Comic Review: He-Man/ThunderCats

Published: July 11th, 2017
Written by: Rob David, Lloyd Goldfine
Art by: Freddie E. Williams II
Based on: Masters of the Universe by Mattel, ThunderCats by Tobin Wolf

DC Comics, 148 Pages

Review:

I was late to the party in knowing that this even existed. It came out in a time where I didn’t have a local comic shop, otherwise I would’ve been all over it in 2017.

I’m glad that I checked it out now and even if IP crossovers are a dime a dozen lately, this one just felt like it could fit really well together and for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

It includes all the key characters and brings them together in a cool way that isn’t just a story about opening a random portal.

This was fairly clever and I liked some of the daring things that they tried, like making He-Man’s trusted partner Battle Cat into a humanoid ThunderCat character, even if it was pretty brief.

I also liked how it tried to merge Mumm-Ra and Skeletor into a single entity and how their personalities clashed.

The illustrations, ink and colors were also really good and this was just an incredible work of art from page-to-page.

Fans of either or both franchises should enjoy this quite a bit.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other comics DC has put out based off of Masters of the Universe.

Comic Review: He-Man: The Eternity War

Published: 2014-2016
Written by: Dan Abnett, Rob David
Art by: Pop Mhan
Based on: Masters of the Universe by Mattel

DC Comics, 341 Pages

Review:

I didn’t have the highest of expectations going into this massive story arc but I’m really happy to say that this was one badass read! I loved it! It also really reinvigorated my love of everything revolving around Masters of the Universe, which was one of the first franchises I went crazy for as a kid.

However, other than that fairly satisfactory reboot animated series from 2002 or so, there hasn’t been much that has really re-energized my love of the property. As an adult, going back to the original cartoon was met with some disappointment, as it doesn’t play well for a forty-ish year-old man.

Maybe I should have expected more, as I typically enjoy Dan Abnett’s writing, specifically his recent run on Aquaman, which included a segment of the larger DC Comics universe that one could say is similar to the universe of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Abnett impressed me greatly, as he really taps into the core of the MOTU mythos and really gives all of these characters life and purpose. I guess this is set after a previous story in the DC Comics MOTU canon but I didn’t realize that until after I already started this. But I’d like to go back and give that stuff a read, even though the earlier stories weren’t penned by Abnett.

Anyway, Abnett took a well-crafted world and expanded on it, adding a lot of really good context to the larger scheme of things while also weaving together these characters in new and interesting ways. It was cool seeing how their relationships and rivalries have evolved since this was presented in its original animated form. I especially liked how She-Ra was tied to Skeletor and Hordak and then the swerves that the villains kept pulling on one another.

This was a masterfully articulated story of epic proportions without a dull moment and with each issue building off of the previous ones, while never losing steam or getting too far ahead of itself. It was grandiose in the great way that great comics can be but it didn’t just become pointless spectacle like so many big event comics come across in the modern era. Frankly, it is one of my favorite things that Dan Abnett has ever worked on.

Additionally, the art by Pop Mhan is absolutely spectacular and stunning. His character designs were perfect, as was his dynamic action, backgrounds and use of color. There isn’t a single bad thing that I can say about the art.

This is a near perfect storm where everything kind of went right. This is a great example of how to make a great comic book based off of an intellectual property that isn’t directly owned by the publisher. The writers of I.P.s like G.I. Joe, Transformers, Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars should really take note.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other modern Masters of the Universe comics.

Vids I Dig 266: Toy Galaxy: The History of ‘He Man and the Masters of the Universe’

From Toy Galaxy’s YouTube description: On this episode Dan combs through the history of He Man and picks out 10 things you need to know about He Man and the Masters of the Universe.

From how the line was created to the almost licensing opportunity that then turned into a rip-off line of figures, to it’s 2 (or 3) rebirths and into the future.

He Man and the Masters of the Universe have been around a long time.

Vids I Dig 183: The Attic Dwellers: ‘Rad’ the Movie – ‘G.I. Joe’ Comics

From The Attic Dwellers’ YouTube description: THIS WEEK: Tig & Eric discuss The Movie RAD with Brainy Brian – Check Out Eric’s Awesome G.I. Joe Comic Collection – Who is the Phantom Slide Whistler? – He Man Review Trailer from What Were You Watching – Enjoy the Blood & Gourd Comic Trailer – Strange Muses from Chris Lundy’s Brain & MORE!!!

Book Review: ‘What Would Skeletor Do?: Diabolical Ways to Master the Universe’ by Robb Pearlman

What Would Skeletor Do? is a a self-help and life advice book by none other than Skeletor himself. Well, at least it is Robb Pearlman writing as Skeletor because sadly, Skeletor isn’t real.

It’s a pretty funny book, overall.

Although, it’s more or less a picture book with some captions. Each page or spread is an image from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or She-Ra Princess of Power cartoons from the ’80s. Accompanying each page is a blurb where Skeletor gives you some sort of wise advice on how to better yourself and on how to master your own universe.

That’s pretty much it. It’s nothing fantastic but it’s still a very quick and entertaining read, especially for He-Man fans.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other books from the Masters of the Universe franchise.

Comic Review: Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe

Published: July 18th, 2018 – January 2nd, 2019
Written by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Freddie E. Williams II, Jeremy Colwell
Based on: Masters of the Universe by Mattel, Injustice by NetherRealm Studios

DC Comics, 153 Pages

Review:

I haven’t played the Injustice video games or read the comic books. I get the gist of it though, so being a long-time fan of Masters of the Universe, I thought that the idea of seeing He-Man and his world mix it up with the DC Comics universe was a cool idea.

However, I did have to go into this with some skepticism, as most comic book crossovers of unrelated intellectual properties usually don’t leave us with great results.

This one was pretty good though. I can’t say that it was completely compelling but the story did a good job of wedging in a lot of characters while managing multiple plot threads. This had many layers to it and all of them kept me engaged.

I think the thing that I liked most about this was the art. It just felt perfect for a Masters of the Universe story, as it reminded me of the art of the old comics they used to package with the toys. It just drummed up nostalgia on a pretty high level and it was very effective.

This lasted for six issues but I feel like it could have been better if it was a bit longer. While it works well in the space it was given, I felt like some confrontations were rushed through and some of the action suffered a bit. There were just some cool ideas here that could have been explored just a little bit more than they were but I don’t want to spoil the story details for those who want to read this.

Overall, this was pretty damn good. Tim Seeley told a fun story within two very different worlds that I love and the art was perfect for what this project was trying to convey.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Masters of the Universe crossovers and the Injustice comics, as well as regular Justice League stories.

Documentary Review: Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2017)

Release Date: September 9th, 2017 (Power-Con premiere)
Directed by: Randall Lobb, Robert McCallum
Written by: Randall Lobb, Robert McCallum
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, various others

Definitive Films,FauxPop Media,Pyre Productions USA, 95 Minutes

Review:

This documentary recently dropped on Netflix, so being that Masters of the Universe was one of my first loves as a kid, I definitely wanted to check this out.

Power of Grayskull does a nice job of telling the He-Man and Masters of the Universe story from before its conception up to modern times. It even spends a good amount of time on the motion picture, which I still love, even if it took tremendous liberties and wasn’t quite the Masters of the Universe that I knew.

The first part of this is very similar to the Masters of the Universe episode of the Netflix show The Toys That Made Us. It talks about where Mattel was at, going into the early ’80s, and all the events leading up to them needing to develop a solid toy property for young boys.

This gets into more detail than that TV episode though, as this isn’t whittled down to television length. It spends more time discussing the key players involved and the steps taken as the franchise expanded into new toys, a second show called She-Ra: Princess of Power, the 1987 live action movie, what happened when the property started to cool off and how it still finds a way to circle back around and have some success.

The highlight of this whole thing was the portion that was devoted to the live action movie. At least, it’s what I found most interesting. Especially, since Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella did interviews and both stated their love of working on the motion picture.

If you are a fan of Masters of the Universe, this is a cool documentary to check out. It brought me down memory lane and even reminded me of characters I had forgotten.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Other documentaries on specific fandoms: Turtle Power, Ghostheads and the Netlfix TV series The Toys That Made Us.

 

Video Game Review: Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition (PlayStation 4)

There is one reason why I purchased this game and that is because I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to lead a Cobra army into war with G.I. Joe. Granted, I also wanted to play as the Joes and to try out the Eternia army lead by He-Man. If it wasn’t for the licensed properties that this game had, I wouldn’t have cared about it all that much.

The game also features an army lead by Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed games. I didn’t care about that one so much and actually haven’t played as them because I wasn’t motivated enough to buy access to it or to play through the game long enough to unlock them. And that’s one of the problems with this game, the fact that you have to buy the extra shit or work your way through countless missions in an effort to unlock stuff. I just wanted to jump in the game as Cobra and kill stuff.

I can’t complain though, as unlocking Cobra only cost me like $5 and I got the game for about $12. It’s been out for a few years and by the time I got around to it, it was more than affordable. Which is good because I would’ve been unhappy had I paid full price.

The game is fairly cool as you start to play through it. However, it gets really repetitive very quickly.

You mostly just build turrets and fix them while getting bombarded by enemy forces. As you fight, you unlock upgrades and other weapons. Eventually, you can unlock a soldier to play as on the battlefield but it doesn’t last very long.

In the case of Cobra, you get to run around and kill things as Cobra Commander. But that’s kind of odd, as Cobra Commander is a total coward that usually sits behind the battle in a massive temple or some big armored vehicle protected by a wall of other armor vehicles. It would’ve made more sense to make someone like Major Blood an on the field commando.

Still, this is a fun game for the most part but after a few hours, I was done with it. I may fire it up once in awhile when I want to live vicariously through Cobra soldiers shooting plastic armies but it isn’t an urge I get too often.

It’d actually be cool if this game spun off into its own G.I. Joe or Masters of the Universe real time strategy game but even then, they’d have to make it more exciting, less redundant and add in a solid story of some sort. But it’s a good template for something more ambitious than what this is on its own.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Any good mobile real time strategy game, as this plays more like a highly boosted mobile game than something for a console.

TV Review: The Toys That Made Us (2017- )

Original Run: December 22nd, 2017 – current
Directed by: Tom Stern
Written by: Benjamin J. Frost, Nicholas Ferrell
Music by: Tim Burns

The Nacille Company, Netflix, 4 Episodes (so far), 46 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I had no idea that Netflix was even working on this documentary series. I discovered it as soon as it dropped on the service and I actually hit “play” without even putting it in my queue first.

The first season, which is all that has aired, at this point, features only four episodes but they were all pretty damn good.

The four episodes covered the history of the toy lines for Star WarsBarbieMasters of the Universe and G.I. Joe – all household names and all franchises.

I can only assume that the next batch of episodes will feature Transformers and Hello Kitty. At least, they seem like they are missing their honors but four episodes wasn’t enough to start this show on. I feel like they should have, at the very least, given us a half dozen.

Still, this documentary series is fun and incredibly informative. It talks to the people who were there and who worked on these famous toy lines. It goes through their genesis, their production, their release and ultimately, how they became cultural juggernauts. The documentary also does a good job of showcasing other things that were spawned from the toy lines like movies, TV shows, comics, spinoff toys, etc.

The Toys That Made Us is a solid and thorough look at the toys that actually made us. As an adult, it is cool riding on this nostalgia train and actually learning how these things we loved so much, came to be.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Masters of the Universe (1987)

Release Date: August 7th, 1987
Directed by: Gary Goddard
Written by: David Odell
Based on: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line by Mattel
Music by: Bill Conti
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Courteney Cox, James Tolkan, Christina Pickles, Meg Foster, Billy Barty, Robert Duncan McNeill

Golan-Globus, Cannon Films, 106 Minutes

masters_of_the_universeReview:

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a huge franchise in the 1980s. There was a massive toy line, a cartoon, a spinoff called She-Ra: Princess of Power and a bunch of other stuff. Then, after the fanfare sort of settled down towards the late 80s, we got a live-action movie.

This film is awesome! Well, truthfully, it is pretty bad from a critical and snobbish standpoint but it is incredibly enjoyable because of Frank Langella’s portrayal of Skeletor. Sure, Dolph Lundgren is awesome but his He-Man was pretty generic. Langella’s Skeletor on the other hand, was fantastic and still comes off as a great on-screen villain and one of my favorite cinematic bad guys from my childhood.

This movie was pretty much panned by critics and everyone else. I don’t care. It’s a far from perfect film but it has so much charm and 80s awesomeness that it stands above most of the big blockbusters today. Its practical effects and makeup were spectacular, its animated bits were greatly done for a film on a tight budget and the cinematography and art direction were fantastic. This movie captures your attention in a visual sense and it delivers something pretty unique, especially for its time.

The plot is pretty weak; the story doesn’t even matter that much though, as the audience for this film just wanted to see He-Man and Skeletor throw down in the most anticipated final battle since Return of the Jedi. Additionally, it’s a non-stop fantasy action picture from beginning-to-end. It has a Star Wars meets Dune meets Conan the Barbarian vibe and it does it well for seemingly pulling from all three of those franchises to some degree.

Not only does this film give us Lundgren and Langella duking it out for the title of “Master of the Universe” but it gives us a really young and even cuter Courtney Cox, a stunning as ever Meg Foster, an awesome as always Billy Barty and Strickland that assistant principal from Back to the Future that called everyone a “slacker”.

I love this film. I don’t care if most people hate it or refer to it as “stupid” or “horrible”. Sure, it doesn’t follow the He-Man mythos that closely and it is full of cheesy moments but I don’t give a shit. Back in the day, most film adaptations of non-film stories or franchises did whatever the hell they wanted anyway.

Masters of the Universe is an incredibly flawed film. However, with Langella’s Oscar worthy performance as Skeletor and the fact that this still brings me back to my younger days when He-Man ruled the world, I’ve got to give it serious props.

Besides, popcorn goes best with mindless cheesy fun.

Rating: 7.75/10