July’s comic book pick of the month: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

If you read my open call for comics back in April, then you know I’ll be spotlighting current comic book series (in addition to my graphic novel reviews) every month or so to inspire discussion. I’m also taking requests, so please — leave a comment or drop me an email!

The ’80s are still alive, baby! New to DC Comics, HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1 is a blast from your childhood past.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my mail and found a radiantly glowing HE-MAN comic book hiding in my pile of new issues. And by writer James Robinson, no less! Do you know who that is? He’s only one of the coolest writers ever — he modernized STARMAN and turned it into one of my favorite long-running series. So good.

Aside from the gorgeous cover by Philip Tan and Dave Wilkins (a great eye-catcher), the first issue brings back the classic cartoon in style. Look past the first page, which poses He-Man in an awkward running stance, and you’ll fall in love with Philip Tan’s art and Richard and Tanya Horie’s and Carrie Strachan’s colors (on their respective pages).

He-Man won’t be shouting “I have the power!” anytime soon — at least not in this issue. Adam is a woodsman, “and that is all.” He dreams of swords and beasts and heroes, but when he wakes he’s back in the forest, chopping wood and caring for his senile father, who thinks he lives in a royal palace. Whatever reality has become for Adam and those around him, it’s not the stuff of legend. Robinson has given the comic a kind of FABLES vibe.

But the world is trying to make him remember. First a blue and orange falcon — Zoar. Then a monster that confronts him as soon as he leaves his home. His axe becomes a weapon; the woods his battle ground.

It might be different, but the comic still feels like the classic tale. The scene at the end, where Skeletor says “Adam must be stopped, and quickly!” is reminiscent of the cheesy kids’ cartoon. Robinson’s HE-MAN feels like a bridge between two eras … and I hope it’s here to stay for more than just six issues.

Happy 30th anniversary, He-Man.

HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1 (by writer James Robinson and penciller Philip Tan) hits stands Wednesday, July 4.

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