27th Nov2019

‘He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Tim Seeley | Art by Dan Fraga, Richard Friend | Published by DC Comics

he-man-multiverse-1-cover

It was pretty much impossible for me not to pick up this book with a title like that, so well done whoever decided to name the book. Reeled me in straight away. The Masters of the Universe have actually had a pretty decent shelf line for a franchise that grew out of an 1980’s toy line, a toy line I’m pleased to say I was in on from the start. I had quite a few of the figures, which for their day were really good quality, and have fond memories of the cartoon too. The comics, funnily enough, were a part of He-Man and company from the very start, as mini comics were packaged with the figures from the start. ‘Proper’ comics have been published down the years by DC, Marvel and Image, of varying but generally pretty decent quality, and of late DC has been carrying the torch. This book sees Tim Seeley taking a very different approach to the characters, so let’s take a look.

Seeley hooks you from Page 1, with a classic set up. Skeletor outside Castle Grayskull, goading Prince Adam (He-Man’s normal identity, if you didn’t know) with a choice. Either suffer the city of Eternos to be completely destroyed, including his father King Randor, or let Skeletor take Castle Grayskull, which will grant him near omnipotent power. Quite the pickle, and the Saturday morning cartoon fan in us all can only smile in recognition, probably like me hearing Skeletor’s distinctive cackle in my head. He-Man comes out to fight, only to find Skeletor…dead. Yep. Killed by He-Man. Just, not our He-Man. This He-Man looks like a negative of ours, ashen skin and dead eyes, and it seems he’s been carving his way through alternate universe versions of Prince Adam. Well, he won’t beat ours.

By the power of Hellskull, he only did. Prince Adam is dead. Fortunately, Seeley has been playing with us, and this Prince Adam and Skeletor weren’t our ones either. This would have been a pretty short book otherwise, right? Anyway, let’s start again. On to another Eternia, where tearaway Prince Keldor is brother to King Randor, and they are having to deal with an incursion by Captain Teela, of similar look to ashen He-Man from earlier, from The Dark Quarters and Hellskull. Why has she come into their territory? This Randor has lost his son, daughter, and wife already it seems. Again, for those not in the know, Keldor will one day become Skeletor, but here is a long way from that. If you weren’t confused enough, two more He-Men pitch up, one a little blocky cartoon version, the other more a He-Man we recognise. Let’s see if the cosmic key can help.

The cosmic key reveals that the He-Man of this world used the power of Castle Hellskull to access the nexus of all realities, and has been attacking He-Man of other dimensions to steal their power swords, draining all their magic into him, becoming more and more powerful. His ultimate goal? The Power Prime, the source of the magic for all Castle Grayskulls in all realities. He-Man explains to Keldor that only in this universe is He-Man evil, an Anti-He Man, everywhere else he is a hero. He wisely avoids the bit about what Keldor is in every other reality. The logic for recruiting Keldor is this. In the other universes ‘good’ He-Man always defeats ‘bad’ Keldor/ Skeletor, so in this universe ‘good’ Keldor should beat ‘bad’ He-Man. A good theory, explained by a surprise guest appearance I won’t spoil. Keldor’s in.

First stop, Eternia. That would be the starship Eternia. Of course it would.

I think it’s say to say Tim Seeley pretty much hit this out the park, or came very close to doing so. A fantastic first issue, perhaps slightly confusing for those not fully up on the characters but the central concept is pretty familiar (think Jet-Li in The One) and Seeley explains a fair bit as we go along. This is clearly a toy box only limited by Tim Seeley’s imagination. Dan Fraga and Richard Friend do a good job of telling the story visually, with the added wrinkle of having to draw the different people in their own styles, like blocky cartoon He-Man. I really get the impression this was a fun project for all involved.

Will Anti-He Man win? will Keldor prove a hero, or revert to type? will Seeley introduce a female He-Man next? Who knows, and that’s the beauty of it.

Tim Seeley HAS THE POWER!

****½  4.5/5

He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #1 is out now from DC Comics.

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