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He-Man and the Power Sword (First in a series of a page by page discussion thread)

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  • He-Man and the Power Sword (First in a series of a page by page discussion thread)

    It is my hope that this thread can be the first in a LONG series of threads where we talk about ALL the MOTU media. What better place to start then with the first MOTU story ever told? Hopefully you have a copy, if not you have to scour the internet searching high and low for scans to "He-Man and the Power Sword"

    THE COVER:
    WOW. That's the first depiction of He-Man...EVER. It's a great pose. Very "frazetta" in that it's in between the actual battle. It's the anticipation and implication of action that makes it so exciting to me. And who the heck is that in Castle Grayskull shooting at Man-At-Arms? Why?

    PAGE ONE: The art:
    This is one of the best first pages of any book I've ever seen! I immediately think of He-Man waving farewell to his dear sister, like in Secret Of The Sword, but that is because I was literally born alongside this mini comic as we both where "NEW for 82". I can TOTALLY imagine that when this character (Who's name is clearly not Oo-Lar) was born Mommy and Papa (whoever they are...) would have looked down, with mom saying "He" and simultaneously, Dad saying "Man" thus was born the most powerful man in the universe who was so manly that he had to be named TWICE! (I wish I could take credit for that idea!) Alfredo P. Alcala was such an excellent choice for the artist. He is amazing. He and Bruce Timm are tied as personal all time favorite MOTU artists.

    PAGE ONE: The text:
    Enough about the art. The words of Donald F Glut are equally, if not MORE important IMO. "until this day, always been his home" suggests this Tarzen hasn't ever left the Jungle before, or at least, not strayed far from it for very long. He's had to have left before. How else would he know of Castle Grayskull's existence, or feel such a strong sense of duty enough to leave his home to protect it? Why? where does this come from? when did he learn of Castle Grayskull? how? This seams like it is a bit of a "New Hope" type of story, and requires a prequel about when He-man first learned of his destiny. Perhaps we where suppose to think of this, and play this scenario out with our toys as kids? Oh Look who's coming in early 2015. I can finally do that with a toy that has the accurate amount of furry clothes. LOL. it's a shame we don't get more time with his Jungle Tribe family. I want to know more about the people who helped shape this manly massive man of might! I want to know what it was like to live in the Jungle and I want to know each of those fellow tribesman names and how they are related. Is that He-Man's Son? Nephew? Unrelated? What is the name of this tribe of jungle people?

    OTHER THOUGHTS:
    I wonder if this was an influence for Powers of Grayskull? Sharella the "Tribal Cheiftess" who raised Gray, the Old man named Eldor? The later imagery of the cave...I don't mean to suggest direct continuity mind you, just that somebody most likely looked at this and wanted to reinterpret THIS and add it to the He-Man that would later replace this one. No doubt in my mind that the breaded man in the center is actually who Ciral is suppose to be in DC's 1982 full sized comic mini series. Think the reference is clear enough to be self evident. That I do believe is in direct Continuity with these first four books though confused that continuity may be from the to be Filmation influences. But we can get to that in time. My last Random thought is that, I wonder if Lou Scheimer had this image in the back of his mind, perhaps forgotten when he commissioned the creation of yet another Jungle boy in Dare the 1996 (Adopted) Son of He-Man?

    More importantly, What do you think about the cover and first page? I can say a LOT more, but I don't want to hog the talking points as I often tend to do. What do you think about the composition? character selection? pose? designs? Line work? coloring? The words? The writing style? What is said? what is not said? Do you have any questions about a charecter, a place or thing? Or just whatever it is that jumps out at you that you want to talk about?
    Last edited by Shawn; 11-09-2014, 01:26 PM.
    Once upon a time, good advice was "be kind Rewind"now nobody remembers the past.

    Masters of the universe The LOST TALES (a series of vintage style fan-comics and children's books)

  • #2
    This was my first introduction to He-Man as a character. I got He-Man, Skeletor, MAA and Beast Man (well, my brother got Beast Man) all in one go, and I distinctly remember He-Man and the Power Sword. There certainly is a Tarzan element to that early iteration of He-Man. A bit Tarzan, a bit Conan, a bit Flash Gordon. I think there was even a He-Man jungle adventure game made early on, pre-filmation.

    What I really like about the first four mini comics is that there are no cartoon bubbles - the art is unimpeded. I wasn't a very confident reader when I got these, so I mostly focused on the art (and I suppose I still do). There is a whole ton of atmosphere and character in Alcala's artwork - he's my favorite comic artist by far. The non-standard colors where a bit perplexing to me (something that you encounter a lot of in MOTU media), but I just rolled with it.

    What a great, simple origin for He-Man. When you think about it, Prince Adam powering up to be a barbarian warrior looking dude doesn't make sense. Why does he look more primitive?

    But a primitive guy given a force field vest and some weapons, that makes sense. And that's all you need. He-Man is ever vigilant and constantly patrolling Eternia. That's the kind of He-Man that inspired this image:



    Back to the mini comic. The constant quest for Grayskull is great. It's no one's headquarters. He-Man doesn't have the run of it. But the spirit of Grayskull does acknowledge He-Man's efforts to protect it.

    I love the origin for Skeletor too - he's a demon from another dimension, not He-Man's uncle. Simple, classic. Glut and Alcala really tapped into something primordial with these early comics.

    Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

    https://battleram.wordpress.com/

    Comment


    • Shawn
      Shawn commented
      Editing a comment
      Good call on Flash Gordon! I wonder if this was a direct Flash Gordan inspiration, or more of an indirect because Star Wars was the impetus that lead Mattel to make MOTU? I've long wondered if the Sky Sled was a direct reference to a similar vehicle from the Flash Gordan Movie. Also "Beast Man" was a trademark I think Mattel reused from their 1979/1980 flash Gordan toy line.

      I can relate to not being a confident reader. I couldn't read at all. Most of these vintage MOTU stories where read to me nightly from before I can even remember! As such, I just recalled what all the words looked like, and what thier meaning was without grasping the phonetics of actually reading. I confounded my parents and first couple teachers because I THOUGHT this WAS reading. LOL. I couldn't read, very well until I was about 10, and even after that, I wasn't a confident one until around 12 & 13. I guess, this is why I love these He-man stories so much, they are BURNED into my mind. Thank goodness for patent teachers who let me read what I wanted at that early age, otherwise, ...

      What do you mean about "Non-Standard colors"? Example?

      PRIMORDIAL is the exact word I like to call these oldest of tales. All other MOTU stories spring from this! Biblically speaking this is Eden. Eternian Genesis 1:1 We have pre Adam, a sort of Eve and even the proverbially snake in the grass. All that is missing is a good Eternian creation myth!
      Last edited by Shawn; 11-19-2014, 05:19 PM.

    • _RZ_
      _RZ_ commented
      Editing a comment
      The Tarzan and Flash Gordon elements are not surprising from Glut, as he has authored (or co-authored, don't remember exactly) a few academic books on the history of classic 1930's serials. Star Wars and MOTU have many common influences- 30's serials, European fantasy magazines of the 1970's, 50's & 60's pre-Star Wars classical Sci-Fi...

  • #3
    Great topic, Shawn. More of this is needed. Shame it's gotten little attention thus far.

    I grew up with Filmation, but I've always been intrigued by all other medias; books, comics, etc. Since there are so many variations on how characters were potrayed, illustrated in those respective "areas".


    COVER

    This always brings to my mind the Rudy Obrero boxart.
    Note how Skeletor and Beastman are on the "right side" and Grayskull is facing same way as they are. (and of course Grayskull and Skeletor having
    a skull-motif...)

    So He-Man and M-A-A are "opposing" all of that.
    Grayskull is even shooting at M-A-A.


    Of course that is jokingly-mannered viewpoint that one can draw from the cover, which I think is a key-element in the early materials. There is room for some interpretation, that many fans did as children.

    You can view M-A-A being "powered-up" by Grayskull. Or it could be that he is being shot. And at first glance we don't see who the shooter is, so
    it could be a mystery-character or the Castle itself. Though zooming in, you can make out some shapes that could indicate one or two characters on
    top of the Turret.

    Colors also are just excellent. Some warm and cool tones, that bring up the logo and characters from the cover nicely.

    Comment


    • Shawn
      Shawn commented
      Editing a comment
      You make VERY interesting points. Was this originally Castle Skeletor? Is this cover and Rudy's Box art the first non Mark Taylor art? I wish we knew the dates of these things like we do a lot of the early concept art.

      To me it looks very clearly to be two characters shooting the canon. Man-At-Arms does not seam to be reacting in pain, so him being "empowered" by this has a certain logic to it since these are the only high tech/sci-fi aspects in this art.

  • #4
    Originally posted by Battle Ram Man View Post
    This was my first introduction to He-Man as a character. I got He-Man, Skeletor, MAA and Beast Man (well, my brother got Beast Man) all in one go, and I distinctly remember He-Man and the Power Sword. There certainly is a Tarzan element to that early iteration of He-Man. A bit Tarzan, a bit Conan, a bit Flash Gordon. I think there was even a He-Man jungle adventure game made early on, pre-filmation.
    There was; it's advertised in the middle of the comics, referring to "Mattel's new jungle hero" or something along those lines.

    For me, this was one of the last mini-comics I ever read--back in the mid-90s, when someone put scans online. I followed the line obsessively from late 1983 onwards, but I had no idea that these mini-comics even existed until online fandom got started.

    The non-standard colors where a bit perplexing to me (something that you encounter a lot of in MOTU media), but I just rolled with it.
    Try the 1984-85 mini-comics, with pink Sorceresses, Teelas and Randors (and a Prince Adam who actually looks more like DC/the original Filmation guide).

    What a great, simple origin for He-Man. When you think about it, Prince Adam powering up to be a barbarian warrior looking dude doesn't make sense. Why does he look more primitive?

    But a primitive guy given a force field vest and some weapons, that makes sense. And that's all you need.
    I find the first wave mini-comics almost too simple. You don't necessarily need to go full Filmation--I think the 1983 Transitional minis work just fine--but I like the sense that He-Man's fighting for something more than a handful of tribesmen that we never see again.

    He-Man is ever vigilant and constantly patrolling Eternia. That's the kind of He-Man that inspired this image:

    That concept is just fine, though. I've been considering possible interpretations where King Randor is just a minor king, not the ruler of all the good people of Eternia. He's a good ruler, mind, and does his part--but his duties, and Adam's as prince, can sometimes conflict with He-Man's broader responsibilities. If you want to make Prince Adam and He-Man separate people (a viewpoint I've always been sympathetic to, in the interest of getting the most use out of all my toys ), Adam could be the one trying to maintain this balancing act as a liaison between Randor and the Heroic Warriors.

    I love the origin for Skeletor too - he's a demon from another dimension, not He-Man's uncle. Simple, classic. Glut and Alcala really tapped into something primordial with these early comics.
    One of the few things I like about Classics continuity is the way that both of those can be true, from a certain point of view. I could really do without the 'poor persecuted Prince Keldor' angle, and I don't think the other half is just a Demo-Man that Hordak happened to have on a shelf. Instead, I like the other half of Skeletor as the last, fading remnants of an evil so old, nameless and terrible that even Hordak fears it--the student goes farther than the master and surpasses him both in potential and in malevolence. If it manifests separately at all, it would only be after Skeletor's death or the separation of the two halves, and as a ghostly glowing skeleton ...

    Comment


    • Shawn
      Shawn commented
      Editing a comment
      I still remember the article you wrote about these first stories for either the old newsletter or the 1st version of He-man.org. It influenced me greatly in reexamining these first stories in particular. That and the Eternian Dark Age fan fiction really got me excited about the 1st "pre-Filmation" He-Man I was not greatly familar with as a kid. Ah the 90's.
      Last edited by Shawn; 11-19-2014, 05:24 PM.

  • #5
    Originally posted by Matthew L. Martin View Post

    There was; it's advertised in the middle of the comics, referring to "Mattel's new jungle hero" or something along those lines.

    For me, this was one of the last mini-comics I ever read--back in the mid-90s, when someone put scans online. I followed the line obsessively from late 1983 onwards, but I had no idea that these mini-comics even existed until online fandom got started.



    Try the 1984-85 mini-comics, with pink Sorceresses, Teelas and Randors (and a Prince Adam who actually looks more like DC/the original Filmation guide).



    I find the first wave mini-comics almost too simple. You don't necessarily need to go full Filmation--I think the 1983 Transitional minis work just fine--but I like the sense that He-Man's fighting for something more than a handful of tribesmen that we never see again.



    That concept is just fine, though. I've been considering possible interpretations where King Randor is just a minor king, not the ruler of all the good people of Eternia. He's a good ruler, mind, and does his part--but his duties, and Adam's as prince, can sometimes conflict with He-Man's broader responsibilities. If you want to make Prince Adam and He-Man separate people (a viewpoint I've always been sympathetic to, in the interest of getting the most use out of all my toys ), Adam could be the one trying to maintain this balancing act as a liaison between Randor and the Heroic Warriors.



    One of the few things I like about Classics continuity is the way that both of those can be true, from a certain point of view. I could really do without the 'poor persecuted Prince Keldor' angle, and I don't think the other half is just a Demo-Man that Hordak happened to have on a shelf. Instead, I like the other half of Skeletor as the last, fading remnants of an evil so old, nameless and terrible that even Hordak fears it--the student goes farther than the master and surpasses him both in potential and in malevolence. If it manifests separately at all, it would only be after Skeletor's death or the separation of the two halves, and as a ghostly glowing skeleton ...

    Yeah, it is pretty simplistic as far as plot goes. Maybe if Skeletor & Beast Man had attacked his tribe, that would have been better motivation for He-Man.

    I'm of two minds about Adam. In one sense I prefer a He-Man who is always He-Man. Filmation stories always start with Adam, who is kind of a weak character, and the plot frequently seems contrived in order to get Adam to do the transformation sequence at the last moment, where he should have become He-Man before even going off to some dangerous place, possibly exposing his secret by transforming near his enemies. On the other hand, the transformation sequence in Filmation is amazing and powerful. I'm okay with there being multiple canons, but I'd love to see more development on a "savage" story line. A possible harmonization: Adam as a tribal prince, who is powered up by Goddess' gifts (the harness, essentially), and finally becomes fully He-Man when he obtains both halves of the power sword. He's already strong, but he can use the sword when needed to become supernaturally strong. Not sure if that would work well, just thinking out loud.

    Another thing I love about these early mini comics is the use of technology. Technology is a lost art at this point. You either find old machines that still work, or you go to Man-At-Arms who looks like he could fix some of it if it was broken. But Eternia definitely does not look like a place where anyone is mass-producing Battle Rams. The age of technology is in the past, and the current barbarian heroes are simply borrowing some of the tech that has survived, presumably after some kind of devastating event that took Eternia back into the dark ages.

    Regarding the Keldor/Demo-Man thing, I don't mind it terribly. I kind of understand the impetus to fuse Keldor and Demo-Man together - it's kind of neat. But I'm not sure it's really necessary, and it does raise a lot of questions.
    Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

    https://battleram.wordpress.com/

    Comment


    • Shawn
      Shawn commented
      Editing a comment
      I like that! To continue on from that idea, BeastMan was conceptualized as "tree Man" as we recently learned from Emiliano's latest fan art! We see him swinging from trees in Revenge of Skeletor. I could imagine those furs He-man's tribe are dressed in might come from some tribal conflicts with the Jungle's neighboring clan of Beastmen? Perhaps they SUMMONED the demon skeletor to aid in their fight against He-Man's tribe? I have wanted to write a 0 issue prequel for a long time. )

      I ALWAYS Think out loud. Why keep em locked in my head? LOL
      Last edited by Shawn; 11-19-2014, 05:27 PM.

  • #6
    So how bad ass is He-Man here? He needs a home, so he just punches one of out solid rock. :hemanrocks:

    Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

    https://battleram.wordpress.com/

    Comment


    • #7
      Anyway, I just realized I haven't been following the thread exactly as intended, which is supposed to be page by page. So here's the cover and page one for reference:

      Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

      https://battleram.wordpress.com/

      Comment


      • _RZ_
        _RZ_ commented
        Editing a comment
        This is one of my favorite pieces of He-Man art ever. I stared at this as a kid for hours. It just packs so much emotion into one image.

    • #8
      I love Alcala's mountains in every panel that he includes them. His vision for Eternia isn't as radical as Filmation with it's bizarre-looking forests, but it's one I instantly gravitate toward. I'd love to have a diorama replicating and Alcala Eternia.

      Yes, this introduction is simple and child-like. He just up and decides one day to be a hero, but these ARE aimed at young kids.

      I think the artwork on this one shines above and beyond the writing.
      Last edited by Battle Ram Man; 11-15-2014, 03:22 PM.
      Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

      https://battleram.wordpress.com/

      Comment


      • #9
        Page 2:
        Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

        https://battleram.wordpress.com/

        Comment


        • #10
          Here we have He-Man's introduction to the Sorceress, now known as the Goddess. Shown in the original concept green, she is threatened by a somewhat goofy looking purple monster. It's clear from the text that He-Man's tribe has never ventured far from their jungle home.
          Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

          https://battleram.wordpress.com/

          Comment


          • #11
            He-Man grapples with the beast, and discovers Goddess' magical powers. A lot of characters in these comics send out blasts from either their hands or their swords.

            The way this scene is set up recalls a lot of classic depictions of Tarzan, or even King Kong grappling with a T-Rex.
            Heroic human battering ram, catapult, and space warp device.

            https://battleram.wordpress.com/

            Comment


            • #12
              This may be my OCD nature on display, I don't want anyone to feel like the only way they can comment in this thread is to go page by page like I'm doing. I'm glad that i'm not to only one who wants to though! I appreciate you sticking to the format I've set for my self. SUPER appreciate you keeping this thread on track and continuing when I couldn't find the time. You are awesome BRM! That said, I think this thread is going to become a "general mini comic discussion thread" and the page by page commentary and discussion will be going into a new HMW site blog (Like Novelty's MOTUC memory blog) as per discussion I've been having with Captain Atkin. The idea being, page specific conversation goes there, and what we've been doing otherwise will remain hear in this thread. I'll be moving over My page specific post (and future posts) throughout the day. I'm looking forward to continuing this commentary/conversation with you soon!

              Once upon a time, good advice was "be kind Rewind"now nobody remembers the past.

              Masters of the universe The LOST TALES (a series of vintage style fan-comics and children's books)

              Comment

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