By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Dark Horse Comics
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe have been retconned many times over the decades as new animated series debut on television. One character I’ve always wanted to know the backstory to is Skeletor. In comic book land, I remember the tale offered by DC comics was quite the Shakespearean style take which sees him as a brother to King Randor–a concept taken from the comics released after the Filmation series.
With the release of #2 of MotU: Revelation, the recon changes the backstory back to its original incarnation.
Kevin Smith‘s take goes down a different route in creating a sympathetic character. He co-wrote this update with Rob David and Tim Sheridan. They make Skeletor an anti-hero where his first desire was to save the people of Apollyos from a ram-like race that enslaved them. He loses his family in the process. But as evil breeds further corruption, defeating one enemy means seeking other foes to destroy in the name of control, if not revenge.
We never fully understood what “The Power” is in the Masters of the Universe. Smith doesn’t provide a definitive answer to sum it all up. I believe it’s just more than whoever can control the mystic energy that unites the multiverse together. This comic book explains they all converge somewhere, and Eternia is the absolute nexus point. Castle Grayskull is built atop that singularity, and I doubt it concerns harnessing the energy of a black hole. It’d make sense from the point of view of a Doctor Who fan, but that’s a different IP altogether. I’m guessing somewhere within that abode is a Stone of Scone–this franchise’s answer to who can hold absolute power. Whoever gets crowned while on the seat can rule more than one dimension.
Smith’s story made me sympathize with Skeletor. He wasn’t a bad guy before Hordak (from She-Ra’s universe) arrived and promised power to the first individual he saw. This dimension hopping conqueror never once said he’s been spying on this world for some time and found “a hero.” He gave Skeletor that role out of convenience instead of answering this bonehead’s prayer. The brief dialogue shows he accepted so he can learn death magik, all in hopes to resurrect his dead family than to save his people.
These authors impressed the thought that Skeletor’s race is a species bearing the “Masque of Red Death;” they were doomed anyways (in reference to the E.A. Poe novella). Mindy Lee’s artwork goes beyond everything the cinematic take offered, and makes staring at this race shell-shockingly grim.
Compared to the DC Comics take, the stakes are very different. Skeletor was never truly considered evil until he parted ways with this mentor. It’s neat in how Smith and team turns him around and makes him an antihero. As for whether this bad boy in blue wants to be like Darth Vader (find that one recruit, and together they overthrow Hordak), all I can do is wait for how the remaining episodes of this Netflix series will pan out.