Wednesday, February 27, 2013


He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine #16 is the Fall 1988 issue – it’s also the final issue.

We couldn’t get through the full run of an eighties magazine that regularly ran features on child actors without getting Fred Savage in here, could we? Heavens no. The non-He-Man content features another of those misleading and out-and-out wrong “facts” – pizza is “nutritious” because it includes all four food groups and is “full of ingredients that are really good for you.” There’s also a three-page feature on the Summer Olympics – now featuring all those communist countries that stayed home last time! And there are two piddling activities that aren’t He-Man themed.

It’d be a shame for this magazine to go out without a properly ridiculous comic story, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. “The Dark Power of Skeletor” features the He-Man version of kryptonite, He-Man burrowing through the ground like a cartoon gopher, and the day being saved by the unintroduced and never-seen-again character Strobo, who was clearly thrown together using Zodac’s head, Sy-Klone’s body, and Randor’s cape, and who looks kind of like Batman, if Batman didn’t wear clothes.

The Earl Norem poster, the gatefold edition of the cover, features He-Man, Skeletor, and other characters with recently-released action figures doing battle (in which Ninjor looks to be on the verge of suffering the ultimate indignity: getting killed by Snout Spout).

If you’re disappointed that this magazine has finally stumbled to a merciful end, well, there’s always all that Captain Power bonus content to get you through.

Read it HERE

Monday, February 25, 2013


Masters of the Universe #13, “Lifetime Part 2,” is by Caragonne, Wilson, and Bulanadi. Here, Adam and the resistance attempt to retrieve the Power Sword.

This is the last issue of the Star comic, and quite frankly, the run really couldn’t have ended better than this. The only problem is that the story is so frustratingly rushed – this would have made a great three- or four-issue arc. A couple of corners are cut to make everything fit, but even so, the impact of this story is substantial. Which is as it should be – when you know you’re writing an imaginary future (and the last issue) for a dying franchise, why leave anything on the table? Make Skeletor as big a badass as possible! Destroy landmarks! Kill people off! And who doesn’t want to see two He-Mans?

The art is solid, as expected. It should be noted that the story borrows certain plot elements from the 1987 film, and not only are Blade and Saurod here in their toy forms, but the appearances of Skeletor and Castle Grayskull’s throne room draw heavily from the film. And it all works quite well. (I really couldn’t tell you why Imp and Catra from She-Ra are on the cover, though.)

Thus the Masters of the Universe comic was cancelled – and, adding insult to injury, at its highest point. To this day, I vividly remember my bitter disappointment as a seven-year-old subscriber when, instead of getting issue #14 in the mail, I got Air Raiders #5. It was like having a birthday and getting a roll of Necco Wafers instead of a cake.

But back to business: while it’s disappointingly rushed, this is an extremely satisfying conclusion to one of the best He-Man stories of all time.


Read it HERE

Saturday, February 23, 2013


He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine #15 is the Summer 1988 issue. This one is Africa-themed.  

There’s a two-page feature on wildlife in Kenya; there’s not much in the way of content otherwise. The do-it-yourself activity is animal masks; neither the puzzles is He-Man themed.

Following last issue’s cliffhanger, in “The Tournament,” He-Man and Skeletor appear on an alien world, where Kirchner borrows heavily from the Filmation episode “The Arena.” How do they get home? You’re on your own for that.

This issue’s lone Norem poster is the full gatefold edition of the cover, with He-Man riding a lion and Skeletor leading a herd of elephants near Mount Kilimanjaro. One thing, though: somebody at the magazine doesn’t know what the heck they’re doing – this scene clearly takes place on a savannah – the handful of trees here are all acacias – yet the caption reads, “The jungle is the setting of this battle between He-Man and Skeletor” (they made the same mistake on the cover). Wow.

Also included is a bunch of Captain Power Magazine content, which is perhaps the writing on the wall that the end is near (well, that plus the fact that the people responsible for this magazine seem to be trying even less hard than usual).

Read it HERE

Friday, February 22, 2013


Masters of the Universe #12, “Lifetime,” is by Caragonne, Wilson, and Bulanadi. Here, Adam must find the Power Sword, which has been sent thirty years into the future, where Skeletor rules.

Oh, how I’ve been waiting for this one. After a little bit of a weak start, this turns into an astonishingly fantastic issue. Caragonne borrows from the 1987 film to put Skeletor in control of Grayskull by means of the Cosmic Key – and then he pulls out all the stops, imprisoning and killing off whomever he pleases, and making his dystopian Eternia an extremely compelling, high-stakes place. The suspense and urgency are palpable on nearly every page.

Caragonne gives us more good development of Adam and his struggles with his identity and reputation, but much like issue #10 did with Teela, doing so highlights the fact that there’s no good reason why Adam can’t tell his parents his identity. Caragonne does a solid job with other characters here, too, especially Randor and Marlena. He even addresses the ramifications of Eternia’s growing hero population and overdependence on He-Man.

Wilson and Bulanadi turn in the usual quality work. Their facial expressions go a long way toward setting the tone of the issue. And Wilson even thought to make the future Adam taller. The only criticism is that some of these future characters, who should be in their late forties at the very minimum, don’t look near old enough.

In all, on the strength of its well-realized premise, “Lifetime” must rank among the greatest He-Man stories ever told, in any medium.


Read it HERE

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazine #14 is the Spring 1988 issue. This one is space themed (possibly even more than it is He-Man-themed).

There’s more non-He-Man-themed content than ever here, with a page about hobbies and two with space facts from the good old days when Pluto was a planet (this latter offering contains such bewildering insights as “the sun is the brightest star in our solar system” and “there may be zillions of stars”). Education, ho! And, in keeping with the space theme, this issue’s celebrity feature is on freakin’ Wesley Crusher.

This issue’s comic story, “To Save a World,” which is basically Deep Impact/When Worlds Collide on Eternia, actually does some interesting things. Skeletor’s plan goes shockingly, horrendously awry. Kirchner destroys the Royal Palace, sinks the Three Towers, and wrecks Snake Mountain (but naturally and stupidly, this all gets put back at the end like nothing ever happened). For quite possibly the first time ever, Snout Spout extinguishes an honest-to-goodness fire! And then we get…a cliffhanger!

Activities include a guide to making your own “space shuttle” out of boxes and household materials (I have to say, by and large, these do-it-yourself construction projects have been pretty good), plus some fairly easy puzzles, most of which aren’t He-Man-themed.  

The one Earl Norem poster included is the cover: He-Man and Skeletor fighting in space for some reason, with no space suits or oxygen or anything.

Read it HERE

Monday, February 18, 2013


Masters of the Universe #11, “Whose Enemy Am I Anyway?” is by Caragonne, Wilson, and Bulanadi. Here, He-Man and Hordak lose their memories, then team up. Now featuring characters from the She-Ra cartoon!

Are we sure Mike Carlin didn’t sneak back in to write the first few pages of this issue? Hordak has an absurdly vast invasion force – which is easily thwarted by bumbling jive-talking caricatures of heroes.

Once the story gets going, however, we do somewhat better. Amnesia is a tired old plot, but making enemies team up is a reasonably fresh take on it. Hordak gets some good character development here, even if there’s an obvious parallel between him and Darth Vader. We also get He-Man reaffirming the value of life, which is always nice. (And unrelated to the plot, Caragonne makes Battle Cat contemptuous of Cringer, which is a curious decision.)

Solid work again from the regular art team, although on page 20 it kind of looks like Man-At-Arms might have landed his ship right on top of some people. And between the beginning of the issue and the end, letterer Jack Morelli forgot that “Grayskull” is spelled with an a.

This one’s the weakest of Caragonne’s contributions to the comic, but it does more good than bad (if barely).


Read it HERE