Sunday, February 3, 2019

MUSINGS ON MASTERS

Ever since I spent a few months writing about MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE last fall, I've found myself thinking about the property -- the toys, the cartoons, the comics, everything. As I noted once or twice at the time, I love the series' mythology. When I was a child, Filmation's cartoon was the end-all, be-all for me, and any other versions of the continuity were "wrong" in my head -- but as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate those other tellings of He-Man's story.


One of the cool things about the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS toyline that Mattel conceived in 2008, was it's "everything counts" philosophy. Through the figures' cardback bios, Mattel weaved a MASTERS tapestry that found ways to legitimize some of the extraneous continuities alongside the familiar setup presented by Filmation. Suddenly, thanks to some finagling, the earliest minicomics by Don Glut and Alfredo Alcala could have happened, in some way or another, in the same universe as many of He-Man's cartoon adventures.

In part this was accomplished by Mattel declaring that the Sword of Power, originally known as the Sword of He, was passed down through the ages, through a series of guardians -- with each one taking on the title of "He-Man". Prince Adam retained his special destiny, however, as being a direct descendant of the sword's first user, King Grayskull, and therefore being the first protector of the sword who was able to tap into its magic and transform himself with it. Thus, the "He-Man" in those early minicomics is actually Oo-Larr, who watched over the sword before Adam -- and who even had a few encounters with Skeletor himself during Adam's lifetime.

"Oo-Larr" battles Skeletor.
Now, tuck all the above away in your head and hang onto it as I veer briefly in a different direction. When I read the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE newspaper strip, I noted that it paid some degree of attention to the inner workings and day-to-day operations of the Eternian monarchy, which I found fascinating. At one point, I believe I even noted that, while it might not be a huge draw for the property's target audience of kids, I would love to see a version of MASTERS inspired by GAME OF THRONES with regards to political maneuvering, diplomacy between feuding kingdoms, and so forth.

And all together, the above brings us to my fan-fictiony ideas for a MASTERS "prequel" that I would love to see. An epic look at Eternia's recent history, borrowing from various iterations of the property and drawing heavily on the likes of GAME OF THRONES for inspiration. I'm not sure why I decided to type all this out, except perhaps to hopefully excise it from my head, but whatever the reason, here it is: a treatment of sorts for a piece of MASTERS fiction that will never happen.

The city of Eternos and royal palace of Eternia, per Filmation.
I envision something along the lines of dramatic historical fiction, presenting a sweeping narrative about war-ravaged Eternia. The cast would likely be huge, but the major characters would be:
  • Randor: Captain of the Eternian royal guard, son of the king.
  • Keldor: Randor's half-brother, bastard son of the king and a sorceress from the blue-skinned Gar people (Gars having been introduced in the MOTU Classics line as a way to explain all the blue folks in the canon).
  • Duncan: Randor's second-in-command, best friend, and confidante.
  • Miro: King of the city-state of Eternos. Father of Randor and Keldor. Widower.
  • Oo-Larr: Barbarian warrior who becomes the guardian of the Sword of Power after the previous He-Man dies in battle.
  • Teela-Na: Young woman from the village of Nowella, destined to become the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull (backstory elements borrowed from the Filmation TV series).
  • The Goddess: Green-skinned, snake-armored guardian of Castle Grayskull.
  • Fisto: Duncan's brother, who deserted the Eternian forces and now works as a mercenary (relationship borrowed from the 2002 MotU reboot cartoon).
  • Hordak: Tyrannical leader of the Evil Horde and ruler of half of Eternia.
  • The Evil Horde: A motley group of monsters under Hordak's command. Specifically, they are: Grizzlor, Leech, and Mantenna.
Of course, as the series proceeds, characters would be added (and some lost).

The story would begin with a bang as the previous He-Man is killed in a massive battle between the armies of Hordak and Miro, the latter group under Randor's command. The Horde gains a foothold in Miro's kingdom, and Eternia is now without its greatest champion. Elsewhere, the Goddess sets into motion events which will lead to the rise of a new He-Man, magically influencing a barbarian named Oo-Larr, from the savage north, to leave his village and battle the Horde.

Keldor and Randor, as see in the 2002 reboot series.
The overarching story would see Miro assassinated fairly early, followed by a bitter struggle for the throne between Keldor (the eldest, but illegitimate son of the king) and Randor (the younger, but rightful heir). Eventually Randor would be crowned and Keldor would depart the palace of Eternos in rage. Randor would begin an ambitious diplomatic tour, attempting to unite the various kingdoms of Eternia under his banner. All are fighting the Horde separately, but Randor is convinced that, working together, they could overcome their enemies.

Meanwhile, Keldor would spend some time as a traveling mercenary, teaming up with Fisto and crossing paths with both Oo-Larr and the beautiful Teela-Na, who has, like Oo-Larr, departed her village with a magical nudge from the Goddess. Keldor would eventually join the Horde, becoming apprentice to Hordak himself.

Teela-Na has has been represented in a couple different continuities over the years, but because I'm
me, I envision her looking like DC Comics' version of Teela from their very first MASTERS comic in 1982.
Long-term sub-plots and side stories would include Oo-Larr and Teela-Na battling Lord Masque, a character from the Filmation series on a quest to resurrect Shokoti, an ancient and evil Gar sorceress, and Randor meeting Marlena, an amnesiac young woman with whom he swiftly falls in love. We would also see a love triangle between Duncan, Teela-Na, and Fisto, plus Oo-Larr would eventually reach Castle Grayskull and be appointed the new He-Man by the Goddess. Borrowing from the MotU Classics storyline, he would then be sent out by the Goddess to find the two halves of the Sword of Power, and eventually, after a prolonged quest around the world, would return with them -- at which point the Goddess would unite them and then clone the sword into a matching set: the Sword of Power and the Sword of Protection.

Eventually Randor would succeed in uniting the kingdoms of Eternia and routing the Horde, wiping out their armies and driving them back to their headquarters, Snake Mountain. As Randor and his forces prepare for their final assault on Snake Mountain, Marlena would give birth to twin children, Adam and Adora. Keldor, whose status with Hordak has remained unknown to Randor, would return to the palace, pretending contrition, but in actuality would allow Hordak entry. Keldor and Hordak would kidnap the twins, but Keldor would be grievously disfigured in battle with Randor, and left near death.

Vintage Skeletor, now identified via MotU Classics as his initial "just bonded with Demo-Man" incarnation.
Meanwhile, Oo-Larr, Duncan, and Teela-Na would pursue Hordak to Snake Mountain, where the Goddess would appear as well. Hordak would kill the Goddess, who would appoint Teela-Na her heir, while Oo-Larr and Duncan would rescue one of the twins from Hordak. But the villain would escape with the other twin, vanishing with his henchmen into a dimensional portal to another world. Keldor would use dark magic to save his own life, bonding himself to a being called the Demo-Man, and transforming into Skeletor.

Obviously, as noted above, I envision this as something akin to GAME OF THRONES. Basically a pastiche of that series, but inherently superior since it involves the characters and settings from MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. But, inspired by George R.R. Martin's story, it would feature lots of characters on their own quests, occasionally crossing paths, but not really having a large-scale team-up until the climax. The Oo-Larr parts of the story would fulfill the action/adventure quotient, while the Randor parts would be rife with political intrigue. There would be a ton of world-building, liberally borrowing settings and concepts from the Filmation series, minicomics, 2002 reboot, and Classics continuity.


Anyway, now I just need Mattel to decide this is a good idea and hire someone to write it as a series of novels. (Not me, by the way! I'm no writer; I just want to read the thing!)

1 comment:

  1. Your fanfic ideas for a "Masters of the Universe" prequel are totally sound! :D

    ReplyDelete