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UK London Editions Comics

Issue #8

Release Date: December 1986

Stories:

The Wild Wind, part 1

Broom Takes a Break

The Wild Wind, part 2

Broom Saves the Day

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Cover by: Joan Boix

Unlike earlier issues, the She-Ra comic covers are now depicting scenes from the actual stories inside instead of something unrelated. This issue's cover features a scene from the story "The Wild Wind, part 1" depicting She-Ra, Madame Razz and Broom surrounded by the comedic Blower People.

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This issue's title page and editorial.

****

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Story 1: “The Wild Wind, part 1”
Writer: Brian Clarke
Art: Joan Boix

Synopsis: Adora is visiting Madame Razz, who is finishing off her weekly washing. Madame Razz needs wind to dry the clothes, but there is not a single breeze in the air, so she decides to use her magic to conjure up some wind. However, as she is casting the spell, a leaf falls off a nearby tree and falls under her nose, causing her to sneeze, and her sneeze combines with her spell to open a hole in space, transporting herself, Adora and Broom away from Etheria. The three friends find themselves in a strange alien land, and Adora transforms to She-Ra, knowing her powers as She-Ra may well be of use to them here. Just then, they are attacked by an army of strange little wind people called the Blower Army – living miniature whirlwinds with faces, arms and legs. The Blower Army are angry with them and take them captive, bringing them before their king. King Blower blames She-Ra, Madame Razz and Broom for causing trouble on their world, but She-Ra does not know what he means. The king explains that the spell that transported them to the Blower People’s world ripped a hole in space, which caused one of the great winds of the Blower world to escape. She-Ra offers to help them recapture it, but King Blower explains it is not his people who need help, but She-Ra and her friends – for the great wind will now be causing havoc on Etheria. The king shows She-Ra and her friends a Trans-Screen, on which the hurricane is shown wreaking devastating chaos on Etheria.

Review: This story begins with Adora visiting Madame Razz, as Madame Razz is finishing washing her clothes. In typical comical fashion, Madame Razz tries to conjure up a wind with her magic to dry her clothes, but predictably, the spell goes wrong – with drastic consequences that set this 2-part story into motion.

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Opening a hole in space, Madame Razz has unwittingly teleported herself and her friends to another dimension, and they find themselves on a strange, alien landscape. Adora chooses to transform to She-Ra, knowing her powers as She-Ra may well be needed there. Her expositional thought bubble reminds the readers that Madame Razz and Broom already know her double identity, so transforming in front of them is no big deal. Such expository details as this, while they may seem unnecessary to regular readers, help establish the premise of the comics for first time readers.

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The alien world turns out to be home to a strange race of Blower People, who are like miniature whirlwinds with faces, arms and legs. They are memorably designed characters, an amusing race of miniature people who most definitely would not have seemed out of place in the Filmation cartoon series. Says writer Brian Clarke: "I was consciously taking the comic in a softer, fairytale direction and the wind creatures are part of that push. The art direction to the artist was something like “a mini cyclone with a face and arms’. Based on that, I think he did a very good job." The Blower People are angry with the Etherians and attempt to arrest them, and we get an amusing scene of them demonstrating their powers when Madame Razz challenges them.

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The Etherians are presented before the King Blower, who accuses them of causing some kind of trouble on the Blower People’s world. He explains that the way they travelled to the Blower world caused a hole to be ripped in the fabric of their dimension – which the Blower People’s scientists were able to plug, but they were unable to prevent one of the great winds escaping, which is now loose on Etheria. She-Ra at first thinks the king is angry because the wind is of some importance to them and they need it recaptured, but he explains that it is the Etherians who need help and not them at all, for the great wind is now loose on Etheria, as an image on a Trans-Screen demonstrates, showing the wind causing great destruction on Etheria.

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With hindsight, this makes it seem unusual as to why the Blower People are angry at the Etherians, for if the wind is no loss to them and it is Etheria which is in trouble, it would have made more sense for them to warn the Etherians of the danger than try to arrest them, for it is not likely that the Etherians would have intentionally chosen to unleash havoc on their home world. Either way, this cliffhanger sets the scene for part 2, as She-Ra is faced with the challenge of returning to Etheria and saving the planet before the wind causes too much destruction.

****

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Synopsis: Suffering a headache after yet another crash landing with Madame Razz, Broom sneaks into a small house to have a nap in the cupboard. But the lady who lives in the house mistakes him for an ordinary broom and starts to sweep the floor with him, leaving Broom desperate to get back home to Madame Razz!


Review: Instead of the regular She-Mail letters page, we get a short comedy strip in this issue starring Broom, similar to the Orko the Magician strips in the MOTU comic. This strip features Broom sneaking off for some refuge from Madame Razz, suffering a headache after yet another crash-landing. He sneaks into a house and goes into the store cupboard for a nap, but when the lady who lives there mistakes him for a regular broom and starts sweeping the floor with him, he realizes he much prefers being a flying broom and serving Madame Razz! Broom is certainly getting a lot of focus in this issue, and is becoming a profound character for younger readers to identify with.

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****

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Story 3: “The Wild Wind, part 2”
Writer: Brian Clarke
Art: Joan Boix

Synopsis: She-Ra, Madame Razz and Broom are desperate to find a way to get back to Etheria to stop the escaped hurricane from destroying everything on the planet. One of the Blower People’s scientists says he may be able to help teleport them home if they can provide him with a power source, so he can convert the Tele-Screen into a Matter-Transmitter. She-Ra offers her sword as a power source, and the Blower scientist uses the machine in conjunction with She-Ra’s sword to teleport the three friends home. Arriving on Etheria, She-Ra, Madame Razz and Broom find themselves in front of a path of destruction left by the wild wind. They manage to catch up with the wind, which fortunately has not passed through any villages yet, but is heading straight for the Manikins’ village, which it will destroy if they do not find a way to stop it in time. She-Ra tries blasting the wind with her sword, but her sword is powerless against it. Madame Razz and Broom race ahead to the village to warn the villagers to evacuate, while She-Ra uses her sword to blast a hole in the ground, hoping this will trap the wind. But the wind travels right over the hole, so instead She-Ra uses a set of tree trunks to build a wind breaker. But when the wind comes into contact with the wind breaker, it is so strong that it collapses it immediately, leaving She-Ra’s plan defeated. She-Ra transforms her sword into an energy rope and coils it around the wind, but the wind is too strong and only pulls the rope, and She-Ra herself, along with it. She-Ra turns the rope back to a sword and realizes the only way she can stop the wind is if she can somehow untwist the cyclone. So she commands her sword to circle the wind at super speed in the opposite direction from the way the wind is turning. The counter wind from the sword cancels out the effect of the wild wind, which finally dissipates into nothingness. At that moment, Madame Razz and Broom return from the village and congratulate She-Ra, and Broom remarks that at least one good thing has come of the day – the wild wind must surely have been strong enough to have dried all Madame Razz’s clothes!

Review: Part 2 of this story begins with a note of hope for She-Ra and her friends, as the Blower scientist offers to help them get home by converting the Tele-Screen into a Matter-Transmitter, using She-Ra’s sword as a power source. She-Ra and her friends are teleported home, and the Blower People at this point vanish from the story, but She-Ra is now faced with the challenge of stopping the wind causing too much destruction on Etheria.

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Fortunately the wind has not blown through any villages or towns yet, but it is heading straight for the Manikins’ Village and the trio must stop the wind before it reaches the village. As Madame Razz and Broom fly to the village to warn the villagers, She-Ra is left alone to work out how to stop the wind. Blasts from her sword prove ineffective, so she tries blasting a hole in the ground in the hope that the wind will fall into it. Of course, this plan does not work as the wind travels over the ground and not across it. While this provides a bit of educational science for the younger readers it seems slightly clumsy writing as it makes She-Ra look laughably scientifically ignorant, which is out of character for her – it would have been better to have had either Madame Razz or Broom suggest that solution rather than She-Ra herself, for it does make She-Ra look a bit of a fool.

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Next she attempts to build a Wind Breaker using a series of tree trunks, but this fails as well as the wind is too strong and blows them straight over. She next tries to stop it by turning her sword into an energy rope and lassoing it around the wind, but again the wind is too strong, only carrying She-Ra along with it.

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Finally, She-Ra comes up with the solution, and we get one of the UK Comics’ trademark ‘scientific solutions’. Taking into account that a cyclone is simply particles of air moving very quickly in a circle, She-Ra figures that if she commands her sword to circle the wind in the opposite direction, this should cancel out its effects. This plan works, and the wind dissipates, leaving the village safe, and leading to a moral from Madame Razz, that this proves heroines need to have brains as well as strength and courage. (And by using her brain successfully to save the day, I suppose we can let She-Ra off slightly for being so silly earlier as to think an entire cyclone could fall into the ground.) The story then ends on a lighthearted note, with Broom remarking that at least one good thing has come out of the day – the wind must have been strong enough to have dried Madame Razz’s clothes, meaning that her spell did work after all.

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As was the case with most of the stories in Issue #7, it is clear that the She-Ra comic is persisting in a direction geared more towards younger children of 5 or under, rather than an older or teenage audience as certain past stories suggested. As stated in the review of Issue #7, this was because it transpired that most retailers, uncertain whether to stack the She-Ra comic among the girls’ comics or the comics for young children, were mostly choosing the latter, leading the writers to skew more stories towards a younger readership. While older readers are likely to miss the more mature tone of past stories like Issue #6’s “The Siren Fish of Etheria” and Issue #4's "The Null-Stone of Nabob", and the difference in tone may strike some readers as quite a radical shift, the writers’ reasons for doing this are understandable, and there is still enough in “The Wild Wind” to keep all readers entertained, with some entertaining action and amusing dialogue, plus a refreshing change from the norm by being one of the few She-Ra stories not to involve the Horde.

****

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Story 4: “Broom Saves the Day”
Writer: Pat Kelleher
Art: Francisco Javier González Vilanova

Synopsis: In Doom Tower, Hordak reveals his latest invention to his minions, Catra, Grizzlor and Imp. It is an experimental Weather Helmet which enables its wearer to control the weather over a small area. Grizzlor tests out the Weather Helmet for his master, but causes a small rainstorm to erupt over Hordak himself, making Hordak very angry. The evil minions leave to cause trouble for the Rebels with the helmet before Hordak can take his wrath out on them. Meanwhile, Adora and Broom have gone to the village of Fellwick on an errand for Madame Razz. Broom is complaining that all he ever seems to do is run errands and perform chores, and wishes he could be a hero like his friends. Adora and Broom find Kowl at the village, entertaining the children with stories of the Rebels’ victories against the Horde, exaggerating his role in them to make himself sound like the hero. Not far from the village, Catra, Grizzlor and Imp test the Weather Helmet out on a peasant carrying bread to his village, causing a rainstorm that soaks all the bread loaves, ruining them. Reaching Fellwick, they use the helmet to create a cyclone that lifts the Twiggets off the ground before crashing them back down heavily, then they freeze the water in the village well. But Kowl sees the Horde minions causing this trouble, and as Adora is visiting Grandma Bella to collect a recipe for Madame Razz from her, Kowl and Broom take matters into their own hands and go chasing after the Horde minions themselves. When Adora comes back from Grandma Bella’s house, the villagers tell her where Kowl and Broom went, and Adora goes after them to help, transforming into She-Ra along the way. She-Ra finds Kowl and Broom being tormented by wild weather caused by the Horde with the helmet, and the Horde use the wild winds to knock She-Ra over, slamming her into a tree trunk. As Kowl tends to She-Ra, Broom thinks of a plan, and taunts Grizzlor, telling him it would take a thunderstorm to finish them off. Grizzlor uses the helmet to create a thunderstorm, and Broom taunts him into making the storm stronger, until finally the helmet explodes, the aerial on top acting as a lightning conductor and diverting the lightning into the ground, shorting out the helmet in the process. Grizzlor, Catra and Imp retreat back to the Fright Zone. A few days later, Kowl is entertaining the children of the village again with his stories, and the children ask Broom to tell them the story of how he defeated the Horde’s scheme with the Weather Helmet. Adora explains to Broom that he is now a hero too, as he saved the day single-handedly and has shown the villagers that the Horde can be defeated and some day Etheria may be free.

Review: Broom has come across as a perhaps surprisingly well-rounded character in most stories in which he has featured, a timid but well-meaning character who gets tired of people not taking him seriously because he is a broom. This story explores his character in more depth by exploring his wish to be a hero like the other Rebels. While the title of this story kind of gives away the ending, it is clear again that this story is very much aimed at the comics’ younger readership, many of who will enjoy seeing Broom getting a chance to shine in the spotlight.

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The story begins with a regular scenario from the comics, of Hordak presenting his latest invention to his Horde members. What is particularly surprising in this story is the inclusion of Imp, a character who was not part of the Mattel toy line but was created by Filmation for the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series, to give the Horde their own ‘cute comedy sidekick’ to add to the numerous characters of this nature among the heroes. While Imp was a regular character in the cartoon, the London Editions comics had completely ignored him up until now, so his sudden inclusion here is a surprise and perhaps reflects the comic’s conscious targeting of a younger audience. What is also notable is that his appearance is actually strikingly different from his animated counterpart – while he still seems to be some kind of miniature pig-bat hybrid, he has a completely different colour scheme, coloured bright red rather than blue with black clothing like in the cartoon. He appears different enough that some readers may not recognize him and may have a “That’s Imp?!” reaction upon seeing him, but personally I rather prefer this colour scheme due to its ‘devilish’ appearance. While this story treats the character as if he were a regular in the comic series, it would be the only London Editions story he would appear in – after this, the UK Comics seemed to forget about him once again.

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Hordak’s intention is to test his new invention, the Weather Helmet, with a trial run by his minions, and if it is successful he intends to build a machine strong enough to control all the weather on Etheria. Grizzlor is in full ‘bumbling idiot’ mode here, messing around with the dial on the helmet and causing a miniature rainstorm to erupt right above Hordak’s head, making Hordak very angry and causing his minions to flee before he can take his wrath out on them! Hordak vanishes from the story altogether after this – indeed, despite being the leader of the Horde, his roles have been fairly sparse and brief throughout the She-Ra comic of late, in favour of more prominent roles for his female minions Catra and Shadow Weaver as Hordak plays the role of the mostly unseen leader who operates from behind the scenes while his minions carry out his work.

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The scene cuts to the villains making their way through the nearby woods to Fellwick, where they test the Weather Helmet out on a peasant carrying loaves of bread to the village. Imp’s exuberance is very much highlighted, with his brattish, childlike personality: “I want a go. You’d better let me, or I’ll tell Hordak on you!” Although the tone of this story follows the comic’s current direction of aiming at the younger readers, the scene with the peasant gives us a hint of the darker, tragic side of the conflict on Etheria, as the peasant sobs alone in the woods, despairing of how he will pay his taxes to the Horde now the loaves, which he was going to sell to the other villagers, have been ruined. Nothing more is seen of this peasant in the story and this scene is a stark reminder of the real situation the Etherians live under; dominated by a totalitarian dictatorship of which the people are fearful and can be subjected to horrendous punishments at any moment.

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Back at the village, Adora makes Kowl promise not to tell any more stories as she goes to pick up a recipe from Grandma Bella, apparently a friend of Madame Razz. Though they have not appeared in the story up until now, The Twiggets are shown to be present, and are attacked by the villains, who use the Weather Helmet to create a cyclone. Then they use the helmet to freeze the water in a waterwell, and they are spotted by Broom and Kowl, causing them to flee into the woods before Broom and Kowl can set the Rebels onto them. This reminds us just how cowardly the Horde minions are, in that they will flee due only to being seen by two of the smallest and least harmful members of the Rebellion, rather than face a wider Rebel resistance. Imp shows his exuberance again with his remark of “Aw! Let’s stay and really sock it to ‘em!” 

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Against better judgement, Kowl and Broom choose to pursue them, Kowl particularly keen and overconfident, while Broom, typically more timid, is less certain and not sure they should go after the Horde members without Adora. The next panel shows Adora emerging from Grandma Bella’s cottage, and we get our singular glimpse of Grandma Bella, an old woman at Adora’s side. The villagers tell her where her friends went and Adora chases after them, transforming into She-Ra along the way.

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Unsurprisingly, Kowl and Broom prove to have been quickly overpowered by the force of the Weather Helmet, and She-Ra finds herself falling victim to it too, having to roll with the blow so as not to risk hurting Kowl or Broom in any attempt to fight off its force. She-Ra seems subsequently to have been hurt more intensely than usual - while the detail is not depicted, the subsequent panels indicate she has been slammed into a tree and fallen to the ground helplessly. She certainly appears considerably weaker than usual here.

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Fortunately, this is where the story’s title is put into action and Broom proves to be quick-thinking and smart enough to save the day when She-Ra has been taken out of the fight. In line with the comic’s regular theme of brains over brawn, Broom realizes that if he taunts Grizzlor into using the helmet to create a particularly ferocious thunderstorm, Grizzlor will be too stupid to realize the ensuing storm will eventually short circuit the helmet. As Grizzlor falls for Broom’s taunt, we see Imp’s shape-shifting powers, an ability of his cartoon counterpart, being put into action as he turns into an umbrella to shield Catra from the rain, the latter requiring shelter due to her feline hatred of water. She-Ra seems to be back in action by this point, turning her sword into a shield to shelter her and her friends from the rain, but Broom is very much in control at this stage and winks to Kowl, before the intended consequence occurs and the weather helmet explodes.

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As the villains recoil from the shock of the explosion, Kowl gives us the scientific explanation by detailing how the helmet acted as a lightning conductor and diverted the lightning into the ground beneath Grizzlor, shorting out the helmet in the process. The villains beat off a hasty retreat, Catra blaming Grizzlor as they splash through the puddles, heading back to the Fright Zone.

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The scene cuts to several days later, and Kowl is telling stories to the children of the village again, although he seems to be taking a more honest approach this time, concluding with “And that was how She-Ra defeated Hordak’s Terrorgater!” As soon as the children see Broom, they ask him to tell them the story of how he defeated Grizzlor and the Weather Helmet. Broom is taken aback at suddenly being treated as a hero, as he still feels normal - and Adora explains that anyone can be a hero, and now he has shown the people that the Horde can be defeated, giving them the strength to continue the resistance against the Horde.

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While the story has again geared itself towards younger readers, and older readers may miss the emotional and often sombre tone of certain stories from previous issues, the comic’s writers are treating the readers respectfully, refusing to patronize the younger readers while putting in enough humour, action and character depth to keep older readers just as entertained. Pat Kelleher, the writer of this story, does just as good a job here as he did in Issue #7's "A Thorny Problem", writing a kid-friendly story that is also amusing and entertaining enough for older readers to enjoy. Likewise, Pat did a great job of writing Broom in Issue #5's "The Wuglies", which showcased Broom's goodheartedness as well as his problem of not being taken seriously by others just because he is a broom, and as such he is the perfect writer to give Broom a much-deserved story in the spotlight. It is good to see Broom finally given a spotlight story away from Madame Razz, focusing on him as a character in his own right instead of as a tool of the latter, and his role as the saviour of this story will definitely be inspiring and pleasing to younger readers. While the Horde have been portrayed more as mischievous kids here than anything truly evil or threatening, the hints are still there of the tragic side of the conflict behind the scenes, with the hold they have over the people of Etheria and the fact the regular denizens of the planet live their lives in fear of the Horde regime. Meanwhile, the spirit of the London Editions comics is still very much intact, with their focus on brains over brawn and thinking-based plot solutions, with explanations of real-life science to provide an educational angle.


Overall, although there may have been a bit of repetition in this issue’s themes with both stories focusing on the theme of chaotic weather, the stories are still proving to be imaginative and challenging in their own way, and while they may be aiming at a younger audience, they are nonetheless doing a mighty fine job. Indeed, editor Brian Clarke says of this era of the comic: "I actually enjoyed the softer approach. Although there is plenty of action, there is no actual fighting."  Whether adopting a mature tone or one aimed at a younger readership, with great writers at the helm, the comics really can't go far wrong.

****

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This advertisement for the MOTU and POP 1987 annuals that were released around this time began appearing regularly in issues of the MOTU and She-Ra comics during this period. Says Brian Clarke: "One regret of mine is related to the inside back cover ad for the annuals. I wanted to write them but intra-company divisions were in the way." The publisher of the annuals, World International, was, like London Editions, another subsidiary of the Egmont Company, so they were printed and published under the same roof as the London Editions comics and occasionally shared staff, notably James Hill who as well as writing numerous stories for both comics, went on to write the whole of the 1989 MOTU annual. (Interestingly the annuals also often replicated artwork from the comics.) While it is unfortunate that Brian Clarke was not able to work on the annuals, he did write the smaller She-Ra books published as part of the Mini-World imprint, which were published around this same time. 

© Aidan Cross, 2021.