Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I’ve never been a really hardcore Masters of the Universe fan. I mean, I remember it somewhat fondly from childhood as the toyline that did sort of usher in that 80’s era of toys and cartoon shows and franchising that I loved. I’ve heard of this time referred to as dreary, although I really never felt this way. Still, it’s never been something I spent tons of time looking back on and remembering every episode of He-Man there was or whatever. These days the relaunch/reboot has become an art form and I can appreciate anything that is kind of brought back from the dead as long as it’s done well.

I'm somewhat impressed with the recent He-man mini-series DC Comics had going on that I’ve taken a gander at. I mean, I might say they managed to get a little over the top with it, but I sort of like that they went there. Gone are the Saturday morning, kid friendly diatribes on safety; replaced instead with a sense of savageness that makes the He-Man universe suddenly seem very dangerous. I’ll spare you any spoliers, but needless to say some of your childhood favorites meet grim ends in the series. I mean, Skeletor has practically become an archetype at this point, parodied in countless cartoon shows and video games as "that guy;" that supervillian that’s trying too hard and is secretly pathetic.

Still, the original intention was that Skeletor was a sorcerer, possibly (and likely) an undead one, and that this was creepy. See, I’ve personally always found the He-Man over-developed man physique kind of a strange and unappealing thing to have headlining the whole thing. What I do appreciate is the extent that Masters of the Universe seems to draw heavily from Conan the Barbarian (a warrior who often came to blows with corrupt, powerful sorcerer types) and the extent to which Dungeons and Dragons dabbled with science fiction.

See, if there is something that's intriguing about He-man to me it’s this. There was this idea floating around in fiction around this time that if you sort of went far enough back in time you’d find things that were futuristic. That is, He-Man’s feudal society seems like it’s built upon the bedrock of some past civilization we don’t entirely understand. It was advanced and technologically superior to their own and remnants of it--either in the form of magic or machinery--is still lying around. This is an interesting and bizarre landscape and sometimes what we might call magic is actually some form of natural power or technology that whoever it was that came before us understood better than we do.

My point is, this new DC series seems to capture more of the Conan vibe for He-Man and I can appreciate that. I’ve also heard that DC has more on the way. He-Man the Eternity War looks set to not only feature She-Ra and her archnemesis Hor-Dak, but a whole host of old MOTU characters fighting it out in some Crisis on Infinite Earths style brawl. If you’re looking for something to break up the monotony you might actually want to pick these up. They might surprise you.