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!

 

Toy Review…….Panthor, Masters of the Universe Classics

Yesterday I reviewed Battle Cat.  So today I will give you a review of Panthor.  There are a lot of similarities!

So if you read my review of Battle Cat, you already know what you are getting.  Except this time it’s purple.  And instead of a tiger-based beast, it is a panther-based beast.

This time nudity doesn’t seem so wrong.  Panthor was usually depicted without his saddle and armor on the Filmation show.  (At least that is how I remember him the most.)  He has the same joints as Battle Cat.  He has a different head-sculpt, though.

Many people complain that Panthor is not flocked.  I am personally glad that the Four Horsemen decided to just stick with a molded plastic and painted look.  Flocking would have obscured all of the wonderful details.  Did anyone see the 200x monstrosity that was supposed to pass for Panthor?  It was WAY too fluffy.  And though the figure does lose something tactile, it more than makes up for it by being beautifully executed.

The head sculpt is more laid back….what I mean is his ears are back, like he’s really angry.  He has different whiskers than Battle Cat, and personally, I think a cuter face, but angry just the same.

So what about his accessories?  Here is where the Four Horsemen got creative. The saddle and armor (one piece) are exactly the same as Battle Cat’s, only a shiny green that really pops against the purple fur.  Think “Emerald Green,” if it does you well.  And then there is the headpiece.

The vintage Panthor did not have a headpiece.  This was an area where Battle Cat definitely had Panthor beat.  But now, OH BOY!  Panthor has an awesome helmet featuring little horns that match what is on the armor, with some giant ram horns added!  I love the helmet so much I usually display him with it on.  But lots of people seem to detest it.  I heard someone on Roast Gooble Dinner say they wanted to smash it with a sledgehammer.   Really?  Come on guys.  It’s not that bad.  Just different than vintage.  This helmet reminds me of that crazy vehicle from the Mike Young show that Skeletor used to destroy Hordak’s shrine.  It is a good compliment to Skeletor’s Havoc Staff as well.

For the record, the two cats’ helmets do not interchange.

Panthor suffers from the same problems as Battle Cat.  Loose joints, droopy head, questionable stirrups.

So, I’ll leave you with some pictures.  I am quite fond of Battle Cat, being a “good guy” most of the time as a kid.  But dare I say I like this Panthor better?  Maybe I’ll get a Griffin next? (Links to Pixel Dan video)   The Griffin would look great with Vikor!

Panthor gets a 4/5.

Toy Review…….Battle Cat (Masters of the Universe Classics)

I’ve had Battle Cat for awhile now.  I play with it about as much as I do He-Man from the same toyline.  Which is to say, not much.  He is more of a display piece.  It is fun to set him on the table while playing Magic cards, however.  Maybe add a further fantasy element to the whole thing.

So here’s what I think after all this time.

Battle Cat is HUGE.   The regular figure size is closer to 7 inches.  So Battle Cat, who is classified as a “beast” is scaled to look right with a 7 incher sitting on him.

Let me just say.  This figure is OVER THE TOP!  The sculpt is marvelous.  The articulation is good.  and I mean, WOW.  Mattel and the Four Horsemen really did this thing right!

Battle Cat probably weighs about a pound.  He came in a “window box” package.  And since I just usually throw that part away, I don’t have any pictures.

I guess I’ll start with him naked.  Lot’s of articulation to explore.

Is it cold in here?  Or is it just you?

His jaws move.  His head turns, apart from his neck.  His neck moves up and down.  He has “torso” articulation in the middle. His tail moves on a ball joint, so you can pose it any way you want.  His shoulder and hips move back and forth.  His back legs have knee joints (hinge style), his elbows have a ball joint.  He has two shin pieces on the back legs.  And his feet are on ball joints, that also have a hinge.

Needless to say, you can pose Battle Cat any way you want just about!  Unfortunately, the naked Battle Cat still doesn’t look like cringer.  He’s too serious and menacing, with those big teeth and that angry look in his eyes.

The Third Commandment.  No animal shall wear clothes

Put some clothes on!  Seriously, Battle Cat comes with the same two armor pieces the vintage version came with.  A helmet, and a saddle.  Now, my first instinct was to try and make the saddle fit all the way up on the cat’s shoulders.  But apparently, that is not ever how it was supposed to look.  He-Man sits back closer to Battle Cat’s flanks  on this toy, as opposed to the more central position on the vintage version.  This means a big chunk of armor hangs over the tail, which actually makes sense if you think about it.  This makes the saddle a loose fit.  If you try and put it on closer, though, it is almost too tight for the belt to work.  The helmet fits snugly and looks cool.  I hope I put it on right.  I heard Eamon O’Donahue flipping out on the Roast Gooble Dinner podcast about people not putting the helmet on straight!  (the link is not to the specific episode)

So, do I have any gripes.  I mean, it took me awhile to figure out the correct way to put on the armor.  I think it looks better the way it is supposed to be, but at first I was trying hard to make it look like the vintage.  And here is my second complaint.  Battle Cat is a weakling!  seriously!  The helmet weighs enough to make his head droop.  In fact, it droops without the helmet on.  That neck joint is kinda loose.  There are two little “stirrups” on both sides of the armor.  I call them stirrups because that is what they are.  But Mattel tried to play them off and say that they were places to put extra weapons.  That’s a load of BS.  Kind of like the reversed forearms on Stinkor being a design choice.  I smell a rat skunk.

So what do I rate this figure?  I give Battle Cat a 4/5.  Over time his neck has gotten looser, and so have his other joints.  😦   Still, his sculpt is superb.  And He-Man feels complete riding on Battle Cat.  If only I had a Teela to sit on the back.  (I think I heard that she doesn’t fit anyway.  Oh well.  I have no fe-male figures to try out.)

“Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore'”