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!

1

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.

 

2

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

3

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!

4

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!

5

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.

6

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.

78

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!)

1011

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.

12

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)

13

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

14

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!

15

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!

 

Advertisements

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

IMG_7338

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.

IMG_7339

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.

IMG_7340

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.

IMG_7341

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…

IMG_7342

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.)

IMG_7343

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….

IMG_7344

Four issues for $6.00.  WOW!

IMG_7345

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.

IMG_7346

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…

IMG_7347

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.

IMG_7349

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.

IMG_7350

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.”

IMG_7351

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

IMG_7352

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.

IMG_7353

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!

IMG_7354 IMG_7355

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.

IMG_7356 IMG_7357

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!

IMG_7358

There is another little ad.  Choose Your Adventure.

IMG_7359

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

IMG_7360

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.

IMG_7361

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.

IMG_7362

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.