DC Comics has started a new He-Man comic book and I have read the first two issues. Apparently this is a continuation of a mini series they released last year that I had forgot even existed. The first issue starts off with no recap, no explanation, no set up whatsoever. They just jump right into wherever the last series left off. Here are a few things we learn right away, Skeletor has been defeated, the Sorceress is dead and was in fact Teela’s mother, everyone knows that Prince Adam is He-Man.
Now before we go any further I want to be clear on something. I am not a big He-Man fan. I think He-Man is okay but I have never been that into the Master of the Universe series. I do like the action figures and have bought a few of them over the years but I am far from a hardcore collector. Other than that I don’t really have any strong feelings one way or the other about He-Man. I am not a great expert on MOTU but I have working knowledge of the lore and characters. I picked up the first issue with no real expectations just the hope that it would have some good visuals and maybe if I was lucky a good story to go with it. The art by Pop Mhan is pretty good. The colors and inking and lettering and everything else are also good. The story by Keith Giffen kind of sucks. Don’t worry I will elaborate.
The issue begins with the people of Eternos having a memorial service for the Sorceress. Prince Adam and Teela have some banter/bickering that actually works on the level of them being friends who probably mess with each other all the time. It also works on the level that Teela is angry that no one ever told her that the Sorceress was her mother. Now some people will be wondering things like what is Eternos? Who are Adam and Teela and how do they know each other? Who was this the Sorceress and why does it matter that she is dead? The comic does not bother to explain any of these things.
Adam goes on to tease Teela about her new red hair during the memorial and she responds by elbowing him in the ribs. No one notices this even though they are standing onstage in front of thousands of people. We are then taken to a very generic fantasy setting farm and a generic family of farmers who are getting burned alive by the end of the page. And so enters Female Hordak and some generic evil armored soldiers. They are invading on behalf of a generic evil overlord. Seriously the best word to describe these bad guys is generic. I guess the female Hordak is somewhat visually interesting but I am mostly just wondering how they came to the decision to gender swap Hordak.
We cut back to the city for a scene of Teela undressing. The heroes are walking down a hallway and Teela just starts taking her clothes off for no other reason that to have a few panels of Teela in her underwear. As soon as she is in her underwear she goes into her bedroom. Let me make this clear, instead of waiting until she gets to her bedroom to undress Teela decides to take her clothes off while walking down a hallway in front of her father and two other guys. Now I am not opposed to scenes of character undressing and/or being in their underwear but this one is so inexplicable and pointless that I am not sure what to make of it. Anyway right after that we get to the bit with female Hordak invading the city. Prince Adam transforms into He-Man and we get too see Teela in her new sexy barbarian girl outfit. They proceed to fight female Hordak until she is unmasked at which point Teela recognizes her as (gasp) Adora! Wait… Adora? As in Princess Adora, He-Man’s sister otherwise known as She-Ra? That is how the issue ends.
So in the next issue we have female Hordak unmasked as someone named Adora. He-Man has no idea who she is. Teels says she is her imaginary friend. Things are only going to get more stupid after this.
There is some fighting. Cringer shows up. The Masters of the Universe gather at Castle Greyskull. It turns out that evil She-Ra works for Hordak and I guess everyone thought Hordak was not real for some reason. Teela spends the issue talking about Adora being her imaginary friend, just all around rudely condescending to everyone while occasionally being positioned so the audience can see her butt. At the end evil She-Ra challenges He-Man and in the last panel King Randor says “Marlena” for some reason. In the lore Queen Marlena was Randor’s wife and He-Man’s mother. So is this evil She-Ra really He-Man’s mom? Is that where they are going with this?
So there are a number of things wrong with this comic book so far. The most glaring is that it was written for a very limited audience. This was not written for He-Man fans. This was not written for new readers. This was not written for kids. This series is written for anyone who read the mini series from last year and no on else. It does nothing to establish these characters, the world they live in, or why we should care that the world is being invaded. And that is the biggest crime committed here, after reading two issues I still don’t care. Its like writer Keith Giffen is not even trying and I don’t blame him. This comic book is just another symptom of a greater problem at DC comics. In their attempt to catch up with Marvel’s recent mainstream success they have added a whole “post production” phase to the creation of comics and taken upper management corporate interference to new levels if what has been leaking out is to be believed. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe are just a casualty of that. I may not be a big MOTU fan but even I know they deserve better than this.
There is one other subject I would like to go over. The Master of the Universe franchise does not have a lot of female characters. This series has managed to do a huge injustice to all of them right from the start. The Sorceress is dead. She-Ra is now evil. Teela is supposed to be ‘tough’ and ‘strong’ but she just comes off as kind of a snotty brat. It’s like they took a list of everything you can do wrong in terms of sexism and marginalizing women and they are just throwing as much in as they can.
If I pick up another issue it will be too see if they can make this series any more terrible. They probably can.