Writer: Tim Seeley
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Artist: Eddie Nunez
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Curse of Castle Grayskull
Artist: Kelley Jones
Colorist: Brennan Wagner
He-Man The Lost
Art: Sergio Aragonés
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: February 15th, 2023
Reviewer: David Dunham
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe enlivened the 1980s with a memorable cast of characters through comics, a TV series, a children’s toy line, and a live-action big-screen movie. Does Dark Horse Comics’ new series honor the rich heritage of this fabulous franchise? Let’s leap into Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #1 and find out!
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #1 Review.
Story: In this two-page opener, He-Man defends Castle Grayskull against the latest attack by Skeletor’s forces. New to his power, he regrets that he must relinquish it and resume his duties as Prince Adam. This incident causes Zodac, the Cosmic Enforcer, to doubt Adam’s worthiness. He shares his concern with Sorceress Teela-Na, wearing her Falcon headdress from the TV series.
This story evokes the look of the TV series, introduces the characters, and raises the stakes for Adam’s future as He-Man. I didn’t understand the logic behind looking at Adam’s counterparts to judge whether he was worthy. Isn’t the point of a multiverse that an individual will make different decisions in each? Their choices and actions shape their characters in different ways, leaving some heroes, and others villains, as in Star Trek’s Mirror Mirror stories.
Expressive and appealing characters battle, talk, and channel vibrant power. Mirror-like portals reveal scenes in alternative universes. Backgrounds ground the scenes well. Minimal shading and a single silhouette combine with vibrant and graduated colors. Beige narrative boxes set the scene. Only Skeletor’s words and dialogue balloon differ from the other characters’ uppercase lettering in spherical white orbs. Dynamic sound effects give this Filmation-like world an added punch.
CURSE OF CASTLE GRAYSKULL
Story: A wizard has cast Castle Grayskull into darkness. Everyone who lived nearby has fled. On a mission to the border villages, Skeletor’s forces attack Prince Adam, Captain Teela, and Court Jester Orko. Adam runs into the forest to draw the attackers away. Monsters attack him in the castle vicinity. Yet he doesn’t call upon the Sword Of Power. When he finally does so, we understand why.
Initially, I found it hard to relate to the hunted Adam of this Mordor-like land. Yet this nine-page story in Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #1 passed all too soon, finishing with a mind-blowing Moorcockian reveal. This version of Adam may not resemble the hero from the TV series, but the ending showcases his maturity and bravery. Although not present, Teela emerges as a cold, calculating soldier.
The buildings, interiors, antagonists, skeletons, and statues remind me of a Mike Mignola story. These scenes bring to mind Robert E. Howard’s tales of Conan battling monsters in cemeteries, dungeons, and labyrinths. Kelley Jones’ inking, crosshatching, and stippling lend texture and mood to Adam and his surroundings. Sadly, two key panels failed to communicate the artist’s intent.
Brennan Wagner’s vibrant colors prevent scenes of stunning penciling and inking from becoming impenetrable. Because so much of the color palette hails from the purple-to-pink area of the color wheel, Orko’s appearance fails to cast us out of this Hellboy-like world. Sources of light, when they appear, are both sinister and joyous.
Tim Seeley gives us plenty of narrative in Curse of Castle Grayskull, saving most of the dialogue for the final pages. Deron Bennett helps us hear Orko’s voice by adding red musical notes to the hovering court jester’s white dialogue balloons. Sound effects are even more energetic and creative than in the first story.
HE-MAN THE LOST
Story: After a series of great wars that have reduced the land to the Stone Age, Skeletor assembles a sword that makes him unconquerable. When Eternia’s heroes cry out in despair, a Sorceress adorned with a snake headdress travels the land in search of a champion. She bestows powerful weapons upon a bored young man. Can he use her gifts—relics of a technologically superior society—to restore peace to Eternia?
After the somber, brooding Curse of Castle Grayskull, this eight-page story in Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #1 lightens the reader’s mood with comic relief. Skeletor shows off his wit and maturity with memorable lines like “See ya, suckers” and “Suck a fart, Eternia!” He-Man may not win the day by his wits, but he shows bravery through his willingness to stand up to a powerful foe and settle for a peaceful resolution.
Artist Sergio Aragonés delivers the energetic and dynamic sketching devoted Groo fan expects. He crams panels full of heroes and villains, animals and magical creatures, and a host of armed and armored vehicles. Rico Renzi’s colors seem more muted, and he adds grey to suggest depth. He also colors the sorceress green, as she appeared in the first mini-comic that preceded the TV series. Letterer Deron Bennett makes his sound effects suitably cartoony, and Skeletor’s italicized words appear in shaky dialogue balloons, adding even more energy to scenes that most definitely do not suck.
Dark Horse Comics’ Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #1 recalls the innocence and wonder of the 1980s comics and movies. By exploring two alternative versions of Eternia, this issue celebrates the qualities of a true hero. A vibrant final page wraps up this issue and excites us with glimpses of future stories.
One thought on “Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #1 Review”
And what about Adora Adams twin,sister aka She-Ra why exclude her from this story.