In the 80s, my little brother was totally into He-Man, and, though I admit to liking Thundercats more (remind me to tell you all sometime how the voice actor who played Lion-O hit on me on the set of ER sometime), I did enjoy He-Man. Prince Adam and his green tiger Gringer were funny, and there were several strong female characters like Teela and the Sorceress, plus who didn’t like the campiness of Skeletor. Hell, even the Dolph Lundgren He-Man movie in 1987 was entertaining to me and I was almost 16 by that time. My brother had all the toys, and rumor has it, you could tie firecrackers to Ram-Man, and launch him over the house and he still wouldn’t break. As you can probably tell, I wasn’t a girlie girl, and maybe hold a little more nostalgia for the 80s than I should.
So, naturally, the new He-Man comic released this week by DC Entertainment was met by yours truly with skepticism. But I worked 4th of July at my comic shop in Studio City so that my boss could take his kids to the fireworks (damn, I’m noble) and during a break in customers, I picked it up to counteract the annoyance that AvX instills in my soul. Color me surprised, I actually really really liked it.
The story does not start out with Adam as prince in the shadow of the Castle Grayskull. He’s a lowly woodcutter caring for his ailing and delusional father. Adam has dreams every night of being someone important, being a hero, and when he has an encounter with a falcon that seems familiar somehow, he makes a fateful decision to follow it wherever it leads. Every instinct in his body tells him that a woodcutter only needs to know the trees and his axe in the wood, but he is propelled forward even though he is confronted by Beastman, who seems to know more than he should about him. Using his skills with an axe, he evades the Beast, and for the first time in his memory ventures out of the forest and into a world he doesn’t know. But Skeletor watches and sends out the order. Adam must be stopped, at all costs.
Yeah, I’m hooked. Sure, I know who Adam is, and the twist of the tale is likely that Adam has had his memories stolen and the falcon Zoar is leading him to recovering them, but the way it’s written is intriguing and exciting. I want to know how Adam has been lost in the woods. I want to know how he is going to relearn how to channel the power of Grayskull. I want to know where Cringer is!! All I’m asking, Robinson, is please, No Orko, none, not even a hint of Orko. No one liked Orko… NO ONE! James Robinson, who has titles ranging from Captain America from Marvel to Dark Horse’s The Terminator, is surprisingly new to me. The list of comics that he has worked on is as long as my arm, yet, I don’t recall the fuss made over him like some other prolific artists like Grant Morrison or Brian Michael Bendis. A pity. He knows the characters, he knows storytelling, and he knows how to hook a reader.
Philip Tan, of course, is best known as a cover artist, but his art perfectly captures this story. Adam is skinnier than we know from the cartoons, but he is still identifiable, even wearing the traditional red tunic that we know from the cartoon. Action sequences are exciting and vibrant and quiet scenes are tender and touching. It’s a perfect blend of words and art, and I can’t wait to see where this all leads to.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stick Ram-Man in the microwave and see if I can finally destroy that bastard for once and for all.
Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Philip Tan
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