As the end of a mighty era came to a close and the cataclysmic final days of mythical Preternia neared their fated conclusion a valiant host of mighty heroes rose up to answer the predestined call of bloodshed and victory. Hammered by a constant onslaught of conflict upon an anvil of battlegrounds these gallant champions beamed like heated steel to bring a searing flame of valor to encourage hearts against dark days engrossed by shadow and doom.
These were the Masters of the Universe facing their final days in a world long lost to the sands of time and given over to songs and legends. So outrageous was their stunning bravery that even the stars in heaven stood silently in awe.
The universe paused momentarily to spare a tiny glance towards this planet fashioned entirely of magic, and seeing the dark days ahead but more so intrigued by the stubborn will of a people unbending to injustice the universe – surprising of all – lent a small measure of aid in the form of a powerful sword. To be grasped by a bloodline of heroes worthy of the full burden of the loneliness of Good.
He-Ro, the mightiest wizard of the galaxies bore the sword to the planet but transferred his strength in a sacrifice to bring victory to King Grayskull and the struggling Masters in their war against both the Snake Men and the Evil Horde. And so the Power Sword entered the hands of He-Man’s valiant bloodline as He-Man himself stood side by side with his ancestor, Grayskull.
This is what awaits the reader of the MOTUC minicomics, and what we’ve been discussing of late. Here in Part II, the adventure continues.
Previously on Masters of the Universe
The Masters were outnumbered and hiding underground while Skeletor hunted them down. To add to their plight the evil might of the Snake Men and The Horde have combined forces to drive out the last living heir of Grayskull. The Sorceress is dead and now replaced by her daughter Teela. The new Sorceress sends He-Man back in time to Preternia to learn how the ancient Masters vanquished King Hsss and his Snake Men. Skeletor slips through time as well with a plan to kill the ancient Masters and remove them from his future. He-Man enters Preternia and saves a Bionatops from Snake Men. The Snake Men return to their king to report a rebellion is in the making. Unbeknownst to them though Skeletor has already met with King Hiss and warns him of that very thing: a resistance is in the making that will end his rule unless he acts quickly. In a rage, King Hiss orders his men to attack nearby villages and root out the instigator of this rebellion from their midst. He joins his minions and rides out to crush and conquer. Skeletor revels in the mayhem he’s already created by setting his enemies against one another.
For more of Part I click here
What are men against such violent evil? The Snake Men are without pity in their cold hearts. There is only the need to rule and, with that, a need to end the squalor daring enough to challenge them. The Snake Men unleash a vicious assault upon unsuspecting innocent lives and tear through their humble homes as easily as their fangs sear into flesh. There’s no chance for any of them to withstand a single Snake Man and had He-Man not intervened there would’ve been no survivors.
Hiss sees that his plan worked perfectly as the upstart reveals himself. A hero’s folly is always his need to safeguard the defenseless. Now the full wrath of the Snake Men is directed at He-Man.
He-Man realizes this needless attack is a direct result of his involvement earlier and is ready to lay down his life to protect these helpless villagers. King Hiss and his minions soon prove to be far more challenging than even the Mightiest Man in the Universe is able to handle all together.
The Snake Men are in their prime at this point in time and easily can take down a single man once he’s beaten down enough. However, He-Man is not alone and from above a searing rain of energy blasts assaults the evil legion and in a flash, King Hiss and his own flee from the celestial attack.
Now at this point, I really believed it was going to be He-Ro who held the key to undoing the Snake Men. After all, this is where the first minicomic ends, and with the opening of the second comic, the snakes are nowhere to be found. I thought He-Ro eradicated their wicked asses right there. But fret not, fellow Masters. King Hiss is still around. He’s just licking his wounds for the time being because He-Ro really put an ass-beating on him and his scaly subjects.
In the meantime, He-Ro, who’s been observing He-Man from afar to determine if he was truly friend or foe, remains in secrecy and He-Man rides on.
Now the second minicomic opens up right away with another village in peril as giants crash through it. From here it’s pretty much non-stop action and you gotta keep up as you flip the pages. It really shows how the writers wanted to tell us a much grander story but were severely limited by the confines of a minicomic format.
Some may find that annoying, perhaps even a tad bit sloppy. I like to remind those critics that this is a story slapped alongside an action figure. It’s not meant to be Tolkien here, but given the enormous amount of value the writers and artists poured into these limited tiny pages is nothing short of astounding. This is cinematic greatness told very fast and it flashes across the pages rapidly. It feels like we’re given snippets of important moments from Eternian history. Frames of a major ongoing battle where we’re left to tend to and fill in the blanks with our own imaginations. The most important moments are not lost to us though. I keep talking about video game material and by God here it is right here in plain sight. On that note a video game adaptation of TMNT The Last Ronin has been announced soooo here’s hoping MOTU gets some attention too. Could you imagine hopping across Eternia and Preternia in order to save the universe? Ok, I’ll stop.
Pssst. Want more TMNT goodness? Click here
So He-Man rushes in to protect the innocent once again, that’s three times now, and at last, He-Ro reveals himself and helps with defeating the brutes. He-Ro, who’s been working in secret with He-Man all along, upon greeting him quickly invites him to meet with the Masters of the Universe of Preternia. Having proved his valor he’s also extended the invitation to join their league as they fight to break down the strongholds of Evil mounted against them.
It’s here that He-Man meets his legendary ancestor, none other than mother-fucking King Grayskull himself! This character has quickly become a personal favorite of mine as my long-time readers will know. I love this guy! His was a world full of savagery and awe. It’s an early age of barbarians, demonic serpents, strange gods, and insurmountable sorcery. He faced evil while mounted atop his roaring Battle Lion and drove through legions of demons never once thinking of his personal safety as he strove to keep his people free no matter the cost. So much of Eternia’s arcane history rested on his broad shoulders.
This man led the most badass Masters that have ever been.
And let me tell you these Masters are something else. These are warriors of extraordinary might and magical mastery. I love how the Goddess is even here, a nod to the earliest role of the Sorceress. It’s something special to see her being made cannon and established as a key character to the ancient days of Eternia. But you also have Veena, that day’s Sorceress, and wife of King Grayskull. Moss Man is even here making him one of the oldest living beings of the MOTU timeline by the time we get back to the present day.
I wish we had more time to spend with them all and here’s where I would love it if this was a fully fleshed-out novel or graphic novel (or mother fucking video game) at the very least. Because no sooner are we introduced to these incredible heroes than we’re immediately thrust into an invasion taking place outside their gates. King Hsss and his army have all recovered and assembled themselves to crush the Masters and seize the legendary secrets of the Three Towers for themselves.
Hiss is out for revenge and his men are starved nearly to madness. They devour whom they kill and believe that eating members of the Masters would likewise offer them cosmic powers. So the whole of the Snake Men are hellbent on claiming unimaginable power from this.
At this point, the reader may conclude the odds are fairly evened out though. After all the Masters are in their prime and already we’ve seen He-Ro drive off the Snakes with a single spell. Things can’t be all that bad…right?
Turn of the tide
The battle’s only just begun when the Masters’ hearts suddenly drop at the unexpected appearance of Hordak. He is the cloned image of pure cosmic Evil and a warlord whose sinister infamy is well-known across the universe. Of all times, of all goddamn times the Evil Horde has come and will allow no one to stand in their way of claiming the mystical towers.
Hordak also has a personal score to settle with He-Ro.
Unbeknownst to He-Ro he’s played an unwilling role in leading the Horde Empire directly to the shores of Preternia. The shadows of his past could not be outrun forever and an ancient evil is now returned to finish what was started many, many moons ago.
Long ago, He-Ro was tangled up in a battle with the Evil Horde, and, in particular, Horde Prime himself, the sinister ruler of the galactic Horde Empire. His conflict with Prime was over the Sword of He, a mystic weapon formed in the cosmos by the most powerful Trollan alive and entrusted to the safekeeping of Ro. It was said the sword held the very power of the universe.
So much celestial energy blazoned from within the hallowed sword and by it, one could learn the many secrets of ruling the cosmos. It was meant to be a tool to guide people towards courage and to defend the innocent against evil doers.
Horde Prime was having none of it though and, realizing his inability to defeat the newly christened He-Ro, Prime unleashed a devastating virus upon the cosmic wizard. One that violated the man’s flesh with cybernetic corruption. The curse was unique to the Horde’s ability to fuse flesh with machine, making new monstrosities out of creation, and was a dark practice they’d mastered over many ages now.
The curse nearly proved to be too much for He-Ro and the shock of it caused him temporary amnesia. He suddenly found himself in the heart of the Horde Empire with a ravaging bio-techno virus amalgamated into his body, digging into his skin and fusing with his nerves. It was nothing short of pure unadulterated Hell at its finest.
It would seem Horde Prime would soon claim his great treasure and be the sole wielder of the coveted Sword of He.
This is still He-Ro we’re talking about, the most powerful wizard in the universe. The Trollan counsel trusted him with the sword for a reason. He may have been confused by his surroundings and the carnal trauma he was experiencing but he recognized Evil when he saw it and in his heart he knew he had to protect the sword at all costs. He managed to work open a portal and made his sudden escape leaving behind a furious Horde Prime.
The sword was lost to Prime. It had been right there. Within his reach. Humiliated and wrathful the dark lord knew he must claim that weapon no matter how long it took to recover it.
Now Horde Prime was not on good terms with Hordak, a lesser version of himself, and who had attempted to poison both himself and his father, Horde Lord in order to rule the Empire in their absence. Quite the ambitious one, huh Hordak?
This little incident has also not gone unpunished. To win back approval Hordak is there and then challenged with the hefty task of locating the sword and returning it to the Horde Empire. Hordak takes with him an army of some of the most dangerous and evil servants among the Horde.
An armada is launched across the galaxies to seek out any signs of the wizard and the blade. Aboard his own warship, Hordak traveled far from Horde space and at long last, after many years (perhaps eons) of searching, found He-Ro. Hordak plans to burn down the planet offering him refuge just for good measure.
In his hasty escape, He-Ro found himself on a primitive planet of barbarians where giant beasts roamed the tangled jungles. Eldor, a kind sage, rescued He-Ro and helped him cure himself of the techno-bionic virus by washing in a sacred pool. This event though was not without consequence. From it the virus spread across the planet and infected both the vegetation and the mighty beasts who ate it, turning them into bio-mechanic creatures themselves. That’s how something like Bionatops was roaming around the wilderness.
Readers familiar with my past MOTU articles may recall mention of a tecno-virus that came to Eternia from the stars. That was totally He-Ro after he escaped the Evil Horde. So we’ve come full circle and have a much broader understanding of the ancient lore of this vast, vast saga. Who could’ve guessed these little action figures would one day grow such an immense mythos around them? I’m always impressed when I return back to MOTU and read (re-read another dozen times) the rich lore and adventures involved with their universe. People may talk about how Marvel is all connected but holy shit come on! I totally champion the timeless saga of Good vs Evil revealed here with He-Man. It spans generations and ages of the planet, and it builds legends across the stars. It feels somehow never ending.
Once I finally am finished talking about all the stuff I have going on inside my chest and hit ‘publish’ on that last article concerning MOTU I’ll still have only skimmed over the surface of the main events. There’s so much to enjoy and explore out of this fandom. It’s proof of why (and how) it continues strong to this very day. It’s also why I can’t shut up about it and will probably never be done with it. Not entirely at least.
Meanwhile, Hordak’s been on the hunt for He-Ro for a very, very long time. The Horde is relentless and has eternity to hunt down and claim their triumphs. There will be no rest and no stopping until it is found. To me that’s scary. That relentless determination.
Back to the battle
Hordak isn’t willing to share a damn thing and boldly threatens King Hsss and all the Snake Men with the Spell of Separation. The mere mention of this spell alone scares the Snake Men so shitlessly that they throw their hands up and flee! These monsters who have been so ruthless to the Masters are suddenly gone, fled to save their scaly hides by the Horde’s magic.
This is what He-Man’s come back to learn. This very spell. One powerful enough to drive away an evil as powerful as King Hsss. So yeah, that’s what he gets to take back home. But, think about it, this is a Horde spell, right? So it’s black magic I would assume. This is the spell he brings back to Orco…so Orco will use Evil Horde magic against their enemies. Son of a bitch that’s awesome!
Hordak, after removing one nuisance, then turns his violent intentions against Grayskull. After mocking the king he then releases a lethal magical assault. He-Ro knows Grayskull is intended to have a great legacy and his bloodline must continue. So heroically, just as the battle began long ago with him against the Horde, He-Ro rushes to meet Hordak and throws himself in the line of fire, taking the full blast of Hordak’s assault.
It’s here that He-Ro, with his last breaths, passes the cosmic sword to the king and a line of He-empowered heroes begins in the dynasty of Eternia. A legacy of legends is born this hour.
Well, Hordak really fucked up right here. He miscalculated the might and ferocity of King Grayskull, a thing he’ll soon learn from as the king – and now armed with the Sword of He – throws himself like a boulder at the evil warlord. Their fight is swift as, in a quick flash, the king swoops the sword in a mighty song of violence and lops off Hordak’s arm.
The blow sends Hordak to his knees and brings the fight to a quick end. It’s fun to note how it’s this very arm (someday) that will serve as Hordak’s mechanical arm.
While this whole war is happening Skeletor realizes there’ll be no better time to invade the main tower and learn all of its secrets. Which would be disastrous for the universe of course. He’s stopped though as He-Man blocks his way. “Future, Past, Present…it always comes down to the two of us, doesn’t it?” He-Man says to his old enemy.
As the two legends meet in a furious battle of screeching swordplay Skeletor jabs He-Man and gloats over He-Ro’s death. Not even the Masters’ friend, the mightiest wizard in the universe, could outmatch the forces of evil. Just as the night overtakes the day light evil will eclipse the righteous. Skeletor will rule sovereign in all timelines!
The tide of the battle finally turns in the Masters’ favor when Eldor uses all of his strength to call forth an old spell that both buries and hides the three mystical towers deep in the heart of the planet where Evil can never assail them. Skeletor is furious and He-Man knocks him out cold.
Hordak, maimed and humiliated, no longer has any trophies to claim with the towers being removed, and he’s not ready to meet the king again in battle anytime soon. He requires healing first. He and his minions retreat for the time being to better plan and perfect a devastating retaliation.
A day of many losses and bloodshed grows silent across the mired battlefield. The towers are gone, resting, and awaiting the day when they’re most needed to return. The Masters have won but with heavy hearts. Their friend and brother is dead and Grayskull now carries a heavy burden. To him was entrusted the Sword of He and with it is the memory of a great friend. Evil will never rest. Not while the sword remains. The Masters discuss plans to build a mighty fortress where the powers of the universe will be guarded at all times. A place of hope and fear, a stronghold of strength and doom to all who challenge it.
This battle is over but the war lies in the future and He-Man with Skeletor in tow returns back to his own time. Now he brings with him hope for the Masters of his era, for he brings knowledge of how to destroy the Snake Men. He also brings back Bionatops just for the helluv it.
Wow! I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry. I had a blast writing it. Be sure to check out other MOTU articles on the site. We’ve covered the artwork of the figure’s packaging (click here). We’ve also done a three-part exploration on Skeletor and his origins across the different incarnations of the legendarium. Part I , Part II , Part III
Be sure to keep checking in on us. We’re always eager to release the nostalgic goodies we all grew up loving. There’s always something to find and love around here. And be sure to keep an eye out for the third and final part of the Final Battleground.