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UK London Editions Comics

Issue #23

Release Date: February 1987

Stories:

The Giant of Eternia, part I

The Giant of Eternia, part II

Secret Files of Scrollos, part IV

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Cover by: José María Ortiz Tafalla

This cover depicts a scene from this issue’s 2-part story “The Giant of Eternia”. The tag line ‘Attack of the Fifty-Foot Kobra Khan’ comes, of course, from the classic 1950s sci-fi movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

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In this issue’s editorial, Scrollos invites the readers to send in a map of what they think Eternia looks like. Given the number of locations established in the comics, it would certainly be an interesting task to put together a map of them all, taking into account story continuity (as mentioned in previous reviews, it is often implied in the comics that Eternos City and Snake Mountain are not actually that far apart). Whether any readers rose to this challenge is uncertain, since this challenge was not mentioned again in any future issues.

****

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Story 1: “The Giant of Eternia, part 1”
Writer: Brian Clarke
Art: Amador García

Synopsis: Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms are visiting the summit of Sky Mountain, where they are partaking in a new sport called Cliff Diving, in which the participants dive from the clifftop, the special air from the crater below making the air so dense that they are able to safely swim in it. A short while later they return to Eternos, where He-Man is due to make an appearance, but meanwhile Skeletor is setting about his new plan to disrupt the peace on Eternia. Together with Kobra Khan and Beast Man, Skeletor has ventured to the woodland cottage in which lives Jodder, the reclusive scientist from whom Skeletor previously stole a shrinking potion. Skeletor has heard that Jodder has now created a potion that will turn the user super-big, and he intends to steal the potion and use it on himself so he can crush He-Man with his giant size. After Skeletor’s previous theft from Jodder, the Royal Palace placed security devices in Jodder’s home to prevent Evil Warriors breaking in a second time, but Skeletor is able to use his teleportation powers to bypass the security system, and materializes inside Jodder’s cottage with his henchmen. Skeletor uses a mind-spell to force Jodder to reveal everything about his new potion and hand it over to Skeletor. Skeletor is about to drink the potion, when Jodder recovers his senses and knocks the potion out of Skeletor’s hand – causing it to spill over Kobra Khan instead. Khan absorbs the potion and immediately begins to grow to super-size, and Jodder takes advantage of the Evil Warriors’ distraction to flee the cottage and head to the Royal City to inform He-Man. As Jodder flees, Kobra Khan crashes through the roof of the cottage as he grows to giant size. Although this was not Skeletor’s plan, he decides that with Khan giant-sized he will still be able to use him to physically crush He-Man just as he had planned to himself. Skeletor teleports himself and his henchmen to the Royal City, and as they materialize outside, he orders Khan to attack the Palace – only to find that Khan is back to normal size. But Khan instantly begins growing again, and once he is giant-sized once again, the Heroic Warriors begin attacking him with their weapons and vehicles. But Khan is able to use his mesmerising mist to overpower them, his giant size enabling him to paralyze all the Heroic Warriors at once. He then picks up He-Man and holds him in his hand, ready to crush him…

Review: Like several earlier stories, notably Issue #19's "Buzz-Wheel of Destruction" and She-Ra Issue #7's "Freedom Castle", the idea for this story began with the idea for a comic cover. Says writer Brian Clarke: "The cover was kind of inspired by myself! Or rather the cover idea I had for issue 5. I liked the composition so much that it inspired the giant story. I saw the cover in my mind’s eye first and plotted the story from there." 

 

With the comics so far having focused mainly on the 1985 wave of toys, the most recent additions to UK toy shelves at the time of publication, most characters from earlier waves have received relatively minimal exposure up until this point. Issues #21 and #22 gave the character of Webstor his belated moments in the spotlight, and in this issue it’s Kobra Khan’s turn. The ‘master of snakes’ whose only significant story roles up until now have been supporting roles in Issue #3’s “Jewel of Fire” and Issue #5's "It's A Small World" is finally thrust into the spotlight to become the ‘Giant of Eternia’ of the title.

And with size being the subject of the story, this provides the perfect opportunity to bring back the character of Jodder the scientist, whose shrinking serum caused He-Man to be shrunk to super-small size back in Issue #5’s “It’s A Small World”. (Jodder’s name and appearance having been based on John Cummins, a personal friend of writer and editor Brian Clarke.) This story thus serves as a sequel to the aforementioned one, with Skeletor stealing another of Jodder’s creations for use in his own nefarious schemes.

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The first two-part story in a single issue since Issue #12’s “Hordak’s Satellite”, “The Giant of Eternia” begins with a scene that foreshadows its resolution, opening with Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms partaking in a sport called Cliff Diving atop Sky Mountain, from whose summit they dive, the air from the crater below being so dense that they are able to swim safely in the air as if it were water. (And it looks like it’d be a heck of a fun sport if it were actually possible!) After enjoying themselves, they head back to Eternos, where He-Man is apparently due to make an appearance. This would seem at first to be a plot device to give Adam a reason to be He-Man when the plot switches to the Royal City, but when this moment does come he is still in the form of Prince Adam, so we can only assume whatever engagement he was due to perform had been and gone by this stage.

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The scene switches to the forest where Jodder’s house is located, which we learned in Issue #5 is called the Howling Forest, to which Jodder has retreated from humanity to conduct his experiments in private without being disturbed. Skeletor has heard, presumably from his spies, that Jodder has created a new serum that will make people super-big, apparently by accident when trying to reformulate the shrinking serum from the previous story. Indeed, Skeletor's accomplices here, Beast Man and Kobra Khan, both featured in "It's A Small World", thus adding an extra tourch of continuity with that story. There follows some amusing dialogue from Beast Man as he asks Skeletor “But why would you want to make He-Man super-big? That would only increase his powers.” Skeletor, of course, intends to use the serum on himself, so that he may crush He-Man physically with his own giant size. Skeletor alludes to the security systems that King Randor, at the end of “It’s A Small World”, said he would place in Jodder’s home to prevent evil breaking in again, but Skeletor is able to easily bypass this system by teleporting inside the house. (While we have seen Skeletor teleport in previous stories, the extent of his teleportation abilities and whether there are any limitations to these is never quite clear.)

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As soon as Skeletor materializes in the cottage, Jodder attempts to activate a security device to contact the Royal Palace, but Skeletor overcomes this with his magic, causing a Nether-Demon to materialize above the console marked ‘Palace Hotline’, which scares Jodder back and enables Skeletor to place him under a mind-spell, causing him to hand the serum over to Skeletor. The following panel is not all that clearly illustrated, but it appears that Jodder, after recovering his senses, lunges at Skeletor to knock the potion out of his hand before he can drink it, but accidentally causes it to be spilled over Kobra Khan. And thus sets in motion the main threat of the story, as Khan – who has only been in the background of this story so far, without even speaking – is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, growing to giant size.

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Jodder takes advantage of the villains’ distraction to flee into the woods, heading for Eternos City to inform He-Man, but fears that even He-Man may not have the power to stop what Jodder has created. A great illustration follows, showing Khan crashing through the roof of the cottage as he grows to giant size, Skeletor and Beast Man fleeing the cottage before it falls apart. Although this is not how Skeletor planned to defeat He-Man, he is satisfied that Kobra Khan will be able to crush He-Man just as Skeletor would have done himself, and also mentions that once He-Man is destroyed, he intends to use Khan to drive Hordak and the Horde from Eternia.

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The scene that follows, which serves the purpose of providing a cue to enable He-Man to defeat the villains’ scheme later on, is pretty amusing – Skeletor and his henchmen materialize outside the Royal City, and Skeletor commands Kobra Khan to attack the Heroic Warriors, only to find when he looks behind him that Khan is back to normal size. This could have been a very effective comedy scene in TV format, though the humour is perhaps more difficult to execute in comic strip form. Either way it makes for a nicely amusing scene before the major action starts, with Khan inexplicably back to normal size before he begins growing again.

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As Prince Adam rushes off to become He-Man, the Heroic Warriors in the meantime facing Khan in battle, we get a good showcase of Kobra Khan’s action feature, as he is able to use his mesmerising mist for extra effect in giant size, paralyzing the whole team of Heroic Warriors. Although it is perhaps quite curious that Roboto is depicted among the warriors who are paralyzed by the mist, as I would have expected he would most likely be immune to its effects, being a robot rather than an organic creature (much as, a few issues later in Issue #29, he was shown to be immune to the effect of the slime from Hordak’s Slime Pit for this very reason). Part 1 ends with an effective cliffhanger, with Khan having picked up He-Man and being ready to crush him physically with his size.

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****

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This issue’s letters page. One reader here enquires as to whether Man-E-Faces will be in any stories, Man-E being the only toy release so far not to have had any story appearances (not counting being seen in the background of one panel in Issue #13’s “The Reality Shaper”). Scrollos promises that Man-E will be appearing in an extra-special adventure in a future issue of MOTU – indeed, he featured down the line in Issue #4 of the MOTU Adventure Magazine, while remaining almost entirely absent from the regular fortnightly comic.

****

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Story 2: “The Giant of Eternia, part 2”
Writer: Brian Clarke
Art: Amador García

Synopsis: As Khan is set to crush He-Man in his hand, He-Man is quickly able to concentrate his energy into a power-blast from his sword, which he fires at Khan, who drops He-Man and enables him to walk free again. Angered, Khan begins to smash apart the city, and He-Man realizes he must lure Khan away from the city if he is to battle him at this size. Just then, Jodder approaches He-Man and explains the Evil Warriors have stolen a growth potion from him, which works by transforming the natural energy of Eternia into size-power. Khan will only stay giant-sized while he is in contact with Eternia’s surface – which explains why he was normal-sized when the Evil Warriors materialized, as they had been off the ground while being teleported. If He-Man can keep Khan off the ground for long enough, the potion will wear off and return him permanently to normal size. After a skirmish with Khan, Skeletor and Beast Man, He-Man jumps in the Bashasaurus and leads Khan away from the city, luring him through the woods and towards Sky Mountain. As Khan charges towards He-Man, He-Man manages to trip him up, and Khan falls over the edge of the mountain. He-Man dives after him, the air from the crater keeping the two of them afloat as they battle in mid-air. Khan begins to shrink, and before long he has returned to normal size. From the cliff edge, Skeletor fires a blast of his magic at He-Man, causing some rocks to fall over the cliff edge, and the rocks are large enough that they cut off the flow of dense air, causing Kobra Khan to fall. He-Man dives after Khan to save him, using the force of his dive to carry the two foes over the crater and into the lake below, giving them a soft landing. Khan berates He-Man for being foolish enough to save the life of his enemy, and He-Man tells Khan that he is the fool for valuing life so lightly. He leaves Khan to find his own way back to Snake Mountain, and returns to the Royal City, where the effect of the mesmerising mist has worn off the Heroic Warriors, who are free again. He-Man tells Jodder he must now move within the Royal City as it is too dangerous to conduct his experiments out in the forest where Skeletor can prey upon him any time, and in a way Skeletor has won this battle as there is now one less place on Eternia that is safe from his evil.

Review: Part 2 picks up with He-Man taking advantage of his one hope of escape from the giant Kobra Khan’s clutches – a blast from his Power Sword, which shocks Khan into dropping him. Khan takes his rage out by destroying some of the city walls, vowing to destroy a part of the city each time He-Man attacks him.

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At this point, Jodder finally manages to reach the Royal City to explain to He-Man what has caused Khan’s sudden growth to giant size. He-Man needs to distract Khan and the other villains while he hears Jodder out, and fires a blast from his sword at Khan’s feet, causing the giant Khan to fall over backwards. The force of Khan’s fall isn’t really shown due to the limited space permitted, and so we instead simply see him falling backwards in the background of one panel, and sitting up again in the foreground of the next.

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Jodder explains that Khan’s giant size has been caused by another of his potions, which works by absorbing the natural energy of Eternia and converting it into size-power. The only way to reduce Khan’s size again, therefore, is by raising him off the ground for an extended length of time – explaining why Khan was normal-sized when he was teleported to Eternos, as he was off the ground while being teleported. So He-Man is now faced with the challenge of managing to raise the giant-sized Khan off the ground, and keeping him off-ground for an extended period of time. Many readers at this point will probably guess where the story is heading, with the opening scene of the Cliff Diving at Sky Mountain providing the perfect method for He-Man to defeat Khan.

There follows a battle sequence between He-Man, Khan and the other villains, and there is an interesting piece of dialogue from He-Man where he mentions he is putting into practice the combat skills taught to him by Fisto, a character who does not appear in this particular story. We have seen several stories in which Fisto has fought by He-Man’s side, the two of them making an effective duo with their combined powers of tremendous physical strength, and it is a nice idea that He-Man has actually been taught certain combat skills by Fisto, and that while He-Man may be the strongest of all the warriors, he is still able to learn certain techniques from his comrades.

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He-Man’s strength is very much showcased in the battle sequences, as he proves strong enough that even at giant size, Kobra Khan has trouble beating He-Man. He-Man is able to outwit Skeletor, Beast Man and the giant Khan all at once when Skeletor and Beast Man race towards him in an effort to defeat him collectively, for He-Man leaps into the air, causing the latter two villains to crash into one another while He-Man delivers a punch to Khan. This moment is illustrated very effectively on a full-page panel, which depicts the action very nicely while satisfying Mattel’s no-violence rules by avoiding showing He-Man’s punch actually connecting with Khan, the effect of the punch conveyed by a ‘THWACK!’ sound effect. Amusingly, Skeletor and Beast Man look like they are hugging – or possibly even more – when they collide with one another!

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Khan’s mesmerising mist has completely paralyzed the Heroic Warriors and shows no sign of wearing off any time soon – so He-Man must single-handedly set about defeating Khan, and jumps into the Bashasaurus, speeding off to lead the villains away from the city. Khan manages to catch up with him and picks up the Bashasaurus with He-Man in it. Amusingly, the panel almost looks like Khan is playing with the toy versions of He-Man and the Bashasaurus. Even at giant size, Khan seems scared to actually face He-Man, instead merely bragging about how He-Man will not be able to escape him this time – causing Skeletor to goad him with “Don’t try to talk him to death! Crush him!” Very interesting to note that Brian Clarke has here managed to get the word ‘death’ past the censors, a word usually strictly forbidden due to Mattel’s rules. While he may be giant-sized, Khan keeps proving too bumbling and incompetent to defeat He-Man as easily as he should, his crushing of the Bashasaurus being so slow that He-Man manages to drop to the ground, causing Skeletor to berate Khan for being too slow. Nonetheless it is an effective move having Khan actually crush one of the Heroic Vehicles with his bare hands.

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He-Man dodges Beast Man’s attack and rushes through the woods, leading Khan after him and remarking that “Everything is going according to plan!”  We get a “Can you guess what He-Man’s plan is?” from Scrollos at this point as the reader is invited to work out how He-Man is intending to defeat Khan – the answer, of course, being the Cliff Diving at Sky Mountain, the perfect method for keeping Khan off the ground for long enough to reduce him to regular size.

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He-Man is able to trip Khan up and knock him over the edge of the cliff, where Khan is kept afloat by the dense air from the crater that we saw Adam and Man-At-Arms swimming in at the start, and He-Man dives after him, doing battle with Khan in mid-air. Sure enough, He-Man’s plan works and Khan begins to shrink, until he is finally back to his normal size.

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He-Man swims back up to the clifftop, and Skeletor attempts to trap him by firing a blast of magic at the rocks on the cliff edge, causing them to fall and cut off the flow of dense air. The next panel seems to indicate He-Man has reached the clifftop again, the rocks missing him, but Skeletor’s blast seems to have doomed Kobra Khan, who begins to fall when the dense air is cut off. He-Man dives after Kobra Khan and uses the force of his dive to steer the two foes over the crater and into a lake, where they receive a soft landing. As he did many times in the Filmation cartoon series, He-Man has saved the life of his own enemy, which Khan is unable to understand and berates He-Man as ‘foolish’ for saving an enemy, He-Man responding with “No, Khan, you are the foolish one to value life so lightly. One day you will learn that your evil ways are wrong.”

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Returning to the Royal City, He-Man finds his comrades safe and well, the mesmerising mist having worn off, but says he must ask Jodder to move inside the Royal City, as it is no longer safe for him to continue his work in the solitude of the Howling Forest now that Skeletor has been able to bypass his security system and steal another creation of Jodder’s for his own ends. He-Man remarks that in a way Skeletor has won this battle, because although his plan has been defeated, there is now one less place on Eternia that is safe from his evil, and Jodder cannot live where he chooses until the forces of evil have been defeated.

And thus ends what has been a very good action-packed story with some of the most entertaining battle sequences shown in the comic to date. “The Giant of Eternia” has also been fairly strong on comedy moments, with Khan’s bumbling ineptitude even at giant size, and some amusing dialogue from Skeletor. There is the sense that the action and comedy in this particular story would have benefitted better from a televisual medium, allowing for smoother execution, but nonetheless writer Brian Clarke and artist Amador García do a good job with the resources available to them in the comic strip medium, and their collective efforts make for a straightforward but fun-packed and enjoyable story.

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This story is also particularly notable for being the first one to give the character of Kobra Khan a focal role. While he may be the focus of the story and its title character, Khan does not get a great deal of development and comes across more or less like a generic bumbling henchman who has been accidentally made the focus of the story, seeming rather incompetent and slow with his constant humiliating defeats at He-Man’s hand even at giant size. Issue #22’s “Secret Files of Scrollos” strip indicated there was more depth to Khan, telling us that he has a great sense of pride and believes himself to be the greatest of Skeletor’s Evil Warriors – while his portrayal here would imply he’s probably flattering himself a bit much with that belief, later stories would fortunately build on Khan significantly more, showing him to be indeed a lot more than an average bumbling villain. For Khan’s prominence in the comics was to greatly increase following Issue #27’s introduction of the Snake Men, the third evil faction of the MOTU mythos, whom Khan was to join and serve as a supposedly loyal Snake Man while secretly reporting to Skeletor on their activities – and despite all facades, remaining loyal only to himself. The comics’ later development of Khan would suggest his seemed loyalty to Skeletor in "The Giant of Eternia" would likely have been short-lived, for he would later come across as the exact sort of villain who would be likely to turn on Skeletor if giant-sized – and indeed this could have made for excellent story material had this story gone that way.

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Nonetheless, “The Giant of Eternia” 2-parter is a fun action story that does a generally good job of spotlighting one of the lesser-used Evil Warriors up to this point and giving him some great action sequences, as well as expanding the role of the character of Jodder the scientist, who is almost serving the role of a Dr Frankenstein-esque character, a reclusive scientist whose genius inventions constantly result in disaster that almost destroys Eternia’s heroes. Jodder would appear again in Issue #49’s “Insect Invasion” and he would also go on to be alluded to in numerous other stories, his presence strongly felt as a member of the comics’ cast of characters.

“The Giant of Eternia” is a story with lots of entertaining moments that the reader is not likely to forget in a hurry – an effective two-parter from writer Brian Clarke.

 

****

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Story 3: “The Secret Files of Scrollos, part 4”
Writer: Brian Clarke
Art: José María Ortiz Tafalla

Synopsis: Scrollos reveals to the reader the secret files on the Evil Horde. Contains profiles of Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Scorpia, Catra, Clawdeen, Grizzlor, Mantenna, Modulok and Leech.

(Disclaimer: Due to better-quality scans not currently being available, for several images in this review you're going to have to make do with scans from my personal copy of this issue, featuring my dodgy colouring work from when I was a kid. Apologies.)

Review: The comics’ fourth installment of the “Secret Files of Scrollos” series profiles Hordak and the Evil Horde. Introduced back in Issue #1 as the second evil faction on Eternia, coming after both He-Man and Skeletor, the readers are by now used to both Hordak and Skeletor evenly sharing the spotlight as the two main villains of the MOTU saga, while readers of the She-Ra comic will be used to seeing Hordak regularly in both the MOTU and She-Ra comics.

We are shown another teasing image of what Scrollos looks like on the main panel of the first page of this story, his face shadowed out although his attire is clearly visible to us.

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The profile of Hordak reveals that “Hordak works for the galactic-spanning Horde Empire and is second only to the more powerful Horde Prime. Hordak has been to many worlds throughout the galaxy… and conquered them all!” This places the emphasis on Hordak as an intergalactic tyrant, as opposed to one who is solely concentrated on Eternia and Etheria. Following the Twins of Power Special, which introduced Hordak’s master Horde Prime, the leader of the intergalactic Horde Empire, there has been gradually more emphasis on the intergalactic nature of the Horde in both MOTU and She-Ra comics, and this would be built upon further in later issues as it was made clear that Hordak is in fact the ruler of multiple different worlds that have been conquered by the Horde Empire.

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The following page details how Hordak’s intergalactic tyranny has recently met with two major obstacles – She-Ra on Etheria, and He-Man on Eternia, both shown here in separate panels. The next panel shows an illustration of the various minions of the Horde all together with Hordak – including three of the female characters who are only seen in the She-Ra comics rather than MOTU: Catra, Shadow Weaver and Clawdeen. It is refreshing to see these characters in the MOTU comic for a change, even if it is only as part of a fact file strip rather than a proper story. The narration panel states: “Realising that his plans for galactic conquest were in danger of being foiled by the Eternian and Etherian Heroic Warriors, Hordak has formed his own group of powerful warriors, the Evil Horde!” Technically this statement is inaccurate, as both the MOTU and She-Ra comics have shown that the warriors currently making up the Evil Horde were with Hordak before he arrived on Eternia and before he encountered She-Ra on Etheria, rather than them being recruited in response to the adversity Hordak faced from He-Man and She-Ra.

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The next page profiles the character of Shadow Weaver, who appears regularly in the She-Ra comics as Hordak’s second-in-command and frequently as a sole villain in her own right, but has yet to appear in any regular strips in the MOTU comic, which have focused instead on the male Hordesmen from the toy line. A particular surprise here is that the profile on the character actually tells Shadow Weaver’s origin, revealing that she was a young sorceress called Light Spinner who Hordak taught the “evil ways of the dark force”, and after he imbued her with powers derived from both science and magic, she changed her name to Shadow Weaver and joined the Horde as “perhaps Hordak’s greatest ally”. Shadow Weaver’s origin story and background as Light Spinner was later built on in Issue #13 of She-Ra, in Pat Kelleher’s story “A Shadow Over Etheria”. While her origin story in the comics is loosely similar to the origin story she was given in Filmation’s She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series, as a human sorceress who was corrupted by the ways of evil and transformed to Shadow Weaver, the comics put an additional spin on her origin by explaining how her powers are based in both magic and science. And most notably, they give her human form the name of Light Spinner, which in the absence of a name for her in the cartoon has been accepted by fans worldwide as the official name of the character before her transformation into Shadow Weaver, to the point it has carried all the way through to the contemporary Netflix cartoon series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. (Many fans erroneously believe the name Light Spinner came from the Filmation cartoon, when it is in fact exclusive to the UK London Editions Comics – see this blog entry on the site for an explanation of this confusion.)

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The next character profiled is Scorpia, another of the female villains who has been confined to the She-Ra comics rather than MOTU, largely due to her having been created specially for Filmation’s She-Ra cartoon series rather than being part of the toy line. Scorpia has had only minimal appearances in the She-Ra comics, but has been written as one of the most independent and competent of the Horde’s minions, and can justifiably be said to be a criminally underused character – indeed, the narration panel here in a sense acknowledges this, by introducing her as “the least well-known of Hordak’s allies”. Most interestingly, the next panel states that “He-Man and the Heroic Warriors of two worlds have found time and time again how powerful Scorpia’s titanic tail can be” and she is shown using her tail to battle He-Man – thus implying that she regularly assists the Horde on Eternia as well as Etheria, even though the comics have only ever shown her on the latter world. As one of the best-written villains in the She-Ra comics, it certainly seems unfortunate that Scorpia has not featured in any of the MOTU comics, as she would be a much-welcome adversary to He-Man and the Heroic Warriors in the regular stories.

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Next up is Catra, who again has only featured in the She-Ra comics rather than MOTU, and indeed, being part of Mattel’s Princess of Power toy line, has been marketed by Mattel and portrayed by certain media as She-Ra’s main adversary. The narration panel matches what we have been told about Catra in the She-Ra comics: “Catra was just an ordinary mortal with evil ambitions until she befriended the alien creature known as Clawdeen” who taught Catra how to transform herself into a panther. Catra has been portrayed well over in the She-Ra comics, as a character who comes across as mischievous rather than evil, a wayward and misguided character who naively allies herself with the Horde out of a personal jealousy of She-Ra. Likewise, her animal companion Clawdeen has only featured in the She-Ra comics up until this point. As the She-Ra comic was to end only a month from this point in the MOTU comics’ run, it is unfortunate that these four female villains could not have been carried over into later issues of MOTU, bar Shadow Weaver’s very memorable appearance in Issue #43 of MOTU in a special Halloween-themed story.

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The next panel reveals that “Shadow Weaver, Scorpia and Clawdeen are only ‘part-time’ members of the Horde” thus seemingly accounting for their absence from the MOTU stories, indicating that ‘part-time’ means they confine their roles within the Horde to Etheria, while the male villains seen regularly in MOTU help Hordak across multiple different worlds. (Or perhaps Hordak is just a very sexist employer!) The next profile is Grizzlor, who of course has featured regularly across both comics as the main source of comedy relief within the Horde. His profile here explains how while his great strength has enabled the Horde to evade capture by the Heroic Warriors on multiple occasions, his might is limited to his physical powers, as his low intellect means he is unable to solve even the simplest of problems. His role as the master of the Fright Zone prison is also profiled here, with an illustration of him guarding the Horde jail, matching the look of the feature in Mattel’s Fright Zone playset.

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Next up is Mantenna, another villain we’ve seen regularly across both comics, generally portrayed as a conniving and fairly competent villain other than one very comedic appearance in Issue #9 of She-Ra. We are told here that “His eyes can shoot many different types of beams and so far the Heroic Warriors have only learnt about his paralysis and power beams!”

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The next Hordesman profiled is Modulok, who given his unique design and ability, has been surprisingly underused in both comics so far, with very little development. The narration panel here finally reveals some more information about this rather obscure character, including his origins – “Years ago when he was Galen Nycoff he constructed a strange device when he was imprisoned for breaking many galactic laws. He wanted to become the most deadly villain on Eternia… but instead the machine turned him into a creature of movable body parts!” The accompanying illustration shows Modulok in three different combinations of his many body parts like those that could be formed with the action figure – his regular form in the centre, and two more unusual ones on either side. Modulok’s origin as a being called Galen Nycoff is particularly intriguing here, and seems to have been lifted from his portrayal in the Filmation He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series, in which he began as a human scientist called Galen Nycroft before being transformed into Modulok by a machine of his own invention. Fortunately Modulok would receive his belated development in later issues of MOTU together with exploration of his scientific abilities, and a later Secret Files of Scrollos strip in Issue #64 finally told his origin in detail – although the narration here, which implied he is native to Eternia as in the cartoon, would be contradicted, for his later origin story in the comics showed that he began as an intergalactic criminal with no connections to Eternia prior to his recruitment into the Horde.

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The final profile here is Leech, who is described unusually as never looking as dangerous as he really is due to him not carrying a weapon – a rather strange description, since few would argue that Leech is substantially dangerous-looking in himself, while none of the Horde villains have ever seemed to rely on carrying a weapon to appear a formidable threat. Nonetheless, the narration explains Leech has no need for a weapon, for he possesses the power to drain the energy of any foe or vehicle and reduce them to helplessness. Leech’s ability to drain the energy of both mortals and vehicles has indeed been put to effective use in several earlier stories in the comics, most notably Issue #4’s “Raiders From the Sky”.

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This Secret File serves as a particularly intriguing insight into the Horde members and it has been particularly refreshing to see the female members acknowledged by the MOTU comic, as well as insight into the regular Hordesmen that would be built upon in future issues.

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The back page features this puzzle taken from one of the World MOTU activity books.

© Aidan Cross, 2021.