  But I didn’t get a picture.  It totally works, especially if you give him the pink Prince Adam sword. (However, I don’t have a blue body with gold bracers and a gold belt.)

It was hinted back in the art book…some of the images they released showed Skeletor transformed, and also had his transformation words, “Cry Havoc!  I am Skeletor!”

We are seeing how that story unfolds.

Onto the plot.

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Basically, Prince Adam (actually King Hssss) is inspiring the masters and the Snake Men to attack the Horde.

King Hsss/Adam is wearing the traditional battle armor of the Snake Men, a supposed way to inspire them.  But we, as readers see King Hsss really flaunting who he secretly is.

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Next we see an exchange between Skeletor and Evil-Lynn.  Doesn’t she look cool!

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And now for something random.  Who is this mysterious soldier?  “War Wraith.”  And from my picture earlier, you see why I was inspired to do what I did!  The War Wraith looks incredibly like Evil-Seed.  And I thought he was until Skeletor used his name.

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And then something else we’ve never seen.  Evil-Lynn weeping.  A very spiritual thing this time.  Evidently as a manifestation of the Goddess, she reacts to things happening in the universe.  I’m reading a parallel here to what the Green Goddess (Teela) did when guiding Despara to the point of drawing He-Man’s blood, an act that would ultimately result in the resurrection of Hordak.  This seems out of character.  But it is the way her newfound power is effecting her.  Skeletor isn’t moved, of course.  Except for in the same way the SpartanNerd is moved when the females are crying.  Angry.  I know it isn’t normal, but its true.

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Next, the action cuts to the Masters using the Dragon Walkers to attack Grayskull.  A ridiculous idea.  If Dragon Walkers were real, they would be the clumsiest, stupidest kind of tank ever invented.  They were fun toys, though!  It is interesting that the details of the story mention the gear that makes them work.  More evidence that the writers have been playing with the toys…that gear was a highly noticeable part of the toy.

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And then we see the War Wraith flying on a Roton sniping snake men.  Very cool.  Who was this guy, I asked myself while reading.  He never appeared in any lore previous to now?

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A couple of pages over, and we see the Green Goddess Teela rescue She-Ra.  Divine intervention was basically the only way that could happen.  Deus Ex Machina, right?

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The Dragon Walkers (predictable) couldn’t do the job on the Fright Zone, so Moss Man does it.  He jumps out of the Wind Raider, and face-plants in a “Wrath of God” moment, sacrificing himself.  More Divine Intervention!

(At this point, the comic has a steep death toll.  I think I’ll do a death count on main characters the writers have killed off so far.  We can add Moss Man, again.)

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In the moments after while everyone is celebrating their victory, King Hss/Adam is experiencing pain.  Lots of pain, so he sneaks off for a moment of privacy.  But Rattlor follows him and lets on that he knows the secret, so King Hsss. blasts him with energy, killing him.  (Another main character killed off.)

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After this moment of pain and killing Rattlor, King Hiss/Adam is kicked in the head from behind by the War Wraith, who arrived just barely too late to discover the truth evidently.  He then takes off his mask to reveal his identity as …. Duncan!  (Man-At-Arms)!

Before moving on to Issue 11, which just came out this week, and I just read, let me tell you Hub City Geeks.  I read this book OVER AND OVER.  You might recall that I thought Issue 8 was terrible.  That was a low point.  This issue is a high point however, and Issue 11 is even greater!  (Issue 9 had the Skeletor killing Hordak moment.)

Man-At-Arms has often been made into a bad guy.  But not for Skeletor.  Usually it is a Snake Man.  The only thing that I don’t get is why did they make him look so much like Evil Seed?  This is where I think they were playing around with the toys and maybe head swapping or something, and decided Evil Seed’s armor was pretty cool for Duncan.  In my picture at the beginning, you see I only have the classic Man-At-Arms with a mustache.  (Yes, I have the non mustache head.)  But I don’t have the 200x head without the helmet, so that is as close as I could get.

Onto Issue 11.  The best one yet!  And I can tell I will likely read this one over and over as well.

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The cover shows Man-At-Arms coming out of the shell that was Roboto.  He is holding a blaster as well as his classic mace.

The colors evoke the split personality of Man-At-Arms.  And he is in a target.  Well, that is the First Person Shooter mode of Tri-Clops!

What you need to know is that previously, like, several issues ago, Man-At-Arms was the first Eternian is space.  He retrofitted Roboto into a space suit with life-support, and went into space to destroy Horak’s version of Supreme Verdict, the “Orbital Disrupter.”  however, by the end of the issue, Man-At-Arms and Roboto were plummeting to the surface in a ball of fire.  And until Issue 10, we hadn’t heard from either of them.  Issue 11 tells us the story.

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Robots used all of his energy to protect Man-At-Arms with a type of force field.  He said he had to sacrifice himself because his persona had the personality traits given to him by Duncan.

So basically, Roboto is another character killed off.

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And here comes Tri-Clops.  We’ve seen Tri-Clops working with Hordak recently.  He takes advantage of his new opportunity.

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So Man-At-Arms just destroyed the Orbital Disrupter, fought off an army of Horde satellite drones, re-entered the atmosphere, suffered an emotional loss of Roboto, and STILL can kick the crap out of Tri-Clops.  That’s awesome!

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Here is a total toy moment.  Every kid knows that Tri-Clop’s sword was WAY COOLER than anyone else’s.  Even He-Man’s.  Now the writers have been giving Man-At-Arms Tri-Clops’ sword.!

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And here is a big “duh” moment for Duncan.  Of COURSE Tri-Clops was blind under that visor…

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And Tri-Clops “duh” moment.  Duncan talks too much.  (He always did.)

And I get another shout for joy moment!  SLIME PIT TIME!

Skeletor says “Spare me the lecture.  I know how it works.  I helped design it!”  Duncan is getting slimed .  OH YEAH.  Into a ZOMBIE for SKELETOR.  KA BAAAMMMM!!!!

The Slime Pit was always a toy that I loved to play with.  But my mom wouldn’t let us play with the slime.

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And then we see how Skeletor is going to get the blood of Grayskull.  He is going to literally drain Hordak’s blood!  The cool thing they’ve done with Hordak is make him into a celestial vampire.  He was empowered by the souls of those he slew or led to their death for him.  Now Skeletor is becoming more of a literal vampire.  AND we get to see him without his hood.

And then back to the War Wraith.  “Skeletor sends his regards.”

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Duncan seems to be a total convert to Skeletor’s ways.  He has no mercy on who he thinks is Prince Adam.

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And he’s just about to slay him, when….

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We interrupt this murder with a message from the Goddess and She-Ra, who both are flying on Swift Wind and talking.

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So Evil-Lynn can’t have all this happiness.  She busts up in front of Swifty.

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And then transforms into a bat, the symbol of Horokoth.  It appears, however that Teela the Green Goddess can transform into Serpos, the Snake God from 200x.

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An intense elemental battle between forces of the universe.  Now if only Zoar were to appear…

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Nope.  Back to the other battle.  Of Course, King Hsss. wasn’t going to be bested by a zombified Man-At-Arms.  He transforms and then kills Duncan.  And then more of that pain happens.

And another strong hint that the writers are playing with the toys and getting inspired to write the characters after them.

As King Hsss fights to suppress Prince Adam’s essence, which is fighting inside of him, he explodes in a burst of energy and becomes…

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NAKED!

(Recently there was a figure of Oo-Lar, the Jungle He-Man, who is all nude except for his furry shorts.  He’s even barefooted.)

I can’t wait to see what happens next!

You see, it has been raining like crazy.  I don’t really have anything to do except work and read comics when I get the chance, or maybe mess around with Magic cards.

I give both of these comics a 5/5.  I believe the writers are MOTU fans.  And I believe they are trying hard to give us an adult comic.  They have tastefully set aside some of the things about MOTU that people call “silly”, and created a darker, edgier, more modern story and are doing things with the characters that haven’t been done before.  Sometimes even taking inspiration from things seldom used before.  (Like the Slime Pit.)

Hope to be back soon with a review of the new Masters of the Universe Mini Comics Collection!

SpartanNerd Review…Masters of the Universe MAGAZINE ISSUE #2 (Vintage Review)

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You gotta love small business!  Daniel Macabee, owner of the Tangled Web in Spartanburg SC, picked this up with ME in mind. It was very much appreciated…he sold it to me for a fair price, and it came with an extra “The Menace of the Evil Horde” mini comic, one of the rarest ever printed!  (Daniel cares enough about my interests to find the right items, is my point.  Does Wal-Mart care.  Nope!)

As a child, I received this magazine as a part of a Publishers Clearing House subscription, I’m sure.  I remember spending lots of time staring at the pages.  I removed the posters, but my mother wouldn’t let us hang them.  Basically these, like all of our books, became narfed up to the point of being trash worthy only.

I love that I have a chance as an adult to re-visit what this was all about.  And as with all of my vintage comics reviews, I will also talk about the ads.

The cover of the book, (above) shows Skeletor and He-Man battling, with Skeletor prominently seated on Spydor.  The cover is an Earl Norem painting…he did all of the covers for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazines.  (But not She-Ra.)  He also did the posters that came inside.

What you can’t see is Moss Man in the picture.  The UPC code etc caused him to be cropped out.

Turning the page, you are greeted with your first ad.

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An ad for the SECRET WARS toys.  I had a few of these as a kid.  These were my introduction to Wolverine and to Spider-Man with a black costume.  I had forgotten about the trick shield until recently, when the current Secret Wars comics printed variant covers that mocked these vintage toys.

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One thing about the MOTU magazine, it functioned as a sort of pseudo social network for He-Man fans.  There are letters printed throughout the issue.

Prominently featured here is the instructions for removing the posters inside without damaging the magazine.  Do you think I removed the posters?  NO WAY!  Doing so would remove some of the other content of the magazine, which bothered me back in the day as much as it does now.  As a kid, did I follow these instructions?  Nope.  (I just jerked the posters out, leaving obvious holes where the staples were.)

What better way to start a MOTU magazine than with a letter from He-Man himself?  Here he just summarizes what’s ahead in the book.

Then we get our next ad when we turn the page.

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You are supposed to do this puzzle…so now we are removing pages, AND writing in our prized magazine.  Total sacrilege.

This ad reminds me of the “decoder pen” in the movie “The Christmas Story.”  I do think it does a good job of emphasizing the tactile nature of Oreos.  I think I’ll eat one now…

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The official table of contents.  This reminds me of the font list you see on a word processing program, like Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages.  Nowadays the font list tries to give you an idea of what the font looks like.

Each line of the tale of contents contains a different color and font.  In some classes about doing word processing, the teachers told us that we shouldn’t do this…that it is “tacky.”  I guess a bunch of kids interested in Stinkor might not be so concerned about how “tacky” things look.

Besides this, you can also see little snips of the art in the different sections of the book.

This document pre-dates modern word processing.  All of this would have been cut and pasted by hand.  That’s impressive!

Also, do you notice the lack of photographs?  Earl Norem said in his interview with He-Man.org that at the time, it was more expensive to print photographs than use drawn or painted art.  Doesn’t that seem backwards by today’s standards?  (Notice the ads thought generally feature cartoon art, like the Oreo ad for instance.)

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Letters from the fans.  Each one of these sings the praises of He-Man.  Many kids say something like they want to help He-Man defeat Skeletor.  Some of them have kids art…quite an honor.

We get a promotional ad for the magazine we are reading….

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Four issues for $6.00.  WOW!

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Some older kids wrote letters in on this page.  One kid seems a little ashamed, mentioning that he is fifteen years old.  That would make him about eight years older than the SpartanNerd.  I hope he is still interested.

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Another ad.  This one for Nerds.  It features a contest.  And REAL photos.  I think its comical some of the prizes offered.  First prize is a massive Sony stereo system, with a record player.  Second prize is a CORDLESS PHONE.  Third prize a canon camera that needed REAL FILM.  Fourth prize a Nerds watch.  With prize a bag.  Sixth prize a Nerds stamp.

Last time I checked, Raspberry and Blueberry flavors are still on the shelves…

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Remember me talking about this being a social network sort of…

Here are some articles of interest for the kiddies.  I have never seen the first book, or the second one.  I’d forgotten about the movie “Baby.”  I remember it being sad somehow at the end, however.  Basically they find Baby stranded from its Brontosaurus mother.  Light years before Jurassic Park.

The animal trainer seems familiar.

I don’t remember the ghost movie.

Braingames.  On HBO.  This was early edutainment.  This would evolve into Dora the Explorer and similar.

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Behind these pages we can see the poster.  I am showing you that mine is still intact, and will remain that way!  Here are digital images of the two posters.

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Now here’s an interesting feature.  And yet another social network outlet.  They intended to feature a kid each month who did something heroic.  They would call this featured person, “He-Man of the Issue.”

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Floating Visions.  If you can’t tell what these are without tilting the magazine, maybe you are into the Thundercats instead….

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A featured story.  I would point out that some of this has poster behind it.  So if you sacrifice the magazine for the poster, you lose some of the story.

The artwork is interesting.  The color scheme here is more feminine than we usually see with He-Man stuff.  I wonder if this artist went on to color She-Ra books?

This is a story that glosses over major details and skips to the point.  Heroic warriors are captured.  Skeletor attacks Grayskull.  He-Man wins.

As a teacher, I see something else now.  The reading level of this story is on par with a seven year old.  Important because of what follows.

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The Duke of Lorin is an almost fan-fiction short story.  Not a graphic novel…this is meant for a higher reading level.  Maybe an eleven or twelve year old.  The border that surrounds the story is fantastic!

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As an adult looking in the rear view mirror, Create a Character means something else.  Mattel used this magazine to solicit kids to CREATE A CHARACTER near the end of the line.  (Eventually we would have the Fearless Photog) The goofy feature here isn’t the same thing.  It’s more of a paper-dolls activity.

OK.  So we are supposed to write in the book to solve the OREO puzzle.  Remove the posters.  And now cut out pieces of paper doll.  EEEK.

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The next feature got me at first.  It appears to be a battle scene.  The kind of thing you see everyday on Eternia.  But then you look closely and see how silly it is.  man-At-Arms has a plunger!  Battle cat is a house cat sized animal. Evil-Lyn is carrying a LIGHT BULB.

I’ll let you find the rest!

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There is another little ad.  Choose Your Adventure.

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Another way to mutilate the book.  Work this word-search.

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The Secret of the Sword movie was coming out soon, and She-Ra would be unleashed on all of the little girls.  (Boys too, it turns out.)

Notice that the Evil Horde gets a mention here, but the enemies featured are Skeletor’s baddies.

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The back of the magazine has this ad for a hot-wheels train.  No electricity required.  This time a photo.  It has something to do with being on the back cover, which is the same sheet as the front cover.

The ad prominently attacks the electric train industry by pointing out how much better it is to roll the trains yourself by hand.  You might not remember, but back in 1985, electric trains were all the rage with kids.  Including the SpartanNerd.

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I mentioned that there was a little extra.  This is the real thing!  Manteca and the Menace of the Evil Horde!

I really enjoyed my trip down memory lane.  Thanks for reading, oh Hub-City Geeks.