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!

 

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SpartanNerd Blog….right at 2100 pageviews!

Thanks for all the support, oh Hub City Geeks, whoever you are!

Information about my blog….

Most traffic comes from the USA, but some comes from almost everywhere around the world!

Shadow Era reviews generated the most hits right from the beginning.  My reviews of the Magic The Gathering Event decks are right behind those….

The SpartanSmurf #1 is requesting a name change…..We’ll see….

I have been pretty good at keeping my identity secret….I mean there are some people who have figured it out, and I have given some pretty strong hints out there to those who know me.  My sister in law said, “So you’re the SpartanNerd….Wierd.”  Good.  I hope that’s what she thinks.

The review of the Sonic the Hedgehog figures is the one that I am most proud of the photos.  I really should look into a better situation for photographing my stuff.

My favorite thing to cover is Masters of the Universe…everything!  You would see a lot more of this if I had more time. My review of Masters of the Universe #5 got a bunch of hits…(the one about She-Ra)

I want to start doing some top ten lists.  I need to do more things like the Groovy Dork lists.

SpartanNerd Sundays have been a mild hit.  I am still trying to work that out in my heart and mind.

I still have no followers or subscribers…out of all this traffic?  I haven’t figured that out yet.  One thing, Google doesn’t make it easy to be anonymous.  I have had a few comments.  But no people interested in my give-aways….

So this is where I stand as a blogger.  May I write something similar in when I get 2100 more hits!  Thank You all!

Comic Review…He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #5….The Origin of Despara (She-Ra)

I might be one of the few commentators out there who enjoy the new Masters of the Universe comic.  I hope it’s truly doing well…And I hope the Justice League crossover gives it a big boost as well.

Of all the things about the comic that could be said, the most striking thing has been the appearance of She-Ra as Despara.  She has a butch haircut, and goes around in Hordak’s body armor ruthlessly….and I mean ruthlessly killing rebels and masters.  She is more than Force Captain Adora could have ever been, (in regard to the Filmation story.)  No she’s a cold blooded zealot, wanting to shine victory on Hordak.

The origin story here did not disappoint!

Here’s the cover.

I am glad to see the classic feminine look of She-Ra here.  We really haven’t gotten to see this much in the DC New 52 version of the comics….aside from a variant cover that I have not been able to get.  But if anything, Comics have proven that the cover doesn’t usually tell us much.

But this cover does….In this issue, the lies of the Horde become apparent to Despara….And she learns that she was Adora from the Shadow Weaver, who in this story has been a “mother” to her.

I like everything about this re-telling.  In fact, in the old established story, some things didn’t make any sense.  Here it all makes perfect sense.  It is well explained, and furthermore, we see the Horde’s twist on things, having the origin told from the Shadow Weaver’s point of view.

Skeletor stole Adora from the crib…Why didn’t he take Adam?  This story explains it.  The Sorceress intervened.

Why hasn’t Randor, or anyone else mentioned it yet…His mind has been wiped!  Everyone’s has been to help them with their grief by the Sorceress.

And Marlena…she’s dead too, evidently.

A couple of other things I liked.  Shadow Weaver shows her jealousy of Hordak here.  She speaks ill of  him and his arrogance.  She continues to see herself as Despara’s mother, a character quality I was unaware of.  (I haven’t watched much She-Ra….I AM a boy, you know.)  She also speaks of Skeletor in glowing terms…It’s like she’s in love with him.  This is also apparently new.  FInally, she says that she believes the Sorceress allowed Adora to be taken.  Not sure if this is her trying to put more slant on it or what, but it makes sense the way she says it.  She says that it is the kind of sacrifice Grayskull would require.  And that only one of the twins was required to fulfill the prophecy.

So my logic is, in the taking of Adora, 20 or so years were bought to train Adam to become He-Man.  At least this is how Shadow Weaver, a dark mage, tells it.

In this issue we see the Shadow Weaver killed by Hordak and his godlike power.  Why can’t he so easily kill Adora?  A good question.

What I didn’t like.

Teela had to stab her at the end, didn’t she?  Why couldn’t she have taken the heroic high road?  The writers are typecasting Teela into someone more hardcore than she should be.  I don’t much care for the snarky conversations between her and Adam, or the way she snaps virtually everyone else up.  She always gets the last word in these stories, and is such a prominent character that you could almost call this book “Teela and the Masters of the Universe.”  Here it is no different.  Despara heals Teela, and Teela thanks her by stabbing her back.

Also, we’ve seen who killed in this series…

Leech, Sorceress, Flutterina, and now Marlena and Shadow Weaver.  And at 11:30 at night my memory might be evading me.

Keep in mind that we’ve only had a six issue web series, a six issue mini-series, and five issues of the ongoing series.  If I’m right, that adds up to a character killed off in 1 out of 3 books.  What other comic can survive like this….My thinking is that the writers are thinking short term.  “No way this series is going to last much longer.”  I hope I’m not right.

At least Man-At-Arms hasn’t been turned into a snake man.

And at least Orko is still a good guy….oh…he’s not…..

What I hope to see

Next issue is the last issue of this story arc.  I hope to see Despara shed that name and claim Adora.  I hope to see her raise the sword and become She-Ra…The classic version we know…not the soldier from Wreck-It Ralph.  Somehow the sword gets to her, and it’s power breaks the fog of lies that surround her.

And I hope she tips the scales away from Hordak.

But for the future…I want to see a She-Ra book of her own.  Now we will have a hero with a truly dark history.  Someone who has to find redemption from the evil she has committed.  The book would show us how she gains the trust of the rebels and breaks the back of the Horde.  It would be awesome!

Is it too much of a fantasy?  Let me know!  Commentors could win a prize!

My promise to Pixel Dan….My Top Ten MOTU characters!

I grew up with He-Man.  I saw every aspect of He-Man until “The New Adventures.”  Even then I had a few of those figures.

So who were my favorite characters?  I promised Pixel Dan in my comment for his contest that I would list my top ten.  So here we go!  I love these guys probably more than the others.  But it is so hard to choose.  I did not even consider Battle Cat or Panthor.  But I love them too!

10.  Hordak.  In my mind Hordak is the goofy villain from She-Ra.  But I also love the MYP interpretation where he is a powerful threatening wizard.  I don’t love the Hindu-ish looking Hordak from the current comics, however.

9.  Tongue Lasher.  Cool name.  Cool action feature in his toy.  Loved his color scheme.  I prefer this guy to any of the other snake men.

8.  Scare Glow.  Old Scare Glow is especially bad in the dark!

7.  Mosquitor.  This guy is just awesome!  I loved the blood sucking feature.  Ironically, as a kid, I got Mosquitor in my Easter basket……

6.  Man-At-Arms.  Ever loyal to He-Man and Eternia.  I am not fond of the idea of Duncan dying a snake man.  To me, Duncan is the mastermind behind all of the vehicles and such.  He also appeals to me as the sort of priest for the good guys.  That might strike some readers as weird, but here’s why.  If you study anthropological formation of religion, you find that the first religious figures were the ones who could predict nature, build fire, and heal people.  Man-At-Arms has the secret of the lost technology from Eternia’s ancient past.  And he communes with the Sorceress, who is also a religious figure.  So there you have it!

5.  Rio Blast.  The guy has more guns than Swartzeneger.  What’s not to like?

4.  Evil Lynn.  She has such depth of character.  More than many other villains in this universe.  Everything from the white hair under the helmet, to the contrast with Teela, to the classic yellow skin, faceless dad, and even the seductive story in the digital comics.  Evil Lynn is an agent that generates story.  I also used to love to put the figure on Tyrantisaurus.

3.  Roboto.  The gears in the chest get me every time.  AND you can swap his weapon hands.  How cool is that?

2.  Skeletor.  Not for the same reason as He-Man.  I just think he is AWESOME.  A barbarian wizard dude with a skull face, goat staff, and lives in a mountain shaped like a snake.  Skeletor is THE DEFINITIVE bad guy,

1. He-Man  (Does this need explanation?)  He-Man caught my imagination.  He helped solidify my view of “good guy.”

So what is yours, Hub City Geeks?  Do you agree with me or disagree?  Comment!