Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection

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

VINTAGE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER

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

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

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

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

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HE-MAN

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

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

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

200x COMICS

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

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

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS MINI COMICS

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

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

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

EXTRAS

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

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

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

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

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

 

SpartanNerd 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…He-Man: The Eternity War #8

DC’s remix of Mattel’s classic property has recently received a lot of love from fans and critics, including the SpartanNerd.  However, this time, I don’t feel as good.

Some background.

In issue #5, The Goddess/Sorceress/Teela reveals that destiny has three faces…Serpos, Zoar, and Horokoth.  Serpos was the ancient god of the snake-men.  Zoar has been Serpos’ replacement for ages for the Eternians, and Horokoth a god for the Horde.  The Goddess thinks the Age of Horokoth is inevitable, and wonders if He-Man could, or even should prevent it.

Issue #6 shows us a dystopian future where Adam becomes King He-Man, and rules with an iron fist.  He has enlisted his former enemies, Skeletor’s minions, to be a big part of his army, and is fighting against She-Ra, who leads the former Masters of the Universe as rebels against him.  We see him married to Teela, who reverts to green Goddess mode and we realize it was a vision given to Adam of what the future is to become if He-Man beats back the Horde himself.  So He-Man breaks the sword!

Issue #7 is more back-story for Skeletor and the Havoc Staff.  Evidently, strangely, Skeletor became the Evil Overlord of Destruction by breaking the time-space continuum and preventing his own murder at Hordak’s hands…an event that had to happen because the skull on the Havoc Staff is his own skull, only twisted by demonic magic.  Skeletor also tells us that he helped raise Despara/Adora/She-Ra, but because it is Skeletor who is talking, who knows if he’s telling the truth?

After all of these exciting stories, we get issue #8.

A break in the jaw-dropping revelations.

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We get some fighting and some narrative in the first few pages.

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We see Adam leading the charge with a gun-arm reminiscent of what Man-At-Arms uses.

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We see King Hsss/Randor….(But why?)

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And then the war is over.  We see the next day, Adam sitting on the throne petting Battle Cat.  (Not Cringer…hmmm…)

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Basically, just one day after the war, and the snake-men seem less loyal to Adam.  They were showing astonishing loyalty to He-Man.  Now, not so much.  Fisto has to call down this snake man who is about to execute Imp.  Evidently, the snake men are supposed to know that prisoners are to stand trial.

Adam is catching cold.  The Goddess thanks him for relinquishing his power.

I didn’t photograph the next parts, but here is a summary.  Skeletor turns on She-Ra like we all knew he would.  They transport into Hordak;s “Vault of Souls,” where he steals most of the souls, and then entices She-Ra to fall into the vault by throwing a locket with Marlena’s picture into it.

Act III…, Hordak finally makes his intentions known.  The Eternians have one day of peace granted by him, (I guess because he’s such a nice guy.)  Next he shows the future of those who are going to escape him to the planet Primus.

He uses the Eyes of Grayskull…

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And destroys their future lives and their offsprings lives on Primus.

Wait another month, fools, for the next installment.

My quandary with this book comes in several ways.

First of all, why was King Hsss there?  Is he making the snake men less loyal?  Did Adam meet him in battle?  All we get is a strange picture of him saying “sssso weak,” referring to Adam.

My next problem is…we didn’t see HOW Adam led them to defeat the Horde at Eternos Palace.  All we get is “The day after liberation.”  A whole book could have been devoted to just that.  And SHOULD HAVE.  We would have seen Adam as the strong leader he evidently is, apart from the Power of Grayskull.  But the writers took the lame way out.  “The next day…”  “The day after Liberation,” “After the battle.”  But we see none of the action.  And action is one of the reasons why I like comic books.  BOOOOO!!!!  And just think how much more the rest of the story elements in this book would have meant?

My third gripe…this isn’t a stand-alone book in any way.  Lets just say, for instance, a person goes into a comic book store and says, “Wow!  A He-Man comic! I remember He-Man!” and picks this up.  They will be put on their tail.  Without knowledge of the series pretty much as a whole, you couldn’t understand what was happening in this book.  The stupid looking Fright Zone/Castle Grayskull abomination isn’t self explanatory enough.  The Green Goddess isn’t the Filimation Sorceress, or even Teela.  The Snake Men are fighting WITH the good guys?  A major nostalgia parade is rained on with an issue like this.  Sometimes Nostalgia is the only thing that sells books about 1980’s properties.  But this didn’t have to be the case.  The book could be much more accessible if there was a brief page at the front that explains what has been happening.  This has been done in MANY comics before.  Basically all of the Conan comics.  The modern Star Wars comics.  Marvel’s current Secret War also give you a little background and some premise.  But here, it is “jump in and read for the first time, and leave confused.”

My fourth gripe…New Adventures never does seem to be able to get ahead, does it.  I never watched the show, but read the few mini comics that were printed.  My brother had Slush Head and New Adventures He-Man.  I myself am not completely unattached, and hope the best for New Adventures because there are hundreds of fans.  But those fans just got dumped on. Hordak destroyed Primus.  And we just got to see it in one panel!  We could see it, and the future Masters of the Universe, who were also evidently destroyed.

Oh Hub City Geeks, I believe this comic was necessary for the advacement of the story.  But there are many things wrong here.  I hope things don’t turn south from here on out.  The only redeeming quality here is the art, which is consistent with the better art printed in DC’s run of Masters of the Universe.

The SpartanNerd rates He-Man: The Eternity War #8 a 1/5.  This is one of the lowest scores I have given a modern comic.  It is a necessary read to have the story.  But pitiful delivery.

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Strawberry Shortcake “Sweet Beats Doll”

Why, SpartanNerd?  Why?  Why do you never cover girls toys?

Truthfully, because I didn’t play with them as a kid…I have a (nameless, shameless) brother who played with Barbie and My Little Pony as a kid.  Mostly to disrobe and pull the hair out.  (He had a problem with pulling his own hair out when he slept.  So my parents tried this with some success.)

I’ll admit to playing with some She-Ra with my girl cousins.

I really don’t have anything against girls toys, though.  I have been meaning to pick up a Monster High doll, which I find incredibly cool looking, but haven’t ever gotten around to it.  Instead, I am going to test the waters a little bit with Strawberry Shortcake.  She’s a good candidate because of her 1980’s nostalgia factor, for me anyways.  I also have a side project that I need a small doll for, and this item was perfect.

I remember just a little bit about Strawberry Shortcake.  It seems a lot of scented stickers and items like that were associated with her.  I don’t remember if she had a cartoon, though.

So here’s the box.

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Strawberry Shortcake came in this nice package.  There is a large blister on the front allowing you to see the different accessories.  The back shows off all three dolls in this line.  However, didn’t I see an African American one at Toys-R-Us?  (Incidentally, this is one of my cheapest toys, coming in at just over $11.00.)  (I just net-checked.  Evidently the African American character isn’t in the band, but exists.)

Removing the doll from the package, as well as the accessories…

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There is quite a strawberry smell here!  That smell is rubbing off on the SpartanNerd’s hands, though.  And I suspect it isn’t “baked in” the plastic, like say, the smell in MOTUC Stinkor or Moss Man.  This smell will likely fade with time.  And that’s sort of sad, really.  That is an “action feature” of this doll.  You can see in the picture above that Sweet Beats comes with a guitar, oversized sunglasses, a comb, a soft-goods jacket, and a wireless mic.

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The figure stands nicely on its own…that huge mop of hair causes a little bit of balance issues.  This doll has only five moving joints: two shoulders on ball joints, two legs with back-and-forth only, and a rotating head.

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Strawberry Shortcake’s skirt comes off, and surprise for the SpartanNerd, so do her shoes!  You can see that the figure has painted leggings and a painted on glitter top.  Sadly, where the skirt covers at the waistline is very unsightly paint-slop.  Actually, it almost looks like the torso was meant to be two pieces, and maybe have a waist-swivel.  If so, it was decided to glue these parts together.  (Later, I also found the hair-bow to be removable.)

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Here is Sweet Beats with all of her other accessories, besides the skirt.  The jacket was tough to put on…You have to move the arms to where they point straight back, then put one hand into a sleeve, and then the other, and then move the whole jacket up the arms to the torso, fix the arms back, and then fuss with it to make it look right.  I suppose good fine-motor skills work for little children.  Also for the SpartanNerd.  The guitar doesn’t have a removable strap, so in order to make Sweet Beats hold it, you have to put her feet into the strap and have the arms down by her side, then position the guitar how you want.  (Her head is too big to put it on over the top.)  Sweet beats can’t hold the guitar’s neck properly because she has no finger articulation or wrist articulation.  Still, it looks cute.  The mic stands on its own just fine.  Mine is just a little bent, like some plastic on toys does.  Still, it isn’t too bad.  Finally, for me, the glasses have to go.

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They cover her eyes, which I find to be one of the doll’s best features.  Those glasses would be great if they had some kind of lenses, or even if they were just frames that fit over the eyes.  That’s just my opinion, though.

Finally, the real feature of this doll.  The hair.

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That is quite a lot of hair!  I spent some time combing it and playing with it…you really can’t do much with it.  I tried making a pony tail or pigtails using rubber bands.  Either I’m too manly, or the doll’s hair isn’t that style-a-ble.  The hair is fun to play with though.  (And now I’m thinking I might need to stop.)

I mentioned I had a project, and the hair has to do with that…Maybe I will get better at working it if I mess with it some more.  Notable, you can’t see from my pictures, but right at her hairline is what appears to be a painted on headband.  I believe this to be a device for concealing where the roots begin.  Also, her scalp is painted red.  This is why there is no caucasian color shining through.  But I thought it a little disturbing the first time I realized it.

So what is the SpartanNerd’s rating of Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Doll?

I found some good stuff and some bad stuff.  I’m not sure I can hold this doll up to the standards of most of the other toys I have reviewed.  Most of the stuff I review is for the collector’s market.

As a toy, Sweet Beats would be a great doll for a little girl to play with.  (Or boy…)  The hair is a big part of this toy.  The guitar and mic add great style.  And the ability to change its clothes and shoes with other dolls in the same line also adds to its play-ability.

The biggest problem was the jacket.  Not easy to put on or take off.  The paint is the second negative issue, with that strange situation at the waistline.  And last I suppose is that the smell will almost certainly fade with time.

But I believe this to be a good durable toy for the young child’s market.  I believe she could take a lot of abuse.  I tried removing the arms, legs, and head.  No luck there.  I pulled the hair some, and some did come out.  But not that easily.  It is meant to last a good while.

For now I am going to give this doll, the very first doll I have ever reviewed mind you, a 3/5.  There is no denying the cuteness of Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats.  But she isn’t that playable for someone over the age of, say nine-years-old.  She looks cute when posed in the limited posing you can get with her, and she has some customization options with the other dolls in the line with her.  And maybe even with other lines of dolls.  (I don’t know.)

SpartanNerd Rates Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Doll 3/5.  Do you agree or disagree, oh Hub-City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments.  And if you want to see more “girls toys” reviews from the SpartanNerd, let me know as well!

SpartanNerd…Follow up on “He-Man: The Eternity War”

I have been very impressed with the current run of DC masters of the Universe.  “He-Man: The Eternity War” has really been developed.  And we are seeing the characters presented in ways we have never seen before.

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Here is a pic of all six issues I have.  I have two of the covers from Issue 1.

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The version with the toys came only to subscribers, if I am correct.

What is so impressive?  Here are issue by issue thoughts.

Issue 1.  Hordak returns to flesh, using He-Man’s blood, drawn unintentionally by She-Ra in the preceding story arc.  And then he becomes a super charged version of himself by tapping into the power of Grayskull.  See what I mean…We’ve never seen Hordak presented like this.

Issue 2.  Man-At-Arms converts Roboto into a flight suit to take out the Horde’s orbital disruptor.  (This weapon wiped out most of the Masters of the Universe and the Eternian army in prior issues.  Kind of a mini-death star.)

Issue 3.  The deal with the Eyes of Grayskull returns from the digital-only books that began DC’s current run on Masters of the Universe.  She-Ra finds the Eye of Chrono and unintentionally leads Hordak to it.

Issue 4.  She-Ra takes a beating, but Skeletor rescues her using the eye of Chaos, which he had in his possession.  (Now Skeletor has both eyes!)

Issue 5. Skeletor witnesses She-Ra use her sword to heal herself, and asks her to heal him.  Then he explains that he has had a change of heart and doesn’t wish to be constantly defeated, as he has seen over and over in different versions of himself as he traveled the Multiverse.  The Green Goddess (or Sorceress, or Teela, what should we call her now?) lets He-Man know that “The Goddess” (adding to the confusion) has three faces, Serpos, Zoar, and Horokoth.  Eternia has witnessed the age of Zoar, but she fears the Age of Horokoth is inevitable.  He-Man chooses to look at the future behind a door with the Horde symbol on it, (which means Horokoth, the destroyer now.)  He sees himself as King He-Man, with the normal skinned (and naked) Teela as his queen.  A military state is evident.

Issue 6.  “The Problem with Power.”  He-Man sees a vision of the future.  DC uses King He-Man…an impressive draw to this story…the cover is magnificent.  We see more of the kingdom that King He-Man will bring about.  Notably, Skeletor’s allies are now his allies, while the “Good Guys” are now “The Great Rebellion!”  At the end, He-Man breaks the sword in half, destroying it and relinquishing the power to return to the form of Prince Adam.

I can’t wait for issue 7!

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Skeletor’s romp through the Multiverse let him see many versions of himself, each one ending in defeat.  He never acquires the power of Grayskull.  Check out my Skitch below…

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“The Problem With Power” was the title of perhaps the greatest Filmation episode, where He-Man changes into Adam…a reverse transformation rarely seen, and then throws the sword into the abyss.  He decided in that episode that being He-man wasn’t worth taking the life of someone.  In this issue, there are echoes of the same, but all of Eternia is the victim as King He-Man is a despotic leader.

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This page kind of captures the state of things.  Beast Man is wearing Battle Cat’s hide as a cape!  He-Man is riding Panthor, and the Eternal Guard are riding Nightstalkers!  Also, notice the weaponry all over castle Grayskull.  In this issue, He-Man also orders an insurgent’s head on a spike…exactly the the thing Mattel told the moviemakers to avoid in the 1980s.  (I recall seeing the the Art Book instructions for “No Heads!  No Spikes!”

Finally….

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He-Man destroying “The Sword of Eternity.”  (A new name for “The Power Sword.”  Christened thus for only a few panels.)  a moving panel…Prince Adam appears so weak in the next few panels walking away, and I wonder how this is going to work.

“He-Man: The Eternity War” is a terrific read, and keen fans will see little allusions and nods.  I see it as the comic writers have a box full of toys, and are constantly playing with them in new ways.  Shaping a story the way little kids would have, and then making modern comics meant for an adult audience.

I hope DC keeps making MOTU comics.  I don’t ever want that dry spell that seemed to happen for so long to ever return.  I want to see toy versions of these comics characters.  The work is certainly deserving….

SpartanNerd Blog…AMAZING NEWS! He-Man: The Eternity War

Of course I could’t let this go without comment!

Details about the picture…

The Snake-Men appear to continue to be aligned with the good guys.

She-Ra is the central hero(ine) in this cover photo!

Orko is back to normal!

The only masters that remain alive, as far as we know in the current comic, are He-Man,  Moss Man, Man-At-Arms, and Stratos.  Teela has of course ascended to Green Goddess status as the new sorceress.

Skeletor is back with his regular skull face…(This might be related to Orko being normal again.)

Does Skeletor now have a power sword?  We notice that the Havoc Staff is missing.  In the story, Dark Orko fused Skeletor with his staff after He-Man broke his jaw and defeated him.  The Havoc Staff’s power apparently made him a huge hulk of a skeleton warrior.

Also, we haven’t seen too much of Panthor lately.

Hordak doesn’t appear as a god.  It has been established that he cannot go to Eternia because of his curse in banishment to Despondos.

It’s good to see Scorpia (is that her name?)

Skeletor seems to have all of his main bad guys, except for Whiplash.  Has he even made an appearance in the current comics?

Castle Grayskull is back intact!

Last of all…Is that Loo-Kee?  (I don’t even care.)

We all know that the comic book cover might not even matter.  But still, it is fun to speculate!

This event is apparently a continuation of the comic rather than a re-boot.  I think they want to have a “#1” on the shelves again.  I will be sure to get all of the variant covers I can!