WARNING: The following contains spoilers for He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #1, from Tim Seeley, Dan Fraga, Richard Friend, Matt Yackey and Saida Temofonte, on sale now.
DC's He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse is clearly taking its lead from previous multiversal comic book events like Crisis on Infinite Earths, detailing the rise of the Anti He-Man from Anti-Eternia and his quest to kill off He-Men from across various realities in order to seize their power.
This villain wants to harness his own power of Hellskull and then use what he's stolen to unlock the secrets of the Power Prime which would make him a godlike entity and reshaper of creation. However, he has stern opposition to face as a He-Man League's assembling, but the only problem is it entails two of the most hated versions of Prince Adam of Eternia, ever.
The first comes in the form of the He-Man from 1987's Master of the Universe movie. This is none other than Dolph Lundgren's He-Man who traveled across the cosmos to Earth as part of his war against Frank Langella's Skeletor. He's back with the cosmic key and, along with the classic cartoon He-Man from the '80s, they've recruited Prince Keldor from Anti-Eternia to fight off this evil He-Man, the man who killed Keldor's family. This is, of course, the only realm where Keldor doesn't become Skeletor and, seeing as he's prophesied to be the one to bring balance to the galaxy by stopping Anti He-Man, the Lundgren He-Man wants to ensure he signs up for the mission.
The problem is fans don't really hold that movie He-Man in the best light. Lundgren's performance was so wooden that the character became a laughing stock. Granted he was an action star, at the time Lundgren was better suited for a villainous role as per his stint in Rocky IV a couple of years before as the Russian Ivan Drago where an accent wouldn't throw off viewers.
He just felt off in Masters of the Universe, not to mention his interactions and overall fights with Skeletor felt like everything that was wrong with '80s movies. This He-Man didn't balance humor with action, and simply lacked charisma and the overall essence of the hero. To see him return here is questionable, despite the cult following the movie has developed in recent years, including for this comics' creators. Still, they're in the minority, because Lundgren's He-Man is far from the leading man you want saving all of reality. Thankfully, the comic so far is making him more stoic and in-line with the He-Man we need for this job at hand.
As for the other He-Man fans can't stand, well, he pops up when the heroes cross realms and end up on the Starship Eternia. For the uninitiated, this is the world the '90s cartoon, The New Adventures of He-Man, is based on and once more, it's a dimension fans often try to forget.
The cartoon was a sequel to the '80s series and focused on Adam being thrown through the future to the planet Primus. Skeletor followed and formed a new legion of mutants as Adam tried to save the planet with the Galactic Guardians. It was a rehash of the war for Eternia's soul but, again, lacked the magic of the old mythos, especially as the new characters were clear ripoffs of the original ones, such as Man-at-Arms and Teela. Even worse, Adam rocked a ponytail and blue pants when he transformed, and instead of the "Power of Grayskull," he harnessed the "Power of Eternia" in a series that scrubbed what made the original work such as his armor and Cringer/Battle Cat.
He-Man was just unrecognizable and unforgettable and, coupled with the terrible redesign for Skeletor, fans wanted as far away from this as possible. It wasn't well-received and, as a result, only lasted just one season as viewers craved the old heroes and villains, not boring, rehashed knock-offs.
Most of all, this He-Man was nothing more than a space cop, so to see Space He-Man coming back into play is uninspiring. The issue concludes without the He-Man League meeting Space He-Man and it's just a matter of time before the galactic warrior comes properly into play. All we can do is hope he's done better than the cartoon.
He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse #2 goes on sale Dec. 18.