Sunday, December 13, 2020

Review: Master of the Universe Coloring Book - The Bridal Path

Masters of the Universe: A Coloring Book

Year: 1982

Cover artist: Unknown

Writer: Unknown
Illustrator: Unknown
Colorist: Øyvind Johannes Meisfjord

Publisher: Golden Books

Production Code: #1144-11

Series: Golden Coloring & Activity Books

Øyvind Johannes Meisfjord joins us again today with a story which originally appeared in a Golden Books coloring book which featured three stories -- Raptures Of The Deep, Cloudy Climbs, along with this one, Bridal Path. All of the plot points of the original pre-filmation storyline are present, as well as the recurring theme of Skeletor wanting to make Teela his bride.

The following post originally appeared in the Facebook group Ancient Library of Grayskull and is presented here with the permission of Mr. Meisfjord. All of the pages have been hand colored by Mr. Meisfjord himself.

This story is from one of the earliest MOTU colouring books, released in 1982, and thus it predates the Filmation cartoon. The theme presented in the very first minicomic, He-Man and the Power Sword, and alluded to in The tale of Teela, namely Skeletor plotting to make Teela his wife, is pursued here in melodramatic fashion.

Interestingly, Skeletor has managed to combine the two halves of the Power Sword, taken Castle Grayskull for his place from which to rule Eternia, and now seeks a queen by his side! Not to rule alongside him, he makes that very clear, but probably to secure his bloodline by having Teela producing an heir to the throne.
<Oh, gross!>

Teela is presented here as the archetypical damsel in distress and shows little of her fighting spirit, or skills, which she would exhibit in both the Filmation cartoon and in later minicomics. She has no intentions of becoming Skeletor’s wife, though, regardless of all the dazzling presents Skeletor conjures up with the complete Power Sword. Castle Grayskull is shown to contain a boudoir, with features very reminiscent of the Crystal Castle playset, made for the Princess of Power line.

It’s also worth noting that the father-step daughter relationship between Man-at-Arms and Teela has not yet been established, or else He-Man would not have needed to wonder whether Man-at-Arms would be willing to help him free Teela from Skeletor. Battle-Cat is presented without armour, and much smaller in size, than what we are used to. He could be meant to be Cringer, but, as there is no prince Adam in this story, and He-Man does not have his part of the Power Sword, I, personally, believe the feline to be Battle-Cat.

It is not mentioned how He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat enter Castle Grayskull, but they probably had help from Zodac, who suddenly shows up in the very last page, berating Skeletor and speaks as if he is the main protector of, not Castle Grayskull, but certainly the kingdom of Eternia. He gives off the vibes of a benevolent feudal landlord and is not yet presented as an Evil Cosmic Enforcer. Teela looks very happy to be rescued and comforted by He-Man as Battle-Cat and Man-at-Arms chase Mer-Man and Beast Man away.

At least Beast Man was given the chance to be Best Man in this early incarnation of MOTU lore, and, while I personally am content that the Skeletor-Teela coupling was not pursued very much further, I still think this story is quite an interesting representation of the very early age of MOTU, where storylines and characters were developed and tested.

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

The stories presented by Glut in the mini-comics would end up being the basis for all the other stories presented in other media at this time, and this story is certainly no exception. However, what is interesting here is that the usual deus ex machina of these stories, the Sorceress, is replaced by Zodac in this tale. This particular story marks one of his very few appearances during this period.

Zodac is an enigmatic character who was never featured in the mini-comics. Originally presented as a "Cosmic Enforcer" and meant to be a neutral character, it was clear that at first no one knew exactly what to do with him. Originally presented as a bounty hunter in Mattel's 1981 Licensing Kit, Zodac was later tagged as 'Evil,' probably to even out the evil figures against the heroic, although this has never been confirmed. The 'Evil' tag was eventually dropped on Zodac figures produced late in the toy line's run.

How did you enjoy today's adventure? What parts of the original storyline do you wish had been explored further? Why do you think the theme of Skeletor wanting to marry Teela was abandoned? Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in a comment below!

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1 comment:

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