By: Adam Basciano
“After narrowly escaping his last battle with He-Man, Skeletor has fled to the most unexpected realm to recover: EARTH! Once there, he sets a plan in motion to siphon off Earth’s core magic. Forging an unlikely hunting party, He-Man and company go in search of Skeletor and find themselves at odds with the heroes of the DC Universe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe must find a way to stop Skeletor and his mysterious new master!” (DC Comics)
This is the cross-over my four-year old self would have loved to see, but probably never dreamed possible. Well almost 27 years later, having finally seen/read it, I can say my four-year old self would’ve absolutely loved this! As for the adult me, I really liked it. Even though this is a crossover, with an equal number of characters from both universes, this really is a Masters of the Universe storyline set in, and guest starring the DC Universe. Specific references are made to both the He-Man mini and ongoing comic book series. This is not a negative point though, as I felt the main characters from both universes, were given equal character depth and their moment to shine. The main characters in this story are He-Man, Skeletor, and Evil Lyn on the MOTU side, while Superman, Batman & John Constantine are the focus from the DCU. They’re is an interesting tether that links both universes together, that being He-Man’s mother, Marlena, Warrior Queen of Eternia! I’ll leave the how’s and why’s for you to discover when you read the book. It definitely gives the plot an added layer. Evil Lyn and John Constantine act as the audience guide to the magic of both universes. Their reactions to both universes, added great comedic relief in the midst of all the sorcery, superpowers, and fisticuffs. Both He-Man & Superman got their moments to show off why they are the strongest men in their respective universe. The writers did a good job in doing so, especially while still bringing Superman’s susceptibility to magic into play. It is from this encounter, and the apparent death of Superman at He-Man’s hand, that leads these two groups of heroes into conflict with each other. This moment, also leads to Batman’s superior intellect and detective skills being on display in the rest of the story. Trust me when I say, Batman was portrayed picture perfect here. While He-Man & Superman do have their show of strength, there’s a great moment during the climax of the story, showcasing both heroes strength of character and honour. Skeletor was the villain of the piece, and wow, was he a bad ass! Sure he’s grandiose, and over the top at times, but he really is a bad piece of business. I would’ve loved to see him go toe to toe with Darkseid. There’s also a unique twist to a long-standing character from the He-Man mythology. I can see some fans having a problem with it, but I think it was unexpected, interesting, and offers, plenty of story fodder going forward.
I had a few problems with the story. One was the pacing near the end of the book. The final confrontation seemed to feel as though if you blinked, you missed it. Even another issue or two, and I think the pacing would’ve worked better. Of course, I would’ve been perfectly fine with a 12 issue maxi-series too. There’s a moment where Skeletor reluctantly joins forces with both groups of heroes to fight off a bigger threat. While it makes sense in theory, the way it is presented in the book is off-putting because on one page, Skeletor vows to kill the heroes, and the next he acquiesces to a team up. Once again, a pacing problem. Another issue I have, is that core members of the Justice League were barely used at all. The Flash and Aquaman are virtually non existent. You could remove them from the story, and it wouldn’t change a thing. It would have been nice, if during one of the fights, each one of the core members of both groups got a chance to shine. My least favourite aspect of the book was the handling of Wonder Woman. Once Superman was “killed,” she was relegated to nothing more than an enraged girlfriend. She even utters atrocious dialogue; “I damn well saw who stabbed my man through the heart.” Really? On what universe does anyone think Wonder Woman would talk like this? Seriously, couldn’t writers Tony Bedard and Keith Giffen consult the ongoing “Wonder Woman”, or Superman/Wonder Woman titles to see how the character is being handled? It’s especially frustrating because they wrote a wonderfully strong female character in the book, in Queen Marlena.
The art on the other hand was consistently good from start to finish. Dexter Soy provided the art for the first 3 issues of this story, while Pop Mhan finished the final 3 issues. The two artists styles are similar, so the change over in artists wasn’t jarring. Yet, the two men brought their own unique flavour to the story. Dexter Soy was stronger at drawing the DC Universe characters, while Pop Mhan had a better handle on the Masters of the Universe heroes. Dexter Soy’s splash page of He-Man stabbing Superman, and his rendition of the Batmobile were highlights for me. Pop Mhan drew a big, bombastic fight between the JLA Vs the MOTU. I absolutely get a thrill seeing his rendition of Battle Cat. His Skeletor takes the term physically imposing to a whole new level. There’s also the image of He-Man and Superman working together, fighting side by side, you just can’t help but smile.
The four-year old in me would give this book a perfect score. Unfortunately, there are just some missteps that I can’t ignore. Despite my problems, the overall reading experience was very enjoyable. The story provided ample action, sorcery, super-heroics, and humor. If you’re a fan of the DC Universe and or, He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, you’ll surely want to read this one.
Overall Grade: 7.5/10