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Mild Mannered Reviews - Special Comics

DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #1 DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #1

DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 4, 2013

Cover date: November 2013

"Crossing Over"

Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Dexter Soy
Inker: Dexter Soy

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey and Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

A woman named Marlena is chased through the streets of Greenwich Village by rat type creatures with glowing skulls. She runs near a particular building and suddenly the rats explode which allows her to enter the house of John Constantine. A mysterious woman tries to bid her welcome but when Marlena tells her not to the woman remarks that she doesn't suppose her guest would care for some tea.

On Eternia He-Man, Stratos, Man-At-Arms and Teela attack a squadron of Hordak's horde, which have taken over the planet. The fight is brief but Man-At-Arms is elated that an iso-block was left with minimal damage. He-Man opens the cube and they find Evil-Lynn inside. Eventually she tells them that she was imprisoned because she knows the location of Skeletor, which could throw off the entire balance of power for Hordak.

Back on Earth Marlena tells her host that Skeletor walks the Earth and that she wishes to speak to John Constantine. He makes his presence known and after Marlena introduces herself. Constantine reveals that he knows of her and settles into a chair to hear about this Skeletor.

Skeletor and Black Alice arrive in Salem, Massachusetts as it is the thinnest point between Earth and other worlds. Black Alice asks if all of the siphons Skeletor was supposed to set up were in place and he informs her that they are but the right to activate them belongs to another. Skeletor uses Black Alice as a vessel to contact this mysterious being and he complains about being allied with the young mage. The mysterious being reminds Skeletor that if it wasn't for Alice they may have never learned about the Earth and adds that Skeletor and Alice will be together until the world dies. In the meantime the voice tells Skeletor that he needs to find a way to amuse himself.

Back at Constantine's Marlena explains that Skeletor is on Earth to tap its spirit and drain it dry. She asks Constantine for help but he's convinced that she would just be in the way when the Justice League Dark goes into action. Marlena is insulted and shows that she is no mere woman, but the warrior queen of Eternia. John asks why she didn't just say so instead of knocking him across the room. Suddenly all of the candles are extinguished and the rats with the glowing heads begin to pile into the room.

Meanwhile Black Alice tells Skeletor about the Justice League. Back on Eternia He-Man and Teela talk about Skeletor and what his presence means to the balance of power. They decide to go after him as He-Man feels that preventing him from doing whatever it is Skeletor is planning to do fits nicely into the accord they have with Hordak. Evil-Lynn would go alone but she needs a beacon to keep her centered otherwise she would be cast uncontrollably into the multiverse as well as someone to fight for her. She feels that someone close to He-Man is where they need to go otherwise she wouldn't be able to cast the enchantment that allows them to travel to where Skeletor is located. They appear in John Constantine's house where He-Man is reunited with his mother much to Constantine's chagrin.

Michael Bailey's Review:

4Story - 4: I have to admit that I was REALLY looking forward to this book. While I am first and foremost a comic book reader and fan when I was a kid, especially in 1983 and 1984, I was a full blown He-Man and the Masters of the Universe addict. I had a bunch of the toys. I watched the cartoon every day. I even had a plastic sword.

For about two years He-Man was my jam.

Knowing that you would assume that I have been keeping up with the revamped versions of the characters that DC has been publishing lately. Sadly I have not. They look interesting but nostalgia will only carry me so far and apparently it won't carry me enough to open my wallet and plunk down the money it costs to buy the comics. So I have no idea what has been going on or how this new take on He-Man and his world works.

Thankfully that didn't matter. While I certainly feel like I have missed out on a lot of what has been going on with the denizens of Eternia the bits of dialogue that we get from He-Man and his allies in addition to the rest of the exposition we are given later in the issue are enough to let me know that Hordak is up to no good and has started making trouble in the neighborhood. Skeletor is on Earth working for a mysterious force that threatens the safety of the world. Marlena has been taken in by Justice League Dark. Skeletor learns about the Justice League and Evil-Lynn tricks He-Man and Teela into going to Earth. It's all pretty basic stuff and makes for the set-up to a fun story that promises to be more than just your standard inter-property crossover.

That was the biggest surprise for me. Despite having the big guns of the Justice League on one cover and the big guns of the Masters of the Universe on the other the two groups didn't meet. Keith Giffen took the time to actually set up the plot before all of the major players are brought in. Some may call that decompressed but I found it kind of refreshing. The last eighties toy crossover bookI read was back in the early 2000s when Superman and the Thundercats met. That was a one shot special where Superman and the Thundercats met, they fought each other, teamed up against the bad guy and then parted ways. Here we are actually getting some meat on the bone and I appreciate that.

I mean it would have been nice to see some members of the Justice League but the series is called DC UNIVERSE VS. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, not JUSTICE LEAGUE MEETS HE-MAN.

The biggest surprise for me? Marlena; Warrior Queen of Eternia. Until they said her name I was convinced that the blond woman was She-Ra. My main exposure to Marlena was in the original animated series where outside of being an astronaut that crash landed on Eternia she did little but sit on the throne and talk to her son. It feels a tad clichd to recast her as a butt kicking woman of action but at the same time it's a valid path to take and more importantly it works. So what started as a minor quibble quickly turned into acceptance.

My main problem with this issue was the dig Giffen had Evil-Lynn take at the Pre-New 52 DCU. The "little panties" line wasn't funny and came off as mean spirited rather than snarky. It didn't ruin the issue but it sure didn't help.

Outside of that there isn't a whole lot to say about this first issue. I enjoyed it. It didn't blow me away but I wasn't disappointed either. Most of the major players have been introduced, we had hints of a great evil and the cliffhanger made me want to come back next issue to see how things end up.

To quote Lex and Otis from SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE what more could anyone ask?

4Art - 4: The art in this issue was quite good. The coloring was a little weird but the design and look of the story was great. I liked that Man-At-Arms retained his classic design more or less but I also liked how the rest of the characters were updated. There was a little disappointment that Skeletor looked so different because I really like the original look for the character but this one works just as well. My only real complaint with the art work is how the backgrounds are blurred in some of the scenes, especially at Constantine's place. It was distracting but not enough to take away from my enjoyment of the issue.

4Cover Art - 4: There were two covers to this issue but they formed one image so I am combining my thoughts on them instead of doing separate reviews. I can't say the covers blew me away but at the same time they are solid pieces of art. Sure they have more of a poster or pin-up feel but the point of this series is not to break new ground or create the next WATCHMEN or DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. It is supposed to be the JLA vs. He-Man and crew and on that level Ed Benes delivers. The DC heroes look great. The Masters of the Universe look great. While some of the figure work is a bit on the wonky side (Wonder Woman and Cyborg look off to me) these covers do what they set out to do; get you excited enough to buy the book.

Keith Samra's Review:

3Story - 3: Where to start with this issue? I think firstly I need to say, "This isn't your daddy's He-Man". This series obviously takes place in the new continuity that Keith Giffen is writing the regular MotU series. So don't expect the to see the classic '80's interpretation of these characters. In fact it differs a great deal from the early 2000's animated series as well.

So without knowing the back story for the MotU, you can really get lost reading this issue. However, this is where I feel that this series will differ from many other "universe clashing" stories. Here you are thrust into a "middle of the story" scenario, and you have no choice, but to join the ride.

Like I stated before, it was a bit confusing to follow the story at times, and for me it started quite early, as I was trying to figure out who the blonde woman was that was running from the demonic Skeletor like rats. And where was it that she ended up, as well as who the lady was that ended up helping her. I refer to Queen Marlena and Madam Xandu of course. I think caption boxes with the names of these characters were could have helped a great deal. This would have also helped when we first see Skeletor this issue... That new look will take some getting used to! Also Queen Marlena is now a Warrior Queen, I remember her to be an Earth Astronaut that ended up on Eternia, from the 80's animated series. But I like the Warrior Queen take on her. Makes more sense.

Much like the new continuity for the MotU characters, this series takes place in the New 52 DCU (it's obvious because with the cover), but Giffen wrote a line that is delivered by Evil-Lyn, "Did you know there is a realm wherein all heroes wear tiny panties over there trousers". Though it was a funny line, I wondered why it was in there. Is Giffen taking the mickey out of the current DCU? There are many little in jokes like this in this issue, which made it a fun read for me.

I liked the events that take place on Eternia, particularly the interaction between He-Man and Teela. Teela put nicely is a very "spirited" person. Her constant snarky remarks to her team mates made me laugh quite a few times. There was a lot of tension between He-Man and Teela, and I hope that we get to see some sort resolve between the two in this series. If not, it should make for some funny dialogue throughout this series.

I liked that Evil-Lyn tricks He-man and Teela, and transports the three of them to Earth. I'm glad to see she is as deceptive as ever!

Hordak has taken over Eternia, and the 'Masters' are leading a rebellion to take it back. Very intriguing indeed. I like the slow build to the meat of the story so to speak, aside from Madam Xandu and John Constantine, no other DCU character appears. Unless you count this Black Alice chick? I'm not a reader of Justice League Dark, and I suspect she may be a player from that book.

All in all, I liked the first issue. yes it was confusing, hence giving it a 3 out of 5. looking forward to the rest of the series.

3Art - 3: The art I felt was very poor! I have seen some of Dexter Soy's art on the internet, and it looked a lot better than what was presented this issue. Soy's style is a mix of Carlos Pacheco, Joe Madureira and Jae Lee. Three artists that I absolutely love, so I expected a lot from the art, which sadly fell short. I factored my personal expectations in the grade for the art, hence why I gave it a 3 instead of a 2.

Soy uses shadows quite heavily, and due to the dark nature of this book, it was quite appropriate, but at times it is a little too heavy. And with the heavy shadows, you seem to lose a lot of the great figure work and composition that Soy has done in the page layouts.

Being an "art guy," I start to lose interest if the art is bad in any comic book, and I felt that happening here. It looks too rushed on some pages.

A lot of the blame for the art falls squarely on the over saturated nature of the coloring (which Dexter Soy also provides). As mentioned above, the art does feel rushed, and I suspect that having coloring duties also, may have caused Soy to go heavy on the inks, as well as the sloppy nature of the coloring. A different colorist may have improved on the art, though not by much I'm afraid.

I don't mean to be overly critical, I know how hard it is do this type of illustration. But when you pay such a price for a book, you expect to get your moneys worth. Here's hoping that it improves in the coming issues.

5Cover Art - 5: The cover is done by the infamous Ed Benes. It's an awesome composition, as you would expect, heroes from both universes line up to fight their respective counter parts. It really shows of the talent that Benes has, when he's not doing his typical T & A shots! I like the art of the cover a whole more than the issue.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2013

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