SKEW REVIEW: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips
Being a fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I have been spoiled by Dark Horse for publishing so many fantastic hardcover Masters of the Universe books recently. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is alive and well in 2017 thanks to the dedicated and obsessed online fan-base who influence the publication of these titles. These hardcover books are labors of love and contain meticulous information, are researched well, and have a fantastic production.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips is no exception. This fourteen-inch tall hardcover book feels like a vintage work of art in my hands. The production crew tried their best to reproduce these obscure newspaper strips. The book’s introduction explains how old newspapers had to be salvaged from around the world and on 35mm microfilm. (I chuckled when I read this because I own a microfilm scanning company, and would have loved to scan the 35mm roll film.)
Even long time He-Man fans may have missed the comic strips when they came out in the 1980s, since the syndication may not have been in their local newspapers. Many fans had never heard of them at all. Now, for the first time the 4.5 year run has been published in one place.
So far during my readings, I have seen the following layout: one black-and-white page contains the first five days of a story-line, and next page has Day 6 and the full color (usually) Day 7 Sunday funnies. They are collected by story-arc and background tidbits are sprinkled throughout the book.
Historical curiosities and appreciation for researchers and production crew aside- how are the actual stories and artwork? Answer: great! Continuity-wise, this book takes place after the Filmation cartoon, and the characters have the same costumes and personalities from the famous 1980s cartoon.
Legions of He-Man’s friends and foes are contained herein this gigantic book: Teela, Man-At-Arms, Orko, Battle-Cat, King Randor, Sy-Klone, Rokkon, Sorceress, Clamp Champ, Skeletor, Hordak, Spikor, Two-Bad, Ninjor, Leech, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, and MANY more, including new characters.
The stories seem more mature at the time than the Masters of the Universe mini-comics which came with the action figures back then, the Golden Books, and even the Marvel Comics.
Although I have read many newspaper strips, such as Dick Tracy, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, The Far Side, B.C., Hagar the Horrible, Garfield, Pluggers, Mother Goose and Grimm, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, etc., I shied away from Prince Valiant and other ongoing adventure strips. I also did not pay much attention to mention licensed properties comic strips, as they seemed like fads. Also, there was something about ending abruptly and then summarizing the next day which was jarring to me (and of course, missing a day or two).
However, reading this book, the panel flow is not distracting, and dare I say they are finally in a format in which they were ought to have been read- like an actual comic book. Although snobby vintage newspaper comic strip aficionados (okay, I found ONE) may not appreciate the He-Man newspaper strip, so far, true He-Fans love it.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips by: James Shull, Chris Weber, Karen Willson, Gerald Forton, Connie Schurr Published by Dark Horse on February 01, 2017
520 pages, 9'’ x 14'’ hardcover
Retail price: $29.99 (cheaper online)