Masters of the Universe #1 (“To Tempt the Gods!,” December, 1982) begins DC’s three-issue mini-series. It’s written by Paul Kupperberg and illustrated by George Tuska and Alfredo Alcala. Here, Skeletor threatens to kill the Goddess unless He-Man helps him obtain what he needs to retrieve the halves of the Power Sword.
Skeletor extorting He-Man is a novel concept, although there’s really not a lot of different ways that can play out. The story is pretty decent, but it’s burdened with an awful lot of exposition, which is not unexpected. The writing incorporates the stiff, formal, fantasy-genre dialogue, but Kupperberg carelessly puts in the occasional jarring break* (unless he was trying to be funny and not succeeding). While we’re on carelessness, he’s also spelling “Grayskull” with an “e.”
Of greater interest than the story itself is the final evolution of the DC mythos: Adam’s irresponsibility has evolved into his cover story…somewhat – he’s having his cake and eating it too. Suggesting that this story takes place somewhat early in He-Man’s career, He-Man doesn’t have free access to the Royal Palace, and here we see his first interaction with his parents as He-Man. At least he has the good sense to realize that he looks exactly like Prince Adam in different clothes. We also get a tiny bit more astronaut Marlena backstory.
The art has a fitting pulp style, although Tuska’s characters in motion are frequently in bizarre positions. Alcala’s heavy inks make for good atmosphere, which goes a long way. And together they give us some real violence. But there’s some carelessness here, too (in the first few pages, the characters go from indoors to outdoors mid-scene), as well as some inexplicable goings-on: Teela’s wearing some kind of metal Viking bra, and most of Stratos’s people look like, well, regular people.
In all, this is a promising start to DC’s last classic He-Man story.
Read it HERE
*He-Man: “There has never been anything quite like the sharp edge of blade and axe to fell demons!”
Battle Cat: “Bah! I say ’tis fang and claw these creatures fear most!”
Teela: “Argue later, you guys!”