UK London Editions Comics

Issue #4

Release Date: October 1986

Stories:

Hordak's Evil Brew

Operation Whirlpool

The Null-Stone of Nabob

Cover by: Joan Boix

As with previous issues, this issue's cover illustration is not directly related to any of the stories within the issue – even though the caption "Hordak's Dragon Attack!" implies such a story will be contained within, this issue features no story of that nature (and no dragons either!).

This issue’s editorial makes the first mention of the upcoming Twins of Power special featuring both He-Man and She-Ra, which would introduce the character of Horde Prime to the London Editions mythos.

The Angella illustration is by Joan Boix.

Story 1: “Hordak’s Evil Brew”
Writer: Unknown
Art: José María Ortiz Tafalla

Synopsis: In the Fright Zone, Hordak reveals to his minions a potion containing a sleeping drug, which he intends to use to drug Princess Adora into a long sleep. At night, Hordak and his Hordesmen gather outside Princess Adora’s home, and Hordak leans through the window, dropping the potion into Adora’s mouth. Meanwhile, Modulok breaks into the stables and begins stealing Adora’s horses to distract the guards. As the guards are distracted by the sound of the horses being stolen, Hordak and Grizzlor sneak into Adora’s bedroom and kidnap her. By now Adora is in far too deep a sleep to wake up. However, as Hordak and Grizzlor escape with Adora, Kowl sees them and follows, clutching Adora’s sword. Hordak and Grizzlor reach the shore, where Modulok is waiting for them with a small boat. Grizzlor places the sleeping Adora in the boat, and Modulok pushes the boat out to sea. Hordak now intends to wreak as much havoc over Etheria as possible while the Rebels are busy searching for the missing Adora. Unseen by the Horde, Kowl flies after Adora as she drifts out to sea, and unable to wake her, he leaves the Sword of Protection in the boat so that she will be able to change into She-Ra when she awakens. Kowl then flies back to land to summon help, and later a fierce storm strikes at sea. Adora finally awakens to find herself adrift in the boat in the storm. Finding her sword, she transforms into She-Ra, just as a deadly enemy emerges from the watery depths – Krack-Nar, the legendary monster of the Etherian deep.

Review: The first and most notable thing about this story is its radically different style of artwork, which stands out beautifully from the other She-Ra comics released so far. And keen-eyed readers may well notice various distinctive similarities with the artwork from the MOTU comics, particularly in the way Hordak and his Horde members are drawn. This is because the artist is none other than José María Ortiz Tafalla, the regular artist from the MOTU comics, making a guest appearance for the only story in the regular fortnightly She-Ra comic that he would draw. He would also illustrate the Twins of Power special the following month – but sadly he did no further She-Ra comics, which is unfortunate as his artwork is gorgeous and very nicely suited to the She-Ra world, sparkling with vibrant colours. Editor Brian Clarke had been unhappy with the backgrounds and colour in She-Ra Issue #3, and sent guidelines to the Selecciones Illustradas agency asking them to make the backgrounds ‘breathe’ more. Tafalla’s artwork here certainly more than satisfies Brian’s request.

From the very first panel of this story there are clear echoes of the MOTU comic, in the appearances of the Horde henchmen – all of who, as per usual with the MOTU comic, are drawn to resemble their action figure counterparts, unlike previous issues of She-Ra, while Hordak has the distinctive appearance and colour scheme from the MOTU comic. It is also notable that the Fright Zone is drawn to resemble the toy playset that we regularly see in the MOTU comics, as opposed to the radically different version from the Filmation cartoon that has been the model for its look in previous She-Ra comics. Although a later letters page in the MOTU comic would explain that there were two Fright Zones – one on Eternia that resembles the toy, and one on Etheria that we see in the cartoon – this is very clearly the Eternian Fright Zone, though the opening text panel states it is on Etheria. The absence of any of the female Horde villains, untypical for the She-Ra comics, also gives this story more of a feel of the MOTU comic, with Hordak accompanied solely by his male henchmen from the MOTU toy line. (The style of the titles is also different in this issue - it is absent of the usual She-Ra logo, and set in a different font.)

Hordak begins by outlining his scheme to his henchmen as usual – although it is not a technological invention this time, but a potion containing a sleeping drug, the ‘brew’ of the title. The scene then switches to a building somewhere in which Adora is sleeping. Now I would like to think this is actually Adora’s home – it would work nicely as our heroine’s own private quarters, defended by a team of all-female guards, and a stable on the premises, which would indicate Adora owns other horses besides Spirit. However, some of the dialogue would imply this is not actually Adora’s home at all but a place owned by the Kryon Tribe. Very little is said about the Kryon Tribe and it is not even clear who exactly they are – but Hordak’s remark that “I knew that Adora was due to visit the Kryon Tribe” and Adora’s comment at the end of the second part of this story, that she must “return to the Kryon Tribe” would indicate she is on some kind of visit rather than in her home surroundings. Either way, Adora’s bedroom is very nicely illustrated, although it is rather amusing that Hordak does not notice She-Ra’s Sword of Protection propped up against the wall in plain sight! You would have thought Adora would keep the sword in a more private location overnight, yet it is necessary for story purposes that we see the sword in this panel.

The all-female team of guards are a great touch and the location has a medieval, Gothic look to it, which works very nicely. Hordak alludes to how once his scheme is complete “Not even that wretched She-Ra will be able to rescue her!” not realizing it is She-Ra herself that he has drugged to sleep and sent out to sea. If only he had looked at the sword by the wall…

Fortunately for Adora, Kowl, clearly awake during the night, had suspected the stealing of the horses was a diversion tactic of some sort and has overheard the villains’ voices in Adora’s room. He takes hold of Adora’s sword and flies behind the Horde in secrecy as they escape, so he can place Adora’s sword next to her sleeping form, allowing her to transform into She-Ra when she awakes. Adora is sent adrift alone in the small boat, drifting far out to sea while sound asleep, eventually awakening amidst a fierce storm.

After Adora has awakened and transformed to She-Ra, the story ends on an exciting climax as the sea demon Krack-Nar emerges from the watery depths and attacks her. Our heroine, naturally, is completely fearless despite the predicament she finds herself in, and begins to do battle with the demon as part 1 comes to a close.

****

This issue’s letters pages features some interesting questions from readers. We have a letter sent to Scrollos at the MOTU comic complaining about the fact the Horde females never feature in the MOTU comic, and the response says they will feature in a future story in MOTU. (This did not happen quite as stated here, although Shadow Weaver eventually made a guest appearance in MOTU Issue #42). The answer to one of the other letters also mentions the upcoming live action MOTU movie, first alluded to the previous week in the editorial for MOTU Issue #15. It is also interesting to note that all the letters on the page are from male readers, indicating the She-Ra comic was doing a good job of reaching out to readers of both sexes rather than just being a “girls’ comic”.

****

Story 2: “Operation Whirlpool”
Writer: Unknown
Art: José María Ortiz Tafalla

Synopsis: Deep beneath the Etherian ocean, Mermista and her friends are playing hide-and-seek among the giant sea plants. Their game is interrupted by Mermista’s friend Flier, the Sea-Dolph, who tells her he senses someone in danger on the surface. Mermista and her friends swim to the surface, accompanied by Flier, and they see She-Ra, adrift in the small boat, being attacked by the demon Krack-Nar. Mermista instructs Flier to push She-Ra’s boat to one side and begin Operation Whirlpool. Flier and the other Sea-Dolphs begin to swim rapidly in a circle around Krack-Nar, creating a whirlpool, which slowly drags Krack-Nar back to the murky depths where he came from. With the waters finally quiet and still on the surface, and the storm having passed, Mermista asks She-Ra what she is doing adrift on the ocean all alone in such a small boat, and she explains she does not know but suspects Hordak had something to do with it. Mermista tells She-Ra to take a deep breath and cling onto Flier, the fastest Sea-Dolph, and he will take her back to dry land along an underwater canal. She-Ra holds on tight to Flier, and after a safe and speedy journey along the underwater canal, they emerge in a lake close to the Fright Zone. On the lake’s edge stands a Mammaphant, which She-Ra speaks to using her ability to communicate with animals. Overhearing Hordak and his Hordesmen passing nearby, She-Ra approaches them and tells them Princess Adora is safe and back on dry land – and the Mammaphant punishes them with a huge whoosh of water from its trunk! She-Ra and the Mammaphant leave the soaked Hordesmen behind, and She-Ra changes back into Adora. As she nears home, Kowl flies towards her, having been just about to set off with Bow and a search party. Relieved to find Adora safe, the friends celebrate her return.

Review: The second part of this issue’s main story begins with Mermista playing hide-and-seek near the sea bed, among the giant sea plants. This is the first real story role we have seen for Mermista in the comics, and she is written really well – portrayed as a playful water nymph whose favourite pastime is fun and frolics at the bottom of the tropical waters with the sea creatures and the other mermaids, but who does not hesitate to heed the call of battle when the Rebellion needs her. As a character who, despite being only one of the supporting cast, seems to be portrayed very effectively across all Princess of Power media, it is always a great pleasure to see her in any story.

Here she is alerted by one of her Sea-Dolphs to the danger on the surface level, and together with the others of her species, she swims to the surface, where She-Ra is doing battle with Krack-Nar. It is revealed that She-Ra has sent a telepathic distress call that was picked up by the dolphins. The dolphins put into action Operation Whirlpool of the title, and we get a fantastic four-panel illustration showing Krack-Nar being sucked down into the watery depths by the whirlpool as the dolphins swim around him in circles.

The next few panels do a great job of conveying the stillness and peace on the surface after the storm has passed and Krack-Nar defeated. The vibrant colours are stunning and it really does seem a shame that Tafalla could not have brought his style to more of the London Editions She-Ra comics.

Flier, the fastest of Mermista’s Sea-Dolphs, propels She-Ra back to safety along an underwater canal, emerging in a lake near the Fright Zone, by which She-Ra encounters the Mammaphant – as the name suggests, a hybrid between a mammoth and an elephant, and drawn very nicely indeed, in very intricate and striking detail. She-Ra is able to use her power to communicate with animals to speak to the Mammaphant and enlist its help against the Horde.

The story’s resolution takes a more playful and humorous form, with the Horde simply being soaked by a blast of water from the Mammaphant’s trunk, and She-Ra wagging a finger at them while saying “So let that be a lesson to you, should you ever want to try that trick again.” There has been a lot of fluctuation in the Horde’s portrayal in the She-Ra comics so far, regarding whether they are portrayed as a serious and deathly evil threat to Etheria, or as a bumbling comedy troupe. The resolution of this story certainly makes them look like the latter, but it need not matter hugely in the wider context of the story, which has transitioned quite smoothly from mysterious beginnings to a playful, feelgood atmosphere, and Grizzlor’s comment of “Do you have a towel, master?” is particularly amusing. The story has been executed nicely, so that its gradual transition from a more sinister feel at the beginning to a positive and playful resolution has seemed like a natural progression rather than an abrupt shift in tone.

The final page seemingly shows us, for the one time in the comic’s run, She-Ra changing back to Adora, merely changing back in a quick flash rather than involving the sword in any sense. (A few of the MOTU comics would later show that He-Man would change back to Adam by holding his sword aloft and repeating his magic oath. So far as we see here, however, She-Ra’s reverse transformation is a lot simpler.) Indeed, the sword has been absolutely nowhere to be seen since the scenes at sea, yet there is no reason to assume it was lost at sea – its absence seems more like an oversight on the artist’s part. The way the colours have been set has caused Adora’s hair to appear green on this final page. Adora finds herself reunited with Kowl, together with Bow and Madame Razz as she nears home, and the story ends with Adora delivering a pun on how Hordak “has reached a watershed in his criminal career.”

This story is notably different from other stories in the comic in many ways – as well as the strikingly different style of artwork, the tone of the story is significantly different – it follows neither the action-driven tone of certain other stories nor the fairytale-like feel of others, rather it sits quite nicely in a class of its own, somewhere in between. Although it began in a more mysterious and sinister fashion with the Horde’s night time invasion of Adora’s bedroom, but has ended with a playful and comedic tone, it has seemed nevertheless a smooth and natural transition, and this story, sparkling with vibrant colours and attractive artwork, has a feelgood atmosphere to it which endears itself greatly to the reader. And as an enchanting adventure story which has seen some classic examples of She-Ra’s resilience in the face of danger, as well a great role for the supporting character of Mermista, a fantastic glimpse of Etherian sea life and some very strong comedy moments on the Horde’s part, this story is another winner for the London Editions She-Ra comics.

****

Story 3: “The Null-Stone of Nabob”
Writer: Pat Kelleher
Art: Joan Boix

Synopsis: She-Ra has been summoned urgently by Light Hope to the Crystal Castle. Light Hope tells her that Hordak has found the Null-Stone of Nabob, which means all Etheria is in deadly peril. Light Hope explains that the Null-Stone was one of nine stones that belonged to Nabob, one of the First Ones. The stone had the power to nullify any magic that it came into contact with, cancelling it out. Realizing how dangerous the Null-Stone’s power was, the First Ones buried it at the centre of Etheria, where the rock was so thick that the Null-Stone’s power could not penetrate it. Now Hordak has found the Null-Stone and brought it to the surface, meaning all the magic in Etheria could potentially be drained, leaving the planet defenceless against the Horde. Meanwhile, Hordak and his Hordesmen are flying over Etheria in a Horde-Ship, with the Null-Stone mounted beneath it. They intend to cover the entire planet in the ship, until all the magic on Etheria is drained, including that of the Crystal Castle. Back at the Crystal Castle, Light Hope assures She-Ra that the castle is safe, for if the Horde fly over it he can magically change its location. But the rest of Etheria is in great danger, and it will be too risky for She-Ra to venture out in her current form, for the Null-Stone could sap her power and leave her helpless. So She-Ra changes to Adora, and goes to the Whispering Woods, where she explains to Bow and Madame Razz the danger that threatens Etheria. When the Horde-Ship flies over Whispering Woods, Bow fires a Grappling Hook Arrow at the ship and uses it to haul himself and Adora on board. He overpowers a Horde Trooper with a Smoke Arrow, and they enter the chamber where the Null-Stone is kept. Adora retrieves it and her and Bow jump out of the ship into the Silver River below. They swim to the bank, and Adora explains the only solution now is for She-Ra to take the Null-Stone to Entrapta, in the Prism of Light where she resides. Although Entrapta is distrustful of outsiders, She-Ra is one of the few people she trusts and thus She-Ra must go alone – and although it is a risk for her to take the Null-Stone with her, it is a risk she is prepared to take. Adora goes somewhere private to transform into She-Ra, then taking the Null-Stone with her, she sails out on Sea-Harp across the river, towards the Prism of Light. She reaches the Prism before she expects to, the Null-Stone already having drained enough of her power to cause her to black out. Entering the Prism of Light, she explains the situation to Entrapta, and that the only way to stop this threat is for her to enter the Maze of Mirrors in Entrapta’s home with the Null-Stone. Feeling she has no choice, Entrapta allows She-Ra to enter her home. By now, She-Ra has been considerably weakened and her magic is fast fading, but she reaches the Maze of Mirrors and places the Null-Stone before the concave mirrors. The light from the stone is collected and concentrated a thousand-fold by the mirrors, and reflected back upon the stone itself. This causes the Null-Stone’s power to be cancelled out by its own magnified flow, leaving it a dull, useless rock. She-Ra feels her strength and power returning, and emerges from the maze with the now useless Null-Stone, thanking Entrapta for her help and promising her a favour in return.

Review: “The Null-Stone of Nabob” is a significant story for delving into Etheria’s history, exploring an artefact from the planet’s ancient past that holds the power to potentially defeat She-Ra once and for all. We have not explored Etheria’s history so much in the comics so far, so this story gives us a brief but much-needed exploration of Etheria’s ancient past while placing She-Ra under a direct threat to her powers which makes for a truly enthralling and inspiring read.

 

Joan Boix, the regular artist for the She-Ra comics, resumes the artistic duties for this story, and possibly in response to Brian Clarke’s request for more vibrant backgrounds, the colour pages of this story are awash with striking psychedelic colour that allows this story to immediately stand out in the reader’s mind. Out of all the stories Joan Boix illustrated for both the She-Ra and MOTU comics, this is quite possibly his strongest work.

As the story begins, with She-Ra being summoned to the Crystal Castle by Light Hope, most readers will be well and truly taken aback by the way Light Hope is drawn. Viewers of the cartoon – or fans of just about any other She-Ra media – are familiar with Light Hope as a non-physical being, a beam of pure light energy. Yet here he is depicted in the form of a human king with regal attire and a white beard, more or less indistinguishable from King Randor from the MOTU comics! This seemingly inaccurate and also rather mundane depiction of the character is sure to take aback any reader. This is the first time that Light Hope has appeared in a regular story in the comic, though he has appeared briefly once before, in one panel of “The Legend of Etheria” origin strip in Issue #1, which depicted him in line with our regular expectations, as a beam of light. As that strip was also drawn by Joan Boix, he clearly knew how Light Hope was supposed to look, so why he chose to draw him here as a generic-looking king is unclear. Thankfully this would be the only time Light Hope was depicted in this form by the comics – future appearances showed him back in his regular beam of light form, albeit often shown as a much smaller and thinner beam of light than in the cartoon series.

Light Hope explains to She-Ra the story of the Null-Stone, which belonged to Nabob, a member of the First Ones, the guardians of Etheria in ancient times. This is the first time the comics have mentioned the First Ones, though they were a feature of the Filmation She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series, and the comic’s depiction of them is heavily different from that of the show. The cartoon series portrayed them as living beings of flame who dwelled within the Cavern of Fire beneath the Crystal Castle, yet here they appear as pretty much Etheria’s equivalent of the Elders of Eternia in the MOTU comics, as a team of elderly male magicians who protected Etheria from evil in its distant past. While this may not seem quite as interesting as Filmation’s portrayal of the characters, it is good to get a glimpse of Etheria’s ancient history and its defenders in these times.

The Null-Stone’s power is to nullify any form of magic that it comes into contact with, and if any magical being remains exposed to the Null-Stone’s light for too long, they will lose their magical powers forever. As such, now that the Horde has found the Null-Stone and retrieved it from its hiding place at the centre of the planet, all the magic of Etheria could be drained forever.

We switch our attention to Hordak, who is flying above Etheria in a Horde-Ship, the Null-Stone mounted beneath the ship. His intention is to fly over the entire planet until all the magic in Etheria has been drained. While he does not know the location of the Crystal Castle, he believes that if he covers the whole of Etheria, it will not be able to escape the effects of the Null-Stone. We get a brief but brilliant interchange between Hordak and Shadow Weaver, as the mistress of dark magic protests that her own magic is susceptible to the effects of the Null-Stone. Hordak, however, does not care about this in the slightest and rebuffs her, declaring that “Without magic, my science will reign on Etheria!” This is a brilliant touch and shows us just how much Hordak despises magic. Many stories in both the MOTU and She-Ra comics would showcase Hordak’s dislike of magic and preference for science, and we see here how he simply has no real appreciation for nor respect of magic whatsoever, and it is only with reluctance that he accepts the necessity of Shadow Weaver’s services to him – he would gladly do without her in a world where science reigns supreme. (Issue #13 would later explain Shadow Weaver’s origins in detail and Hordak’s reasons for recruiting her, as well as her own dependence on remaining loyal to Hordak in order to maintain her powers.)

We get a brief scene in the Whispering Woods where Glimmer, Madame Razz, and Castaspella – a character who is yet to feature significantly in the comics – being exposed briefly to the effects of the Null-Stone as the Horde-Ship flies overhead, feeling their magic vanish altogether for a single moment. Back at the Crystal Castle, Light Hope explains to She-Ra that the Crystal Castle is safe – for Hordak is unaware that the castle is capable of appearing anywhere Light Hope chooses rather than being fixed in a single place, so if the Horde flies over it, Light Hope will just change its location. But She-Ra’s power will be at great risk, so it will be safer for her to resume her mortal form of Adora to render herself safe from the Null-Stone’s effects.

After Adora has explained to Bow, Madame Razz and Glimmer what is happening, we get a good showcase of Bow’s ability as a marksman and the powers of his various arrows, as he uses a Grappling Hook Arrow to get himself and Adora on board the ship, and a Smoke Arrow to overpower the Troopers. He and Adora retrieve the Null-Stone from the chamber in which it is kept (marked by a sign reading “DANGER: NO MAGIC BEYOND THIS POINT”) and jump into the Silver River below, from where they swim to safety.

This is the point where the story’s main flaw comes in (although thankfully given the way things develop, it’s not a fatal one.) The Horde’s plan to fly over all Etheria with the Null-Stone has been defeated extremely easily for such a potentially dangerous scheme. Bow pretty much does the job single-handedly, and Adora does not even need to transform to She-Ra to retrieve the Null-Stone from the ship. For a scheme that could potentially have had such deadly consequences, it has been extremely easy for the Rebels to thwart it from being executed as planned, and you would think Hordak would have employed tighter security measures to prevent any Rebels entering the chamber in the instance they were able to get on board. But Bow pretty much thwarts the scheme with minimal effort, and the Horde vanish from the story – we are not even shown Hordak’s reaction to his scheme being foiled. It is quite possible he would not have been too worried, believing the Null-Stone’s incredible power would defeat the Rebels by draining them of their magic powers regardless – but either way, the fact his scheme has been foiled in such a straightforward manner does make the Horde look rather incompetent here. In any other story where Hordak’s scheme was defeated this easily, it would likely be a fatal flaw – but thankfully, with the direction this story takes from here on, it turns out to be only a minor one in the story’s general context, and can be forgiven, partly due to our awareness of the constraints of space in the comic. For the Null-Stone itself, rather than the Horde, is the real threat of this story that needs defeating, as it is an artefact that can potentially destroy She-Ra just by being in her presence. How can she possibly defeat a threat this deadly? And this is where the story takes a particularly interesting twist, as Adora explains that the only person who can help them now is Entrapta.

Entrapta, a villainess and ally of Catra in the Mattel toy line, has only appeared in one story in the comic so far – “The Disappearance of Madame Razz” in Issue #3 – and this story greatly confused many fans by portraying her as seemingly a member of the Rebellion, laughing and joking casually with the other princesses. This story, however, steps very slightly more in line with her regular portrayal (but only very slightly indeed) by revealing she is not part of the Rebellion at all but a neutral character who is distrustful of all other people and has no firm allegiance on Etheria, but She-Ra is one of few people she will take notice of. This is still considerably different from her usual portrayal as a regular villainess, but opens her up as a particularly intriguing character within the London Editions media, given her apparent indecision over her exact allegiance.

We get a brief appearance of Mermista as she emerges from the Silver River, and Adora and Bow call upon her assistance (we would learn more about Mermista’s home in the Silver River in Issue #6, in “The Siren Fish of Etheria”). Adora, having explained that She-Ra is willing to take the risk of travelling with the Null-Stone to Entrapta’s home, sneaks off to transform into She-Ra, and upon returning, sails out in Sea-Harp heading for the Prism of Lights, where Entrapta lives. Advising Bow that she must go alone, for if Entrapta sees anyone else with her she may become suspicious and refuse to listen to her, she sails off on her mission, with Bow wishing her well as the effects of the Null-Stone begin already to drain her powers.

The next panel is a great moment, with She-Ra suddenly finding herself at her destination sooner than expected, the effects of the Null-Stone having caused her to black out without realizing, She-Ra’s dialogue slow and separated by ellipses to show just how heavily the Null-Stone is weakening her. We still do not know at this point exactly how She-Ra expects Entrapta to help her, so there is a lot of tension and uncertainty at this stage of the story, with the reader kept guessing. This tense atmosphere leads us to a closing sequence on the final page that is dramatic, emotional and surreal and makes for one of the most enthralling conclusions to any story within the She-Ra comic so far.

Upon being greeted by Entrapta at the Prism of Lights, the confusion regarding Entrapta’s character is added to further when we see that she has been drawn as Double Trouble, a completely different character in the Mattel toy line. While the next page gives her a different colour scheme from Double Trouble, her costume white, blue and gold as opposed to Double Trouble’s all-green outfit, there is no mistaking that she has been given Double Trouble’s appearance. It may well strike the reader at this point that her portrayal in this story is actually what one may more expect from the character of Double Trouble. The latter character was conceived of by Mattel as a double agent, an ally of the Princesses who would go undercover by changing to an evil face and posing as an ally of Catra in order to spy on her and report back to the princesses on Catra’s evil schemes. While this portrayal was consistent across most other story media, the idea of a character with a ‘split personality’ of sorts means the portrayal of Entrapta here, as a morally confused character, would actually have worked very nicely as an alternate characterization of Double Trouble. It thus raises the possibility of whether there was some confusion between the two characters on the part of London Editions, Selecciones Illustradas or both. Indeed, when Entrapta appeared previously in Issue #3, not only was she drawn with her regular toy appearance, but her character was portrayed completely differently to here – she seemed entirely casual and relaxed in the presence of the Rebels, laughing and joking with them, in complete contrast to her aloof, reserved persona here – so it is very difficult to imagine the character in the previous story to be the same person as the character here. Double Trouble in her own right never appeared in the London Editions comics – we see what looks like her among the Horde members on the two-page spread in Issue #1, but this story makes us realize it is possible that was actually meant to be Entrapta.

When I asked the comics' editor Brian Clarke about the portrayal of Entrapta, he explained “I remember the reason why I wanted this ambiguous character, and it’s because I knew I needed more emotional content in the She-Ra stories. So I was always struggling as to where I could find this, and girls in particular like characters who, due to circumstances, are trying to do the right thing but are trapped by the moment, ‘Am I doing this right’, and ‘Am I doing that right’, and having that kind of tension based on her relationship and trust and relying on people, I felt gave us that little bit more drama to play with in there, and a little bit more character development. She-Ra herself was very strident and knows what she’s doing, a woman of the moment. And it’s nice to have these other characters around who are a little less certain of themselves, and there’s this whole sense of ‘I really don’t know what’s going on here’, ‘I don’t know who to trust here’ and that’s the reason why we wanted to play with Entrapta. As for the costumes, and why she looked like Double Trouble, I can’t be sure.” (See this site’s Interview With Brian Clarke for more details.)

Whatever the explanation behind the confusion with Double Trouble, there is no doubt that Pat Kelleher, the writer or this story, did a more than impressive job with his portrayal of Entrapta. Although she only appears in a few panels in the story’s final scene, she has a strong presence and her portrayal adds an intense, emotional edge to the story, from a reclusive and paranoid outsider character who has no deep desire to help She-Ra, but plays an essential role in saving the day. This was unfortunately also Entrapta’s last appearance in the comics, and this is a great shame as there is a lot more that could have been done with her character, and it would have been great to have explored this intense outcast character in more depth. (And while it is yet another very different portrayal of the character, I personally can’t help but wonder if her depiction in the recent She-Ra and the Princesses of Power series on Netflix, as a reclusive misfit member of the Princesses who winds up defecting to the Horde, was in some way influenced by her portrayal here.) Her appearance here raises so many intriguing questions – why exactly does she live in the Prism of Lights, and what role if any does this location serve to play on Etheria? The Prism of Lights is shown to contain the Maze of Mirrors, well what else does it contain? And She-Ra states here that Entrapta has magic powers of her own, so what exactly are those powers, and how could Entrapta potentially use them for the benefits of either the Rebels or the Horde? This character has so much potential that it is definitely unfortunate that she could not have made more appearances in the comic – a story focusing on the Horde manipulating her into aiding one of their schemes, for instance, could have had amazing potential.

The climactic scene of She-Ra entering the Maze of Mirrors with the Null-Stone, so that its power may be cancelled out by its own magic as its light is reflected by the mirrors back onto the Null-Stone itself, is beautifully executed. The style of illustration and psychedelic kaleidoscope of colours give the scene a surreal, dreamlike vibe as the weakening She-Ra staggers into the maze of concave mirrors. In the final panels, we finally see just how She-Ra intends to use the Prism of Lights to defeat the power of the Null-Stone. By placing it in front of the mirrors, its light is collected and concentrated by the mirrors and reflected back on the Null-Stone itself, causing its powers to be cancelled out by its own glow, leaving it a dull, lifeless rock. These final panels are beautifully illustrated, and are marked by the vibrant, striking colours, a lot more vivid and resplendent than Joan Boix’s usual style.

On the final panel, Entrapta, unwilling to help someone without being promised something in return, makes She-Ra promise her a favour in return for her help here. Although this is not something that any of her regular allies, with their more trusting nature, would ever expect of her, She-Ra is nevertheless only too happy to oblige, given that the Null-Stone came close to cancelling out her powers completely and possibly rendering Etheria helpless against the Horde. She-Ra states the story’s moral on the final panel as she talks of how the experience has made her realize how precious a gift her powers are and that she must never take them for granted. This is a powerful, emotional ending that makes more a more than satisfying conclusion to an intriguing and mysterious story that has taken several unexpected twists and turns and kept us guessing as to just how She-Ra would save the day.

“The Null-Stone of Nabob” is easily one of the strongest stories in the She-Ra comic yet – a fantastically original idea and gripping plot twists leading towards a powerful and emotional climax and an excellent and memorable role for the rarely seen Entrapta – bringing to an end a fantastic issue of the comic that has excelled in powerful illustrations, emotional content and the establishment of She-Ra as a particularly strong and powerful heroine. The characters and world of Etheria have by now been established brilliantly by the London Editions writers and artists, and She-Ra is proving a fantastic and inspirational lead character who in many ways is more psychologically interesting than her brother in the MOTU comic – a true role model for both female and male readers.

****

© Aidan Cross, 2020.

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