The UK London Editions Comics
The Backstory and the Legacy
With the huge success of the MOTU comics in their early days, there was an inevitable demand among readers for a comic covering the adventures of He-Man’s sister She-Ra. The She-Ra comic- simply titled ‘She-Ra’ as opposed to ‘Princess of Power’ like the toy line- was launched around September 1986 after the MOTU comic had been running for six months, with the first preview issue packaged as a free giveaway with issue #12 of the MOTU comic. The She-Ra comic series boasted similar strengths to the MOTU one, with equally strong writing and characterization, and original and engaging plots. Whilst the MOTU comics concentrated on the sci-fi elements of the mythos, the writers took the She-Ra comic in a fantasy direction, with some stories given a more fairytale-like feel. While the Horde, as the villains on Etheria, had advanced technology at their behest, the Great Rebellion relied purely on magic to save the day, and as with the MOTU comics, She-Ra would frequently come up with a thinking-based solution to foil the Horde’s schemes. Due to the strong presence of light-hearted characters such as Madame Razz, Broom and Kowl, and many fairytale elements such as magic talking dragons and Koala People, the She-Ra comics appeared to cater mainly for their younger readers, as opposed to the suits-all-ages tone of the MOTU comics. But there was still plenty in the She-Ra comics to keep older readers interested, with the Horde’s diabolical schemes and the strong characterization of the lead cast, as well as frequent allusions to real-life science as in the MOTU stories.
Despite the strength of its storytelling, the She-Ra comic sadly did not enjoy the longevity of the MOTU comic, and came to an abrupt end after just 14 issues. Due to insufficient sales, London Editions were reluctantly forced to cancel the comic, although a one-off She-Ra special did hit the shelves approximately a year after the regular comic had folded, featuring a memorable story in which Evil-Lyn made a surprise appearance on Etheria, transporting the planet to the dimension of Nega-Space.
Twins of Power
1987 saw the release of the hugely successful Twins of Power special, a one-off special containing a feature-length adventure starring both He-Man and She-Ra, including almost the entire supporting cast of both the MOTU and She-Ra comics. The Twins of Power special was particularly notable for featuring the first ever appearance of Horde Prime in the comics. Whereas the cartoons never showed Horde Prime’s appearance, showing instead only a dark figure enshrouded in smoke, the UK comics designed their own appearance for Horde Prime distinct from all other media. He was introduced in this special as the supreme leader of evil in the universe, and the master of both Skeletor and Hordak; the only figure the two evil warlords would answer to. The special contained an epic adventure in which Horde Prime sends both Skeletor and Hordak after the two halves of the Sword of Evil, a hitherto unknown evil sword forged from the same gem-stone as the Swords of Power and Protection. The special sold extremely well and remains a much sought-after collectors’ item to this day. Following his debut in the special, Horde Prime went on to feature in numerous special guest roles in both the regular MOTU and She-Ra comics.
Horde Prime revealed!
The Snake Men
The MOTU comic continued to sell well, with more of the newer toy releases being introduced to expand the world of Eternia. A major turning point occurred in issue #27 with the introduction of the Snake Men. Loosely following a similar plot to the minicomic “King of the Snake Men”, the story focused on Skeletor unleashing King Hiss from the Cosmic Pool beneath Snake Mountain. Re-establishing the Clan of the Viper, Hiss unleashed several of his own henchmen from their prison, and the Snake Men were given an ongoing story arc that proceeded over the next 20 issues or so, following King Hiss’s efforts to re-establish himself on present-day Eternia, using the power of the Magna-Snakes to recover his old command centre, Viper Tower, sunk beneath Eternia’s surface by the Elders centuries ago. A multipart story ran from issues #36-#41 regarding the recovery of Viper Tower. After Viper Tower was raised to ground level once again, He-Man and the Heroic Warriors drove the Snake Men away from the fortress, and took it for themselves instead.
Another significant development in the MOTU UK comics’ run came in 1987 with the launch of the Masters of the Universe Adventure Magazine. A companion to the regular fortnightly MOTU comic, the Adventure Magazine (which at first came out infrequently before later being made monthly) was twice as big as the regular comic, at a whopping 48 pages, and each issue would contain an extra-long epic new story in full colour, together with a reprint of an old story from the fortnightly comic series. In the Adventure Magazines, the black and white pages from the reprinted stories would here be reproduced in full colour. The Adventure Magazine greatly expanded the mythos of the regular comics, showcasing epic stories with bigger and more dynamic plots. A notable example is the story “Battle for Eternia” in Adventure issue #1, in which Horde Prime gathers the Evil Warriors, the Horde and the Snake Men all together, teaming up the three evil factions in a colossal scheme to steal the plasma from Eternia’s core to power Horde Prime’s ship, which will inevitably result in the destruction of the whole planet. After He-Man and his comrades foil the scheme, the evil leaders realize, in a disturbing plot twist, that Horde Prime would have destroyed them along with Eternia if his scheme had worked!
Another memorable story in the Adventure Magazine was “A Rip In Time” in issue #3, in which Skeletor’s Evil Warriors and the Snake Men travelled back in time to prehistoric Eternia, where they intended to change the course of history by preventing the Elders’ historic defeat of the Snake Men. As He-Man and the Heroic Warriors followed them back in time, this led to an epic and memorable adventure in which the heroes witnessed first-hand the terror in which the prehistoric Eternians lived, under the Snake Men’s regime. This story was particularly notable for featuring cameos by the Grayskull Dinosaurs intended for the unreleased Powers of Grayskull spin-off line- the Bionatops, Turbodactyl and Tyrantisaurus Rex. This was the only hint the comics ever featured of the intended spin-off line, which in the end never materialized.
© Aidan Cross, 2017.