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Webstor

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Webstor is a fictional character in the popular Masters of the Universe toy line and accompanying cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

He is a member of the Evil Warriors, is a cross between a man and a spider, and was originally packaged by Mattel as the 'Master of Escape'. On his chest armor is the symbol of a black widow spider. He wears a pack strapped to his back containing long rope with a grappling hook at the end, which he uses to help him scale walls and escape any trap.

Character history

Webstor was originally designed under the working title "Black Widow." The series bible for the 1980s cartoon series, written by Michael Halperin, features a description of his character under this name.[1]

1980s Cartoon

Webstor Filmation

Webstor appears in the accompanying cartoon series by Filmation at the same time his figure was released, introduced in the first produced episode of the show's second season, "The Cat and the Spider". Voiced by John Erwin, he is given a memorable introduction appearance as a cunning and stealthy thief who is able to sneak into the Royal Palace with ease, as well as providing deadpan humor with his amusing retorts to Skeletor's jibes. Like most of the other villains introduced at the same time like Kobra Khan, Clawful etc., he seems to possess slightly greater intelligence and responsibility than the generally bumbling villains of the show's first season.

In all of his subsequent appearances, Webstor is paired with Kobra Khan, the two of them working together. The first of these episodes, "Disappearing Dragons", showcases them as an independent duo and the main villains of the episode, concocting an entire plot of their own totally independent of Skeletor. Khan is clearly the leader of the two in this episode, although Webstor is given more screen time in a later episode "Journey to Stone City" in which they accompany Evil-Lyn on a secret jungle mission, again independent of Skeletor. The pairing of these two characters is later used in the She-Ra series in the episode "The Battle for Brightmoon", which forms part of the movie The Secret of the Sword, which again showcases Webstor's ability to sneak into the palace, and even in a Mattel mini-comic "Rock People to the Rescue", which places them in the role of the main villains.

Webstor has his own version of the Wind Raider vehicle, shown in the episode "The Cat and the Spider". It looks like a normal Wind Raider, but with spider legs.

Other media

Another story medium in the 1980s to give Webstor significant exposure is the UK comic series, published by London Editions. This comic series greatly expands his character by portraying him as a skilled mathematician and strategist who can master any complex trap and solve any difficult puzzle, also possessing a range of technical skills. His character is brought to the forefront in issue #21, in which he designs and builds, for Skeletor, the ultimate trap, from which He-Man would not be able to escape. However, knowing that a master of escape would naturally design the trap so that it could be somehow escaped, He-Man forces Webstor into admitting there was a way out of the trap, which he leaves He-Man to work out for himself. Once He-Man works out how to escape, Webstor gladly allows He-Man to leave with dignity, respecting him for having the intelligence to decipher and escape the trap.

This side of Webstor's character is explored even further in the very next issue, #22, in the story "Puzzles of Peril". Webstor is sent by Skeletor to investigate a strange alien ship that had landed on Eternia, at the same time that He-Man reaches the ship to explore it. Webstor immediately calls a truce with He-Man and allies with him to explore the ship, in which they found themselves presented with a series of complex puzzles, which they work together to decipher. It eventually emerges that the puzzles had been set by an invading alien race to test the intelligence of the Eternians, given that they would only persist with their invasion on worlds in which the natives possessed low intelligence. Webstor and He-Man's performance, naturally, dissuades them from invading Eternia and the ship leaves. Impressed by Webstor's intelligence and co-operation, He-Man invites him to defect to the side of good and use his skills to help the Masters. Webstor refuses, admitting that he could not hope to beat He-Man, but vows that he will someday overthrow Skeletor as leader of the Evil Warriors and use his cognitive abilities to someday overcome He-Man. The UK comics, therefore, gives Webstor perhaps his strongest development ever in any media, portraying him as a villain with a brilliant mind who seeks to achieve his aims through firm logic and tactical planning; also indicating that he is perhaps not as intensely evil as his peers.

His three minicomic appearances (The Clash of Arms, Rock People to the Rescue and Eye of the Storm) do not show this side of the character, presenting him in the same way as the cartoon.

The German audio-book series describes Webstor as an intelligent and ambivalent character. In the episode Nacht über Castle Grayskull he intoxicates Beast Man with a toxin of a spider to learn about his past, in which Skeletor tortured him and destroyed his intelligence. He also learns that Skeletor's plan would destroy the whole planet Eternia, with the result that he provides He-Man with the information needed to stop Skeletor. In the following episode Angriff der Magier Skeletor, after admitting that Webstor's saved his life with the previous betrayl, proceeds with a new plan that again threatens all of Eternia by allying with the ghost of an powerful ancient mage, who was part of a group of evil mages that used to rule Eternia some unspecified time in the past. In this episode Skeletor builds a machine that transfers the life force of his enemies to the ancient mages, while Webstor tries to talk Skeletor out of his alliance, pointing out the treacherous nature of the ancient mages and the risk of Skeletor not being able defeat the mages if they manage to return to their physical forms. After Webstor fails to persuade Skeletor, he tries to leave Snake Mountain, but is stopped by the growing influence of the ancient mages.

2002 series

Webstor3
Webstor is reused in the 2002 relaunch of the Masters of the Universe cartoon series by Mike Young Productions. He was also intended for the new toy line, but the line was cancelled before his figure could be released. In 2007 NECA with The Four Horsemen released a "stacion figure", an action figure without movable limbs, of Webstor. The writers of the new show showcased him as more of a freelance villain rather than another member of Skeletor's evil team.

Webstor's design was modified quite considerably from the old, to appear more spider-like, with a thinner frame, six equally-sized eyes (the original Webstor had multiple eyes, but they were smaller than his "normal" eyes), and additional spider-limbs. He receives a subtle introduction in the episode "Snake Pit", in which we see only a close-up of his eyes as he is awakened by Kobra Khan entering the cavern beneath Snake Mountain. A nod to old-school fans, this appearance immediately stirred intense debate among fans over whether the 'spider' was Webstor or just a regular giant spider. He went on to receive a full introduction in the episode "Council of Evil, Part 1", in which he is a hired member of Skeletor's council of evil, composed of independent evildoers from across Eternia. The episode does not show us how exactly he met Skeletor, leaving us to assume that Skeletor just encountered him in the caverns beneath Snake Mountain and adding an aura of mystery to his character. Portrayed as a silent and subtle villain who spends most of his time lurking in the shadows, he is seen to capture Stratos by entrapping him in his web, spun in the hollow of the Eye of Zarcane within the Mystic Mountains. In the second part of the 3-part epic, he uses his webbing to steal the Sword of Power itself from Prince Adam, leaving him with no way to become He-Man and capturing Teela.

In the concluding episode of the 3-parter, "The Last Stand" which begins season 2, Webstor declares that he will remain allied with Skeletor upon the defeat of the council of evil, when other members desert Skeletor. He is only seen in one episode thereafter.

Superwebstor

Super Webstor

In "Web of Evil" he is the main villain, stealing the substance Ambrosia from Buzz-Off's people, the Andreenids, to provide him with extra power and thus allowing him to spawn hundreds of deadly spiders, which he sets upon the Masters. The name of his species is given by Buzz-off in this episode calling him an Arachna, whose physiology is very similar to the Andreenids. After his Ambroisa-enriched eggs are subsequently stolen by the Snake Men, Webstor is brutally beaten by them and collapses dead on the ground, the only member of the regular cast ever to be killed off in a He-Man episode. However, his death is depicted in an ambiguous manner so that fans are led to debate over whether he is dead or unconscious, and it was only when Ian Richter of Mattel answered the fans' questions on the He-Man.org that it was confirmed that Webstor did indeed meet his end. It is possible that his death may have been deliberately shown in this uncertain manner, so that the writers could be left free to bring Webstor back if they chose to include him in future episodes. The series was canceled three episodes later, so Webstor remained dead.

Action figures

Webstor was introduced into the Masters of the Universe toy line in 1984. His action figure was packaged with a backpack and wire, along which his figure could be slid when the accompanying grappling hook was fixed to a surface.

Webstor2
Webstor was included in Series 4 of NECA's Masters of the Universe mini statue line.[2] The line is a continuation of the discontinued 2002 Mattel Masters of the Universe action figures also designed by Four Horsemen Studios, and is sculpted in a similar size and style. Webstor's appearance, based on his 200x look, is more insectoid than the original toy's, but retains the grappling hook backpack feature.

Masters of the Universe Classic Series

Webstor

In this series Mattel takes bits & pieces from the different version of the MOTU timeline to tell a new story. Perhaps the Ultimate Version of the tale of MOTU. His look an updated version of his '80's counterpart (gun & grappling hook backpack (called Fast Pack) included) but he retained his 4 extra spider limbs from his 200x look. This figure released in September 2009 bio read as follows:

Evil Master of Escape

Real Name: Araneus son of Raknus

One of the last remaining members of an ancient Eternian race of Spider Warriors called the Arachna, Webstor™ was awoken from hibernation beneath Snake Mountain and occasionally allies himself with Skeletor®. In ancient times, the Arachna were an advanced dominant race until driven underground by the Snake Men™. Araneus retains much of the knowledge of his people and while seemingly savage, is an expert mathematician and strategist as well as an accomplished escape artist. He often arms himself with a grappling hook Fast Pack and uses his climbing power to escape capture!

References

  1. Masters of the Universe Series Bible p.49
  2. OAFE - MotU: Webstor review

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