THE MYSTICAL WORLD OF THE MOTU
The creation of Eternia and its mythology played an important part in the success of the Masters Of The Universe toys. Ironically, it seems that Mattel overlooked this, not realising that the minicomics that accompanied the figures were being used by thousands of young fans as background information. These short stories gradually lessened in quality, and the mythology suffered as a result. Indeed the artwork and storylines of the later minicomics are embarrassingly poor. But it wasn't always that way.
The best of the early minicomics were written by Gary Cohn, with artwork by Mark Texeira, Tod Smith and Anthony Tollin. Their work portrayed Skeletor as a dangerous and clever schemer, rather than the bungling fool he became later. Their stories showed Skeletor to be a serious threat to the safety of Eternia, and in The Magic Stealer! Skeletor nearly succeeds in absorbing all the magic of the planet. In He-Man Meets Ram Man! Skeletor almost breaches Castle Grayskull. The artwork of these minicomics is brilliant - the characters express emotion and the drama is vivid.
The image of Eternia that these stories created has always been the biggest influence on how I perceive this extraordinary world of swords and sorcery. They reflect the Conan influences, and the world is barbarian and wild in nature. There is elemental energy in the forests and mountains, and the population lives a rustic lifestyle, governed by a king whose palace is more a working castle than a stately residence.
This was how the world of Eternia should have stayed, but the animated series that swiftly followed made some drastic changes to the Eternian landscape. The truth is that the original world was probably too dark and violent for children, and the cartoon steered the mythology away from that. The cartoons were made well, and there were some strong storylines. Many MOTU fans today think of the cartoons as being the correct interpretation of the He-Man story, but I think this is a shame. I really enjoyed the cartoons as a child, but the fact is they took the original concepts and altered them, and then influenced the development of the toys.
I always felt there was too much science-fiction in the animated series. Technology did exist in the barbarian version of the tales, but the emphasis was more on swords and sorcery than laser blasters. And most importantly, there was no Prince Adam! He-Man was an individual - a warrior defending the king and the land in which he lived. There was none of the secret identity nonsense that dominated the cartoons and subsequent comics.
In Grayskull, Prince Adam does not exist. He is entertaining enough in a cartoon, but holding aloft a magic sword and saying by the power of Grayskull was never going to work in an epic fantasy tale. However, as a special concession to the Prince Adam fans, there are a couple of indirect references to him in Part Two. It was my intention to acknowledge my influences in my story, and the best way to do this was to include the best ever creature from the minicomics - the glorm. The glorm hunt in Part Two is one of my favourite scenes in the story.
I should mention that while I disliked the alterations to the world of Eternia, I thought some of the later characters were fantastic. In some ways, the introduction of Hordak could be seen as an attempt to add some missing depth to the story. All of a sudden, Eternia had a dark history. The theme was never explored in detail, but it was as intriguing as the idea that Skeletor might actually be the king's brother. Was The Search For Keldor minicomic an attempt to recapture some lost drama? I knew as soon as I started thinking up the plot for my story, I had to look at these themes.
Of course, there is no right or wrong interpretation of the MOTU world. Whether you share my views or not really does not matter, because the key is imagination. That is why I always refer to the MOTU stories as the mythology of Eternia rather than the history or the chronicles. Fans will always take their favourite parts, and adapt their worlds accordingly. Fan fiction reflects these varied interpretations.
Perhaps your Eternia is similar to my map, or maybe it is
completely different. Regardless of individual perceptions and ideas, Eternia remains
a mysterious world where mighty warriors do battle, and strange creatures lurk in the
landscape. It is a fascinating world in which He-Man and his allies strive to prevent
Skeletor from learning the secrets of Castle Grayskull. And it is the world of our