Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil (2004) collects all four Icons of Evil one-shots, which were originally published by Image Comics and CrossGen in 2003. All four stories are by Robert Kirkman (with plot assistance from Ian Richter and Val Staples); the artists vary. These comics present pre-He-Man stories for Beast Man, Mer-Man, Trap Jaw, and Tri-Klops.
In Beast Man, we’re treated to Keldor’s hadoukens and Beast Man throwing him around like a rag doll. There’s nothing profound here concerning Beast Man’s origins, as this story is dominated by fighting (which artist Tony Moore handles well), yet it’s all engaging enough.
Mer-Man is probably the weakest entry in this volume. There are no other characters of note here, and Mer-Man himself is little better than a one-dimensional megalomaniac. The highlight is EJ Su’s art – and he does a particularly good job giving all these fish people an impressive range of facial expressions.
In Trap Jaw, Kronis is expelled from Skeletor’s service eand becomes an extremely successful warlord. This is a good concept and a compelling story, but it doesn’t fit with Trap Jaw’s portrayal in the cartoon, where he’s one of Skeletor’s less competent warriors. This story also gives us an interesting look at the Dark Hemisphere, as it shows us that there’s lots more there than just Snake Mountain. This entire collection is for a reasonably adult audience, as there’s a lot of blood and killing in all the stories, but the depiction of Skeletor dismantling Kronis by Mike Pedro and Carlo Pagulayan really takes the cake.
Tri-Klops feels like something of a missed opportunity. There’s plenty of intrigue, deceit, and warfare, yet things often feel stilted and underdeveloped (it also seems kind of silly to say that Tri-Klops now has armor that’s invulnerable to damage when it only covers half his torso). This story’s problems are compounded by the fact that five different artists drew pages – there’s not a consistent style, and many of the action scenes are muddled. And why are Tri-Klops’s eyes covered before he’s blinded?
Even beyond the looks these stories give us into Skeletor’s generally under-developed minions, they also give us a good bit of Eternian world building. This is a populous place in which Snake Mountain is a dominant political power. And some of these stories give us as much development of Keldor/Skeletor as they do their title characters.
So, then, with two good stories and two middling ones, a majority of good artwork, and an impressive degree of world building, Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil is worthwhile for any dedicated He-Man fan.
Read it HERE