Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Moment of What The: He-Man Minicomics

Lots of the He-Man minicomics that came packaged with the toys were pretty inane little things. (Okay, let me be frank-most of them were pretty inane.)

Some of them, on the other hand, were better-some were made by Bruce Timm, and he went on to work on other things. But that's incidental to what I want to talk about:

Why do so many of them share such strong elements with individual cartoon episodes?

Most of these comics, especially the very early ones, have absolutely no relation to the cartoon. There's no sign of Prince Adam because He-Man is some barbarian, the Sorceress is supplanted by the Goddess, who looks like Teela, and that's pretty much only the tip of the iceberg.

But others are creepily like weird-looking duplicates of cartoon episodes, only... not.

Some are really obvious: The Dragon's Gift is pretty much the same as The Dragon's Gift. Considering that Larry DiTillio is rather famously supposed to have based the episode on a tabletop RPG scenario he once wrote, it seems likely that the minicomic version was ripped straight from the episode, with the comic attempting to cram the deep characterization and interactions into fourteen tiny pages. (It fails-it reads more like a bad summary of the episode.) Of course, it is also possible-possible, not likely-that it went the other way, but I really have no way of being certain.

Other episode/minicomic parallels are misleading: Double-Edged Sword's parallels to Double Edged Sword is confusing. Stuff from a whole bunch of other episodes seems to creep in-He-Man and Ram-Man working together to break a forcefield is from somewhere else, and the plants parallel the Creeping Horak's assault on the palace (in a loose kind of way). Only the little kid wanting to be a member of the Palace Guard is also present, and the moral is completely reversed. Also: Teela wears pink.

Then there's the most confusing of these: Siege of Avion reads as if it were a combination of first-season episode Reign of the Monster and second-season episode Betrayal of Stratos. Character Delora from the He-Man series bible shows up in Siege, but she never appeared in the cartoon. There's a staff which is a combination of the Staff of Avion and the Egg of Avion, allowing Skeletor to summon demons and giving the Avions the power to fly. There's a scene where illusory duplicates of Delora are used as decoys, paralleling a scene from Reign with illusory duplicates of Stratos. Traditional enemies of Avion invade as a cover for Skeletor's theft in Siege and Reign. And of course, in all three an army of Avion...ians run around. In all seriousness....

What the fig?

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