Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hey!! Kids Comics: Masters of the Universe Mini-Comics 1

Masters of the Universe Mini-Comics 1

Year: 1981

Cover artist: Alfredo Alcala

"He-Man and the Power Sword"

Writer: Donald F. Glut
Illustrator: Alfredo Alcala

Publisher: Mattel

Issue: Series 1 --- 1 of 4

Plot: He-Man leaves his tribe in the Eternian jungles on a quest to protect the fabled Castle Grayskull and has his first encounter with the evil Skeletor.

He-Man and the Power Sword is the title of the very first mini-comic produced for the first wave of Mattel's Masters of the Universe toy line. First released in 1982, it was 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.

These stories paint a drastically different picture of the planet Eternia than what most fans have come to expect thanks to the Filmation TV series. Unlike most other mini-comics, its format is a prose story accompanied with illustrations.

Prior to Filmation's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series in 1983, the franchise's backstory was largely defined by Mattel itself in these mini-comics. This initial continuity is commonly referred to as "pre-Filmation" or "Mineternia" (a portmanteau of "mini-comics" and "Eternia") to distinguish it from the continuities that followed.

In the early development of the original Masters of the Universe line, Western Publishing, then owned by Mattel, contracted Donald F. Glut to write the backstory for the toys, which would be packaged as four mini-comics with the action figures.

In Glut's story, He-Man is simply a powerful savage who lives in the jungles of Eternia until he ventures out to protect Castle Grayskull from the evil forces seeking its power; Skeletor is an extradimensional demon trapped on Eternia during the Great Wars, seeking to help his race join him and conquer the realm. For his narrative Glut created both the blonde "warrior-goddess" Tee-La and the green-skinned, cobra-themed Sorceress.

Alfredo Alcala's artwork perfectly captures the wildnerness of a post-apocalyptic Eternia. A sparsely-populated world where the few remnants of technology are from a bygone era before the Great Wars and magic is wielded dangerously by a villain who is a demonic megalomaniac.

The Power Sword is not used to turn a pantywaisted Prince Adam into He-Man! In his continuity it is the key to gain entry into Castle Grayskull, a mysterious fortress containing the secrets of the ancients. The sword is split into two halves and the halves hidden to protect these secrets!

In the initial Mattel toy line, the original He-Man and Skeletor figures each came with half of a flexible plastic sword which could be joined into one "complete" sword, corresponding to the storyline presented in the mini-comics. Each half was cast in the same plastic color as the figure's other accessories - He-Man's in gray, and Skeletor's in purple.

Speaking of Castle Grayskull... rather than being the benign source of He-Man's power, it is a mysterious fortress, neutral to both good and evil alike. It is certainly not the heroes' clubhouse and base of operations! No, it is a dangerous place and whoever gains control of it will have access to immense power. Power that is far too great and dangerous to be weilded by anyone and must be protected from not only the bad-guys but also from the good-guys as well! The Sorceress is not the caretaker living in the castle, instead the castle is inhabited by a ghostly being known only as the Spirit of Grayskull. Castle Grayskull is so old that its true origin has been lost to time, presumably built by unknown beings long before the Great Wars that wiped out the old technology of Eternia.

Notable details to watch for:
  • Mer-Man and Stratos are both depicted as Skeletor's minions on page 8, but are not mentioned in the story.
  • This story is the only time a green version of the Sorceress is ever seen. Hereafter she would be refered to as the Goddess, still sporting the snake armor but not with green skin.
  • Teela is written as Tee-La.
  • Beast Man is written as Beastman, and is entirely red in color... obviously based on the initial character designs.
  • He-Man actually owns two chest harnesses. One which endows him with superhuman strength, while the other generates a personal force field, making him virtually invulnerable. Without either harness, He-Man is still quite strong, but is a mere mortal.
This darker, post-apocalyptic Eternia is the version I like best. This was the storyline that I was first exposed to and it was what influenced the way I played with my figures. Don Glut’s script captures this world nicely, with suitably eerie descriptions of Castle Grayskull, as well as some slightly darker stuff you might not expect from a comic included with a toy marketed to children.. for example,a map of Grayskull is said to have been drawn in blood!
Here is the whole comic for you to download and read as a CBR file, just follow the link on the left.

CBR files hold comic book pages as images in a compressed archive format enabling them to be viewed, sequentially, from within a comic book reader program or app such as CDisplayEx.

Did you have the original Masters of the Universe figures? Do you remember the mini-comics that were included with them? What version of He-Man is your favorite, the Filmation version or the one from the original mini-comics? Or maybe the 200x version? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!


  1. Wow. That's a blast from the past. Cool comic.

    1. Kind of make me wonder where this story would have gone if Glut had continued it. The series two mini-comics that DC did are considered by some to be a continuation of this story line, but it really isn't in my opinion.

  2. I wouldn't mind owning all the mini comics from MotU.

    1. I had a pile of of them when I was a kid. I even had the booklet and record that came with Point Dread featuring the one and only appearance of Zodac in the mini-comics!

    2. Sweet! The only thing I have is a twelve inch record story and the first issue from Star Comics.

  3. Fond memories of these mini-comics! MOTU seemed to come out of nowhere as a 10 year old back in '82, so the characters were mysterious to me- this was before the Filmation cartoon, mind you, so they really sparked my imagination!


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