I have to credit my discovery of many different horror films to my local Mom and Pop Video Store growing up, Action Video. Under a mile away, it was close enough for me to hop on my bike and undergo one of my favorite journeys to take on a weekend afternoon or anytime during the Summer. It was located in a shopping mall that included a Smiths’, Osco Drugs, Naugles, Pizza Hut, and of course, a McDonald’s. Usually, before a trip to Action Video, we’d pop into Osco for the latest issue of MAD magazine and Fangoria and some snacks for later’s horror marathon festivities. Then a trip to one of the fast food chains located within to get some carbs in for the adrenaline rush to come later; a personal pan Pizza Hut pizza or ye’ old faithful Hamburger Happy Meal from the clown was my regular go-to. And then, off to Action Video for the finale to discover what new and glorious atrocities await to be feasted upon thine eyes.
The VHS cover art alone was all the advertisement we would need to be sold on a horror flick, as we would be standing there gawking at the enticing and illustrious covers of films I had never seen. Hell, if Return of the Living Dead or The Blob didn’t have the cover art they did, it may have very well been a long time before I would have seen those masterpieces. Take for instance here, Dead Pit, with its gimmicky light-up cover case (you’ll catch that in the video down below). I mean, the cover alone is cool as hell, but that extra flair from the art screaming “PICK ME UP AND RENT ME YA’ WALNUT” added that extra incentive to take it home with you.
Blockbuster, as popular as it was, didn’t have this kind of cool shit gracing their shelves, people. As a matter of fact, it was so bland with their mediocre white clamshell casings. Hell, you’d be hard-pressed to find ONE rental copy of, let’s say, MOTEL HELL or CHEERLEADER CAMP. That, in itself, is a travesty. One that a local Mom and Pop Video Shop never seemed to bear onto their consumers. At the very least, when you rented with a smaller venue, you would get a way cooler clamshell that looked like it contained something sinister inside. Oh and hey, with those places usually having those adult-only curtains in the back of the store, sometimes there really was, heh.
The last living relic of Action Video remains in my hands. Grabbed this when bitch-ass Blockbuster put them out of business back in 1997. THE EXORCIST III in rare mom-and-pop video form is a beautiful thing over 25 years later.
Unfortunately, time and many moves through my life took my bright orange Action Video punch hole rental card that I had hung on to long after they closed. I’ve looked far and wide for another one in the wild, but continuously come up empty-handed. So if anyone reading this is local to Las Vegas and happens to have one sitting in a dusty box somewhere, I will gladly take it off your hands and display it like the nostalgic treasure I deem it to be is.
Like Action Video, many of these mom-and-pop stores fell to the corporate giants of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, unable to compete. I personally, never went to one until there was no other choice as I was rather bitter that they put my favorite rental place out of business. The place where I struck up conversations about horror films with other fans and Nick, the son’s owner behind the counter who would always shoot me some wild recommendations like Basket Case; of which I totally rented upon his imaginative description of Belial. When I finally made my way into Cock-Buster, I found the horror section to be rather dull. It was too bright in there, kids running around unattended… The magic was just, gone for me. And the clerks with their Gap-inspired uniforms didn’t seem to be as knowledgeable as Nick from Action Video. So here I was, biting my lip and bitterly renting Blair Witch from these corporate clowns until Karma finally made its way back to them when Netflix came into the circle.
The City of Irving published a video back in 1988 highlighting all the wonderful things a Mom and Pop shack has to offer, much of what I’ve stated here and uploaded it to YouTube. Probably one of the most wholesome things you’ll see on the internet today, folks.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on Blockbuster, ( I don’t really think I am) but aesthetically and nostalgically speaking, you just can’t compete with the powerful entity that is the small video store.
A clusterfuck of films that beg you to dig in and really do your due diligence in searching for the right film.
While the memory remains solid for myself, we luckily have people on YouTube who prior to the video website ever being a twinkle in Google’s eye, had the good sense to video record trips to their local video store so that we may bask in its glorious nostalgia. People here like HugeMovieFanaticswho uploaded this home footage from December 1992 doing what we all did-wander around aimlessly looking at all the mystical things a small venue like that had to offer.
Bless these guys. Bless the Mom and Pop Video Shop. And Fuck the Blockbuster. I hope you read that in the Iron Shiek’s voice.
The war for ancient Preternia burned against the horizon threatening to consume the planet whole. The ancient Masters of the Universe stood defiantly against two great evils threatening all existence: the ferocious might of King Hiss and his deadly Snake Men, as well as the tyranny of Hordak and the galactic Horde Empire. Into these turbulent days, He-Man was sent back in time to bear witness to these very events for, in his own era, the present-day Masters are faced with a desperately similar doom. He-Man must learn how the Snake Men were dispatched ages ago if the future has any hope for survival.
It’s through the jealous treachery of Hordak – who refuses to share domination of this planet with any other than himself – that the key to the Snake Men’s undoing is revealed. Hordak threatens the Snakes with the Spell of Separation, a brand of sorcery powerful enough to vanquish the Snake Men from existence. Facing this level of magic is more than King Hiss is willing to challenge and so the cold-blooded demons retreat. A surprising victory is won and He-Man knows he must bring back that spell in order to quell the serpents’ threat to his own time.
During the battle, the Masters suffer a terrible loss as He-Ro, the mightiest wizard of the universe, sacrifices himself to save King Grayskull. With his dying breath, Ro passes on the Sword of He to the king thus beginning a legacy of mighty warriors and valiant protectors who ensure the safekeeping of the universe and all its many secrets.
King Grayskull wins a victory by maiming Hordak while Eldor casts a spell that hides the three central towers of Preternia deep within the heart of the planet where the forces of evil cannot molest them.
The battle is over … for now at least. He-Man and the Masters bury He-Ro and mourn his loss. The Masters of the future though depend on the new knowledge He-Man now possesses and with a heavy heart he bids farewell to his ancestor, Grayskull, and returns to his own time with Bionatops and Skeletor in tow. A war in the future awaits and it will determine not only the fate of this planet but the very cosmos as well. So by the Power of Grayskull let’s return to the days of grand adventure!
In case this is your first time and would like a more thorough follow-up to the previous events that chronicle these exciting times be sure to catch up by clicking Part I and Part II.
Calm Before the Storm and An Uneasy Alliance
I’ve mentioned before how the writers were restricted by the limitations of a minicomic format and so we’re left to fill in many blanks as we follow along. We’re given glimpses (to say the least) of the most essential moments pertaining to these thrilling events. So by the time Part 3 opens we see a lot is going on and a lot has happened between the time He-Man left Preternia and returned home.
It’s the end of an era for Eternia, a thirty-year fight draws to a close. For the sake of their planet, the two lifelong rivals set aside their quarreling differences in order to save their world from the gargantuan threats at hand that far outweigh their personal war.
There’s now an uneasy truce between Skeletor and He-Man. Skeletor is fully cooperating alongside the Masters of the Universe to help bring down the combined forces of King Hiss and Hordak. At this moment Skeletor’s been driven from Snake Mountain by King Hiss who, to add insult to injury (because he’s a real son of a bitch), has also claimed ownership of the mighty Havoc Staff.
Those of you who’ve been following along for a while now may recall how Keldor, a prerequisite to becoming the Lord of Destruction, was sent on a suicide mission to claim that staff as his own. The staff was one of a few mystical weapons touched by an ancient power near the heated core of the planet known as the Star Seed. It was old and dangerous, and by its celestial touch, enormous power was bestowed upon each of these weapons. They offered their owners astral strength and immense magical power.
After battling the original owner of the mystical weapon the Havoc Staff was finally Keldor’s! It was a significant victory for him and once within his possession, Keldor’s first act was to attack and burn Hordak’s archaic temple. Now Keldor’s always been the arrogant one and things weren’t all that good between him and his old master ever since then.
Maybe this is why Hordak chose an alliance with King Hiss instead of Skeletor. He knew Skeletor’s might as well as his penchant for treachery. So instead Hordak unites his strength with an old enemy rather than joining forces with the man he personally trained in the dark arts. Could Hordak secretly fear some hideous strength residing dormant inside Keldor/Skeletor?
Even with Hodark’s initial appearance, a two-pack toy release called “The Power of the Evil Horde” this very notion is strongly hinted at.
The two-pack provided kids with both Hordak and Grizzlor to play with, but the set likewise came with a beautifully illustrated storybook and matching cassette tape to teach us all about this new villain. We learn straight away that once upon a time Hordak trained Skeletor and Skeletor (being Skeletor of course) overpowered his master and drove him off the planet.
So began an ongoing motif between these two. One of mentorship and betrayal that’s faithfully served as the quintessential foundation for both characters across the Funimation and rebooted comic-book arc. It became their defining trait.
Personally, I think Skeletor is much more powerful than Hordak cares to admit. Even with King Hiss now in command of the Havoc Staff Hordak deliberately separates himself from Skeletor. Hordak wants Skeletor dead as much as he needs the Masters to lay in pieces beneath his feet. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the three Lords of Evil be united to better benefit from all three of their strengths in assaulting the Masters? Hordak however makes sure to put two armies between him and his old pupil instead.
The Enemy of My Enemy…
Skeletor may be pure evil but he fully knows a dead planet is not worth ruling, and if left unchecked, neither Hordak nor King Hiss will leave a single thing alive once they’ve achieved their nefarious goals. This is an endgame scenario and all Eternia is at stake.
The bell’s been tolled and the planet feels it. All battles and every skirmish have led up to this apocalyptic hour.
Old enemies must now lay aside past grievances and prepare to face the rising shadow that spells uncanny doom across the horizon. It’s from here on that things happen at a break-neck pace. On one page, we see the conclusion of our generation’s epic saga between heroes and villains – He-Man and Skeletor are joined together now and fighting on the same side – as brave warriors ready their hearts for the approaching storm, and on the other page is a blood-stained battlefield bursting with brave souls struggling for the future of their home world.
It’s here that a lost soul and fallen king at long last comes into his own. Amidst the clamoring turmoil, a king from the long past rises up to claim his birthright and leads a charge straight into the fog of war. Keldor the forgotten prince and the prodigal son, first-born heir to the throne, receives the recognition he’s strived for all these many long years. Skeletor finally takes charge of the armies of Eternia and the Masters follow him.
It’s all been about Skeletor after all, all of it. Everything we know about MOTU has had him at its heart be it Past, Present, or eventual Future. All the battles he’s had with his nephew now come down to this final prelude of conflict.
He’s won and not by show of force but out of desperation. The Masters don’t doubt Skeletor’s authority and would rather have the Lord of Destructoin on their side than working against them.
With this, the final bell tolls over the era of Etrenia we all grew up with and the storm breaks over a new dawn.
By The Power of Grayskull!
Two great armies emerge from the glowing waves of ethereal mist and the day of destiny is at hand. Each side is determined to see the other fall. There is no time to doubt decisions and no time to look back. All eyes are fixed ahead and to some, a red vision of doom lingers near whilst for others a hellbent sight for nothing short of utter destruction is at hand. All days are long behind as a grim dawn washes across the unsteady battlefield and lights a fire in every heart below.
Now is the hour to forge new legends and write a new saga with quills dipped in the blood of fallen soldiers. An hour of woe and a day of sorrow! For now is a time of whirling blades, clashing shields, and thunderous war cries as Eternia joins together with Etheria to defeat both the Snake Kingdom and the Horde Empire.
He-Man and She-Ra, the legendary twins, are back together as She-Ra races down upon Swiftwind, her formidable steed, with all her warriors in tow to meet Hordak one final time. Skeletor, the Lord of Destruction, now stands with He-Man and seeks to wrest back the Havoc Staff from the accursed King Hiss. He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe, charges out astride Battlecat and cries loud, “For Eternia!” Answering the call his sister shouts, “For Etheria!” Both of their armies raise arms and rush into battle behind them covering the land and filling the skies. “Yes!” Skeletor’s voice rises above the din of unsheathing blades. “Yes, what the simpleton siblings said!”
The time of the ultimate battleground is at hand. The two-page spread is nothing short of breathtaking. Characters from all across MOTU history are here at long last. No one is too obscure and even the live-action movie is represented here. It’s as if this one battle is definitive to the whole of the shared MOTU universe. Eternia and Etheria have loosed their might to destroy the villainous forces threatening the whole universe. Keep in mind that this was also way before Avengers: End Game was even a Disney producer’s wet dream. This was the original (epic) crossover event of our childhoods.
Fun Fact: Originally this whole concept was meant to be the grand finale of the 200X series. If you ask me we were robbed. In Season III Hordak would’ve been the main antagonist and events would have led to this very war. In it, a lot of questions would’ve been answered (like why Man-at-Arms couldn’t return to human form) and all of the blank spaces would’ve been filled in. No doubt it would’ve been the He-Man/She-Ra movie event of our lives. But no, some idiot out there decided that didn’t need to happen and unceremoniously pulled the plug. There’s no reason why this couldn’t have been a gigantic animated epic. Be that as it may, in minicomic form we get a glimpse of things that might have been, a thrilling culmination of both He-Man and She-Ra’s universal adventures. At least we have it in some form.
Hordak is a relentless foe and at his command is the whole of the Horde Empire. Along with his faithful (and recognizable) minions are legions of Horde Troopers, metallic soldiers bereft of both heart and soul. They are machines built with only one solitary purpose in mind: ruthless domination.
Horde Wraiths are also in the assembly, evil warlock-like fiends who weave hellish sorcery to aid the Horde’s forces and curse their opponents.
King Hiss is a mean bastard on any given day but now armed with the Havoc Staff proves to be far more treacherous than ever before. Now there is a demonic union of Horde technological sorcery and serpent magic empowering the titanic forces of chaotic evil. Things seem helpless for the Masters and their allies.
However, bleak as things look all is not lost. In fact, there is a great outpouring of hope for the Masters. For lest we forget the three towers of Preternia have returned.
And we get to see Randor’s mighty return and with him, some amazing and obscure characters follow close at hand. Such as Beast Lord (at least I think that’s what he’s called) who is here drawn out like the original concept art for Beast Man way back when.
Valiantly they rush in to join the fight and lend aid to the struggling Masters of the Universe!
Soak In This Moment
Take a moment to look over the comic panels. I mean holy shit just look what all is happening! The artists went all out to bring us something truly special.
Forces from all sides are joined together in a desperate war for destiny’s sake. On one side you have the union of the Masters and Skeletor together, and if you look closely you’ll see a small cameo of Saurod from the He-Man movie. I just saw him now while preparing this article. I heard Blade is in here somewhere too but I’ve yet to spot him. You also have Skeletor, robbed of his Havoc Staff, holding a demonic BFG and blasting plasma beams upon people who once served him.
Evil Lynn is acting like a bitch and working for Hordak and the Snakes now. Fakor is driving the mother fucking Landshark and working with He-Man. Goddamn Bionatops is charging down mother fuckers like weeds in his way. And He-Man rides Battlecat right into Snake Man-at-Arms. Horde Troopers are being blasted apart by plasma cannons and the stakes rise higher and higher the more you look.
Meanwhile, Stratos flies in overhead leading areal troops of his own kind alongside Buzzoff and his warrior bees. Armies fill the sky like storm clouds while a maelstrom cracks across the land below. The fight multiplies on all sides and the four corners of Eternia shake by the conflict.
This is absolutely a celebration of the toys we all grew up loving and no one is left out. This three-part minicomic series has included nearly every single character or represented every incarnation MOTU has enjoyed over time up to this point.
Imagine having all your toys all spread out across an imaginative battlefield (the living room carpet or outside in a sandbox) like this. A high-stakes congestion of might, science, and sorcery all met together for a massive final conflict. This is the kind of stuff I was doing when friends and I got together to play. The playroom exploded with adventure and might.
Everything’s Led To This End
Teela trades in her Sorceress robe for battle attire and leaps into the violent fray. She’s trained her whole life to be a warrior and here in the storm of war, she uses it perfectly. I love seeing how she singles out Evil Lynn. A battle between the Warrior Sorceress and the Mistress of Evil ensues.
Teela’s look here, known as Battleground Teela, was inspired by her DC comics appearance. Evil Lynn is seen here in her yellow skin, a sign of her powering up if you will. That’s why you have moments when Evil Lynn is very pale-skinned, almost pearl-like, vs her yellowed counter look. The reason is while using magic her skin tone changes.
The battle between the two women ends when Evil Lynn’s dark powers are absolved by the superiority of the Warrior Sorceress. Teela now commands the wand of Evil Lynn, a wand that was touched by the mystic energies of the Star Seed just like the Havoc Staff was.
The Masters suffer a bitter loss though as a rampaging Snake Man-at-Arms is regrettably struck down in an act of self-defense and mercy. The whole thing takes place while Teela was fighting Evil Lynn. It has to weigh heavy on her heart to wonder if she could have maybe removed her father’s curse now that she holds the wand. Had she just had one minute sooner to her credit could she have saved him?
Nevertheless, no longer can Evil muddle the once noble soldier’s mind. He is also granted the gift of a warrior’s death. Teela sees him fall by the lethal blow and rushes over to the man she once called father and cradles him in her arms. As a final act of grace Duncan, in his fading moments, recognizes his daughter and whispers how proud both he and her mother are of her. Then he dies in peace as the man he once was.
Not a moment too soon I might add, for unbeknownst to the primary evils, this has all been a distraction to allow Orko time enough to cast the Spell of Separation. Perhaps for the first time in his life, the little Trollan manages to make a spell work and its galactic effects are terrifying. In the twinkling of an eye, the spell cracks against the fabric of reality, and in that blinding instant every living Snake Man from their mightiest god to their king and all the way down to their lowliest slave is eradicated from existence.
Perhaps sent to an abysmal Hellscape from whence there is no escape or perhaps they’re sent back to the sinister dimension they originally slithered from, or maybe they’ve simply been snuffed out like a glowing wick, but in the end, they are gone. The Snake Kingdom and its evil King’s reign of murderous terror are brought to a sudden end without so much as a sigh or whimper.
Hordak, for all his mastery and savage power, finds himself alone and unexpectedly awestruck at the effect of his own spell from long, long ago. Snake Men’s armor and weapons alike clatter on the ground underfoot of the Masters. A second earlier victory stood within his grasp but even as he stretched forth his hand to claim it everything crumbled like sand sliding between his claws.
Once more victory was robbed from him by the act of Good and his enemies shout with triumph before his stunned visage. His evil alliance is broken in an instant and his forces are quickly diminishing across the battlefield.
“Victory!” his foes shout below him. “We have a victory!” Those words should have been his! Mockingly they ring in his ears, filling him with new spite and filling his eyes with a watering need for murder! It can’t end like this, he swears. Not like this!
Happy voices boom across the battlefield and I can’t help but expect Orko is flipping for joy (or maybe just hovering speechless) at his great big accomplishment. Probably a little of both knowing him, but I’m so happy someone out there let the guy shine this bright. Well done, Orko. Well done! I always knew you had it in you.
Among the scattered weapons and relics is none other than the coveted Havoc Staff which Skeletor reclaims hastily. Hasty indeed I must say considering how he snatches it out of King Hiss’ dying hands and proudly laughs in triumph now being reunited with his baby. The two just can’t be separated for long. Skeletor, now fully empowered by his beloved wand, has only one single goal in mind. And that’s targeting Hordak, his old master in the dark arts.
I HAVE THE POWER!
The time is come and the final battle is at hand. This is the hour! The gods of war meet for one last ride as He-Man and She-Ra join together with Skeletor to ultimately defeat the Horde Empire by cutting the serpent’s head off.
We see the twins and Skeletor all three charging forth side-by-side, an unlikely trinity of might and magic on a mission to finally kill Hordak. This is a powerful moment and one I would love to see played out cinematically.
Well enjoy it while you can, fellow Masters, because it’s a brief moment. Skeletor is still Skeletor and he’s as ambitious as he is greedy. He whips together a swift spell that launches both the twins out of range and far away from the confrontation so he and he alone can get the killing victory over Hordak. I mean there’s confident and then there’s Skeletor who has balls big enough to kick a dragon square in the nutsack.
It’s an age-long story and one well worth retelling. The tale of the Master being surpassed by his disciple. A disciple who worked his way up by surviving a barrage of turbulent chastisements and ruthless tests pushing the pupil to his limits in order to ultimately break both his body and will. Only, if said pupil was strong enough, to be reborn, renewed, and remolded to exceed even the hideous strength of the Master.
So it is with Skeletor who now stands as the master high aloft the lonely mountaintop before a brooding Hordak. All the bitter years of struggle have led fatefully to this moment. The two square off in a battle of sorcery that rocks Eternia to her core. The war is still in full sway beneath them, but the war betwixt these two has raged for decades in silent venom.
Hordak releases a fierce spell to bring his old apprentice to his knees, a means to humble the man before torturing him to the brink of death. Thinking Skeletor is far too weak to withstand the full might of the Horde’s magic proves to be Hordak’s final mistake. Any lesser man would be rendered to ashes by such a spell. This is the Lord of Destruction we’re talking about though and Skeletor does stand his ground and, to Hordak’s horror, pushes back with a power Hordak was unaware of.
Their duel doesn’t last long as Skeletor quickly turns the tide in his favor and with blinding spells a crack of fury crashes down knocking Hordak back. Skeletor wastes no time and strikes him with a killing blow…it’s as if time pauses to witness this act. Hordak sways dying, after all these many centuries of tyranny and domination, the Warlord of the Horde pales and falls to his knees. Skeletor absorbs all of his old master’s magic and power while standing victorious!
The battle ends and the Horde staggers in shock to see their Lord felled so quickly. The Horde Empire is taught once again that the royal lineage of Eternia is not to be fucked with!
The Horde is nothing without their master and are broken in both mind and spirit as their war machine splinters. Their numbers dwindle and power fades. They quickly fall across the battlefield and those who don’t flee for their lives. The strength of the Evil Horde is vanquished.
Hordak is in fact dying. Against his belief and all his ego, Hordak finds himself to be a mere mortal in the end. He is not without malice though and with his final ounce of strength, he releases a hidden weapon that’s been contained in the chest plate of his armor. Three whirling buzz-saw-like disks fly directly into Skeletor’s spine and deal their own killing blow.
Skeletor is crippled and bleeding out. Hordak lays dying as well, the light nearly drained from his eyes, and sees his old apprentice’s body in ruins a mere few feet from him. Vengence is best served cold and the embrace of Death is cold indeed. Skeletor is way too cunning (a little too mean too) to die this quickly though. Putting that cunning to good use he scans the area looking for any way to regenerate before it’s too late and spots the great and mighty Bionatops.
The prehistoric beast is a wired mixture of flesh and machine and properly serves to heal Skeletor’s mortal wounds. He quickly absorbs the life essence of Bionatops into himself and immediately the beast’s horrific fusion of science and sorcery melds with his own flesh, healing him, piecing him back together, and wiring him up to new levels of strength never before realized. It saves his life and a new Skeletor rises to his feet. It’s here that Hordak dies seeing in his last second of life how even now he has failed.
This new Skeletor is a being no one on Eternia has ever faced before. On one hand, he’s absorbed all of Hordak’s power and the secrets of the Empire are now his own to plunder. On the other, his reborn body now grants him insidious might to challenge that of the mighty He-Man. Skeletor is here become a hellish cybernetic amalgamation of hideous strength empowered by science and sorcery. Both ruthless powers are his to command!
Having now gained all of Hordak’s knowledge Skeletor’s mind unlocks the secrets to the galactic Horde Empire and realizes how he can rule it. And by ruling them, in effect, rule the whole universe! Why waste any more precious energy on this tiny little planet? Having nearly died truly opened his eyes to the true potential inside of himself and so Skeletor bids farewell to He-Man and leaves Eternia to ascend starward with intentions of ruling them all.
With his ascent, all grows silent across Eternia. It’s over, everything we grew up watching on TV, reading from picture books, and replaying out with our toys has come to this satisfying conclusion. It’s bittersweet.
The battle is finally over, but does that have to mean the adventures are at an end?
Some fans may find contempt with me calling this the final battleground. They might point out others that happen after these events as well as a really big battleground war that will happen a generation after the one here. I stand by my words though, this is the final battleground. Even as Preternia met her end after a cataclysmic war so does Eternia (as we’ve known her) end here. Skeletor is gone off to explore what he can conquer in space. Hordak is dead and the Snake Men are forever vanquished. The old threats are gone and Eternia enters a time of peace.
The story is not over, oh no. Not by a long shot. All may be well on Eternia but the same cannot be said for the universe. This minicomic ends in an awesome way that ties directly into the sequel saga of He-Man fighting Intergalactic Skeletor and the Mutants out in space. The final page of the comic reveals a ship landing on Eternia and astronauts seeking out He-Man with urgency. They tell him Skeletor is posing a serious threat to the universe out among the planets.
He-Man looks over at She-Ra and asks her if she’s ready for a new adventure. That made me chuckle. So the New Adventures of He-Man is where the story takes us. We bid a fond farewell to Eternia and fly upwards to the boundless cosmos for more adventures to be revealed out among the stars.
Now you can choose to leave it here and close the page. Good is victorious and Evil is defeated. If you’re like me though and want a glimpse into where things lead then read on, but only for a little bit more.
Yes, the New Adventures of He-Man is where the story takes us and, though I wasn’t a fan at first, I’ve kinda let it grow on me a little bit. I’m not watching that stupid-looking cartoon anytime soon but I like the comic. Least the stuff I’ve seen in it. I admit though I only like it because of what it leads into.
Because at some point, the New Adventure ends, and guess what? We get to see the trinity back at it again as He-Man, Skeletor, and She-Ra set out to kill the great and terrible Horde Prime himself. No, we’ve not forgotten about him. With Hordak dead Prime is the last of the Horde lords to threaten life across the universe. If you don’t want to see Horde Prime’s face I suggest you don’t look into this series. He doesn’t remain in mystery, they do fight him, and boy howdy is it awesome! It’s here where I learned to mad respect the New Adventures story arc.
Later on (like many years later) we return to Eternia and see He-Man ruling as king. He and Teela have finally tied the knot and have a son, Dare, who serves as this new generation’s mighty champion. What’s a hero without a villain though?
So we’re introduced to Skeleteen, son of Skeletor and Evil Lynn. Skeleteen wields his father’s magic staff and wears a skull-shaped helmet to honor the Lord of Destruction. If you remember way back during my Skeletor Origins piece I mentioned how the Faceless One (original holder of the Havoc Staff) foresaw a future scenario where the son of his daughter, Evil Lynn, would hold the Havoc Staff and continue the bloodline? That prophecy is fulfilled in this series.
Think that’s wild? Well, this isn’t even the main baddie here.
This series brings in a character from the vintage MOTU minicomics. A thing of foreboding mystery and dread, known only as the Unnamed One and the very entity worshiped by the Snake Men.
Already the mysterious villain has my interest because there’s something about a bad guy whose name is stricken from people’s memory either by divine judgment or social terror, whatever the case may be I love it! In LOTR Sauron is known as the Nameless One among some people. He Who Must Not Be Named is the title given to Voldemort in Harry Potter. And in The Wheel of Time, no one dares speak the Dark One’s name for fear of drawing his attention. I love ‘nameless’ evil villains. It gives them a Lovecraftian level of cosmic dread.
So the Unnamed One was first mentioned in a minicomic from the ‘80s toy line but is given the chance to be more fully fleshed out in the later Classics line. For the first time in decades, this creature was getting a physical form and story to truly define how masterfully sinister he is. Let’s just say not all fans were pleased.
The look was inspired by Emperor Palpatine and Orko of all characters. The Unnamed One is a Tollan, a very powerful one at that, and is bent and twisted by evil.
The creature was met with praise and displeasure alike because fans didn’t really have any association with the Trollans other than Orko. The Trollans are immensely powerful magic wielders though and are the ones responsible for collecting all the cosmos’ energy into the Sword of He. Just like how a great Elf fashioned the Rings of Power in LOTR the Trollan molded astral energy into the Sword and this evil sorcerer was determined to use it for his own dastardly achievements.
The high council of Trollan wasn’t going to just sit back and let that happen though and imprisoned him after stripping away his name and legacy. He didn’t stay gone forever and I have a theory as to why. And no, not just for reasons’ sake either. I think it had to do with timing. You see by the time the Unnamed One is brought back to power Skeletor is no longer around. Hordak is dead and (by this time in MOTU history) Horde Prime is trapped within a prism so is no threat to anyone. Let’s also not forget King Hiss and his kingdom are vanquished from existence. There was a massive gap in Evil which led the way for something ancient to return from the depths of the dark dimension entrapping him. Why? To maintain the cosmic balance of the two opposing forces. With the absence of Evil reigning in the universe, Good was met without challenge and couldn’t be proven. So balance was demanded and out of that came the return of the Unnamed One.
He’s also thought to be the fiend who ‘created’ the Snake Men race. Supposedly he mutilated the DNA of men (or aliens) by blending them with that of deadly serpents thus creating a kingdom of slithering abominations. This would help explain why King Hiss doesn’t really have a backstory akin to Skeletor or Hordak. He simply appears with his minions and that’s about it. Fans have gone so far as to say this could be the actual Satan in the MOTU canon. Think about it. If Melkor is Satan to Middle-Earth the Unnamed One is the same to MOTU. The actual source of all known Evil found (inspired) in their reality. The guy did create the Snake Men and we all saw how powerful those bastards were.
He’s not without division though and fans were split in two when he was finally unveiled. Some fans expected something more like a terrifying Dark Lord, something vast and imposing. However, I’m in the camp of fans that loves how small and unassuming he turned out to be. It’s the same genius behind casting Al Pacino as the Devil in The Devil’s Advocate. The actor himself asked the director why not cast someone like Robert Redford. Someone with a bigger presence and old Hollywood charm? The reason why is because that’s what people expect out of the Devil. “They don’t see me coming,” John Milton (Al Pacino, as the Devil) says in the movie. “I’m a surprise…”
That speech (just happens to make a fun ‘master of the universe’ reference) perfectly sums up the core of pure Evil in all its terrible nature. It’s a surprise. It’s what we least expect. The suddenness of it and how quietly it moves itself into strategic positions over our lives leaves us both shocked and traumatized down to the core of our humanity. It’s the thorn that slides into the heart and poisons the whole system. It’s the beguiling smile that won over Eve. Small and unassuming enough to leave us with our guard down and ass up for a right good fucking. And it happens all before we know it.
So if there was going to be an ultimate source of evil in MOTU it would be the Unnamed One. A fallen angel, a Trollan of great magical power who was there when the Sword of He was forged among the stars and who tried to claim it as his own. By knowledge alone, he perverted DNA strands to build an army of demons that nearly devoured all of Eternia. He is the master of all puppets and pulls the strings to make the course of time flow exactly as he wants it to.
When he’s returned to the cannon we see him split the planet of Eternia in half. Yeah! Something the Masters must quickly correct and by extreme force are able to tie the shattering planet back together with magic. One single Trollan did this to the world though.
Why of course there’s another war! I’m glad you asked. The story really mirrors the very one we’ve been talking about though. It involves a journey back in time to Preternia just like we’ve already seen. The ultimate battle takes place back in the present with the New Masters fighting the evil might and armies of the Unnamed One.
And, just as before, heroes of the past are resurrected to aid the Masters in their plight. The Unnamed one further demonstrates how metal of a motherfucker he is by resurrecting Skeletor, King Hiss, and Hordak to assist his diabolic cause. Just for good measure he even frees Horde Prime and enlists his might. Yeah, you read that right. Horde Prime, the biggest and baddest of the lot serves under the Unnamed One. We now see who wears the pants around here.
The two wars so closely resemble one another that we see Orko once again turning the tide of the fight by distracting the Unnamed One long enough for He-Ro (the 2nd at this point), son of He-Man, to push the business end of the Power Sword straight through the Unnamed One’s heart. The blow proves lethal and the evil little fuck is killed by the very thing he coveted the most. Upon his death, all the forces he’s summoned are loosed and vanish into the ether of nightmares again. The war is over.
So there you have it, the canonical final battleground of MOTU. I like it but it’s way too similar to the one we’ve been discussing. It’s fun and I love seeing the Unnamed One being a metal badass. Hands down he’s the best thing about the new generation’s adventures. It’s just a little too similar.
The story feels more like an extended epilogue to the MOTU series we’ve been observing. Nevertheless, for the purists, this is the grand conclusion seeing as things really do end here. There were of course meant to be more stories to follow but they never happened.
This new generation involves a whole new array of Masters and evil warriors, with whom I have little to no emotional connection or nostalgia. It’s a different generation and a new kind of Eternia.
I wanted to focus on the final battle on the Eternia we all grew up with and see the sacrifices and losses made by heroes and villains we all knew and loved.
And holy shit! We’ve finally come to the end of it. We all know though that just because it’s the end doesn’t mean that it’s over. It’s fun to see where the story went and all the twists and turns involved. He-Man becomes king and his son the new hero. It’s satisfying and though people hoped to see it continue on at least there’s closure of some kind. With the death of the Unnamed One we can assume Evil found a measure of peace.
Yes, I hear you. I’m well aware that there’s still more out there to explore. Some that takes place between moments we’ve been going over and others that take place way before it all. For example, I would love to talk about how She-Ra reverted back to her evil days as a Horde warrior. Maybe someday I will get around to that.
That’s precisely my point though. The adventures will never end in the hearts of fans. There will always be something out there to discover and discuss. The war has its ending, but the journey will continue. Our kids now play with the toys we loved when we were their age. We decorate our desks and shelves with the figures and we get into online fights over whether Kevin Smith’s vision is refreshing or stupid as all fucking hell. At least the stoner brought us a lot more He-Man to love. Just look at the Origins and Masterverse stuff we’ve been collecting.
The Filmation cartoon is only one click away and we can relive those fun times all over again. The 200X series lends a fresh take on the adventure. If you’ve still not seen that one now would be a great time to get invested in it finally.
Not to belabor the point, but as of the time of this writing, we can find both MOTU Origins and Masterverse figures at our local stores. Hell, I just saw Shadow Weaver last night at Target for example. Masterverse is proving to be the spirit successor to the MOTU Classics line I must add. The details are getting way better too and offer fans some great quality figures to collect.
We may be at the end but the truth is He-Man can’t die. You’ve read that from me before and thankfully it’s proving to be true. On a continual weekly basis, I watch YouTubers who constantly break the news on the latest MOTU projects already in the making and ready to take our hard-earned cash. Totally worth it I say. The latest rumor is an upcoming secret project that combines MOTU with TMNT. Can you fucking imagine that if it turns out to be true? It could get hot and heavy up in here if that happens, dear friends.
Bottom line: there are more ways today to enjoy and support MOTU than ever before in our lifetime. It’s very possible we’ll get a proper live-action adaptation someday. Movies like Super Mario Bros. are proving to people how by sticking close to the subject material and being faithful to the lore will rake in the billions. We can hope someone in Hollywood will take their head out of their ass and pay attention. Maybe even greenlight an Eternia-based adventure inspired by stories like what we’ve been discussing here. If Mario could get a redemption I say it’s time Prince Adam does next.
Not to mention the new MOTU comic series that’s just been released this year. Under the name Masterverse, who knows what new adventures and stories we’ll get to see? Considering how it’s ongoing right now the options are pretty limitless. May even prove to be something I can further discuss here.
Thank you so much for hanging out with me this long. I know it’s been a lot to cover and now it feels like we’ve completed our own journey. If you still need more MOTU (and honestly, who doesn’t) you can always read over some of my earlier takes like the trilogy on the origins of Skeletor here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
This has been the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken and I loved every single moment of it. Your support and feedback have all been wonderful and I can’t thank you all enough. In the meantime between now and my next project, I’ll be adding even more to my collection I’m sure. And have no doubts about it there’s still plenty of MOTU greatness for me to go over. For example, look at this cool crossover.
Now call me crazy but somehow I feel like I’m obligated to review this comic crossover at some point. Like I have no choice in the matter and it has to happen. It’s just far too metal to leave it alone. It demands attention and I must oblige.
For now though it’s time for me to sign off. I hope if nothing else I’ve helped spark some interest in seeking out these great comic stories and get lost in your own adventure. Hell, I would love to see your MOTU collection so don’t be shy and show them off. But for now…
In 1988, slasher franchises were doing much of the genre’s heavy lifting. Freddy, Michael, Pinhead, and even Tarman all had their hand in the melting pot of the horror genre that year, and it was a goddamn glorious time to be alive and a horror fan. With the exception of 1983 and 1987, the Friday the 13th series had been a consistent force throughout the decade, releasing one film a year solidifying Jason as a top contender for King Slasher in the 80s; and with Jason Livesgrossing $19 million off a $3 million budget in 1986, another sequel was bound to happen even with a neat and tidy closure to Voorhees leaving the franchises’ hero Tommy Jarvis victorious. Although the numbers were impressive enough to put them in the green, Crystal Lake still wasn’t doing Elm Street numbers as in 1987, The Dream Warriors raked in 44.8 million on a budget of over $4 million. So an idea was hatched to pin Freddy against our favorite mama’s boy in the spirit of classic monster-mash ups. Studio rights among other bullshit would prevent us from seeing the two square off until 2003 so instead of waiting around, let’s throw Carrie Jr into the ring with Jason and see what results from it!
Filmed under the mystery title Birthday Bash, around Bay Minette, Alabama, Troll director John Carl Buechler took the seat to helm Friday Part 7 which takes a vastly different approach to the franchise than the films before it.
The New Blood follows Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln) who at a tender young age accidentally kills her drunk and abusive father after a nasty fight with her mother using her then uncontrolled telekinetic powers by drowning him in, you guessed it, Crystal Lake. Years later, Tina’s powers which also include Pyrokinesis remain uncontrolled as the trauma over what happened as a child has only fueled, for lack of a better term, fire of her own abilities. Enter Bernie, I mean Terry Kiser as a dick psychologist, “bad news Crews”, who on the surface claims to want to help her, but really wants to put her trauma into crisis mode, so he can document her supernatural powers. How does he do that? Well, by taking her back to Crystal Lake, of course… where it all started.
And in doing so, Tina, whose guilt is immense at this point, unknowingly resurrects Jason who is still chained at the bottom of the same lake where her father met his demise.
Bad idea, Bernie.
The New Blood is so unique among its sister films for so many reasons. Friday movies usually follow the same simple formula where sex equals death, and beyond Tommy Jarvis, we never really get much of a backstory with our hero. This installment breaks the mold by not only giving us that narrative with Tina but takes us along for one hell of a chaotic journey navigating through her trauma. Part VII has a pretty deep social commentary running throughout touching on abuse and aforementioned PTSD. Tina is not only fighting Jason but everyone else around her; especially Dr. Crews (Kiser) who is just gaslighting the hell out of this poor girl. Bad News Crews, to me personally, is an even bigger monster than Jason himself. This piece of shit drags Tina and her loving mother out to the lake, forcing the traumatized teen to do things beyond her will to ignite her powers, all the while threatening to commit her. At the heart of it, this actually does Tina some good as she herself, towards the end, has a better grasp on her abilities which definitely come in handy with a foe like Jason. The abuse and unethical behavior from her doctor might have pushed her over into a forced confrontation within herself and her gifts.
Tina, even in her mental state of grief, confusion, and anger, can see right through that fucker. Although Tina wrestles with her emotions quite a bit, which results in a few things flying at people’s faces (rightfully deserved mind you), Tina holds her ground as one of the more level-headed people in this film ironically. In so many of these slasher films of the decade, we the viewers watching the heroine or final girl don’t get the option to navigate these complex emotions and trauma along with her. Tommy Jarvis had three movies in the series dedicated to him and his mental state, whereas before it was just a simple premise of slash, dash, and there’s a random final girl they’ve chosen out of the bunch. Jason Lives character of Megan (played by Jennifer Cooke) helped pave the way for Tina, but Tina delivered on all fronts in a way that hadn’t been seen since Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street. We got mad with Tina. We felt happy with Tina. And we goddamn rooted for Tina all the way.
Now that’s some true Final Girl Power.
Then, there’s Kane Hodder who is among a fan-favorite in the Friday films as Jason Voorhees. With The New Blood being Kane’s first take on Jason in the films, he made a grand enough impression for him to come back for Manhattan, Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X. Although he isn’t my personal favorite, (I know, le gasp) credit where it’s due as he certainly gave Voorhees a more personable approach with those deep, discerning breaths that spoke for him alone. I hadn’t seen that prior in any Friday films and this was a whole new Jason, folks. His walk was stern yet graceful like a demented zombie ballerina as you could actually feel the anger and rage with each step. When Jason is actually unmasked, the expressions Kane lent to the Crystal Lake killer are something we really have never seen before, either. In previous entries like III and IV, we had an almost stiff and expressionless face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking that makeup, but Jason has way more depth here that would continue to the sewers of Manhattan where you could see the pain and fear in this monster’s face. That I applaud both Hodder and John Carl Buechler for, as it’s true movie monster art at its finest.
Kane also had the pleasure of dishing out some of the franchises’ most fucked up and brutal death scenes. Unfortunately, most of those scenes need up on the cutting room floor because at the time, the MMPA were absolute pricks about blood in films. And with Buechler, oh boy, there was a lot. Remember the amazing sleeping bag scene where Jason repeatedly beats the horny girl against a tree until bursts of blood visibly stains the bag itself? Or, how about when Dr. Crews is disemboweled? No? Well, those moments sadly only remain to be seen as grainy footage that never made it into the theatrical cut thanks to the Karens’ of the movie business who really hate slasher films, apparently. It wasn’t even the first time the censorial body bitches took aim at the Friday films as the first sequel, Part II was cut to shreds as well. Although, duly note that Part VII was more impressively gory. Sadly, while the grainy cut of death scenes exist in some form, as you can see below provided by The Friday the 13th Network, it’s not likely enough for a restoration of an uncut version to ever be released.
The New Blood was released 35 years ago on but of course, Friday the 13th, and falls in the middle of the pack of either loved or hated by franchise fans. Personally, I’m a huge fan of this one. I mean, clearly, I just wrote a goddamn essay about it. But perhaps also for nostalgia purposes. This was the first Friday film I had ever seen all the way through. Being born in 1982, I had snippets of the other films via family members, but when I was deemed old enough to make my own video rental choices and this being the newer one, well, there you have it. So let’s let’s pop in the old VHS, listen to Crazy Ralph narrate the opening, and relive that thrill of Carrie Jr beating the crap out of Jason.
Oh, and grab some Slice Cola while you’re at it. Can we just agree this is the greatest food spread in all the films? Just looks at that retro KFC box!