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He-Man and the Power Sword

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He-Man and the Power Sword is the title of the first minicomic produced for the 1980s Masters of the Universe toy line. It was first released in 1982 by way of being included with the original He-Man action figure. The story notably presents the first version of the origin of He-Man and his enemy Skeletor. Unlike most other minicomics, its format is a prose story (written by Donald F. Glut accompanied with illustrations (by Alfredo Alcala).

Background

According to Donald F. Glut, he was approached by Western Publishing to write this and three other booklets that would define the characters and setting of the toy line. Glut was provided with little more than the Polaroid photos of the prototype toys and the names of some (but not all) of the characters. From here Glut created the realm of Eternia and developed the basic conflict between the good and evil toys. The mysterious nature of Castle Grayskull and the Great Wars are a direct result of the space constraints of the assignment--by making these topics enigmatic, Glut could avoid explaining them in detail.[1]


Summary

On the planet Eternia, He-Man, the greatest warrior of a tribe of jungle-dwelling savages, leaves his people to begin a great mission. He explains to his tribe that evil forces seek to control Castle Grayskull, and that he must stop them to achieve lasting peace. After he has journeyed far from his homeland, he discovers a woman being attacked by a shaggy monster. Armed with no more than a pelt for a loincloth and his freakish strength, He-Man rushes to defend the glowing, green-skinned woman, only to discover that she is a sorceress.

Once the monster is driven away, the Sorceress explains that she has been trusted with ancient treasures until the arrival of a legendary hero. Believing He-Man to be that hero, she leads him to ancient ruins where she reveals weapons, armor, and a Battle Ram that were all created by Eternian scientists centuries before the Great Wars. The Sorceress says these treasures will add to He-Man's strength, and cautions him to use them wisely in defense of Castle Grayskull. Accepting these gifts, He-Man travels to a valley miles away from Grayskull, and uses his bare fists to carve a new home from the rock face.

Elsewhere, Skeletor and Beastman stalk the warrior-goddess Tee-La and her unicorn steed. Resolved to make the woman his bride, Skeletor and his lackey ambush Tee-La. Though she possesses "the spirits of many ancestral champions," she is overwhelmed once Skeletor dispatches with her unicorn with a blast from his energy-blade. The villains take her to Castle Grayskull, where the Spirit of the Castle warns them not to enter. Defiant, Skeletor forces open the Jaw-Bridge with his weapon--one half of the mystic Power Sword. He has come to the castle to find the other half, for he believes that the united Power Sword will rekindle the magic fires of the ancients. The skull-headed demon announces to the Spirit that he was thrown into Eternia by a dimensional "hole" created during the Great Wars, and with the complete Power Sword he will summon his race to join him in conquering the planet. Together, Beastman and Skeletor search the castle, finding a map drawn in blood showing the way to Skeletor's prize.

Meanwhile, He-Man is nearly finished building his home when Man At Arms, who had been spying on the villains at Grayskull, pays him a visit. Man At Arms explains the threat to He-Man, and worries about Skeletor's plans for Tee-La. He-Man decides that Man At Arms would make a worthy partner, but he cannot afford to travel to Grayskull alongside his new friend. Instead, He-Man activates the space warp device in the Battle Ram, and instantly teleports away.

Within Castle Grayskull, Skeletor and Beastman make their way through the defenses of the castle's Spirit. With his half of the Power Sword, Skeletor is unstoppable until he hears noises outside the castle. Beastman goes out to investigate, and finds He-Man trying to ram his way into the castle with his vehicle. From one of the castle's towers, Beastman fires on the attacker with a laser cannon, but He-Man's "forcefield garment" protects him. However, Beastman changes tactics and fires at the vehicle, throwing He-Man to the ground and disabling his force field. Just then, Man At Arms arrives to help his ally, keeping Beastman occupied so that He-Man can pry open the Jaw-Bridge.

By the time He-Man catches Skeletor, the demon has located the second half of the Power Sword. With the combined weapon, he animates the weapons within the castle to attack the hero. Without his force field, He-Man appears doomed, until the Sorceress suddenly materializes, effortlessly takes the sword from Skeletor, and vanishes. Skeletor retreats to the roof of the castle, where Beastman and Man At Arms are locked in battle. When He-Man frees Tee-La and they join their friend, the odds are too great for the villains, who beg for mercy and then flee for their lives.

Outside Castle Grayskull, He-Man and his friends are greeted by an apparition of the Sorceress, who announces that Grayskull shall henceforth only be opened by the combined halves of the Power Sword, which she will keep hidden from evildoers. The Spirit of the Castle thanks the warriors for their efforts on its behalf, and acknowledges them as the "Masters of the Universe" destined to protect its secrets from evil. In gratitude, the Spirit summons Tee-La's unicorn to return to her.

He-Man is certain that he hasn't seen the last of Skeletor or the Power Sword, but he feels the rising sun is a good omen for Eternia.

Characters

Heroic Warriors
He-Man, Tee-La, Man-At-Arms, The Sorceress
Evil Warriors
Skeletor, Beastman

(Mer-Man and Stratos are both depicted as Skeletor's minions on page 8, but are not mentioned in the story.)


References

  1. E-mail interviews with Donald F. Glut, writer of the original four Masters of the Universe mini-comics (conducted by Matt Jozwiak on December 14-16, 2001)

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