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He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
The Beginning

Nothing can give you that sense of '80's flashback like He-Man does. The big muscles, the big castles, the big swords, and now, to no one's surprise, a big comeback. But if you think you know The Masters of the Universe, think again. This new series has been set in a slightly altered continuum, which might take you by surprise.

Rather than giving us He-Man right off, we start with Keldor attacking the Chamber of Elders. Captain Randor warns the council of this evil invasion, but the Elders already know of this plot. Everything is okay; Randor will be king and drive the evil away.

With that said, the first battle occurs, introducing us to Keldor (a very handsome blue man) and his army, many of whom look very familiar. Once the battle ends, Keldor throws a vial of acid on to Randor, but it is deflected and sprayed instead onto Keldor's face. Get the WB's lawyers on the phone.

Temporarily vanquished, the evil will rise again in accordance with prophecy. But a new hero will rise to meet it.

Twenty odd years later, Eternia is a peaceful land, and everyone is happy. A young and significantly smaller than in the last series Prince Adam lounges around the castle, a typical teen slacker. When Skeletor and his minions break down the Mystic Wall, The Sorceress and Man-At-Arms ask Adam to take on the responsibility of becoming He-Man. Of course, being the brat that he is, he refuses and walks away. Soon, though, Adam gets a wakeup call when Skeletor and friends attack Eternia. No match for this new threat, in desperation, Adam returns to Castle Grayskull to become He-Man.

Originally intended to be a two parter, the pilot has obviously been padded. The first and third half-hours are full of action and dialogue, while the middle drags out, with not a lot of talking and a whole lot of posing shots.

Nevertheless, the overall production of this show was extremely well done, and much better than expected. Despite its nostalgic factor, remember that it is ultimately a kids' show, but can be enjoyed and appreciated by an adult, and of course the young at heart.

The style of animation is not entirely anime; it still holds that classic old He-Man/GIJOE era American style art with a hint of anime style quality. The fighting sequences are definitely without a doubt KUNG FU to the max! While cool, it's still a little jarring to see a man in loincloth, studs, and big muscles doing the kung fu grip stuff.

Though favorite characters exist in this new continuity, they have some major differences. Cringer doesn't speak. Orko sounds like Urkle, so maybe he shouldn't speak, either. Adam thankfully doesn't look very much at all like He-Man, hence a secret identity that may work believably. Eternians think of Castle Grayskull as an old abandoned place, with nothing interesting to offer.

Overall the characters are well thought out. You do have to get used to Skeletor's "Nyek Nyek" menacing voice, and the "Duh Golly" accent of Clawman/Lobster Man/Somebody Help Me Out With The Name Man.

Hats off to the team bringing back this series. Snake Mountain looks menacing as ever with lots of lava. The art is fantastic, with contrasting coloring used between the good guys and the bad guys. They give a lot of variety to the world of Eternia. For those who worried, Teela is of course a hottie you would not want to tread on. Mer-man, Beast-man, Ram-man, Mekaneck, etc., all have personalities you can to some degree know what they are all about without them saying much or doing much.

With so many characters, having been a fan in the '80's helps get you into the show more quickly. But unsuspecting young audiences are still going to eat it up. It looks like once again, it's not He-Man but Mattel that is the power.

Mish'al Samman

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