Tag Archives: Hordak


Previously on Masters of the Universe

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.

early Beast Man concept

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. 


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!

the MOTUC figure. I love it! I like how it looks like a late ’90s ‘Black Sabbath/DIO’ cover

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?

The 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.

Horde Prime is a jerk

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…

Manic Out!


Eternia Past

The legendary Three Towers of Preternia

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.  

mother fucking King Grayskull!

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 and He-Man

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.

Gar being attacked by giants

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.

Preternia Masters of the Universe.

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.

Horde Troopers

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.

Manic out!

Masters of the Universe and the Final Battleground! Part 1 of 3

What has a beginning shall also have an end. The cycle of this planet and all of its inhabitants are all locked together in this impending truth. We are born and we live our lives happily as we can until one day we join our ancestors beyond the starry veil and learn what all the mystery concerning the other side is all about. Eternia too, in all of her splendid glory, is bound to an astronomic possibility (or probability) that in some distant future, she will witness an end of her own.

The clamor of battle is not unknown to the four corners of Eternia, for from her earliest days the horns of war have rung across her history and persistently haunt her very foundations as lingering echoes. Warlords of darkness have ever assailed the guardians of light in an ongoing conflict to wrest power and control of the universe from Grayskull. Great and terrible have been the battlefields of times past but there is an event in the future that is destined to be unlike anything previously yet witnessed.

A final war is set to undo the current conflict and reset the world of Eternia anew. None will walk away and be the same ever again.

Realistically the battle will never end in our hearts and shall, in all likelihood, go on to outlive our generation; nevertheless, as we’ll soon learn, there is cannon proof of a final battleground already set in place in a distant time on Eternia. And unto it shall rise up dead kings, lost fortresses of immense power, and a deadly union of evil masters which spells the doom of all.

You know I couldn’t just stop where we left off. In my Legendary Villains series when we last saw Skeletor he was fully risen to his truest form, a figure of dark sorcery, and come into his own as the Lord of Destruction. That was his origins and his past explored as thoroughly as I knew how to do. I closed the laptop and finished my coffee, moderately pleased too (I might as well add) with how things wrapped up, and I moved on to other things.

And yet… what about Hordak? Would our readers like to know that outcome? Like would Skeletor ever release his old master from Despondos however reluctantly he may be to do so? And there were other baddies out there I hadn’t mentioned. What of the evil Snake Men? Nah, no, no I’ve written enough and so I moved on.

I actually began my newest topic on the mighty Megatron. But…there was something nagging at me, a voice that wouldn’t let up on my subconscious. It demanded my attention. It made its demands because the saga wasn’t over. And I couldn’t leave things the way they were. Skeletor would not have it you see. 

Call it destiny or mere coincidence (if you believe in that) but I was sent a beautiful surprise over the holidays and I am eternally grateful for the gift. I was given a MOTU omnibus full of all the mini-comics that came with figures from the past. This thing is amazing for research purposes and it’s so much easier to fact-check myself now. I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s a must-have for any MOTU fan wanting a deeper look into the early shaping of Eternia and the lore. No, I wasn’t paid by Mattel to promote it either. I just love this thing.

But, to my surprise, and because I expected it to only cover the comics from the ‘80s license, towards the back are comics that were included with certain Classics figures. There is a three-part comic run that covers the final battle of Eternia, at least the Eternia as we all know it from nostalgic memory. That’s right, there’s an endgame in place that changes up everything. It’s an emotional adventure that covers the past and leads the way into a new adventure for the future. There are surprising losses on both sides as well and as I read over the story I knew deep down I couldn’t just sit on it. This thing was just way too hot and by Primus, I had to share it with others.

The story all centers around a massive battle involving everyone possible from across both He-Man and She-Ra’s mega rosters. 

the three-part saga of the end and lead up to a new adventure!

And when I say it’s a massive battle I mean this is the Dagor Dagorath or Ragnarök of MOTU. That’s right, the Final Conflict, Armageddon, the war that determines the destiny of all things. One that will crack the pillars of heaven and bring the cosmos crashing down in smoking ruins. Galloping charges thrust into the fray as the Masters deal out a final ditch effort to fully protect the universe or die beneath the marching boots of relentless tyranny and hate.

Tolkien’s Dago Dagorath

The opening to this epic three-part tale begins with these grim words: 

The heroes of Eternia have been driven underground to the caves of Tundaria. Now, as the renegade Masters of the Universe, they strive to protect the innocent from The Horde, the Snake Men, and Skeletor’s Evil Warriors. These are dark times and the Sorceress of Grayskull is dead. 

MOTU minicomics

Absolutely chilling. There is no lead-up to the events at present. We are thrown directly into the song of savage battle, much like how the late Robert E. Howard would introduce his readers to the wicked world of Conan where only the brave can stand. Here we see Evil has won and the heroes are in hiding, regrouped, and desperate to make one final lunge against all tyranny they’ve ever had to face.

The world is in peril as all three major evils of Eternia make their move across the lands to conquer and control. The Snake Men have united with the Evil Horde which is already bad enough, but Skeletor’s evil forces scour the land hunting down the broken Masters’ hiding spot. The story opens with a picture of Skeletor making his way secretly into the cavernous ways leading to the heart of the Masters’ HQ.

Ever the cunning one, Skeletor plots to undo his old master and stomp his boot happily into the face of King Hiss. After all, King Hiss has, at this point, driven Skeletor from his throne at Snake Mountain and claimed ownership back from him. We’re not told how that happened in the comics but it was explored in the 200X cartoon. So Skeletor is on a personal mission for revenge.

And the Sorceress has been killed. These are the darkest days of the planet and the greatest threat He-Man has ever encountered. To me, that alone, the Sorceress being dead right at the start, was a shocker. I mean this tale isn’t fucking around at all. And it only gets wilder from here. I’ve said it before but I have to say it again, this is swords and sorcery at its damn finest!

Being the daughter of the Sorceress Teela has taken on the role but lacks both the experience and knowledge her mother had. Fun fact: Teela is more of a clone of the Sorceress. At one point Skeletor meant to clone the Sorceress in order to raise her to be his own minion. But when his attempt failed the Sorceress determined the clone child should be allowed to experience life outside the walls of Castle Grayskull. A life where she could make friends and connect with people, something Teela was able to do. And those bonds made her stronger than she realized.

Actually, come to think of it, I believe this might have been when the Sorceress was in fact the Goddess and not the Sorceress at all. At least not yet. At some point back in the minicomics her original role (the Goddess) was traded for the other but essentially she was the same character. The Goddess had cool green skin and wore sexy cobra armor, that being the only real difference between the two. Well either way that’s how the two women were related to one another in one reality. So some say Teela is the daughter of the Sorceress whereas in another reality she’s her clone.

Whatever the case may be she now finds the pivotal role placed on her shoulders and all of its burdens with it.

To further weigh her down, Teela’s father, Man-at-Arms has been changed into one of the Snake Men and is serving to undo all the Masters personally. The world darkens all around He-Man and his company.

However, at Eternia’s darkest hour, when all seems to be lost and Evil reigns on all sides, ancient prophecies are suddenly fulfilled with the return of past kings who come to lend their swords and might against the enemies of righteousness.

King Randor and his father both return to aid He-Man and the Masters rejoice. Skeletor will soon have to contend with not only He-Man, his nephew, but now his brother and father are both returned from the dead. It’s not the reunion he was expecting.

Along with these old kings, another miracle is in the making. Three archaic towers from Eternia’s ancient past rise out of their slumber and the mighty three edifices of Preternia are restored, beacons of undying hope and power returned to glory. 

But the hour of many happy meetings doesn’t last long. The Masters still have a menacing triad of evil masters and all their forces to deal with. Skeletor has proven to be threat enough over the years but with the shocking restoration of King Hiss and the untimely appearance of the Evil Horde things are very grim. Also in a strange twist of fate, King Hiss now holds the Havoc Staff thus multiplying the tyrant’s evil might.

Skeletor is pissed. Being run out of his home at Snake Mountain and losing his staff to Hiss have proven to be unpleasant. In a stroke of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of thinking Skeletor knows that if anyone has the power to defeat the Snake Men it’s none other than He-Man, which is why he’s gone through so much trouble hunting him down.

The new Sorceress reveals to He-Man that this isn’t the first encounter the Masters have had with the Snake Men and – as unstoppable as they may seem – the ancient Masters were able to vanquish them from existence. It is crucial for He-Man to learn the secret used against King Hsss and his minions from days long passed.

Who Is King Hsss?

The Snake Men first appeared back in the original ‘80s toy line and won over the hearts of fans instantly. I remember the utter joy of getting hold of such figures like Tung Lasher, Squeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (ok I over did it but I don’t care), and, oh hells yeah, the infamous King Hiss. Let’s be honest the Snake Men were some of the absolute best-looking villains to hit toy stores at the time once again proving how MOTU could completely out-badass itself time and time again.

Rattlor was another favorite of mine. The guy was a mother fuckin’ rattlesnake man of all things and it doesn’t get much more METAL than that, my friends. He also had an extendible head giving him ‘strike’ action against the Masters. I think he had a cool rattlesnake tail too. So the Snake Men were a big deal upon their initial release. 

At the time a need for a new bad guy was being passed around at Mattel and someone suggested snakes. The logic behind it was ‘Hey even Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes.’ And so it just took off. 

And King Hiss was master over these slithering monsters. He is ancient and evil, a monster pretending to be a man to lure innocent victims to their imminent doom. His exterior skin is very human-like and beguiles all to his actual persona hiding beneath a veiled layer of human flesh. Originally King Hiss was introduced to He-Man and played as a faux friend to the hero in order to win the champion’s trust. But the ruse could not last long and He-Man saw through the fiend’s falsehood real quick. 

When King Hiss reveals his true nature the human skin is shed and a lashing body of hissing snakes is exposed underneath. He’s a hissing coil of many vipers, each one sharing the same mind. He is a demon among men, a serpent hiding behind a garden of flesh. It’s so classic and apocalyptic.

Now I’m a proud snake owner and can honestly say my Uru is the most chill little dude ever. Wouldn’t hurt you in the least and is the sweetest snake I’ve ever met. Certainly anything but a symbol of pure evil. The worst thing he’s capable of doing is overeating and getting a bit fat. Oh so scary…

bestest lil buddy in the world

But I get it, people think snakes are scary so it works. It also hits us on a spiritual level, or to employ an archetypal reference of evil just imagine Lucifer lurking in Paradise to bring about the ruination of mankind all the while being in the guise of a serpent. It’s classic and readily recognizable. John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost can’t help but come to mind here.

art by Gustave Dore ‘Paradise Lost’

Snakes being the representation of evil is an archaic motif that’s been refined from as far back as the sacred writings of Genesis to more modern literature like Harry Potter. It resounds within us in many ways. Bottom line: King Hiss was a brilliant new addition to MOTU.

Anyway, the original toy was built in a way that hid the snake’s body beneath a shell-like exterior. When the Classics line finally released their take on the slithering king they ended up making a few different versions. They couldn’t find a way to emulate a snake shedding off human skin and if they had could you imagine how amazing that would’ve been? So ultimately the Four Horsemen ended up giving fans different figures of the character to fully display his devilish metamorphosis. 

King Hsss and the Snake Men were not featured in the Filmation cartoon but were the main villains in season 2 of the 200X series where their menace was finally explored. In it, we learn that Snake Mountain was the original lair of King Hsss and his minions. Now that makes sense, but I also love how Skeletor took ownership of the place (years later of course) because it just looked evil AF and scary as all Hell. Totally a Skeletor move. 

Fun fact: the giant snake coiled around Snake Mountain is revealed to actually be an ancient serpent god solidified by magic, and King Hsss brings him back to life. It’s so badass and I can’t stop singing the 200X series’ praise.  Seriously that just works too well. You look at that giant snake and it’s not too difficult to imagine it could be a petrified god. Sure, why the Hell not? I love it. Why is no one making movies about this?!? This is a gold mine for games and movies!

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the Snake Men and their evil king with very sparing details out there to help fill in the blanks despite what research I do. To my limited knowledge, King Hsss (and yes, both spellings ‘King Hiss’ and ‘King Hsss’ are correct) hasn’t been given an extensive background story, unlike either Skeletor or Hordak. Oh Hell, even Horde Prime has a deeper background out there. King Hsss is left as a mystery and almost on purpose. As if he’s not supposed to be remembered or something. And that makes him even more fascinating. There’s a mystique and dangerous curiosity about him. And really that’s nothing short of what we’d come to expect out of a slithery character like him.

What little we do actually know about the Snake Men is they’re very ancient and first appeared during the warring reign of King Grayskull. That was about five-thousand years before Prince Adam was born. During a time not unlike what He-Man and the Masters are dealing with now, King Grayskull was met with the powers of both the Snake Men and the Evil Horde. Both forces misjudged the righteous king and met their ends quickly.

To this effect, He-Man must travel back through time and enter Preternia in hopes of learning the secret behind their enemies’ defeat.

So the battle to save the future starts in the past as He-Man heeds the words of the Sorceress and enters a world of dinosaurs and snake demons. But hot on his heels is Skeletor who secretly follows close behind and enters Preternia with plans of his own.

Straight away He-Man finds a band of Snake Men tormenting a captured Bionatops, one of the bio-mechanic dinosaur varieties this world has to offer.

Being warned by the Sorceress to not interfere too much with things in the past, He-Man promptly ignores her and leaps down from his hiding spot and kicks the unsuspecting Snake Men’s asses, then sends them back to their slithering king in shame. He frees the captured bionatop and quickly wins over a new companion. Good thing too because this thing could either have gored him to death or shot his head off.

Unbeknownst to He-Man a powerful friend watches in secret, approving of his valiant rescue of the poor creature and his assault against the Snake Men. We learn this is none other than He-Ro, the most powerful wizard in the universe and a very good ally to have on your side. He-Ro doesn’t introduce himself right away but keeps nearby to observe He-Man’s actions a little further. Something about He-Man reminds He-Ro of King Grayskull.

Meanwhile, Skeletor has seen the whole thing take place and wisely recognizes a golden opportunity at hand. So as He-Man rides out across the prehistoric landscape Skeletor reveals himself to Hiss as an interdimensional demon.

Skeletor knows he can easily crush two birds with one stone here and warns King Hiss about a troublesome uprising at hand and naturally blames the Masters for it. Just then Snake Men return with reports that an upstart human disrupted their fun in the jungles. Someone dared to challenge them at their own game. The words of the skull-faced demon ring true in the king’s ears and with a possible resistance on the rise King Hiss strikes in anger.

Outraged, King Hiss sends forth his evil forces to punish nearby villages and root out the man daring enough to rebel against him. King Hiss isn’t missing out on the fun this time around though and mounts his ferocious Tyrantisaurus Rex and rides out.

Skeletor sits back delighted by all the destruction he’s managed in such little time. With any luck, his enemies will destroy one another leaving way for a hassle-free future for him to rule.

Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for now otherwise we’ll all be here for hours. And believe me, I could go on for hours more when it comes to this stuff. We’ve only just scratched the surface and this is just the first minicomic in the saga.

There’s plenty more for us to cover in the next part so be sure to keep checking in for the conclusion of the Final Battle saga and the linked fates of He-Man and Skeletor.

Manic out!