UK London Editions Comics

Issue #15

Release Date: October 1986

Stories:

The Mightiest Warrior

Taming the Dragons

Demon Attack

Cover by: José María Ortiz Tafalla

This issue’s cover features an illustration from the story “The Mightiest Warrior”.

This issue’s intro page is notable for making the first announcement of the upcoming Masters of the Universe live action movie! Scrollos shares some suggestions from a fan who has written in, for actors who could play the characters – though this fan’s suggestion for the role of Man-At-Arms is rather, um… unusual…

This issue’s Orko the Magician strip features Orko casting a spell to make a wizard’s hat in his hand disappear, but the spell causes Orko himself to disappear, the spell having apparently affected the hat on his head. As a child I always felt cheated that this panel did not show Orko without his hat!

****

Story 1: “The Mightiest Warrior”
Writer: Tom Sweetman
Art: José María Ortiz Tafalla

Synopsis: The annual Games of Eternia are taking place, and He-Man and Man-At-Arms are competing against one another in a wrestling match in the final. The judge declares He-Man to be the winner, and the Eternians celebrate. Above Eternia, in a strange ship stationed near the planet, an alien being called The Collector has been watching the games in secret. Upon seeing He-Man declared the mightiest warrior on Eternia, The Collector activates the Matter Distortion Device on his ship, to beam He-Man on board. As He-Man, Teela and Orko celebrate He-Man’s victory, Teela and Orko are astonished to see He-Man suddenly vanishing before their very eyes, and within seconds he has dematerialized into empty air. He-Man materializes on board The Collector’s spacecraft, where he sees hundreds of living warriors imprisoned inside large glass tubes. The Collector imprisons He-Man in one of the tubes, and explains that he is travelling the stars in search of the strongest champion from each planet. Once he has collected the strongest warrior from each world, he intends to bring them to his homeworld of Torgo, where they will take part in the Galactic Games. Back on Eternia, Man-At-Arms is investigating He-Man’s mysterious disappearance, and uses one of his machines to pick up a small trace of the energy that spirited He-Man away. He follows, and Man-At-Arms begins to dematerialize in the same way that He-Man did before. On board The Collector’s spacecraft, Man-At-Arms finds the imprisoned He-Man, but is quickly attacked by The Collector’s robotic slave. He tricks the robot into smashing into the ship’s control panel, destroying it, and the capsules begin to open, setting each warrior free. The Collector immediately flees the ship in his escape pod, and one of the freed warriors agrees with He-Man that he will work to return every single captive to their homeworld. He-Man declares that although he may be the stronger one, it was Man-At-Arms’ courage and bravery that saved the day, and he and Man-At-Arms return to Eternia.

Review: The Filmation He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series was notable for expanding the universe of MOTU by introducing, after its initial run of episodes with Skeletor as the villain, a whole host of new independent non-toy villains who would make their own stand against He-Man and Eternia for a single episode. After a string of adventures featuring either Skeletor or Hordak as the villain, the London Editions comic now begins following suit by bringing in its own independent villains to challenge He-Man. The first of these is The Collector, who makes his first of two appearances in this highly memorable story written by Tom Sweetman.

We begin with a scene taking place in the streets of Eternos City, with He-Man and Man-At-Arms engaging in a friendly wrestling match to decide the winner of the annual Games of Eternia. (Teela’s red cape is an interesting additional touch to the character’s usual appearance here.) The scene is set nicely here for the story, with He-Man proving himself the strongest warrior by overpowering Man-At-Arms in friendly combat – but it will be Man-At-Arms who saves He-Man from danger in this story, by using his brains over brawn. We switch our attention to the story’s villain – the strange alien creature known as The Collector, drawn with a distinctive appearance, wearing a strange appendage over his left eye. The Collector is travelling the stars capturing heroes from different planets to serve his own purposes, and fans of the cartoon series may note the similarity with one-off villains from the show such as the Game Master and Slave Master, who operated in very similar ways.

Orko’s line of dialogue on the following panel is interesting: “I am pleased that I managed to put aside my studies long enough to enjoy the games.” Not generally considered a particularly studious character, it is interesting to think of Orko spending the majority of his time studying (presumably studying magic techniques) and in my opinion it is a nice touch, in-keeping with the UK Comics’ general portrayal of the character as being much more intelligent and wise than he usually let on.

The method of He-Man’s capture is one of the most memorable points of this story, and indeed made the issue’s cover image. He-Man suddenly starts to vanish into empty air, in front of Orko and Teela, both of who are left perplexed as to what has caused this. Teela’s response to Man-At-Arms, as he enquires as to where He-Man is, is a great dramatic touch as Man-At-Arms comes out to congratulate He-Man, only to be told by Teela that He-Man “is no more!”.

He-Man is shown materializing on board The Collector’s ship, and is overpowered by sleep gas before being imprisoned. The Collector addressing He-Man as ‘savage’ is a particularly interesting touch, especially since the earliest MOTU minicomics packaged with the first wave of action figures very much portrayed He-Man as a savage barbarian, an angle that was toned down significantly by subsequent MOTU media throughout the 80s. The Collector explains his scheme, to bring all his captives to his homeworld of Torgo where he will force them to compete in the Galactic Games. It is not made clear exactly what is The Collector’s reason for this or what he hopes to gain. Presumably he hopes to find the mightiest warrior of all to aid him in his own conquests – but either way, it is good to leave things to the reader’s imagination once in a while.

Back on Eternia, Man-At-Arms has used one of his devices to pick up a trace of the energy that spirited He-Man away, and does not hesitate to follow, content to risk his life to save his ally. We get a striking panel depicting Man-At-Arms’ shock at seeing the unconscious He-Man trapped within the glass tube on board The Collector’s ship, followed by a battle sequence with The Collector’s robotic slave. Fans of more contemporary MOTU media will enjoy his addressing the robot as ‘faceless one’ given that that is now the name of a very popular character introduced to the mythos by the 2002 cartoon series by Mike Young Productions!

Man-At-Arms has no trouble using his strategic battle skills and power of foresight to trick the robot into smashing into the computer console, destroying the control panel and enabling the captives to escape. The disadvantages of the limitations of space in the comic show here, since it seems unfortunate that there is no direct confrontation between the captives and The Collector following their escape – rather, The Collector has already escaped before they have the chance; knowing he cannot risk facing the hundreds of warriors he beats a hasty retreat in his escape pod. But it is not the last we will see of him; he will return in Issue #21 which reveals what happened to him after he escaped (interestingly this second story depicted him with a completely different appearance, far more human-looking).

The warriors He-Man has freed are given interesting appearances, most of them resembling warriors from various periods of Earth’s own history – there’s a Viking warrior, a Roman, a desert sheikh and an Indian yogi shown here. He-Man then delivers the story’s moral, that even though he is physically stronger than Man-At-Arms as proved in the story’s opening, it was Man-At-Arms’ courage and quick thinking that saved the day – “Anybody can be strong if they are good in heart and deed.”

In classic MOTU tradition, the story ends with a joke and the characters laughing, although I personally think it would have been more suitable had He-Man been the one who had reacted to the word ‘collection’ the way Man-At-Arms does here, since he was the one captured by The Collector.

Coming from one of the newer writers for the comic, Tom Sweetman, this is a great story that introduces a strong and memorable new villain in the form of The Collector, and becomes one of the few stories to take us off-world away from Eternia, for a brilliant adventure with a strong moral message and a great showcase of the bond that He-Man and Man-At-Arms share as friends and comrades. A more than effective start to Issue #15 of the comic!

****

This issue’s letters page features Scrollos’ first hints of the upcoming “Secret Files of Scrollos” series telling the origins of the characters, which will debut in a few issues’ time.

****

Story 2: “Taming the Dragons”
Writer: James Hill
Art: José María Ortiz Tafalla

Synopsis: Chief Tomar, the leader of a nomadic tribe in the Seriffin Desert, is welcoming Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms to his desert camp, having been sent on behalf of King Randor following a call for help. The chief explains that his tribe have recently come under attack by a rare species of Desert Dragon which are usually timid creatures, but have suddenly become uncontrollably ferocious and begun attacking them. As the chief explains the situation, the camp is attacked by the dragons again, and Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms join Chief Tomar and his warriors in an attempt to battle against the creatures. Adam is overpowered by the hypno-mist sprayed by one of the dragons, and falls into a trance, wandering the desert in a confused, disoriented state before eventually collapsing from exhaustion. Meanwhile, in Snake Mountain, Skeletor has heard about the dragons’ attack on the tribe and feels the creatures will make useful pets. He has forged a set of mystical chains that will make the dragons completely loyal to him, and sets out in the Spydor towards the Seriffin Desert. Back at the camp, Man-At-Arms and the tribespeople have finally managed to overpower and cage the dragons, but Prince Adam is nowhere to be seen. Chief Tomar organizes a search party, and the tribe eventually find Prince Adam’s unconscious body collapsed in the desert. Chief Tomar revives the prince with herbal medicine, and they return to the camp, only to find that the camp has been attacked by Skeletor in their absence, who has freed the dragons and made off with them. Prince Adam transforms into He-Man and uses the Attak Trak to follow the trail left by Skeletor. When he finally catches up with Skeletor, He-Man attacks the Spydor from behind and hurls a strong net around three of the dragons, imprisoning them. Before he can imprison the fourth one, He-Man receives a blast from Skeletor’s staff, and returns fire with his sword, as a hole opens in the ground, which Skeletor slips down. He-Man approaches the hole to follow, but is taken unawares by the remaining free dragon, which leaps down the hole itself. He-Man attempts to follow, but finds both Skeletor and the dragon gone, Skeletor having been led to safety by the dragon, which has become completely loyal to him. Prince Adam returns to the camp to deliver the news that Skeletor has made off with the remaining dragon, which has become his pet.

Review: This is the second story from new writer James Hill, who made his debut two issues previous with Issue #13’s “The Reality Shaper” – a Twilight Zone-esque story which proved a mindblowing debut, and the comic’s darkest and most surreal story to date. He follows up this masterful debut with “Taming the Dragons” and his second story is an equally stunning effort – notably more sombre in tone than most stories in the comic, “Taming The Dragons” has a real feel of classic desert movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Sheik, as well as an almost tragic note with its theme of innocent endangered animals falling prey to Skeletor’s evil.

The story opens in a particularly memorable fashion, with a flash forward sequence of Prince Adam wandering the desert in a zombie-like trance before collapsing from exhaustion. The only story in the comics so far to begin in such a manner, this scene is a direct homage to the classic sequence in Lawrence of Arabia, in which Omar Sharif rides towards the viewer from the distance, getting progressively closer over time. José María Ortiz Tafalla’s illustration of the colossal sun shining over the sands of the Seriffin Desert, through searing desert mists, is a truly stunning illustration that sets the scene beautifully for this gripping story. The reader will naturally be intrigued as to what could have caused Prince Adam of all people to wander the desert in such a trance, and from these unusual beginnings the story shifts back several hours to a scene of Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms being welcomed to the camp of a nomadic desert tribe.

We are introduced to the leader of the tribe, Chief Tomar, who is explaining how his tribe have suddenly started coming under attack from the usually timid Desert Dragons, which typically spend their time tunnelling beneath the sand, but have suddenly begun raiding the nomads’ camp for no apparent reason. (James Hill borrowed the idea of the dragons’ sand tunnelling from the sandworms in the film Dune.) An interesting touch here is the reference to the dragons being protected by royal decree, indicating King Randor and his court are actively protecting endangered species on Eternia (Man-At-Arms also refers here to the Royal Nature Reserve, where they intend to place the dragons once they have been caught).

With the sudden attack on the camp by the dragons, the tribesmen spring into action. Man-At-Arms attempts to excuse Prince Adam from the battle so he may have the opportunity to slip away and become He-Man, but Chief Tomar reacts in a very similar way to what we would usually expect from King Randor – quickly berating Adam as a ‘coward’ for being unwilling to participate in the fight and insisting he join the combat to cure him of his ‘foppish ways’! He seems genuinely taken aback in disbelief at the idea of a prince being unwilling to enter combat, and so coerces the reluctant Adam to join the camp in battle. This results in Adam falling victim to one of the dragons’ clouds of hypno-mist, which causes him to enter a trace state, leading to his predicament as seen at the story’s beginning.

The scene then shifts to Skeletor in Snake Mountain. Naturally, the reader would expect that the sudden change in the dragons’ behaviour would be the work of the evil forces, but it seems Skeletor has nothing to do with it – rather he has been informed of the attacks by the dragons and feels they would make useful pets. It is never actually explained why the dragons have suddenly become aggressive, but the air of mystery is if anything a positive touch, conveying the unpredictability and constant danger present on Eternia. Skeletor sets out in the Spydor for the Seriffin Desert, intent on using his mystical chains, forged in the fires of Snake Mountain, to make the dragons completely subservient to him.

The scene switches back to the desert camp, where the nomads, with Man-At-Arms’ assistance, have managed to successfully overpower the dragons and imprison them. We see here that despite the seemingly primitive nature of the tribe, they have advanced technological weaponry at their command, and this is a great touch conveying the fusion on Eternia of primitive lifestyles merged with science and technology. (Writer James Hill commented on this: “I like the visual disconnect of primitive weapons like swords married to more advanced tech, so Tomar and his nomadic tribe probably came about because of my fondness for that sort of thing.” See our Interview With James Hill for more detail!)

Once Adam’s absence is noted, Chief Tomar sends out a search party, and once Adam is found, collapsed unconscious in the desert, the chief revives him with herbal medicine and they return to the camp, only to find it has been attacked by Skeletor, who has made off with the dragons. The nomad’s description of “a living skeleton riding a giant mechanical spider” is a great touch, and we get a real sense of how horrific Skeletor and his machinations must appear to the inhabitants of this desert environment.

Finally Adam is able to become He-Man and take off after Skeletor, and there follows the battle sequence between He-Man in the Attak Trak and Skeletor in the Spydor. The Spydor is a particularly effective vehicle to use here, and we can just imagine this ghastly mechanical spider monster crawling menacingly through the desert environment, perfectly evoking classic sci-fi and monster movies. We also get a phrase previously uttered by Skeletor back in the story “Machine Wars” in Issue #6“By the eternal fires of Sumason” (James Hill has added the word ‘eternal’ to intensify the phrase!) – one of his most memorable catchphrases exclusive to the UK Comics, itself a reference to comics aficionado and colourist Sue Mason! (The Seriffin Desert was to appear again in the Comics, in Issue #4 of the Adventure Magazine which revealed it was the home of Man-E-Faces, who had retreated there to live away from civilization.)

The battle ends in an interesting fashion, with a hole suddenly opening in the ground, which Skeletor slips down, followed by the one remaining dragon. He-Man follows, only to find both Skeletor and the dragon gone, the dragon having used its skill of burrowing under the sands to lead its new master to safety. He-Man, back in the form of Prince Adam, has no choice but to return to the camp and tell Chief Tomar and Man-At-Arms that Skeletor has escaped with one of the dragons, which has been converted to Skeletor’s evil ways.

One of the strongest points of this story is that it emphasizes how real and intense the struggle on Eternia actually is, how unpredictable things are on the planet, and how much the Heroic Warriors need to be on constant guard. We have seen a harmless desert tribe come under attack from savage animals, who have turned savage inexplicably and without explanation – it only adds to the sense of unpredictable danger that we do not understand how or why these normally timid creatures turned that way – and what’s more, Skeletor essentially wins this battle, as he gets more or less exactly what he wanted. While he may not have been able to retain control of all the dragons, he has succeeded in capturing one, which is all he really needs, and a previously harmless creature has become savage and loyal to him, ready to serve his evil ways. While it is not made explicit here, James Hill intended this story as a reference to the recently released Dragon Blaster Skeletor action figure – the dragon he takes with him at the end is meant to be the dragon packaged with that figure, at which the hypno-mist and the presence of the chains nicely hint. Given the dramatic and sombre ending of this story, it seems unfortunate that James Hill never got to write a sequel to it, with Skeletor returning to attack the heroes with his new pet. (The Dragon Blaster Skeletor figure was sadly never showcased in any future issues – not counting the story "Phantom Attack" in Issue #50 reprinted from the German Ehapa comics, which shows the dragon briefly but makes no connection to this story.)

The resolution of this story, like “Machine Wars” in Issue #6, is a reminder that while the heroes may usually win the day (which was, after all, what Mattel wanted to see), the battles of the Masters of the Universe do not always result in happy endings nor is life on Eternia pleasant or easy – the villains do win sometimes, and the damage they cause means Eternia needs to be on constant guard, for the odds could shift in the favour of the evil forces at any moment.

Following on from his debut story, Issue #13’s “The Reality Shaper”, James Hill continues to bring a sombre, emotionally-driven tone to the MOTU comic, and while it was only his second story for the comic, it was to be his last MOTU one for a while, for from hereon he was to write more prominently for the She-Ra comic, continuing in this vein and producing some of the most dramatic and intense stories the She-Ra comic ever saw. He eventually made a return to the MOTU comic with the story “Hordak’s Slime Attack” in Issue #32. James felt that his inclination for melancholy, emotional stories was considered better suited for the She-Ra comic than MOTU – but given the staggeringly brilliant quality of the stories he contributed to the MOTU comic, it really is a shame he did not write more regularly for this – his approach expanded the mythos beautifully beyond the straightforward action fantasy premise, endearing the comic to older readers and developing the characters and world of Eternia in mesmerising ways.

Either way, in these still relatively early stages of the comic’s run, James Hill’s two contributions so far, “Taming the Dragons” and “The Reality Shaper” stand as twin peaks of excellence within the London Editions canon, easily among the comic’s strongest and deepest stories. As a homage to classic desert movies fleshed out with bits of vintage sci-fi, and a captivating story resulting in a rare victory for Skeletor, “Taming the Dragons” is an example of the London Editions comics at their very best – a true winner and the strongest story of this issue.

****

Story 3: “Demon Attack”
Writer: Unknown
Art: Amador Garcia

Synopsis: Prince Ter’ryl from the kingdom of the Outer Lands is visiting Eternos City on a goodwill visit. The young prince is getting along very well with Orko, who boasts to him that he is the greatest magician of all, and sets to prove it by casting a spell to magic a Bloppleberry Flower from the farthest planet in the universe. But as Orko does not have the same control over his magic on Eternia as he had on his homeworld, the spell goes wrong and a hole opens in the fabric of space, which sucks Orko and Prince Ter’ryl right in. Out of the hole emerges Krrylak the Mighty, the most evil demon in the thousand dimensions. Krrylak takes advantage of his emergence in Eternia’s dimension to conquer the whole universe, and makes his way to Castle Grayskull, attacking The Sorceress and imprisoning her in his Orb of Darkness. Meanwhile, Krrylak’s Demon Horde is attacking Eternos City, and the Heroic Warriors are doing their best to fend off the assault, but they are no match for such a powerful army. Watching the assault on Eternos from Snake Mountain, Skeletor is concerned, knowing that if the Heroic Warriors fall to Krrylak’s horde, the demons will inevitably defeat him and his Evil Warriors as well. As much as he dislikes the idea, he realizes he must help the Heroic Warriors in this battle, and teleports to the Royal Palace of Eternos, where he surprises the Heroic Warriors by offering his assistance. Meanwhile, Orko and Ter’ryl have been transported to Krrylak’s Netherworld, where they find themselves attacked by gruesome creatures and man-eating plants. While Orko is able to use his magic to fend off some of these threats, he knows he can only hold this up for so long. Back in Grayskull, He-Man is doing battle against Krrylak himself, and Krrylak is attempting to lay siege to the entire castle. He-Man receives a telepathic message from The Sorceress, trapped in the orb. She tells him he must use the magical Lodestone of the Ancients, hidden in a secret compartment beneath her throne, to defeat Krrylak. The lodestone turns any metal it touches temporarily into a magnet, so He-Man retrieves the artefact and rubs it against his sword, magnetizing the sword. He then uses the sword to attract Krrylak’s ring, to which the Orb of Darkness is attached. He-Man drops a large boulder on the orb, crushing it and freeing The Sorceress, who uses her magic to reopen the rift in space and transport Krrylak and his Demon Horde back to their Netherworld. Back at Eternos, the entire Demon Horde vanish, drawn back to their own dimension. The Sorceress then rescues Orko and Ter’ryl from Krrylak’s Netherworld, and Orko promises not to boast again – at least not for the rest of the day. He-Man makes sure Orko will keep his word by gagging him, to the amusement of The Sorceress and Ter’ryl.

Review: We have seen a touch of H. P. Lovecraft influence in the MOTU comic before, notably in Issue #8, in which Skeletor brought forth the demon Kallu from his dark netherworld in the story “Riddle of the Sanns”, and the Demon of Desos in “He-Man the Powerless”. “Demon Attack” expands further on the theme of extra-dimensional Netherworld demons by introducing probably the deadliest villain to appear yet in the comic – Krrylak the Mighty, a demon with the power to effortlessly destroy both the Heroic and Evil forces on Eternia.

This enchanting story of occult horror begins with Orko keeping company the young Prince Ter’ryl, who has come from the kingdom of the Outer Lands on a goodwill visit to Eternos City. This story largely places Orko in the spotlight, and while Orko-centred stories are generally expected to take on a light, comedic tone, this one surprises us by diverting in a dark, Gothic direction with Orko’s powers unwittingly unleashing the most evil demon in the thousand dimensions onto Eternia. While he is generally consigned to the Orko The Magician strip at the beginning of each issue, Orko’s rare spotlight stories have already established that he is an extremely powerful wizard; his flaw is purely that his naïvete and rash thinking, plus the fact his magic works less well on Eternia than in his home dimension, mean his magic cannot usually be relied on to protect Eternia from evil. His lack of control over his magic comes very much to the forefront here when a straightforward spell to magic a Bloppleberry Flower to Eternia from another world winds up unleashing onto Eternia perhaps the most deadly threat it has ever seen.

Krrylak is like something straight out of an H. P. Lovecraft novel – his Satanic appearance, complete with red eyes and devil horns, make him one of the most fearsome-looking villains yet to appear in the comics. His dialogue is also written as ‘hissing’ with elongated ‘s’ sounds, suggesting a reptilian element to the character.

No sooner has Krrylak emerged on Eternia than his entire army appears – the Demon Horde – who begin effortlessly laying siege to the Royal Palace of Eternos City. With the Heroic Warriors finding themselves helpless, and He-Man’s power being drained by Krrylak’s orb, rendering He-Man helpless enough that Kryylak is able to smash him into a wall with a mere zap from his ring, all seems lost for the heroes.

We get a great illustration of Skeletor spying on the battle from his crystal ball in Snake Mountain. Trap Jaw, by his side, naively cheers Krrylak on, but Skeletor knows full well that a defeat of He-Man at the hands of Krrylak will mean a defeat for his own evil forces as well, so he has no choice but to side with He-Man and the Heroic Warriors in this battle. In the previous story that focused on a Netherworld demon being unleashed onto Eternia – Issue #8’s “Riddle of the Sanns” – there was no actual combat in the story – although the demon Kallu had the power to destroy all of Eternia, he was banished back to his own dimension by strategic thinking on the part of He-Man and Man-At-Arms, without the need for a single sword to be raised. Here, the demon Krrylak must be defeated by force, and for the first time in the comics, Skeletor and the Heroic Warriors must team up and fight on the same side. Unfortunately there is no direct alliance between Skeletor and He-Man here, for He-Man is being kept busy fighting Krrylak at Grayskull, meaning Skeletor offers his support to the Heroic Warriors, led by Teela and Man-At-Arms at the Royal Palace.

In the meantime, we get two brief scenes taking place in Krrylak’s Netherworld itself, into which Orko and Ter’ryl have been transported. It is good to see these two more youthful heroes having their own adventure together, however briefly, and we see Orko using his magic - which works better in the Netherworld than on Eternia - to fend off a lizard creature before he and Ter’ryl both become trapped by man-eating plants, which Orko causes to shrink before a dragon comes after them.

Back at Grayskull, while Krrylak may be more powerful than He-Man, our hero is still able to outwit him and prove more than a match for him in battle, feigning weakness in order to leap over Krrylak and pull the rug from under him when he is least expecting it. Notice that He-Man has been mistakenly drawn without his harness in the panel where he leaps over Krrylak’s head.

Krrylak is still protected from harm by the power of his orb, and is only further angered by a hero who dares outwit him in such a manner. He begins laying siege to the whole castle, causing part of the walls to crumble, while back at Eternos City, the warriors are hopelessly outnumbered by the Demon Horde, causing Skeletor to make a typically cowardly move and flee the scene, deserting the heroes.

Fortunately, The Sorceress is able to indirectly save the day, by making telepathic contact with He-Man from within the orb, telling him to use the Lodestone of the Ancients to magnetize his sword and use it to attract Krrylak’s ring, onto which the orb is attached. This allows him to drop a huge boulder on the orb, crushing it and releasing The Sorceress, who uses her own magic to banish Krrylak and his entire army back to their Netherworld.

Naturally for an Orko-centric story, the strip ends with a light-hearted joke, Orko promising "not to boast again… well, at least for the rest of the day!" and He-Man gagging him to ensure he keeps his word, to the amusement of The Sorceress and Ter’ryl. This light joking may seem a little trivial in light of the situation Eternia has just faced – after all, Orko’s boasting could potentially have caused the downfall of all Eternia, by unleashing a demon this powerful onto the planet, and so a more serious admonishment by He-Man and The Sorceress may have seemed more appropriate here. But the story stays within the upbeat spirit expected of an Orko story and ends on a high note.

This is an important story for showing just how powerful Orko can potentially be, as well as justifying why he keeps his magic for the entertainment of others rather than using it for battle purposes, when its consequences can be this deadly. He does not seem to quite realize the severity of his mistake here, though generally throughout the comics, Orko proved a likeable character who was more than ready to accept his mistakes and flaws, and take action to put them right.

As a story with a Gothic edge to it, bringing elements of occult mythology to the forefront and introducing one of the most deadly and evil guest villains yet, we get the feeling “Demon Attack” could potentially have been an epic three-parter. Krrylak as a character is definitely worthy of it – he seems an embodiment of pure evil, and indeed he has proven popular with readers of the comic, with fans having recently created custom figures of him and called for him to be released as part of the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Nevertheless, as a straightforward six-page story, “Demon Attack” still packs a punch and does a great job of combining its dark, Satanic elements with a fun, comedic and playfully magical edge showcased in the antics of Orko and Ter’ryl. This formula makes for a thrilling, magical and enchanting read for readers of all ages. And it brings to a close a fantastic issue which clearly indicates the comic has taken off into its heyday, full of exciting guest villains and endless thrills and suspense.

****

© Aidan Cross, 2020.

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