Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #5-8 (DC digital comics)

Concluding the brief run of digital comics, these four issues, by a variety of writers and artists, feature backstory vignettes with Evil Lyn, Orko, Trapjaw, and Adora.

In “Evil Lyn” (I guess we’re dropping the hyphen), Evil Lyn becomes romantically involved with an ex-royal guardsman, and we get further setup for future stories with the second of the two most powerful relics in “the Everything.”

So, now we’ve got sex in a He-Man comic, eh? No doubt if anybody prominently involved with the creation of Masters of the Universe is dead, they’re spinning in their graves. The other thing that feels out of place here (although I guess when you think about it, it really shouldn’t) is the big flat-screen TV in the tavern, on which the patrons watch highlights of Yellow Cross He-Man battling Skeletor on the evening news. It can’t be long before we get a MOTUC figure of Repor-Tor, Heroic Newsman, or somesuch. 

The art’s fine, but I guess the colorist had the day off. The primarily black and white art gives this comic a noir feel, but this isn’t the sort of story that really benefits from such a treatment.

On the whole, this is a decent enough story, but it doesn’t tell us anything new about Evil Lyn, and those who know the character will see the ending coming a long way off.


In “Orko,” Orko screws up one of the Sorceress’s spells, throwing Eternia’s reality into flux. And by flux I mean complete madness.

Wow. Just, wow. Did Jeff Parker get drunk watching cartoons and dash this off in fifteen minutes? With overt pop culture references to The Dark Knight Returns, Spongebob Squarepants, Pac-Man, Calvin and Hobbes, Roger Rabbit, and lots more, this is Cartoon Network on the hallucinogenic drug of your choice. And the dialogue is often brutal.

However, this comic is also refreshing in a way, as it gives us a nice little break from the shameless grim-and-grittification of the franchise. And Parker nearly redeems himself with Power Sword-wielding Orko shouting, “I temporarily have the power!”

The hero of this comic is artist Chris Gugliotti, who successfully executes a myriad of styles in terms of drawing, inks, and color, and, in the cases of the pop references, in the manner of the original artists (but dude, that Orko on the left side of the cover is creepy as hell). This single comic should be all the portfolio he’ll ever need.

There’s no real story here, nor any point to the goings-on beyond showcasing Gugliotti’s artistic abilities, but it’s worth checking out for that, plus the craziness – it’s all craziness.


“Trapjaw” is a prequel to “Evil Lyn.”  Here, Kronis is an information broker and thief in a heist gone bad.

Wait, what? Yellow Cross He-Man throws a gun so hard that it makes Kronis’s jaw detach and his face turn green (talk about careless and irresponsible; Yellow Cross He-Man, we have “The Problem with Power” on line one)? And then these nanites save Kronis somehow? Not only is this origin kind of small-time, it’s also change purely for change’s sake: the 200X Icons of Evil one-shot gave us a much more significant, much more satisfying (and much more badass, while we’re at it) origin for Trapjaw.

What I do like is how Higgins has given us an overarching plot running through these stories. One hopes all this setup will be returned to in the ongoing monthly so we get our due payoff.

The art is fairly good. The splash page with Yellow Cross He-Man is about as epic as we’ve seen in these comics. And it’s nice to see a faithful (200X-ish) Snake Mountain (and Skeletor). However, all the buildup to give us a last-page reveal for Trapjaw? Come on – this character’s thirty years old – plus we’ve got the cover. Or is the big deal supposed to be that he’s basically got a garbage disposal for a throat?  

In short, this is a competently executed but needless and weak new origin.


In “She-Ra,” Despara – that is, Force Captain Adora – begins to recall flashes of her infancy; her story will be continued in the new ongoing monthly.

I don’t really have a problem accepting Adora as a cold-blooded Horde killer (she also murders a peripheral She-Ra character you probably don’t care about): it’s an understandable, logical, nigh-unavoidable step for any adult treatment of the character. If we get an appropriately climactic Damascus Road moment (I’m not holding my breath), I’m on board all the way.  

Drew Johnson’s art is very good, and the red-orange-black color scheme throughout sets the tone nicely. The Horde Troopers – now men instead of robots – have gotten a solid update. Adora’s outfit fits the Horde motif a lot better than the old cartoon one’s did, but if you don’t mind me saying so, it’s mighty weird to see Hordak’s face on top of boobs.

On the whole, this is the best new comic DC has given us, and it offers a glimmer of hope going forward. I don’t know that I need a bunch of She-Ra in my He-Man so soon, and one can’t help but imagine that they’ll find some way to screw things up, but I guess we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.


These comics’ archive page is HERE