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UK London Editions Comics

Issue #10

Release Date: January 1987

Stories:

The Crimson Fury, part 1

The Crimson Fury, part 2

Kowl Kidnapped

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Cover by: Joan Boix

This issue's cover depicts - pretty faithfully - a scene from a single panel of "The Crimson Fury, part 2" in this issue.

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Intro page for the first issue of the She-Ra comic of 1987.

****

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Story 1: “The Crimson Fury, part 1”
Writer: Pat Kelleher
Art: Joan Boix

Synopsis: In a small village on Etheria, the villagers are being evicted from their homes by Horde Troopers for inability to pay their taxes. The people are driven into the Crimson Wastes – a vast, lifeless desert of red sand. As a young boy manages to run away unseen to seek the Rebels’ help, the other villagers have no choice but to walk deep into the vast desert, where the heat begins to take its toll. Just as they fear succumbing to starvation and dehydration, the villagers see a convoy of desert nomads passing by, and call out to them for help. The leader of the nomads – Sadir, a travelling merchant – takes the people on board to transport them to safer climes. Meanwhile, the young boy has reached the Whispering Woods, where he tells the Rebels what has happened, and Adora transforms into She-Ra, heading out to the desert atop Swift Wind. Meanwhile, as the nomads traverse the desert, they are spied by Scorpia, who is scouring the wastes with a villainous aristocrat called Count Sneer, in search of Sneer’s enemy The Crimson Fury, a desert rebel who patrols the waste defending the nomadic tribes against the Horde. Scorpia and Sneer lead an ambush against the desert tribe, ransacking the caravans and taking the people captive. As they leave the scene with their captives, Count Sneer hurls a note at Sadir, demanding the Crimson Fury give himself up to the Horde or the hostages will not be seen again. Just then, She-Ra, flying above on Swift Wind, spots the smoke rising from the wrecked wagons and swoops down to investigate. Sadir explains to her what has happened and tells her that the Crimson Fury is a rebel who patrols the waste with his bird ally, Talon, and has caused the Horde a great deal of trouble. Leaving Swift Wind to protect the nomads, She-Ra heads out alone to the ancient fort which the Horde use as their desert base, to rescue the hostages. As she approaches the fort, it looks deserted, but she fails to spot a large hand rising from the sand behind her…

Review: Pat Kelleher has been one of the most prominent writers in the She-Ra comic series, and he has certainly proven his flexibility as a writer, producing light-hearted stories skewed towards younger readers such as Issue #7’s “A Thorny Problem” and Issue #8’s “Broom Saves the Day”, as well as stories with a more mature and emotional tone such as Issue #4’s “The Null-Stone of Nabob”. While the She-Ra comic has generally veered in the direction of the former two stories throughout recent issues, tailoring itself towards the youngest age demographic, “The Crimson Fury” is a solid return to a more mature tone for the comic with its story that is certain to appeal to the older readers, paying homage to classic desert movies as well as brilliantly expanding the London Editions’ incarnation of the She-Ra universe with its new characters and locations, marking what is probably Pat Kelleher’s most significant contribution to the comics yet.

From the story’s starting panel, we can immediately see this is going to be a more mature story focusing on the serious side of the conflict on Etheria. A whole village of peasants is being evicted from their homes by Horde Troopers for inability to pay their taxes, their homes being burned and their land set to be used as a waste dump by the Horde. The cruel Troopers send the villagers out into the Crimson Wastes, where there is a high chance of them dying from dehydration or starvation.

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The Crimson Wastes is an area that has featured in many media producing She-Ra stories, and in introducing this location to the London Editions comics, Pat Kelleher puts it to particularly imaginative use, taking the opportunity to pay homage to classic desert movies, with this story and its title character being inspired by the classic silent movie The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino, and there is a strong feel of Lawrence of Arabia throughout the story as well.

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Exiled into the vast desert and unable to go on due to thirst, starvation and the unbearable heat, the villagers are fortunately rescued by a convoy of desert travellers, with caravans drawn by exotic creatures that resemble camels to some degree, but appear suitably alien, in-keeping with the general practice across the comics and other She-Ra media of depicting animals as exotic alien species rather than Earth animals. The leader of the nomadic tribe, Sadir, takes the peasants on board to transport them somewhere safer, explaining his tribe lives under the constant threat of the Horde, protected only by the Crimson Fury – although nothing is revealed of who exactly this character is.

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The Rebels finally appear on the bottom panels of the second page as they are approached by a young boy who rushed away unseen from the burning village at the start to warn the Rebels – presumably he was a resident of the village, although he seemed segregated from the other villagers and none of them have mentioned one of their number being missing – the most logical explanation being that he may have been presumed dead, his family possibly killed in the Troopers’ destruction of the village. The boy is given water by the Rebels while Adora takes off with Spirit to become She-Ra, turning Spirit into Swift Wind to fly her to the Wastes.

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We then cut to the Horde operation in the desert, suitably led by the character of Scorpia, for whom this is only her second appearance in the comics, having debuted in Issue #5’s “The Wuglies” two-parter, another Pat Kelleher story. The latter story depicted her as a particularly competent and powerful member of the Horde who was a strong and authoritative leader in her own right, and this very welcome return appearance continues in much the same light. Accompanying her is a villainous nobleman called Count Sneer, who we soon learn is the arch-nemesis of the Crimson Fury. A little bit more is revealed about this mysterious title character on the ensuing panels, which explain he is a desert rebel who has evaded capture by the Horde on previous occasions, but whom Scorpia has been sent out by Hordak to capture, confident that he will not be able to escape Scorpia’s clutches. Count Sneer and Scorpia lead a battalion of Horde raiders in an ambush on the desert convoy, all occupying distinctive vehicles which were not part of the Mattel toy line, and are not named here.

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As the caravans quickly collapse at the assault of the Horde, Sadir expresses a wish that the Crimson Fury were there to defend them, while the lead elder of the destroyed village wishes She-Ra was. In the following battle sequence, we again get a taste of the Horde’s cruelty towards the ordinary people of Etheria, as the Horde Troopers steal Sadir’s entire livelihood, taking women and children captive while declaring “do not resist. Resistance is useless!” There’s only so much that a children’s comic can show of the evils of a totalitarian dictatorship, hence why these are usually only covered minimally, but they are certainly being brought to the forefront of this particular story.

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Count Sneer tosses a note to Sadir, demanding that the Crimson Fury give himself up to the Horde otherwise the hostages will not be released. At that point She-Ra swoops down on Swift Wind, having noticed the smoke from the wrecked caravans. Sadir presents the note to She-Ra, explaining what has happened. The neatness of Count Sneer’s handwriting is perhaps surprising, but maybe apt given the aristocratic status of the character!

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Though we have been kept mostly in the dark so far about the exact nature of the Crimson Fury, we are finally given a full explanation here by Sadir, although the character is only shown in a faint silhouetted form, to maintain the aura of mystery about him. It is explained that he is a Rebel who patrols the desert with his bird ally, Talon, and who conceals his face, appearing as mysteriously as he vanishes, defending the desert tribes in times of danger. As he has caused a great deal of trouble for the Horde, but has been able so far to evade their capture, the Horde are determined to finally catch and imprison him.

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She-Ra volunteers to go and rescue the hostages herself, knowing the Horde will not be expecting her, thus giving her the element of surprise on her side. She leaves Swift Wind to guard the nomads and villagers, allowing her to travel alone to the Horde’s base of operations – an ancient fort said to be haunted, all that remains of a city swallowed by the sands centuries ago. The final panel sees She-Ra approaching the fort, which appears deserted, and as she puzzles over the absence of guards, a large hand emerges from the sand nearby her, and we get our first glimpse of what ‘haunts’ the fort…

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This is a superb cliffhanger to end the first part, a story that has already done an amazing job of standing out with its frontal focus on the suffering of the ordinary Etherians, along with its introduction of new locations and the superb aura of mystery about its title character. After this powerful opening part, the reader will certainly be intrigued to read on.

****

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This issue's letters page. The question about whether Hordak is a pig is clearly evoked by the character's tendency to 'oink' between speech in the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series.

 

**** 

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Story 2: “The Crimson Fury, part 2”
Writer: Pat Kelleher
Art: Joan Boix

Synopsis: Before she can notice it, She-Ra is grabbed by the arms rising from the sand, which begin to drag her downwards just as an army of Sand Devils emerge, declaring she is their prisoner. Just then, a giant hawk swoops down and lifts She-Ra free, then the Crimson Fury appears, and together he and She-Ra begin to fight off the Sand Devils. The Sand Devils begin to spin at a rapid pace and turn into miniature whirlwinds, sucking in She-Ra and the Crimson Fury and knocking them unconscious. When the two Rebels come round, they are imprisoned in electro-shackles in front of Scorpia and Count Sneer, who declare they will not be freeing the hostages, intending instead to send them to Hordak for him to use as slaves. The two of them leave to report their success to Hordak, and She-Ra and the Crimson Fury find themselves unable to break free – but their animal allies come to the rescue, Talon using his sonic scream to crack the walls of the fort, which Swift Wind uses his hooves to kick through. They enter the fort and Talon retrieves She-Ra’s sword, which she uses to break her and the Fury free from the shackles. Just then, Scorpia and Count Sneer burst in with a fleet of Horde Troopers, but Swift Wind manages to keep the Troopers distracted while She-Ra frees the hostages. Talon then uses his shriek to shatter the robotic Troopers, and the Fury prepares to settle his score with Count Sneer, but Sneer is hiding from him, and he sends Talon outside to find him while he fends off the remaining Troopers, as She-Ra faces Scorpia, who is overpowered and taken prisoner. The Fury assures She-Ra that he will find and deal with Count Sneer, and She-Ra leaves the tied-up Scorpia to be dragged off back to the Fright Zone by the one remaining Horde Trooper. She-Ra and the Crimson Fury return to the nomadic tribe with the freed hostages, and Sadir agrees to lend She-Ra a Hover-Wagon that she can use to take the villagers back to the Whispering Wood where they can set up a new home. Atop Swift Wind, She-Ra takes off into the sky, towing the villagers in the Hover-Wagon, and the Crimson Fury sets off back into the desert to find his enemy Count Sneer.

Review: Part two opens with She-Ra being gripped by the arms rising from the sand, as a large Sand-Devil materializes in front of her. Fortunately she is saved by a giant hawk that swoops down and lifts her free, and we finally meet the story’s title star in person, as the Crimson Fury follows his animal companion Talon to the rescue of She-Ra. He is given an eye-catching design, as a masked sheik-like warrior, with a flowing red cape and armed with a katana-like blade. He reveals that his hawk friend Talon saw the attack on the caravan and so the two of them came to the fort to investigate. Joan Boix, who illustrated this story, based this issue's cover very heavily on this particular panel, replicating the details strongly.

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The Crimson Fury’s line “Don’t be afraid to use your sword. You can’t really harm them that way” seems to be present to appease Mattel’s anti-violence rules, by stressing that the Sand-Devils will not be hurt by their enemies’ swords. As it turns out, the creatures are either as hard as stone or as soft as sand. We get a memorable moment in which Talon uses his powerful sonic scream to shatter Gritstone, the leader of the Sand-Devils, and for a moment She-Ra thinks Gritstone is actually dead, remarking “Gritstone! Talon shattered him! He’s…” but as is the norm for the comics, she’s cut off before she can utter the ‘d’ word as the Crimson Fury explains that as the creatures are made of sand, they cannot be hurt and are capable of reforming at will. Gritstone does indeed reform, and angrily, the Sand-Devils begin to spin at super speed, turning into miniature whirlwinds. They succeed in overpowering their foes, both of who are sucked into the whirlwinds and knocked unconscious, although Talon is able to fly to safety. The Sand-Devils are given a striking appearance and with their formidable power, definitely come across as a convincing threat to the heroes.

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She-Ra and the Crimson Fury eventually awaken, imprisoned in electro-shackles within the fort, in front of Scorpia and Count Sneer. The two villains have no intention of letting the hostages go despite Sneer’s ultimatum before, and intend to send them to Hordak for him to use as slaves. The two villains go to report their success to Hordak, and just as it seems She-Ra and the Crimson Fury stand no chance of escape, their animal companions come to the rescue, Talon having flown out to fetch Swift Wind. Talon uses his sonic scream again to shatter the walls of the fort, and Swift Wind finishes the job by kicking through them with his hooves. Swift Wind retrieves She-Ra’s sword for her, and the two of them manage to escape, presumably due to She-Ra’s sword being able to cut through the electro-shackles.

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Scorpia and Count Sneer burst in just as the two of them escape, and a battle follows as the Horde Troopers attack. In a panel that verges on breaching the no violence rules, we see Talon effectively ‘killing’ a robotic Horde Trooper by using his sonic shriek to shatter it apart, such fates a massive no-no for living creatures, but acceptable for robots.

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The Crimson Fury is ready to settle his score with Count Sneer, but Sneer is hiding from him and the Fury sends Talon outside to find him, although Sneer is simply hid behind a barrel in the fortress. The Crimson Fury instead takes on some of the Horde Troopers – again we see some Troopers ‘dying’ as the Fury uses his sword to slice apart their metal bodies.

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Scorpia, meanwhile, is set to take on She-Ra with her stinging tail, but Swift Wind stomps on her tail, allowing She-Ra to apprehend her, tying her arms behind her back. Count Sneer by this point is nowhere to be seen, having seemingly fled, but the Crimson Fury assures She-Ra “Don’t worry, She-Ra. Sneer is my problem. We go back a long way.” This leaves She-Ra to deal with Scorpia, by sending her to be carried off into the desert back to the Fright Zone by seemingly the one remaining Horde Trooper, with enough food and water to last her. This seems a rather unusual punishment and a particularly lenient one – surely this should be the perfect opportunity for She-Ra to arrest Scorpia and take her back to Bright Moon with her to face justice? It’s possible that Scorpia is let off so lightly for continuity purposes so she’s free to appear in more stories, but either way this mild slap on the wrist seems far too light a punishment given the severity of Scorpia’s threat to She-Ra and the denizens of Etheria.

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The Crimson Fury and She-Ra return to the desert convoy with the freed hostages, and the Fury says he will set up the fort as a traveller’s rest station. She-Ra is lent one of the tribe’s Hover-Wagons by Sadir, and uses it to transport the villagers to the Whispering Wood so they can set up a new home there. As She-Ra takes off into the sky atop Swift Wind, towing the Hover-Wagon behind, the Crimson Fury sets off to find Count Sneer. The closing narration panel hints at a return appearance for the Crimson Fury and Count Sneer, though sadly this was never to happen.

While this story has proven a solid return to the comic’s more serious side, “The Crimson Fury” easily ranks among its finest and most significant moments. As well as bringing the plight of ordinary Etherians to the forefront and showing us a closer look at the cruelty and threats to their lives that they face from the Horde, this story explores a new location of Etheria and in so doing, introduces two of the comic’s most memorable and intriguing guest characters yet in the Crimson Fury and Count Sneer. It is clear that these two have a long history and there seems to be a potentially intriguing backstory, and we get the feeling these two could easily merit a comic series in their own right. Count Sneer is a little under-developed here; he plays second fiddle to Scorpia throughout this story and is given little to do in his own right, and it’s not clear exactly what special abilities or powers he may possess, but his rivalry with the Crimson Fury is definitely intriguing and there would have been great potential for further development of both characters had they appeared again. The Crimson Fury himself is shrouded in mystery – who exactly is he and why does he hide his face? How does he manage to survive in a scorching desert environment mostly devoid of food and water? Where does he go when he’s not defending the desert tribes, and what is the backstory between him and his companion Talon? There are so many areas for exploration here that more than justified a return appearance by this character, but sadly it was not to be, mainly because the She-Ra comic series came to an abrupt end only four issues later.

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This story seems to bear a touch of the more serious episodes of Filmation’s She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series, which would often introduce solitary guest heroes from other areas of Etheria who would befriend and assist She-Ra and return in later episodes, such as the Sea Hawk and General Sundar, and it’s quite easy to imagine the Crimson Fury featuring in the cartoon series as another such guest star. Likewise, Count Sneer also very much has the feel of the type of guest villain who the Filmation series would introduce. The Crimson Fury is a character with great potential; his companionship with She-Ra is very convincing and they would have made an excellent heroic duo had they shared further adventures together. Says Editor Brian Clarke: "I remember Pat pitching the character to me and instantly approving it. I perhaps expected at least one romantic moment but besides that it was top notch from the first panel." Indeed, the idea of a romance between She-Ra and the Crimson Fury definitely sounds intriguing; it is perhaps very loosely hinted at here by She-Ra's seemingly admiring smile upon seeing the Crimson Fury in action for the first time, replicated on the front cover, but either way it is an angle that could potentially have been developed had the character made a return appearance. The whole setting of the Crimson Wastes, with its characters of the Crimson Fury and Count Sneer, Talon, Gritstone and the Sand-Devils, has so much potential as an area of Etheria with its own fascinating characters, history and ongoing conflict between good and evil, and is forefronted here to the extent that She-Ra almost seems more like a guest star in this excursion to another setting of Etheria. It would have been great to have seen She-Ra return to the Wastes and encounter these characters again, or for them to have forayed into She-Ra’s regular territory of the Whispering Woods and Bright Moon, and it is unfortunate that the chance never came.

Nonetheless, “The Crimson Fury” is an enthralling two-parter and its title character and his world are undoubtedly among the strongest and most significant additions the London Editions comics ever made to the wider She-Ra mythos.

****

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Story 3: “Kowl Kidnapped”
Writer: Brian Clarke
Art: Francisco Javier González Vilanova

Synopsis: In the Fright Zone, Hordak unveils to Grizzlor his new invention – the Truth Chair. Anyone who sits in the chair will be forced to answer all questions truthfully, and Hordak intends to use it on one of his enemies to gain information about the Rebels that he can use to defeat them. Grizzlor suggests they use it on Kowl, the know-it-owl, and Hordak at first ridicules the suggestion, but then remembers that Kowl is supposed to know everything, so decides it is not a bad suggestion. Meanwhile, in a meadow near the Whispering Woods, Kowl is attempting to entertain some woodland animals with some facts about nature, but as fascinating as he finds them, the animals are bored. Suddenly, Kowl finds himself trapped in a net cast by Horde Troopers, who carry him off to the Fright Zone. The animals use their telepathic connection to She-Ra to tell her what has happened to Kowl, and picking up their signal, she sets out to the Fright Zone to rescue him. In the Fright Zone, Hordak has imprisoned Kowl in the Truth Chair and demands he tell him everything he knows, but Kowl starts reeling off scientific facts that are useless to Hordak, and Hordak realizes he must be more specific with his questions. He asks where She-Ra and her supporters can be found, and compelled to answer, Kowl tells her that they can be found in the Shady Glade of Dreams near the Forest of Storms. As She-Ra heads through the outskirts of the Fright Zone, she sees a fleet of Batmex flying overhead, heading in the direction of an unpopulated area of Etheria – and a squadron of Horde Troopers is also heading in the same direction. She wonders why the Horde would be headed to such an area, but chooses to focus on the task at hand, and presses on to rescue Kowl. As she reaches the area where Kowl is imprisoned in the Truth Chair, She-Ra is spotted by Grizzlor, and Hordak blasts her with his arm cannon. She-Ra dodges the blast and transforms her sword to a rope, using it to spin Hordak around and getting him dizzy, before tying Hordak to a tree with vines. She then frees Kowl and straps Grizzlor into the Truth Chair instead. As She-Ra heads home with Kowl, Kowl explains that he answered Hordak’s question truthfully, but deliberately gave him information that was useless to him – when he said She-Ra’s supporters could be found in the Shady Glade of Dreams, he was referring to her animal supporters, but misled Hordak into thinking he meant the Rebels, so the Troopers have headed to an unpopulated area where they will not find the people they are looking for. Back at the Fright Zone, Grizzlor is still imprisoned in the Truth Chair, and having been told by She-Ra to tell Hordak what he really thinks of him, is telling Hordak how stupid and ugly he really thinks he is, and Hordak, unable to break free from the vines binding him to the tree, is being forced to listen endlessly to Grizzlor insulting him!

Review: This story returns to the softer tone that has driven most of the recent issues, tailored towards the youngest readers. Like many of these stories, it places one of the small, magical sidekicks of She-Ra in centre stage, and this time it is the turn of Kowl. While he has featured regularly in the stories in the She-Ra comic and been the star of the ‘Ask Kowl’ feature on the back pages, Kowl has yet to play a frontal role in any stories, so this story gives him his first such role and plays upon his trait of encyclopaedic knowledge of any subjects – the main trait under which Mattel marketed him, as the ‘know-it-owl’.

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The story begins in typical fashion with Hordak presenting his latest invention – the Truth Chair – to his henchman Grizzlor. Grizzlor is brilliantly written here, his dull wit and childlike innocence the perfect foil for Hordak’s megalomania. Explaining he intends to use the Truth Chair to gain information about the Rebels, Hordak challenges Grizzlor to think of someone they can use it on – and Grizzlor suggests Kowl. Hordak at first reacts angrily to this suggestion, yelling “What use is that batty bird to us?” and by the look of it, giving Grizzlor a firm kick up the backside! But Hordak then realizes this is actually a very logical suggestion, as Kowl is supposed to know everything – so he quickly retracts, but credits himself with the idea, declaring “I have it! We’ll use the machine on Kowl!” leaving Grizzlor, in all his innocence – his bum very sore, so it would seem – to meekly respond “What a brilliant idea, master! I wish I had thought of that…”

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The scene switches to the Whispering Wood, where Kowl is entertaining some of the animals with educational facts. We have seen before, in Issue #7’s “Broom Saves the Day” that Kowl likes to entertain the children of Etheria with stories about the times he has helped She-Ra (albeit exaggerated to portray himself as the real saviour of the battles) and here we see that he entertains the woodland creatures with facts about science and nature – although the creatures are completely bored by his facts and are falling asleep instead!

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The creatures begin to run when they see Horde Troopers approaching, and comically, Kowl thinks they are running away because they are so bored with his facts, and calls “Hey, hang on, where are you going! You’ll like this story.” (According to writer Brian Clarke, the bull story Kowl is trying to tell in the above panel is the fact that bulls have short front legs, so they run more slowly downhill than up - so always run downhill if being chased by a bull!) He is caught by the Troopers in a large net, and the woodland creatures use telepathy to communicate with She-Ra. This is a trait of She-Ra’s from various media, her ability to read animals’ thoughts and communicate with them telepathically, and it is an interesting angle to explore the woodland creatures’ bond with her. The creatures themselves are all anthropomorphic, drawn like typical cute cartoon animals.

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Once Kowl has been brought to the Fright Zone and placed in the Truth Chair, this is where the real comedy of the story begins. Kowl is compelled by the Truth Chair to answer Hordak’s questions truthfully, but still has enough free will to work around the chair’s mind control by giving him answers that, although true, are completely useless to Hordak. So when Hordak commands that Kowl tell him all that he knows, Kowl begins spouting off the same educational facts he was telling the animals before, much to Hordak’s anger – and to add to the amusement, Grizzlor actually finds Kowl’s facts fascinating, and is genuinely astounded! (The mention of the 'Babal Fish' in the below panel is a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

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Hordak realizes he must be more specific with his questions, and asks where She-Ra and her supporters may be found at the moment. And Kowl gives a literal answer by telling Hordak where they may be found, not where they are! Hordak is smart enough to suss that he cannot trust this answer, so rephrases the question, asking where She-Ra’s supporters are to be found. Kowl has no choice but to answer truthfully, and the following panel shows tears leaking from his eye as he reluctantly gives the correct answer.

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Kowl tells Hordak that She-Ra’s supporters are to be found in the Shady Glade of Dreams near the Forest of Storms, and the following scene sees a fleet of Batmex and Horde Troopers heading towards that location. She-Ra is riding through the Fright Zone’s outskirts to Hordak’s base – and confusingly, she is riding atop Spirit rather than Swift Wind. Even Hordak sees her riding Spirit, which arouses no suspicion – so presumably this is a mistake on the artist’s part and the panels were intended to show Swift Wind. She-Ra explains it would have been quicker to have flown, but she would not be able to see the ground through the thick trees.

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She-Ra is confused at seeing the huge fleet of Batmex flying overhead, heading for an unpopulated area of Etheria, and she then sees an army of Horde Troopers heading the same way. She is uncertain what they could want in such an area, but chooses to focus on the mission at hand and press on to rescue Kowl.

She-Ra arrives at the location where Hordak is holding Kowl prisoner, and Grizzlor offers to destroy her, but Hordak declines, saying “I want that pleasure for myself”  - and Grizzlor is secretly pleased, knowing he would fail if he tried! Hordak’s attempt to attack She-Ra backfires and she winds up spinning him around with her sword transformed to a rope, before almost breaking the no-violence rule by delivering a punch (carefully obscured by the sound effect to appease Mattel) and tying him to a tree – following which she frees Kowl and straps Grizzlor into the Truth Chair instead.

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As she rides off with Kowl, Kowl explains that he answered Hordak’s question truthfully, by telling him where She-Ra’s supporters were – but the ‘supporters’ he was referring to were not She-Ra’s Rebel comrades but animals who support She-Ra – “…because you are so good and kind every animal on Etheria loves you.” So the Horde have headed to an unpopulated area expecting to find She-Ra’s comrades there, but will find only animals.

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Kowl then asks She-Ra what she said to Grizzlor before they left him, and she explains she told Grizzlor to tell Hordak exactly what he really thinks about him – and over in the Fright Zone, compelled by the Truth Chair, Grizzlor is doing exactly that – telling Hordak “And to tell the truth I think you’re really stupid. You’re always bungling things and has anybody told you that you’re so ugly that you make Skeletor look like He-Man…” Hordak, possibly trapped for days by the vines, has no choice but to listen to Grizzlor for days, angrily yelling “Just wait…” as he struggles to break free!

Like many of the comic’s stories tailored to its youngest readers, this story balances its soft and fluffy tone with clever humour and characterization to keep the older readers just as entertained, and while it does feel possibly a bit rushed in places, “Kowl Kidnapped” has a pleasant charm to it and some excellent comedy moments. The way Kowl outsmarts Hordak by working around the Truth Chair’s effects to give him true but useless answers is a great comedic touch, and it is good to see one of the smaller heroes outsmart the evil forces, much like Broom in Issue #7’s “Broom Saves the Day”. The villains are particularly well-written here and it is Grizzlor who really steals the show with his strong likeability for a villain. Ever the bumbling and subservient henchman, his childlike innocence provides some great comedy here, and given how Hordak treats him, we can’t help but cheer for Grizzlor when he finally gets to tell Hordak what he really thinks of him at the end!

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This story also explores an interesting angle not covered in the comic before, with regards to She-Ra’s bond with the animals of Etheria, her telepathic connection with them and the animals’ love and trust of her. We have seen some elements of this in previous stories, but this story really brings it to the forefront.

While it may not rank among the classics of the comic, “Kowl Kidnapped” is an entertaining story with some great writing and particularly amusing comedy moments, that brings the comics’ regular theme of brains over brawn very much into the foreground, and makes for great reading for both young and old readers alike!

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The above puzzle page concludes this issue. The maze feature is taken from one of the Princess of Power activity books published by World, which were published in the same building as the London Editions Comics.

 

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© Aidan Cross, 2021.