Mega Construx Land Shark…SpartanNerd Review

It has been nice to get new Mega Construx! The Land Shark seems to be the flavor of the month for Mattel…they have released a new “Origins” version. (I am not collecting the Origins line). You have sharks here, Roboto, and Skeletor. How are kids not going to buy this. And also SpartanNerds…

Unfortunately, my box is a bit beat up. I was also a little unnerved at the tape on the side…it made me think someone might have stolen the figures and resealed it. (Luckily, not so.). It depicts the toys in what seems to be illustrated art. What is going on with the wheels is the question. If I remember the vintage toy, it only had cosmetic treads with functional wheels hidden on the bottom.

The sides of the box are also very nice. I keep these packages…some day I will have adequate space to properly display all of them. I do display them now, but it’s crowded.

Well, let’s get to documenting the build!

This is the instruction manual. It has the same art as the front, with less text. The back shows off two other sets. I don’t care much for that Battle Cat, and it is the only set from the Mega Construx Masters of the Universe line that I haven’t purchased. There is a Havoc Staff coming out soon in the same vein that I believe I will be skipping. I have the Monstroid, but haven’t yet built it. Stay tuned Hub City Geeks because likely by the end of the week I will have a blog entry for that one!

As with the other larger builds from this line, the pieces come in numbered baggies.

Number 1 has the mini figures…what a relief!

Let’s build Skeletor first.

The new Skeletor is exactly the same as the one that came with the Point Dread set. It is Battle Armor Skeletor. And I pondered not even opening the poly bag, but the axe and the sword were loose. But after studying the issue, I realized that this version has the scratched armor like you would get with two hits on the vintage toy. Also, this one came with the purple sword, which was a puzzling omission from the Point Dread version. Otherwise they are identical. Same colors, same face paint job. Maybe the elbows on this one are a little sharper. “monster arms?” But I think this might be my imagination.

On to ROBOTO.

I used to love robots as a kid. And ROBOTO here had something to do with that. I am a little bummed that the gears are just tampograft stickers…it seemed that when they revealed this they were looking at making the gears move, and bragging about it being “the smallest pieces ever in a Mega Bloks set.” I guess they couldn’t crack that for the price. Otherwise, this was the main reason for getting this set! Classic Roboto, with a clear body. We have a new Roboto on card…but it seems to be more 200x inspired. (See the post here)

I really enjoyed photographing Roboto. Here we can see him raising his axe to meet Skeletor’s. Notice that the gun attachment can fit in the hole in his back…making a jet pack sort of look.

On to the build!

As I said before, I have to separate all of the blocks and place them with others alike before I begin. This helps me be efficient and quick. I worked slowly, taking pictures as I went. I finished it in just over an hour.

After bag 2, it looks like we have a boat. Roboto’s other hand could come off…a new trick. You couldn’t do this with the vintage toy! These other pieces were left over.

I was a little bummed that the teeth were in large pre-fab pieces. But I was also psyched that there are real rubber treads!

And here is step 23! We get to put the treads on. And the first thing I did was roll it and marvel at how cool it is to have real treads on the Mega Construx Land Shark! The little hook spinning around was a mystery though…I hadn’t seen any string or anything like that. A definite improvement on the original design. (You can see pics and the patent diagrams for the original toy on the BattleRam Blog.)

Here it is with the chomping mouth open. So, here’s how it works! When you push the tank, the little hook spins around. At the back of the shark’s throat there is a smooth dome…the hook bumps against the smooth piece which causes the jaws to snap! I shouted for joy when I saw this happen, and took it to the SpartanWife to show off. But what color is this? She says it’s fucia. The kid says it is light purple. Notice Roboto here doing a Terminator pose! Also, notice the growing collection of leftover parts.

We arrive at poly bag number 4, and Skeletor has Luke Skywalker’ed Roboto! These pieces are all silver, and will surely be the guns.

Here is the completed Land Shark, in action making Roboto into spare parts!

What a relief…right!

Here is the Land Shark compared to other vehicles.

You can see the scale is very similar. It makes me wonder how they might do Stridor and Night Stalker. Would they be more of the size of Panthor (pictured above) or more the size of the Land Shark?

I feel that this version of the Land Shark stands a head taller than its predecessors. (And besides the Hot Wheels one, this is the smallest!) It has working treads, and the mouth snaps with an ingenious design. The only thing I don’t like about the build is the holes in the top of the profile above the sticker eyes. I do wish we got a toy accurate Trap Jaw instead of Battle Armor Skeletor…I feel like Trap Jaw goes better with this vehicle, with the snapping jaw action. (We don’t have Trap Jaw in toy colors either.)

What do you think, Hub City Geeks? I am rating this … I mean, can I give it a 4.5 of 5? I really like it, and there aren’t enough negatives to lose a whole point. Let me know in the comments!

SpartanNerd Review…Mega Construx Slime Pit

Back two years ago, when I decided to begin collecting the Mega Construx Masters of the universe, I frantically searched to find everything I could. But the hardest thing to get was this guy.

I’m talking about Battle Bones…Not the Wind Raider. (You can frequently still find the WR in stores.)

When building the Battle Bones (a San Diego Comic Con item), I couldn’t help but think, “They could re-purpose this head into a Slime Pit.). And I thought surely they would.

But that’s not what we got. Keep reading to see my experience!

We got a Skeletor Head Slime Pit.

Now this was an unexpected idea. I suppose I was thinking larger. But in scale, I guess this makes sense in context to the scale and size of Grayskull. But not in respect to the vintage toy, but in respect of the size of the Mega Construx minifigs. On the other hand, the Talon Fighter dwarfs this.

This Skeletor head is the same mold as the others, only this time in slime green. The picture on the package shows us Horde Zombie He-Man, and also the Slime Pit. At first I thought the green behind the mouth was a wall, but I realized that it was just the hollow inside of the Skeletor head. I kind of wish that was different. That it was a proper wall. Oh well! We are talking about something that costs less than $10. And I could build that wall if I really want to.

When you get the package off, this is what you see. The gray brick will be the floor. Here is the instructions with something else in there.

Here are all of the contents. I am thinking, “He-Man must be in the bag with the green stuff, with some other slimy pieces.” Nice extras, you know.

So I opened the instructions next.

It turns out that something extra in the instructions was rubbery slime pieces. The only slime that came with this set. BOO! Here are all of the pieces separated out. This is what I must do when I open a building set. Set them all out, sort them by type and color. But there aren’t many pieces with this Skeletor Head. The package said 70 pieces, but each minifig is around 20 pieces. (When I counted, I counted 73 when including the head and the floor. Am I wrong, Hub City Geeks?)

This is a cool, green slime He-Man. As I assembled, I couldn’t help but think about The Green Goddess, who apparently shattered when people opened her MOTUC package.

No extra slime pieces here. And here is the second thing I would improve about this set. There should be more “sliminess” to it. It isn’t even very gross. I remember the toy as a child really freaking out my mother. And she took that slime away from us and we never got to play with it. (Hope you are reading this now, Mom.). I believe this should have come with more things to make it even more gross-out. Maybe a can of slime. Or just more rubbery pieces. Or even green pieces. OH WELL.

Now on to the assembly. Let me preface this by saying that I prefer building LEGO’s to any other bricks like Mega Blocks/Construx. I have put together plenty of the different kinds over the years between the SpartanNerd and the Spartan Kids. Lego bricks have aesthetic principles and roundly stick to a certain vision of kid friendliness and pop sensibilities. (SpartanNerd takes a bow for that sentence!) It isn’t like Mega Construx doesn’t have this, but the Lego thing never does anything that involves winging a piece on a stud, or other questionable hi-jinx that might compromise the structural integrity or even make a more difficult build. The Mega Construx I suppose is aimed at an older audience, so I guess older customers might not even care. But who am I mostly writing this blog to?

It also is notable that LEGO doesn’t even acknowledge their competition. But right on Mattel’s website, you can see where people post their customs and proudly give the formulas, which mix the Mega Construx blocks with Lego, Kreo, and other brands. It is like Lego is the more serious “fun” brand. And Mega Construx is us casual fans. I just wanted to say this first and get it out of the way. I knew going into this I would encounter some things that feel questionable or are nonintuitive. (I built the largest set ever- Castle Grayskull. I know very well what I might see.)

BACK TO THE BUILD

We build the bottom first.

It began as I expected. Build the bottom first. These red pieces make me wish there was more red here. The Slime Pit is partially a Horde thing. Black, gray, and red are their thing. And with the bone pieces, you really evoke Hordak. (See an upcoming post!)

This connection is one of those that felt kind of janky. But after I snapped them together, it remained firm.

And here it is. Step 9. Notice how the four studs don’t line up with the five. This strictly seems to be the kind of thing Mega Construx does that Lego doesn’t seem to do. The solution works out in the end, but it just seems wrong when you are building it. That piece on top with the two studs and then the three studs is also an unusual piece.

Here are the drawn-on eyes. Tampograft I suppose. I remember when I did the Battle Bones eyes, and the Talon Fighter’s eyes, the eyes just kind of emerged from the build. This is a cheap trick, though. Yes…I know. >$10.

See those pieces that are at the nose? These are the stuff of nightmares sometimes. This time no drama. But when I did the Battle Bones and other sets, it seems like they would flick off, be backwards or hard to tell what to do from the instructions. Also, notice here that one has a different angle than the other. How are we supposed to know which to use? I figured it out, with the instrutions and all. But what if I lose the instructions? What if it is a kid building this? (What would happen would be I would help my kids build it, and then about an hour later all of the pieces would be mixed in to a giant bucket.

Here is the finished product.

I definitely see how I can improve this set. It isn’t terrible, and it is clear what is going on here. But could it have been better? Absolutely. “Horde Zombie He-Man” or “Slime Pit He-Man” is actually kind of obscure, being found only in like one mini-comic, but Mattel has made him ubiquitous as a toy in recent years. He is translucent green. Who doesn’t like that? But the rest of this set. I just feel underwhelmed. I actually said to my kid “I am thinking about getting a few more of these to add the slime pieces. And I could strip down the He-Man figures to make other zombies.”

Here are two other Skeletor Head sets to compare this to. I have them all, but these two are in the most presentable condition. And I’ll tell you why they are better!

He-Man and the Jet Sled. What wasn’t great about this? It completely captures what the original toy was. It even came with the exclusive blue armor. Placing it on a propeller at the top of Skeletor’s head makes for a goofy gimmick, but it makes good use of the real estate, and you can display your Jet Sled flying. I give it a 5/5. NEXT!

Here is something I don’t remember having as a child. But check out the diorama piece that this is! I don’t know why they chose to do Zodac this way. I would have rather had the 200x Zodak, especially since we got a Zodac with the Talon Fighter. (An astute MOTU fan will know the difference!). I guess he looks like he is wearing a scuba mask all the time anyway. Still, I enjoy the diorama. There is fun to be had here. I don’t remember this toy as a child, but it perfectly encapsulates the adventure. I will give this one a 4/5 really only because there aren’t more water features in this line.

But I feel I can only give the Slime Pit a 3/5. It is good to get the green He-Man. But the Slime Pit leaves much to be desired. It isn’t gross enough. MORE SLIME. The build has some weakness to it. I had pictured something like that Battle Bones head on a mighty horror movie wall, perhaps with some green pieces to replicate slime if not a rubber puddle or even actual slime. Instead, we get this sort of soul -less offering.

So. Hub City Geeks. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!

SpartanNerd…Revisiting the Origin Stories of DC Masters of the Universe

Coming in October, Masters of the Universe will have a crossover comic with Thundercats from DC.  I can’t wait!  Until then, I am revisiting the DC comics I already have.  (I have them all!  From the digital-only comics, through He-man and the Eternity War.)

I thought I would re-visit and comment on the three origins books.

First, the Origin of He-Man.IMG_9166.jpg

Of the three, this is the weakest.  I remember reading this, and worrying about it.  The art is jarring, and the story is disjointed.  Thinking back a few years when this came out, this was also the book that dropped the bomb on us that Prince Adam wouldn’t be a secret identity.  (When this was released, the ongoing story still had Adam and Teela trying to find their real identities.)

But the hardest thing about this book is the confusion about what happened in the panels below…

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Adam “tricked” Skeletor into thinking the sword on the wall was the power sword.  He swung it at the villain, who caught it in his bare hand, and crushed it.  See the picture above.  Doesn’t it look like the sword was crushed?  Skeletor knocks a wall over on Adam, crushing him, and then we see him grab the power sword…What?  How did it get there beside him?  Was the sword Skeletor crushed the power sword?  Did it heal itself?  The moment Adam grabs it, Skeletor is looking at the tapestry that details King Grayskull defeating Hordak.  Skeletor seems to think the tapestry hides the sword at that moment, and we clearly see its outline on the tapestry.

So in short.  This is a confusing story.  It could have been told in a clearer way.  If you’ll recall, the early run on the DC MOTU comics was panned by almost everyone.  This book wasn’t helping.

 

Let’s visit Skeletor’s origin now…

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This is the first comic book I ever ordered online.  The reason?  I apparently missed it at the Tangled Web.  Either they got only one or two copies, that were snatched up before I got there, or they didn’t get it at all.  I purchased the digital copy.  But only this summer, when I discovered MYCOMICSHOP.COM,  did I actually come to own a physical copy.

This book starts off with Keldor, who has a face full of acid.  The Mike Young productions cartoon had Keldor wounded in battle…with Randor’s shield splashing his acid back into his own face.  They elaborated later that Skeletor was healed by summoning Hordak.  This origin story takes that same vibe, but removes the combat accident.  Instead, Hordak himself caused the burn using the communication link set up by Keldor between the two worlds.  As Keldor melts away on his journey to find Randor, he reminisces about his first encounter with the Horde, how he saved Randor from the invading trooper, and then his accomplishment was quashed by their father, Miro, on account of Keldor being a blue gar.

Keldor eventually finds Randor, and stabs him, needing his blood to complete the transport to Etheria and be changed into Skeletor.

I like this book, but the art is a little jarring.  It is similar to the origin of He-Man.  The flashbacks have a different look about them than the main part of the story.

Now for my favorite.  The ORIGIN OF HORDAK!

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Why is this my favorite?  So many reasons.

The art is classic.  And looks like the rest of the series.  Hordak becomes a god…he engineered an entire war between the Cosmic Enforcers and his Evil Horde, and then killed everyone on both sides.  The Cosmic Enforcers seem to be “green lanterns”… In the end, only he and Zodac are left.  And this is because Zodac is his brother.  He wanted to relish in his death specifically.

Hordak is a cosmic vampire…he needed the millions of souls on both sides of the war to fuel his godhood.  The book ends with him pronouncing “Let there be light!”  Dang.  A blasphemy fitting of such an evil character.  (In the DC continuity, what actually happened was he began the “Age of Horokoth.” The bat symbol represents Horokoth, Serpos and Zoar being the other two cosmic totems.)  This story sets the stage for the tremendous power that the Masters of the Universe are up against.  King Grayskull was able to defeat THAT.  And his heir, Skeletor would also kill him eventually.

 

There is one more very notable origin story.  It is one of the digital only books.  THE ORIGIN OF DESPARA.

Despara is the DC Comics version of Adora, the Horde Force Captain.  DC made her a refined killing machine.  In her origin story, she is having flashback memories of when she was kidnapped.  Shadow Weaver keeps her mind wiped.  It is cool that what we see is actually a female version of Hordak.  She became his “Darth Vader,” as he is a disembodied spirit trapped inside some kind of life support machine.  Eventually, she would find herself, as the good mother that Shadow Weaver apparently is allowed her to play in Eternia’s gardens with Teela.  But this story, the last of the digital ones, raised the hair on the backs of peoples necks the same way “Vikor” the figure did.  We never knew we wanted a really evil She-Ra working for Hordak until this story made that happen!  When you read this, and then you go back and watch the Filmation “The Secret of the Sword,” you realize how silly Adora really was as force captain for Hordak.

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 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.