Review - Masters of the Universe: The Powers of Grayskull #1

A fond memory of childhood is He-Man. Not just He-Man in general, but specifically the battle damage action figure, where if you hit the armor on his chest it would rotate, revealing a dent in it from presumably any number of weapons. It's a memory and character that has lasted, despite very little in the way of marketing exploitation. Maybe Mattel and Dark Horse can jog your memory on the character.

Mattel is releasing a Masters of the Universe Classics toy line this year and have teamed with Dark Horse for a three-issue mini-comic series as pack-ins with the figures. The first issue is written by Tim Seeley (story by Scott Nietlich), with art Wellington Alves, colors by Michael Atiyeh, letters by Nate Piekos and an awesome cover by Eric Powell.

The world of Eternia has undergone quite a few changes since we last visited. The heroes have been driven underground, Teela has replaced the Sorceress of Grayskull and Man-at-Arms has been turned into a snake man. Throw in a good old fashioned prophecy heralding a return of kings and the Three Towers and you've got everything you need for a great He-Man tale.

In the first issue, He-Man is summoned by Teela and sent to Preternia, a time many millenia before He-Man's birth. It's here he encounters a Bionotops, which is a really cool way of saying a triceratops with a laser attached to his head. He-Man saves the beast and quickly becomes embroiled in the conflict of the era between Snake Men and the citizens of Preternia.

Not only does He-Man have to contend with King Hsss and his Mecha-Drone, but Skeletor has made his way back in time as well. His desire is to see He-Man and King Hsss kill one another in the past, making his present that much sweeter. It's not until the appearance of a new hero does He-Man realize there's hope for Eternia yet.

The writing by Seeley is very fast and furious. Granted, there's on ten-pages in the first issue, but he's managed to capture the feel of the character. That might have something to do with Nietlich's involvement. Nietlich just so happens to be the Brand Manager for Masters of the Universe, so it's safe to say he's got his fingers on the pulse of that universe.

The dialogue in the issue is very brisk and light. Skeletor maintains his sleaziness while He-Man maintains the genuine emotion and incredulity at some events. Even the two fighting dinosaurs have personality, despite not saying one word of dialogue.

Alves killed it on the art. Reading the issue is like you're watching the cartoon. Atiyeh's colors really emphasize that 80s feel that fans of the original show know and love. He-Man looks heroic and Skeletor looks dangerous. The Snake Men are show both suffering and evoking fear and it all comes together very well.

Masters of the Universe: The Powers of Grayskull #1 is a great first part of the three-comic series. It sets up a new story while at the same time making the reader feel like they never left Eternia. It'll be fun to see how the next two issues play out, with He-Man having a new ally and a mysterious figure in the mix. Skeletor looms as always as well.

Unfortunately, Masters of the Universe: The Powers of Grayskull #1 is only availalbe when you buy the Thunder Punch He-Man who, as of this writing, is sold out online. Hopefully, Dark Horse and Mattel decide to release the full comic to everyone once all three issues are done.