Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Masters of the Universe

"To Tempt the Gods"
Masters of the Universe #1 (December 1982), Written by Paul Kupperberg; Pencils by George Tuska, Inks by Alfredo Alcala

Synopsis:  On Eternia, a world with a "medieval exterior" but whose technology nevertheless outstrips that of Earth, there's a party (dancing girls) for the Queen. Man-At-Arms asks the King where his heir Prince Adam is. The two commiserate over how irresponsible Adam is.

That's Adam's cure to jump the hedge and make an appearance. Apparently, he's been dallying with a young lady...

They are commemorating the arrival of the Queen on Eternia 25 years ago. Adam heads off the his chambers to get his gift for his mother. He regrets he has to play this false personality and disappoint his father.

At his door, Adam is assailed by magical power. The room is filled with demonic presences. Adam dives over his bed to escape--and finds Cringer waiting there. Cringer tells him Skeletor had his presence known here.

The mention of Skeletor's name galvanizes Adam into action. He and Cringer run to the Cavern of Power. There, they are transformed into He-Man and Battle Cat. Even then, they here the sound of mocking laughter.

Skeletor gloats that he has the Goddess captive. He did battle with her, and though she kept the two halves of the power sword from his grasp, he managed to defeat her. He knows that only a heroic soul will be able to find the power sword, and he plans to force He-Man to do it for him by having him seek out three talismans representing the sea, the sky, and the cosmos that will lead to the swords.

He-Man knows the cosmic star cluster is in the hands of the royal wizard, Tarrak. He meets Teela, captain of the guard, and enters the palace, He meets his parents, though they don't recognize their feckless son in the heroic He-Man. They enter Tarrak's chambers and find:

Man-At-Arms here's the clamor of battle and joins in. Once the demon's are defeated, Tarrak reveals that they stole the talisman in the shape of the nexus constellation.  Someone else is after the talismans, too.

Meanwhile, Avion is attacked by dragonriding beastmen. It's Stratos they're after. The birdman flies to the castle. His strength failing, only Tarrak's magic saves him. He-Man notices Stratos is wearing the talisman of air. Our heroes now have one in hand.

This issue is the introduction of Prince Adam. He's a bit more Don Deigo Vega in concept than the overmuscled Billy Batson he'll become in the cartoon. Still, the genius of the "fantasy superhero" are definitely here. Eternia is much more "standard fantasy comic" than it is later, down to Teela's outfit that doesn't look anything like the toys (until this). Still, this is much closer to the universe sketched in the original Don Glut mini-comics than what is to follow.

Zodac really has a Metron of the New Gods vibe here. This begins the transition from his original intended role as a villain to the heroic role he has in the mythology now.

Under interesting detail: Stratos's wife is completely human rather than anthropoid like him.

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