"I" Has The Power

In the past year we've seen the wildly successful re-launches of G.I. Joe and Transformers, followed by last week's release of a Micronauts revival. Wildstorm announced a Thundercats book for August, and Image is already counting the money on Alex Ross' Battle Of The Planets.

But in this huge wave of nostalgia, one of the most outrageously successful properties of the 1980's has remained curiously without a comics license. Last summer at conventions everywhere, Mattel displayed revamped figures of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, to great response. A few "retro" packages have been offered through J.C. Penney's and other outlets. So far, the revival of Eternia has been rather low-key.

Faster than you can say "by the power of Grayskull," that's about to change.

Image Comics announced on Monday that they will be publishing He-Man starting in November, a book developed by MV Creations. (Similar to the deal with the G.I. Joe and Micronauts books, which are actually done by Devil's Due Studios and published by Image.)

"It's a dream come true for all of us here," said Val Staples, President of MV Creations. "We've been working closely with Mattel via our web site for almost two years to relay important brand news to the fans. Then, early this spring we completed a special promotional comic and other exciting promotional items to be released later this year with the toy line. Producing the new comic series was more than we ever could have hoped for."

Initially, MV and Image will release a four-issue mini-series that ties in with a new animated series airing on the Cartoon Network's Toonami block. (For promotional art on that, click here.) After that release, they will do an ongoing series that focuses on individual characters and moves away from some of the campier elements associated with He-Man. We have no idea what they mean by that, as some of our best friends are cowardly gay tigers.

"While the comic must revolve around the saga of the new toy line and cartoon, the story within won't be treated as just a rehash of the past. We will explore areas fans have wondered about for years, and the comic will lead up to things no one ever expected," continued Staples.

Though Staples will be the main writer on the series, he promises surprising guest-stars telling tales of their own in the He-Man universe. The ongoing artists will be Emiliano Santalucia and Marco Failla, both from Italy.

In addition, the first issue sports three alternate covers: one by Santalucia, one by J. Scott Campbell, and a special wrap-around cover by painter Earl Norem. If that name sounds familiar to fans of He-Man, it's because he painted the covers to the He-Man and The Masters of the Universe fan magazine of the 1980's. Norem has come out of retirement for this issue.

"We are very excited to have Image Comics and MV Creations on board for the relaunch of Masters of the Universe," said Mattel's Marketing Director, Geoff Walker. "This is one of the largest action figure launches in Mattel's history. The role of comic books in extending the storyline to our fans is very important. Image and MV Creations have shown the passion for He-man that we believed necessary to create an incredible comic. Additionally, fans of J. Scott Campbell and Earl Norem are in for a special treat with their interpretations of He-man."

It seems odd that in this flurry of revivals Marvel has not jumped onboard, especially after losing the rights to reprint their own Transformers material. Of course, they could have something up their sleeve…how about Crystar? Sectaurs? Stretch Armstrong, anyone?

Derek McCaw


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