Ladybird Books, £0.85, ISBN 0-7214-0982-2
Reading books aimed at kiddies sometimes makes me wonder whether kids are really as stupid as the authors of those books sometimes seem to believe those kids to be. He-Man and the Asteroid of Doom is one such book, and by the power of Grayskull, such stupidity surely can’t be allowed to exist to plague the minds of poor kiddies everywhere.
Okay, this one introduces the villains from She-Ra: Princess of Power—the 1980s version, naturally, not the grotesque modern day version that was made by talentless fanfiction writers from Tumblr—and the usual “flying scout” role is now given to the bee-dude Buzz-Off instead of Stratos. Not that it matters because nearly all the characters here are basically making cameo appearances.
What happens is that a long, long time ago, the folks in Eternia created a “power source” that they later realized was so potentially destructive that they… packed it onto a rocket and sent it to space. How does that even work? The rocket collided with some asteroids, and instead of releasing the deadly powers of that source, whatever it really is, and destroy Eternia like it deserves to be, the source managed to endure, floating in space as the Asteroid of Doom mentioned in the title.
So, cut to present day. Hordak wants something powerful to eliminate his enemies once and for all, so his underlings suggest checking out this Asteroid of Doom. Instead of doing more research to find out whether that thing exists, he’s all okay, let’s make this long, dangerous space journey to find it. In the meantime, He-Man and his pals realize that a spacecraft is hovering in space over Eternia, and I have no idea how they know of this, since I don’t see any satellite dish thing in Castle Grayskull to detect these things. At any rate, He-Man reasonably calls the spaceship to say hello. Hordak naturally doesn’t respond and so He-Man is stumped.
Meanwhile, Skeletor proves that for once he is smarter than He-Man when he manages to detect Hordak and realize what that fellow is up to. So he unleashes his own device: a giant magnet. So, while Hordak attempts to drag the Asteroid of Doom away with his spaceship, Skeletor now pulls the Asteroid down to Eternia instead. A tug-of-war ensues, ho-ho-ho!
This is where things become even more stupid, instead of fun like a tug-of-war between two cackling imbeciles should be. He-Man and his pals are all, oh no, they have to stop this, because if Skeletor succeeds, he would pull the Asteroid down and it will destroy Snake Mountain! For once, I agree with Orko when he wonders aloud why that would be a problem. He-Man says that Snake Mountain has many slaves and prisoners—they can’t let those “innocents” die!
So wait, all this while, the most powerful man in the galaxy and his band of heroes are fully aware that there are innocents in Snake Mountain… and they make no attempt to rescue these innocents? Have these self-righteous assholes ever consider that maybe those innocents want to die? Imagine, being prisoners and slaves of evil for who knows how long, just because the most powerful man in the galaxy prefers to loll around in the grass with his friends instead. Who wants to live in such a world?
So what the good guys do is to destroy the magnet. The very thing that can control the descent of the asteroid. Anyone shocked that the asteroid starts hurtling down because things have gone out of control as a result?
At any rate, Skeletor and Hordak end up fighting one another over the resulting mess, each blaming the other person. He-Man and his friends laugh and then go home… once again ignoring the fates of the innocents languishing away in Snake Mountain.
He-Man and the Asteroid of Doom succeeds where other books in this line couldn’t: portray the good guys as the true villains in this setting. Not to mention, the entire story is a procession of dumb and dumber marching to the land of the dumbest. I’m giving this one oogie because Robin Davies’s artwork is as usual great, but my god, this story is a crime against both nature and humanity.