Final portion of “The Story of She-Ra,” the first Princess of Power mini-comic. Before anything else: Swift Wind’s unicorn horn looks so incredibly sad. Like the little ball at the end is some kind of overboard child protection measure. Don’t gore children, Swift Wind.
I wonder how we’re supposed to take He-Man’s initial dialogue to Catra on the first page. It feels really sarcastic, but there’s no way He-Man can know Catra is a villain since he literally just fell out of the sky in a blaze of rainbow colors and ran into her, so he may be acting genuinely polite there? Nothing says he can’t be The Most Well-Mannered Man In The Universe.
On a different note: I didn’t comment on this when Adora actually turned into She-Ra in the last set of pages, but… not only is the change between her two forms practically non-existent from a reader’s perspective, but Catra mistakes She-Ra for Adora in-story. Your ARCH-ENEMY can’t tell the difference between your secret identity and your superheroic self! That… that is a failure of the entire concept of secret identities! Mind, I am on-record as thinking alter egos for the Masters of the Universe protagonists are dumb anyway, and it’s not like the horse-riding blonde in the white dress exiting the Crystal Castle isn’t gonna be the horse-riding blonde in the white dress who entered the Crystal Castle a few moments ago, but… but… gah.
Anyway. With the entire raised-by-bad-guys plot point from the Secret of the Sword movie dropped (and not replaced with anything else), the story concludes with He-Man and She-Ra’s first - and only - meeting in She-Ra’s own comics. After this one, the focus is entirely on She-Ra and her allies facing off against Catra (and Entrapa), with no external MOTU references except apparently some Horde Troopers showing up in the final mini-comic… which I don’t own. I do have some of the other She-Ra mini-comics, though, and might scan them up if I can remember where they are…
(If you’re wondering why the Sorceress’ dialogue is suddenly red for one word balloon, all the She-Ra mini-comics have the moral of the story highlighted in red. Ehn.)
In closing, don’t stare at that final panel with She-Ra for too long. Her expression gets creepier the more you look.
Part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.
Second portion of “The Story of She-Ra,” the first Princess of Power mini-comic.
So in the Secret of the Sword movie, Hordak and Shadow Weaver raise the kidnapped baby Adora, who grows up to be a captain in the evil Horde (without her ever realizing the Horde is in fact evil, but apparently she was pretty sheltered). It takes the events surrounding He-Man’s arrival on Etheria for Adora to renounce the Horde, become She-Ra, and take up with the Great Rebellion. Here, um… Adora’s deal is that she’s heroically guarding the Crystal Castle from Catra as an adult, despite the interdimensional kidnapping still being part of her backstory. How does that work? Did someone on Etheria kidnap baby Adora from the Horde and raise her for the job? It seems to undermine the gravity of Mini-Comic Hordak’s plan if his abductee is outside of his control and doing good when we first meet her. The plot point shift isn’t explained in the final portion of the story, either…
(Also, apparently Spirit the horse is female in this universe, since a caption box calls him a filly.)
(Also also, the Crystal Castle really looks like a repainted Castle Grayskull in that long-shot, but that might just be me.)
Part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here.
EDIT: part 3 is here.
So far as I’m aware, this small storybook is the very first piece of He-Man / Masters of the Universe tie-in fiction. It describes He-Man as being a mighty forest-dwelling tribesman who leaves his village to battle the forces of evil trying to access the secrets of Castle Grayskull… which, uh, he somehow knows exists despite being a forest-dwelling tribesman. Maybe he was also the village’s biggest gossip hound, I dunno.
This was a much more fantasy take on the He-Man mythos, as technology like the Battle Ram was left over from before Eternia was beset by the “Great Wars” - which were catastrophic enough to tear open a hole in reality(!) that pulled Skeletor to Eternia from another dimension. This set-up also gave He-Man no secret identity, which I am on record for thinking was a dumb creative decision in the first place. Sure, it was a way to add some tension to the animated series… but it just rings hollow to me, because nobody would’ve been hurt if his ID got out. By that point in the canon, Skeletor was gunning for He-Man’s family and friends anyway, by dint of them being the friggin’ Royal Family Of Eternia and the associated hangers-on.
"Gasp! He-Man is really the hated son of the hated king I hate! I must… hate them both even more now! Somehow! Nyeh!"
Also, I don’t get why the back of the storybook lists all the heights/lengths of the toys. That seems kind of weird?
Anyway. I had plans to scan the entire book, but my copy has two of the pages torn out. Turns out the entire thing is up at He-Man.org if you want to read it, though.
Somehow, this still feels way more 1930s sci-fi than 1950s. Also, that rocketship’s got to be pretty inconvenient to fly, since I’m not sure it has seats.
A nightmare-inducing sea creature on the cover of Charlton’s Unusual Tales #6. Art by Steve Ditko, scan taken from Heritage Auctions.
A 1986 Transformers cup by Packer Plastics, featuring Ultra Magnus. On top of some of his parts colors being off - shins, chestplate, helmet - all his white parts are actually depicted as silver-grey, in contrast to the cup’s base white. Whether that change was due to printing on a cup or a genuine deco difference, I dunno.
I’ve often felt that Steve Ditko’s covers for Marvel Comics were kind of sub-par. You’d occasionally get some real gems, but it didn’t feel like he consistently knocked them out of the park as much as, say, Jack Kirby did (which, okay, bad comparison, it’s Jack Kirby). My view led me to think that Ditko was a mediocre cover artist in general… but then I decided to flip through his other work on Comics.org. He did a lot of material for this cheapjack publisher called Charlton, and holy cow - a bunch of it is downright incredible.
Look at the atmosphere on this thing! The composition! It was a horror/suspense anthology, and each one of those flying papers represents a story inside. There’s even an “IN THIS ISSUE” blurb worked into the background! I don’t know why Ditko’s Marvel covers don’t thrill me so much - maybe Stan Lee or whoever put different demands on him - but he could clearly make covers worthy of separating kids from their hard-earn dimes…
Tales of the Mysterious Traveler #4, taken from a Heritage auction.