Ladybird Books, £0.93, ISBN 0-7214-7532-9
Well, He-Man and Masters of the Universe—yes, a “the” seems to be missing, but don’t look at me, I didn’t decide on the title of this baby—is the last entry for me to review in the Ladybird Books line, and this one easily has the best artworks in the entire line. This time, Robin Davies is joined by George Fryer, and the results are gorgeous. I especially love the spread illustration at the front and back of this one.
As for the stories… well, this one is a collection of short stories, so the best thing I can say is that they aren’t long enough to be annoying.
The first story, Dragon from Lost Valley, is a shorter adaptation of He-Man and the Lost Dragon. So yes, dumb, but this is a truncated kind of the original dumb, so that makes it a better kind of dumb.
The next story, The Curse of Crystal Mountain, sees He-Man needing to go to the mountain in question on a quest to save his mother. By the way, I love the image of the queen on the first page of this story. One can tell that this book was made in the 1980s, because the illustrators had made sure that Queen Marlena may be in her forties or fifties, but that cleavage is eternal, especially when she arches her back slightly to emphasize it as she is, er, in pain. These days, the woke crowd will insist that the queen is covered head to toe in a burka.
Anyway, it’s her birthday and she is thrilled to receive so many presents from her peasant serfs. Clearly, they give her these gifts on their own free will, out of love for her! She finds a pendant, wears it, and oh no… she slips straight into a coma after a dramatic cry. The doctor examines the pendant and can immediately tell that the pendant contains a “virus” that can be found only at Crystal Mountain. Apparently the dwarfs living there are safe from the virus as it only comes out of dormancy in warmer climates, but for some reason it is supposedly sensible for He-Man to go seek out the dwarfs and ask for an antidote. Don’t ask me why they would have an antidote for something they don’t suffer from. Did it ever occur to them that maybe this is a sinister plot of those dwarfs to infect the rest of the world in order to sell them
COVID-19 pendant-virus vaccines? Hmm…
Crystal Mountain is like Shangri-La. Everyone apparently knows the name of the place, but no one knows where it is. Well, the Sorceress has a pendant that can tell He-Man whether he’s getting warmer or colder, so he and a mechanical horse (seriously) go off to find the stumpies of virus county. Lots of hilariously dumb nonsense ensue, culminating in He-Man in a tug-of-war against his evil doppelganger. This one then ends before things get too insultingly stupid. The art is great, though.
Next is Menace in the Marshes. He-Man and Orko assist Man-at-Arms when he seeks a precious metal that exists only in meteoroids that crash onto Eternia, and naturally, one such crash site just has to be the creepy Skarmos marshes. Man-at-Arms is merely “sure” that the metal can be found there, mind you, it’s not like he’s absolutely certain, but certainty is for adults, not dumb kids, so these three are all “Let’s go!”
He-Man is in his Prince Adam guise here, and I have to hand it to the illustrators: I am not complaining about the abundance of He-Man and Adam butt views here. Still, looking at them leads me to wonder. Adam’s fur-panties are purple in color, while He-Man’s is brown. So, when Adam becomes He-Man, does that mean his fur-panties simply change color, or do they vanish along with Adam’s pink pantyhose, and somehow a pair of brown fur-panties then magically emerge to wrap themselves around He-Man’s loin?
Anyway, Mer-Man and his cute shoggoth-minions show up and get humiliated, the end, and this one gets a two thumbs up for all the lovely images that feature He-Man’s pert, rounded butt.
The next story is Pinnacle of Peril. The image on the first page is ooh-my material: He-Man and Man-at-Arms standing close and facing one another, with Man-at-Arms’s right hand apparently pointing at his crotch, and He-Man’s right hand looking like it’s reaching for that. That is one ship I can get on, and I’d even pay for the view from the first-class seat. He-Man tests out Man-at-Arms’s new flying machine (nothing dirty, I assure everyone) and then it gets stolen by Skeletor. Somewhere, Stratos must be laughing and saying, “Hah, so I’m not the only useless twat in this show!”
In fact, it is Stratos and his wife that help get He-Man out of his predicament. Is this the redemption of Stratos? Well, too bad; the line is put down before anyone starts to care.
The last image of this story are the butts of Skeletor and Zodac, wrapped in the patented fur-panties of Mattel. I approve.
Galactic Fugitives is about He-Man’s gang and Skeletor’s in a skirmish over first contact with blue-skinned aliens. He-Man’s butt here is as flat as the story, so meh. Who cares.
Finally, there is Warlord of Eternia, which sees Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, and Beast Man traveling back in time after Skeletor is incensed when his army lost to King Randor’s even before the fight begins… because his own army starts squabbling and fighting one another, yikes. What is Skeletor planning? To put a pillow over baby He-Man’s face and sit on that pillow? Of course not! He will pick supposedly better soldiers to bring back to the present and take down King Randor!
This is the best story of the lot, mostly because it’s different and it is also a story that has Beast-Man put in the spotlight. He and the two idiots are soon prisoners of the Warlord of Eternia, and that tyrant takes a liking to Beast-Man’s expertise with the whip. Our furry villain finds himself in an odd place of either ditching Skeletor and becoming a powerful aide to the Warlord, or remaining loyal to an idiot boss that cares little about his welfare. Naturally, he chooses the latter because, come on, only imbeciles would stay by Skeletor’s side this long.
The artwork in this one is also great, although the butts in fur-panties are disappointingly flat. They should have asked that same artist that does the bubble butts in the first few stories to do the same to the butts in the other stories!
Anyway, kiddie hour with He-Man is finally over, so that’s it for this line. At least this time He-Man and Masters of the Universe isn’t as ghastly stupid as the last few entries I’d the misfortune to read, so there’s that.