Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Marvel/ Star Comics
Masters Of The Universe
Comic Adaptation

Marvel/ Star Comics released this adaptation of the film back in November of 1987. The book was adapted from the film script by Ralph Macchio, and featured George Tuska on pencils (Tuska previously penciled the 3 issue DC MOTU mini-series). Like most film adaptations, there are many differences between what we see in this comic and what we see in the film. Since the comic was adapted from an earlier version of the script and before many of the character looks were finalized, the book is a neat peek into what might have been.

At around 48 pages, I didn't want to bog down this post with scans of every page of the book. Instead, we'll just take a look at the drastically different plot points...

Just by looking at the cover, you are hit with one of the biggest differences in this story. All of the previously existing characters (with the exception of Beast Man) are shown in their traditional garb, not their movie costumes. Whether this was due to the fact that the movie redesigns weren't finalized or to perhaps make the comic more accessible to general audiences, I don't know... but the fact that Blade is based on an early design leads me to believe it's more the former than the latter-

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The story opens in a war-torn village on Eternia, instead of Skeletor's entrance into the throne room of Castle Grayskull. In the comic sequence, we find out about Skeletor's sudden ambush of Eternia and we are introduced to the characters of Teela and Man-At-Arms-

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The book then jumps back to Skeletor's introduction, the revelation of the imprisoned Sorceress, and Skeletor's speech to the people of Eternia. We then get a very different take on He-Man's introduction-

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This leads into the scene of Gwildor's rescue and the reuniting of He-Man with his comrades. The book stays pretty close to the film for awhile, up until the point where He-Man and the crew are on Eternia searching for the lost Cosmic Key (which we all know Kevin has at this point). That leads to this brief scene here-

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Why He-Man felt the need to go ahead and show off his sword is beyond me, but the mention that the kids are speaking "Eternian" is a plot point that is picked up again later. After this page, we follow the film through the arrival of the "curious quartet", Julie's escape, and the meeting with He-Man. The heroes all jump in Gwildor's Cadillac, and then we pick up the "Eternia/ Earth" conundrum again on the closing panel here-

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The story moves along pretty closely from there, all the way to Evil-Lyn's trickery at Charlie's music store. A major change happens at the end here though; Instead of Evil-Lyn leaving with the key, the 3 "non-warrior" characters work together to get the key back (which then eliminates the scene of He-Man using Gwildor's grappler to wrest it from her clutches)-

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From here we move onto the roof confrontation, which differs from the film version. Instead of capturing He-Man, Skeletor leaves him stranded on Earth with the (now destroyed) Cosmic Key. The heroes rebuild the key, Kevin remembers the tones, and everyone gets transported to Eternia. Oh, and the area of Earth that gets transferred to Eternia is MUCH larger in the comic version-

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Since He-Man isn't captured in the comic version, what follows is all-out brawl to free the Sorceress, using the rebuilt Cosmic Key and Kevin's knowledge as a "master songmaker". Gwildor gets injured, but Kevin tickles the ivories and the Sorceress is freed, allowing her to heal both Julie and Gwildor-

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The final confrontation between Skeletor and He-Man now takes place atop Castle Grayskull. There's no "god" Skelly in the comic version, so what follows is just a traditional He-Man vs Skeletor battle (albeit a good one)-

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The final moments of the film pick the "Eternia/ Earth" thread back up. We find out the settlers of Eternia were originally from Earth-

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The rest of the story is pretty much the same from there; Kevin and Julie make it back to Earth, Julie's parents are prevented from going on their flight of death, and the 2 kids meet up to reveal to each other that they both remember their adventure. All's well that ends well!

While I like some of the changes, and I think it's pretty neat to see the characters in their traditional garb, I still prefer the movie. The loss of He-Man's enslavement is a huge miss for me, and doesn't give the final battle the edge that it has in the film. Still, a pretty cool book overall!

-James

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