*THIS POST WILL CONTAIN MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION*
*FULL SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT*
Well, It finally released. The long teased and awaited Kevin Smith animated sequel show to the original Masters of the Universe cartoon, Revelations, released this past Friday and quickly became one of the top 10 streamed titles on Netflix over the weekend. I personally just finished it last night, and it like the Castlevania series before it, was drawn and animated by Powerhouse Animation Studios. The art style is a marked improvement on the original classic with some notable changes to the characters that most of us grew up on. Most notable for me was the difference in size of Prince Adam. In the original cartoon he was a lot bigger and more built than he is in this show. Not to say he’s scrawny but it definitely is easier to see how he could fool some people into thinking he wasn’t He-Man just base doff his size difference.
That being said, the show has recently gotten some bad press from some die hard Masters of the Universe (MOTU) fans who wanted He Man to be the central character for the show. While he does play an integral part in the short 5 episode first season, the main character is none other than Teela. I will be the first to admit my background knowledge and lore on the universe is rusty at best. MOTU was a little before my time as the original show aired between September 1983 and late 1985. I grew up on the likes of Batman the Animated Series and Power Rangers.
So you could ask me any question in regards to either of those franchises and I can answer it, but for MOTU I would have to look up the answer. That being said, the Netflix series does a pretty good job of giving the basic background information you need to follow the show. Some of the names are a little bit on the nose though, Eternia is fine, but like the bad guys are from Snake Mountain. I’m going to say this outright, the threshold for successful names for characters and locations in older cartoons is WAY lower than it is now. What I mean to say is that “Snake Mountain” would never fly nowadays for a bad guy lair location. Or if they did, it’s what the hero would nickname it, not the legitimate recognized name by the entire kingdom. Also some of the costume choices literally scream 1980’s and would never get past some of the censorship rampant in todays society. I digress…
The show centers around Teela and her quest to find the two pieces of the Power sword that shattered following the climactic battle at Castle GreySkull at the beginning of the show. Enemies are forced to become allies and work to find the two pieces of the sword so that magic can be restored to Eternia before life as we know it ends.
The premise itself is something I can get behind and openly stating it’s not a He-Man show, by calling it Masters of the Universe: Revelations, the fact that Teela is the main character doesn’t bother me in the slightest. She is a badass warrior who calls EVERYONE out on their shit, and I’m all about that.
The voice cast that they managed to pull together is amazing all around. There was a particular scene where Skeletor and Mer-Man are on the screen together, in a flashback sequence. The reason this scene sticks out for me is because of who voices the two characters. Skeletor is voiced by the great Mark Hamill while Mer-Man is voiced by the equally as awesome Kevin Conroy. I grew up watching these two do battle all over Gotham in the Batman the Animated Series cartoon. Hamill is the definitive version of the Joker for myself and many others while Conroy was the first to come up with altering his voice between Batman and Bruce Wayne. As I sat on my couch watching the scene with these two working together my mind automatically defaulted to Batman and I was waiting for Mer-Man to just straight up haymaker Skeletor and shout “I am Vengeance, I am the Night… I AM BATMAN!”. I know that quote is actually from an episode featuring Scarecrow, but it’s one of the top scenes of the series of all time. Sadly the two of them just went their separate ways after He-Man managed to breakout with the help of Man-At-Arms and kick some butt.
I will say that I was very much impressed with the character of Teela in the series. Her and her friend/sidekick Andra work well together and completely demolish pretty much any enemy from Snake Mountain that they come across. When we first see Teela and Andra following the first episode they are in the process of retrieving a glove from Stinkor that was taken from a church. Once the people at the church praise them for their work a mysterious old woman hires them to retrieve an old goblet from Snake Mountain. Andra immediately objects to that but Teela agrees to the task because she’s been there before. Despite her becoming disillusioned with everyone she knew following the disappearance of Skeletor and He-Man, Teela still uses her skills to help those in need. The goblet fetching was a ruse conducted by Evil-Lyn to snatch the goblet from Tri-Klops. The goblet itself was actually the disguised head of the Havok staff Skeletor used in the opening battle with He-Man before disappearing. It’s when this is all revealed that we find the true purpose of the quest, to give the Sorceress of GreySkull more time while they find a way to restore magic. The Havok staff contained one of the last embers of true magic and helped to restore some of the power to the sorceress.
When asked to find the two halves of the Sword of power, to help restore the magic of Eternia, Teela straight up refuses. Having been lied to for the majority of her life by those who were closest to her, she still felt betrayed at the revelation that prince Adam was He-Man. Almost everyone knew the truth except for her and the King. And when the king found out, he banished Man-At-Arms because of his failure to protect his son. The two halves of the sword of power were located in the realms they had been forged in, Preternia (Hall of Heroes) and Subternia (Land of the Dead). It took Cringer convincing Teela that this was the only way to save Eternia and make Adam’s sacrifice mean something before she relented and agreed to find the swords. Despite her reluctance to trust those who had betrayed her, when the innocent people of Eternia needed a champion, Teela stood tall for them.
The flak that the show has been receiving online from the “fans” who are review bombing it over the lack of He-Man and Skeletor is absolutely misplaced in my opinion. Like I said before, I had no problems with Teela being the main character. He-Man makes an appearance in almost all of the 5 episode first season and while he isn’t the central character for the series he is the driving force. Eternia has lost its greatest champion and so others need to fill the void. It’s the hallmark of a good story, the “next generation” picking up the mantle when the hero is gone. Every major comic has done it and it works out for them the majority of the time. We know that He-Man is going to come back because despite what the show may display, you can’t really have a Masters of the Universe show without He-Man; that would be like having Batman without Bruce Wayne. It does work for a while, but eventually you need Bruce back in some capacity.
One of the things that really got to me though was Orko. Again, I am not very familiar with the source material but the show explains he is a Trollan. Which to me, and from the description, he sounds like the Smurfs but with magic. His magic is tied to his rhymes and he can create constructs and complex spells out of thin air with the right wording. During their time in Subternia while searching for half of the sword, Teela and the others run into Scare Glow, the Lord of Subternia. Scare Glow reminds me of Hades as he controls the land of Subternia but he also feeds on the fear of those in his realm, which is exactly what Hades does in Greek mythology. When he tries to hold the party in his realm and feed off their fear, Orko steps up to the plate. Now I knew this character for a whole… 40 minutes of screen time and when he sacrificed himself to buy the others the time they needed to escape, I got a little choked up. Not only was his sacrifice noble, in my opinion, but the power he displayed to take on the Lord of Subternia was quite spectacular. Earlier in the episode Scare Glow has no problems manipulating the whole party and feeding off their fear to give him more power which he uses to trap them in his realm. When the time is nigh, here comes this little Trollan who blames himself for not being able to protect He-Man and save him. Not only that, but as the magic is leaving the planet, he continually grows weaker as his connection to his people and their fountain of power dries up. Yet, he still takes the Lord of Subternia (essentially the Underworld) on single handedly and not only holds his own but give his friends time to escape and ends up banishing Scare Glow to the far corner of Subternia in the process. I have to hand it to Kevin Smith and the team from Powerhouse Animation, they did great!
Powerhouse Animation quickly jumped to the top of my favourite animation studios with their work on Castlevania for Netflix. It, like the first season of MOTU had a very short first season but the subsequent seasons of the show really delivered and it ended on a high note. I’m hoping they carry the momentum into this series and give it multiple seasons. Their style is crisp and they really dig into the source material of their projects to make sure everyone looks the way they were originally designed. With the announcement of their “First Look” deal with Netflix, I think it’s only a matter of time before Powerhouse Animation quickly becomes one of the top animation studios for modern streaming services.
Overall, I would give the show a solid 9/10 for the work of everyone involved. Kevin Smith announced the show a couple of years ago, and I know I was waiting patiently for the finished product. Now that it’s here, I want to see more form him and his amazing team. The casting, the animation and production value of the show are all top notch and this could easily become of the titular “flagship” series for Netflix moving forward.
See you all next week!