When DC relaunched the He-Man franchise back in 2012, I rejoiced. I grew up watching the cartoons, specifically the classic and awesome Filmation stuff, and I used to collect the action figures as well, so I have a long association with the franchise. The reboot, so to speak, was certainly quite an interesting thing, and while it got off a little weird, it developed very well as time went on. And then, after the initial six-issue mini-series and the various one-shots, we got the ongoing title He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which too has been great, much better in fact, with Dan Abnett on the writing duties and Pop Mhan on the art.
Last week’s He-Man: The Eternity War #1 is the first in a new series for the franchise, following on from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #19 last month which was the final issue of that no-longer ongoing series. Whereas that issue was a one-off by a different creative team, He-Man: The Eternity War #1 gets back on track with Dan Abnett’s meta-story of He-Man and She-Ra’s big fight against Hordak and all that he represents. Recently the leader of the Dark Horde gained access to an item he has long sought, which finally helps him break free of the shadow realm of Despondos and manifest mortally in Eternia, kicking off what I think are the final stages of the Horde’s occupation of Eternia and Hordak’s own downfall.
First off, the cover. Stejpan Sejic is one of my favourite cover artists in the entire industry, and he has been doing some of the recent covers on the main series, and he also gets to do the same on this series as well. And he pretty much knocks it out of the park. He-Man, She-Ra, Teela and the Masters of the Universe against the combined forces of Skeletor and Hordak? It is an awesome composition, by far, and I love that She-Ra is pretty much the star of this cover, as she should be, being one of the best characters in the franchise.
In the issue itself, we see how Hordak breaks free of the banishment bonds placed on him by the ancient King Grayskull, almost a thousand years ago, and his plans for the heroes as he finally steps on to Eternia and gains access to the deepest secrets of Castle Grayskull. It is quite the riveting issue, and it also contains tons of action, which I loved. Sure, there’s often quite a bit of exposition as well since Dan Abnett’s work on the series at large has done much to expand on the old classic characters and events, giving them a much more modern spin than I could have imagined.
The stars of this issue are definitely Hordak and Man-at-Arms, each of whom gets some really badass scenes, even as Dan Abnett throws in a little catch-up for any reader who might have missed out on Dan’s 12 issues on the main series and thus might hirself a bit lost as to the story. As is usual with Dan’s work, the characters get a great outing and the writer devotes a seemingly equal amount of time to all of them, whether the heavy-hitters like He-Man and She-Ra and Hordak, or the supporting cast such as Man-at-Arms. Makes for quite a good story, all things told.
There’s a fairly big reveal at the end of the issue, which was something I did kind of expect after a throwaway line from Teela earlier on in the issue, and I think that Hordak is going to find himself a bit… challenge for all the power he holds now. Can’t wait to see more of that, truly!
Pop Mhan is the artist here with Mark Roberts on colours, Deron Bennett on letters and Stjepan on the cover, as I’ve said before. As with the work that Pop did on the main series, I loved his pencils here as well. He definitely has a very strong idea of how each character should look and behave, which translates really well in the finished version. The characters can sometimes be a bit too bulky or too slim-and-trim, but by and large, it works out rather well. And then we have Mark’s colours, which complement Pop’s art really well and help give it some strong sense of mood and direction as well.
A great start to a new phase in DC’s He-Man franchise, and I hope that it sticks around for a good while!