Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: “Family”

It’s time for another Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story. The name “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre” was coined by Kevin Beckett at the Whetstone Discord server. You can check out all the Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Photo Stories here.

I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.

One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia.

Revelation really brings this conflict to the fore, because literally the last thing Randor says to Adam before Adam gets himself killed trying to save not just Eternia but the entire universe is that he has never been proud of his son. And Revelation is also the only time where Randor apologises to Adam for the way he treated his son all his life.

However, the conflict simmers under the surface throughout the many versions of Masters of the Universe. Randor and Adam are at odds in many episodes of the Filmation cartoon – here is a particularly notable example, complete with moral that sometimes parents have problems saying “I love you”, but that this doesn’t mean that they don’t love their children.

Meanwhile, in one of the comics, Randor responds to the desire of an approximately twelve-year-old Adam to become a hero and join the Masters of the Universe (which originally was just the name of the toyline, but the 2002 cartoon made it the official name of the heroic warriors) by telling young Adam that the Masters are the best of the best and what makes Adam think that riding hoverboards and chasing after Teela qualifies him to be one of them. Of course, Adam is only about twelve at this point and really way too young to become one of Eternia’s protectors, but the way Randor shoots him down is still cruel, especially since you’d think that Adam wanting to become a hero is exactly what Randor wants.

The Netflix CGI show, which departs from the established version of events the most, also probably features the best relationship between Adam and Randor (though the 2002 cartoon has the overall best Randor). In that version, Randor spends ten years believing that his son is dead, while an amnesiac Adam grows up raised by Cringer (who has the responsible adult, parent figure and mentor role that normally goes to Duncan in this version) and his clan of tigers. Once Adam and Randor are reunited, this version of Randor is a lot more affectionate then other versions. He hugs his son a lot and clearly loves him (and note that in spite of being not very good fathers, all versions of Randor love their son) and also tries to bond with him. I guess this reflects different parenting styles and the fact that fathers these days tend to have a closer emotional bond to their children. The distant fathers that many children in the 1980s and beyond grew up with, who are very much epitomised by Randor and his problems expressing emotions (hell, Orko even says as much in the moral message at the end of the Filmation episode linked above) are thankfully much rarer these days. The fact that CGI Randor knows that Adam is He-Man from the get-go doesn’t hurt either. That said, even CGI Randor can be a jerk on occasion. Once he learns that Adam is He-Man, he demands that Adam surrender the Sword of Power and the Power of Grayskull, because it is too strong for any one person to handle. Adam tries to explain that he only uses the power to help others, but Randor orders his soldiers to forcibly take the sword from his young son. Adam of course will have none of that, transforms into He-Man and departs, telling his father that he is not coming home. They eventually reconcile and Randor not only gets his son back, but gets three extra kids and a tiger as well.

What makes Randor’s (any version of Randor) treatment of Adam even worse is that it’s unjustified. Because there really is nothing wrong with Adam. On the contrary, he has plenty of positive qualities. There are lots of examples of Adam being kind towards humans and animals, of Adam trying to resolve conflicts, of Adam offering a sympathetic ear to anybody who’s feeling lonely and excluded, of Adam being brave and standing up to bullies and villains without transforming into He-Man. And once he turns into He-Man, he never once abuses his power (except when he is briefly infected by the evil power in the CGI cartoon). And indeed, it’s very obvious that Adam will be a good leader and good king one day. So what if he misses combat training to take a nap or go fishing on occasion?

Luckily, Adam has a good relationship with his mother and he also has a supportive father figure in Duncan. Indeed, Adam is shown constantly hanging out in Duncan’s workshop. Of course, Duncan is one of the few people who know that Adam is He-Man – and the 2002 cartoon strongly implies that Duncan knew that Adam was destined to become He-Man well before it happened, probably because the Sorceress told him –  which explains why Adam confides in him. But flashbacks in the Filmation cartoon show that Adam already turned to Duncan for help, support and a sympathetic ear long as a kid, long before he ever became He-Man. And in the 2002 cartoon, Adam – who is only sixteen at this point – always goes to Duncan for advice to the point that Adam waits for Duncan’s nod of approval, even though Randor is standing right next to him. Randor may be Adam’s father, but Duncan is the one who always was there for Adam.  And a large part of the reason why Randor goes ballistic on poor Duncan after Adam’s death (don’t worry, he gets better) in Revelation is that he realises that Duncan was not just the person Adam confided in, but also more of a father to Adam than Randor ever was.

The reason why the conflict between Randor and Adam persists across the many different versions of Masters of the Universe is because it’s a conflict that many of us can identify with. None of us are secretly He-Man, but way too many of us get criticised by our parents for not being the people they want us to be, while they completely fail to recognise the people that we are. That’s also why Randor finally apologising to Adam in part 2 of Revelation was such a powerful moment, because Adam – and we – have been waiting for it for almost forty years.

But you’re not here to hear me blathering, you’re here for the story. By the way, Randor still has no idea that Adam is He-Man in this story, because otherwise it wouldn’t work.

At the Eye of Zarcane in the Mystic Mountains:

Prince Adam on the Sky Sled

I took this photo a while ago, so there’s no backdrop and you’ll have to imagine the Eye of Zarcane.

“Stratos and Buzz-Off both listen to me – well, to He-Man – so let’s hope I can resolve the tensions between the Avionians and Andreenids before they escalate to all-out war… again. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be home in time for dinner and can bring Dad the good news. And then maybe he’ll be proud of me. Yeah, like that would ever happen. Still, I live in hope. What’s that?”


“Oh shit!”


Later, in the throne room of Eternos Palace:

King Randor is on his throne, flanked by a guardsman and Clamp Champ

Unfortunately, I only have one Royal Guard, but then I remembered that Clamp Champ is actually King Randor’s personal bodyguard, so he certainly fits here.

“Summon Prince Adam, provided someone can find him.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Adam stands before the throne of King Randor.“You wanted to see me, Father?”

“It has come to my attention that you have crashed your Sky Sled… again. This reckless flying has to stop, son.”

“Well… ahem… I was on route to Avion to mediate in the latest dispute between the Avionians and Andreenids, when a sudden wind gust in the Eye of Zarcane smashed my Sky Sled against a cliff and…”

“I’ve had enough of your excuses, Adam. You are lazy, reckless and irresponsible and show zero interest in affairs of state.”

“How can I show zero interest in affairs of state, when I was trying to resolve the conflict between the Avionians and Andreenids?”

“I did not authorise such a mission.”

“No, I… uhm… authorised myself. Stratos and Buzz-Off are both friends of mine, so I thought that maybe they would listen to me.”

“Resolving the tensions between the Avionians and Andreenids is not your job, Adam. It’s mine.”

“Yeah, and you’re doing such a great job that they’re at each other’s throats for the fifth time in as many years.”

“You haven’t earned the right to criticise my decisions as king, young man.”

“I wasn’t criticising you, Father. Damn it, I was just trying to help.”

A sad Adam leaves the throne room.“Trying isn’t enough, Adam. You’re utterly useless, a disgrace to the throne and a disappointment to your father. And now get out of my sight!”

“Why does he keep doing that? All I wanted was to… sniff… help.”


Meanwhile, in Man-at-Arms’ workshop:

Duncan, Fisto and Teela are in Man-at-Arms' workshop.“So what marvelous invention are you tinkering with today, oh brother of mine?”

“I’m forging a techno-magical axe.”

“That looks very impressive. I’m sure Krass would love an axe like that. Especially since his old one has acquired a few notches and scratches over the years.”

“This axe is intended for He-Man.”

“What does He-Man even need an axe for? He has a magical sword, after all, and mighty muscles and the power of Grayskull.”

A dejected Adam enters Duncan's workshop.“And speak of the devil…”

“Adam, what’s the matter? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. It’s just… sniff… my father.”

“Oh no, lad. Did you quarrel with the King again? Is it about that Sky Sled you crashed?”

“It… Father just doesn’t take me seriously. Whatever I do, it’s always wrong. And I was just trying to help.”

Teela and Duncan comfort Adam, while Fisto looks on.“Oh Adam, I’m so sorry.”

“Father, he… he said I was utterly useless, a disappointment and a disgrace to the throne… sniff…”

“Oh Adam, that’s not true. You’re not useless, not a disappointment and certainly not a disgrace. We believe in you, Adam. I believe in you.”

“Your father was speaking in anger, lad. I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

“Sounds like King Randor was just being an arsehole to his family… again. And we all know what happened the last time with you know who.”

“Shut up, Malcolm!”

Duncan and Teela comfort Adam, while Fisto looks on.“But don’t people say what they really mean when they’re angry? So maybe my father really thinks I’m a failure.”

“You’re not a failure, Adam. You’re kindest and bravest person I know. And if the King can’t see that, then maybe someone needs to open his eyes. Maybe someone should…”

“Sigh. Yes, someone needs to talk to the King. But not you, Teela, especially not in the mood you’re in. I’ll go and talk to him.”

“You don’t have to do this, Duncan.”

“No, I don’t have to, lad, but I want to. Teela, take care of Adam, while I talk to the King.”

“Oh, I’m sure Teela will be only too happy to take care of Adam.”

“Shut up, Malcolm.”

Teela comforts Adam, while Fisto tries not to watch.“I know that he’s the King, but I hate the way your father is treating you, Adam. Especially since you don’t deserve it. You’re the bravest, kindest and best person I know.”

“Thanks, Teela. I… I don’t know what I’d do without you and Duncan.”

“I’m here for you, Adam. I’ll always be here for you.”


“You do know that I’m still in the room, don’t you? Except that I’m getting a stiff neck from trying very hard not to watch you making out. I mean, isn’t there a perimeter that needs patrolling or an outpost you can inspect? Or maybe check on the Talon Fighter, since Adam hasn’t managed to crash that one yet?”


In the throne room:

Duncan stands before the throne to talk to Randor.“Sire, if I may have a word?”

“Of course. Is Skeletor up to his usual tricks again?”

“It’s not about Skeletor, Sire. It’s… well, it’s private.”

“Sigh. Is this about Adam? Did he come crying to you again, as usual?”

“Prince Adam did not send me here. In fact, he explicitly asked me not to come.”

“I’m sorry that Adam keeps adding to your workload, Duncan. After all, it’s not as if you don’t have enough to do without my son dumping extra work on you.”

“It’s all right. I don’t mind. Besides, you yourself ordered me to watch over the Prince, Sire.”

“Yes, in the sense of making sure that he’s always guarded, especially after what happened to Adora. But that doesn’t mean that you have to indulge my son’s every whim. If Adam bothers you, just throw him out of your workshop. You have my full support.”

“Sigh. As I said, I don’t mind, Your Majesty. On the contrary, Prince Adam is a lot of help in the workshop and when testing my inventions.”

“When he’s not crashing them, you mean?”

“The Sky Sled was an accident, Sire.”

“One of many., considering how many vehicles my son has managed to crash over the years.”

“I know, Your Majesty. After all, I’m the one who has to repair them. But Adam is a much better pilot these days and there is something strange about this accident.  But then the winds can be tricky in the Eye of Zarcane.”

“Adam shouldn’t have been at the Eye of Zarcane at all. That ‘mission’ to Avion was unauthorised and he completely failed to inform me where he was going.”

“Would you have authorised the mission, if Adam had asked for your approval first, Sire?”

“Well, of course not. Adam is young, brash and not a diplomat.”

“But Stratos and Buzz-Off both respect him.”

“More than they respect their King, you mean?”

“With all due respect, that’s not what I meant, Your Majesty. But Adam is not you. He’s a good listener and a friend to everybody who needs one. The people like and respect him. Maybe he could have succeeded where you could not.”

Clamp Champ addresses King Randor.“Excuse me, but if I may say something, Sire?”

“Of course, Raenius. What is it?”

“About Prince Adam, what Man-at-Arms said is true. Prince Adam is a friend to anybody who needs one. He certainly was my friend, when I most needed one.”

“Go on, Raenius.”

“When I first came to live with my grandpa here at the palace after my parents died, I was lonely and sad a lot. And the other kids… well, they weren’t very nice to me. I didn’t have any friends and I was bullied… a lot. But Adam, he was my friend. I didn’t even know he was the Prince, since he certainly never said so. To me, he was just a kid my age, who hung out with me, shared his cinnamon buns with me and defended me against those bullies. And then Teela showed up and the bullies ran away, because it turns out they were all scared of her. We’ve been friends ever since. I respect Adam deeply and am proud to call your son my friend, Sire.”

“Huh? I had no idea. What about you, Duncan?”

“Actually, I know that story or at least part of it. Adam got a bloody nose and Teela managed to knock out the tooth of one of those bullies, so I was called in to sort it out. So I patched everybody up and made sure those boys never bullied Raenius again. For while they may have been scared of Teela, they were terrified of me.”

“I’d love to have seen you chew out those bullies, Sir.”

“Anyway, Sire, that’s who Adam is. Someone who’s always willing to help and stand up for those in need, regardless of any risk to himself. Those are very good qualities for a leader and future king.”

“Well, maybe I was a bit too harsh to Adam. Though he still shouldn’t have gone on some half-cocked diplomatic mission without authorisation. That was utterly irresponsible.”

“Maybe, Sire, if you would have more confidence in Adam’s diplomatic skills and would give him more responsibility, he wouldn’t behave as irresponsibly.”

“Hmph, I’ll have to think about this.”

“And I have a Sky Sled to repair, Sire.”

“Make sure to keep Adam bzsy. And don’t coddle the boy.”

“Of course, Sire.”

Duncan walks away from the throne.“Sigh. Adam is a good man, a brave man and he will make a very good king one day. And all he really wants, all he’s ever wanted, is his father’s approval. Everybody can see that. So why can’t you, Randor?”


A bit later:

Skeletor and his Evil Warriors invade the throne room.BOOM!

“What is this outrage? Adam? Orko? What have you done now?”

“Neither of them, I’m afraid. Just me, come to take back what you stole from me, Randor.”

“Keldor! By the ancients! Guards, guards, arrest the intruders.”

Randor fights Skeletor, a guard fights Whiplash and Clamp-Champ fights Clawful.
“Crying for your royal guards. How typical! Are you so afraid to face me, Randy?”

“The day I’m afraid of you, Keldor, is the day I’m no longer fit to rule Eternia. And now begone or I swear you’ll spend the rest of your misbegotten life in the palace dungeons.”

“You first, brother. And it’s Skeletor now. Keldor is dead. Destroyed by your hand.”

“Whatever happened to you, brother, you brought it on yourself.”

“In the name of the King, stand down, monster!”

“Who you calling ‘monster’?”


“Oh, you’ve got a claw. But mine’s bigger.”

“That’s a clamp, you overgrown lobster, not a claw.”

“For the last time, I’m not a lobster.”


Meanwhile, in Man-at-Arms’ workshop:

Teela still comforts Adam, when Duncan returns.
“Brother, you’re back, praised be the ancients. Cause I was getting a stiff neck here, trying not to watch those two lovebirds make out.”

“Duncan, what did my father say?”


“Alarm. What now?”

“Intruder alert. The throne room…”


Adam runs off with his sword.“Teela, muster the guards! Adam, find He-Man.”

“Luckily, he won’t have to search too far. Round the next corner should do it.”


“Yes, I know. I’ll shut up.”

“…with me!”

Adam bursts into the throne room, as Skeletor has disarmed King Randor.
“End of the line, Randor. And this time, it’s you who will…”

“Father! No!”

“Run, Adam! Run and save yourself!”

Adam fughts Skeletor, as Randor, Evil-Lyn, Whiplash and Clawful look on.
“Leave my father alone, Skeletor!”

“Adam, no! He’s too dangerous.”

“Oh, so the cowardly prince wants to fight, eh? Well, this shouldn’t take long.”

“If you harm my son, Keldor, I swear I will…”

“Lyn, chain him up and shut him up!”

Adam fights Skeletor, Lyn chains up Randor and Whiplash sneaks up behind Adam.“You know, boy, everybody think you’re lazy, a coward and an underachiever. But you’re not, are you? You’re actually a very skilled swordsman. Remarkably brave, too. Duncan taught you well.”

“Shut up, Skeletor, and leave my father alone.”

“Yes, you’re good, boy. But not good enough to best me. Bwahaha.”

“Adam, watch out!”


King Randor is in chain, Prince Adam is down and Skeletor is cackling.“Adam, no! If you hurt my boy, Keldor, I swear I will…”

“Blah, blah, blah. Lyn, shut him up. Whiplash, Clawful, chain them both up and take them away.”

“But boss, aren’t we going to kill them?”

“Whiplash is right. This is your chance to get rid of the king and the crown prince in one fell swoop and have your vengeance, too. So why don’t you kill them both now?”

“Because, my dear Lyn, they may still be useful. They probably know the secrets of Castle Grayskull, the whereabouts of those accursed Elders and how to find He-Man. And I shall torture all that juicy information out of them. And wouldn’t it be much better if I could force Randor to abdicate in my favour, because if he doesn’t, I will personally chop off the head of his only son in front of his very eyes? Bwahaha.”

Fisto, Duncan and Teela find the unconscious Clamp Champ and an equally unconsicous guard in the throne room.“Your Majesty, we… – What!”

“Father, what happened here? Where’s He-Man? Where’s the King?”

“Adam’s sword. This is not good.”

“Uuuh, my head…”

“Take it easy, lad. You took a nasty bump on the head.”

“Raenius, what happened? Where’s the King? Where’s He-Man?”

Fisto, Duncan and Teela ask Clamp Champ what happened.“Man-at-Arms, Fisto, Teela, praised be the ancients!”

“Raenius, what happened here?”

“Skeletor happened. He and his Evil Warriors suddenly burst into the throne room.”


“How on Eternia could Skeletor get into the throne room without triggering any alarms?”

“I have no idea, Sir. They just suddenly appeared. I engaged Clawful, Lieutenant Daegar fought Whiplash and the King himself engaged Skeletor. And then, just before I got knocked out, Adam showed up and jumped into the fray.”


“Are you sure it was Adam and not He-Man? Think, Raenius.”

“It was definitely Adam. I can tell the difference between Adam and He-Man, you know? Though come to think of it, they do look a little similar, except that He-Man is taller and has more muscles and…”

“Adam. Oh no, Adam… Sob.”

“Stupid boy.”

“Shut up, Malcolm. You’re not helping.”

“I’m right, though. Adam was stupid to engage Skeletor himself rather than ‘fetch’ He-Man.”

“What if Skeletor hurts Adam? What if he kills him? And the King, of course.”

“Calm down, Teela. If Skeletor wanted to kill Adam and King Randor, he would have done it here. Which means that he still needs them alive… for now.”

Duncan, Fisto, Clamp Champ and Teela go off to rescue Adam and King Randor.“Then what are we waiting for, Dad? We must go and rescue them.”

“I agree. But first we need a solid plan. After all, rushing in half-cocked and without a plan is what got Adam in trouble.”

“That and the fact that King Randor is an idiot.”


“Yes, I know. I’ll shut up.”

“Actually, I was going to ask you if you’re coming with us.”

“Of course. King Randor may be an idiot, but he’s still my King.”


“Are you kidding? I’m the King’s bodyguard and he was kidnapped on my watch. And Adam is my friend. So of course I’m coming.”

“I guess I don’t even have to ask, Teela.”

“There’s no way you could stop me from coming along, Father. And I’ll take the sword as well. Adam’s going to need it.”

“Let’s go! For the King! For Eternia!”

“For Adam!”


Meanwhile, in the dungeon of Snake Mountain:

Adam and King Randor are chained up in the dungeon.“Uh, my head. Where…? Oh no, not again…”

“I guess you’ve been here before, son?”

“A few times. Didn’t much care for it. Those chains chafe.”

“Why on Eternia didn’t you run and save yourself, when I told you to?”

“Because in spite of what everybody thinks, I’m not a coward, Dad, and I wasn’t going to leave you at the mercy of Skeletor.”

“You may not be a coward, but you’re certainly an idiot.”

“Oh right, I forgot. I can never do anything right in your eyes, even when I’m trying to save your life.”

“Skeletor is dangerous, boy.”

“You think I don’t know that, Dad?”

“You certainly don’t act like it. Skeletor is a master swordsman and a powerful mage. You’re no match for him, Adam.”

“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Dad.”

“This is not the time for flippancy, boy.”

“So what should I do instead? Wallow in despair? Cause I’m pretty sure that’s not going to get us out of here.”

“You’re just as irresponsible as ever, Adam. If Skeletor kills us both, what will become of Eternia then?”

“I think Adora would make a pretty good ruler. A better one than me, probably. Or maybe we can give this democracy thing that Mom has been going on about a try? Cause cousin Edwina on the throne, now that is a scary thought.”

“This is no laughing matter, boy. What if Skeletor takes over Eternia? Would you abandon our people to a monster like him?”

“Now who’s wallowing in despair? Do you really think Duncan and Teela and Adora and Orko and the rest of the Masters would ever let Skeletor take over? I know you have no confidence in me, but at least have confidence in them. They’d fight him with everything they’ve got. Also, who says that we’re not going to break out of here?”

“And how? These chains are solid steel.”

“You haven’t by any chance seen my sword anywhere, Dad?”

“Sigh. I know you’re irrationally attached to that blade, Adam, but a sword is not going to break those chains.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised, Dad.”

Skeletor and his Evil Warriors threaten Adam and King Randor.“Ah, Randy, I trust that you find my dungeons comfortable. Cause you will be spending a long time down here… if you’re lucky. Bwahaha.”

“Let my boy go, Keldor. This is between you and me. Adam has nothing to do with this.”

“Oh, but your idiotic son has everything to do with this. After all, this is all about family and how the family treated me.”

“Dad, what’s he talking about?”

“Not now, Adam. Listen, Keldor. We both know it’s me you want, not Adam.  So do what you will with me, but let my boy go”

“And give away my best leverage against you? Do you really think I’m that stupid, Randy? Especially since killing your son at the Eye of Zarcane didn’t work out.”

“That was you?”

“Lyn, actually. But yes, it was me. Only that the gust of wind Lyn conjured up should have smashed your bones against the cliff rather than just your Sky Sled.”

“Damn you, Keldor, what do you want?”

“Isn’t that obvious, Randy? I want my birthright. I want the throne that should have been mine. I want what you stole from me.”

“I didn’t steal anything from you, Keldor. Whatever claim you may have had, you forfeited it the day you turned renegade.”

“Oh, so I was banished and locked away behind the mystic wall, while you took the throne. How very convenient for you.”

“Damn you, Keldor, I never even wanted to be king. But after Father vanished, someone had to take over.”

“And that someone was you, naturally. Of course, you were always Daddy’s favourite, always the good son. Unlike me, the blueskin, the screw-up, the black sheep.”

Prince Adam looks questioningly at his father, while Skeletor and his Evil Warriors threaten them both“Ahem, excuse me, Dad, but what exactly is Skeletor talking about? And why are you calling him Keldor?”

“Quiet, Adam. This is not the time and place.”

“Oh, but this is exactly the time and place, Randy. You never told him, didn’t you? Never told him who I really am. Never told him why I look the way I do and whose fault it is.”

“We both know whose fault it is that you burned off your face. You brought it on yourself, Keldor, just like everything else.”

“Dad, what’s going on here? What exactly are you not telling me?”

Skeletor threatens Prince Adam, while Evil-Lyn threatens King Randor.“He really never told you, did he, boy? He never told you what he did and how he took what should have been mine.”

“Don’t you dare, Keldor! Don’t… mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“And that’s quite enough out of you, Randy. By the ancients, how many times have I wanted to shut you up, when you held one of your interminably dull speeches.”

“Do you really not remember me, boy? But then, you were just a baby, when your father took my birthright and banished me to the Dark Hemisphere…”

“Just get on with it, Skeletor.”

“I may be known as Skeletor now, little Prince, but once I had another name and another face. Once, I was Keldor of the House of Miro, Prince of Eternia and your uncle.”


“Mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“Yes, it’s true, my little Prince. I’m your dear Uncle Keldor. What did they tell you happened to me? Or did Randor never mention me at all and just pretended I never existed? After all, there is no portrait or statue of me in the Royal Gallery.”

“Mumble, mumble, mum…”

“Fa… Father said that Uncle Keldor was lost in the Great Unrest.”

“Oh yes, lost I was, but not in the way you think, boy. Instead, your father, yes your oh-so-noble father, stole the throne that should have been mine and banished me from the royal palace. And as a final blow, he took my face and locked me and mine away behind the Mystic Wall.”

“Mumble, mum, mum, MUM…”

“I have to admit, making Lyn shut him up was one of my better ideas. Tell me, dear nephew, is Randy as insufferable as a father as he was as a brother? Always knows best, never satisfied and you can never ever do anything right, as far as he is concerned?”

“Just shut up! You don’t know my Dad at all.”

Skeletor is gloating , while his Evil Warriors threaten Adam and King Randor“Have you listened to me at all, dear nephew? Of course, I know your father. I’ve known him since the day he was born. For years, I’ve stood in his shadow, the forgotten prince, the unwanted son, the one who was never good enough. And all because his mother was the queen and mine just a Gar woman, just a fling, discarded and forgotten as soon as King Miro had his fun. But not anymore. Now, I shall finally take back what’s mine. I shall finally rule Eternia, because you, dear brother, will abdicate in my favour.”

“Mum, mum, mum…”

“Oh yes, I forgot. Lyn…”

“Forget it, Keldor. I will never surrender Eternia and her people to a monster like you.”

“Oh, but you will, dear brother. Because otherwise, I will torture your only son to death – slowly – and you will watch.”

“Don’t listen to him, Dad.”

“So what’s it going to be, brother? I know you never cared about me, but do you at least care about your son or are you going to sacrifice him for the sake of your throne as well, just as you sacrificed me?”

“Leave my boy alone, Keldor. Kill me, if you must, but leave him alone.”

“Oh, rest assured, I will kill you. Just not yet, cause I still need you to officially abdicate in my favour. Regicide always looks so bad in the history books. So what’s it going to be, Randy? The throne or your son?”


Duncan, Fisto, Teela and Clamp Champ storm the dungeon of Snake Mountain“Who dares interrupt me on the eve of my triumph? Oh, shit!”

“Free the King and the Prince! For Eternia!”

“What are you waiting for, my Evil Warriors? Get them! Kill them! Kill them all!”


Clamp Champ fights Clawful, Teela fights Evil-Lyn, Skeletor fights Duncan and Whiplash fights Fisto.“Ah, Duncan. Still my brother’s lapdog, I see. Always subservient, always content to follow, when you could have taken the throne for yourself, if you wanted.”

“That’s the difference between us, Keldor. Unlike you, I’m loyal.”

“And that’s why you’ll soon be dead. Unlike me. Bwahaha.”

“Feel the power of my iron fist, lizard face!”

“Do you really think your stupid fist can beat my mighty tail?”

“So we meet again, lobster face.”

“For the last time, I’m NOT a lobster.”

“Captain Teela, always so eager to defend your puny Prince. Do you honestly think that he’ll ever marry you? Because he won’t. You’ll never be good enough, just like me. And I wasn’t even dating the crown prince, just the royal by-blow.”

“Get out of my way, Lyn! I don’t want to hurt you, but I will, if I must.”


Evil-Lyn has been knocked out and Teela frees Adam and Randor, while everybody else fights on.“Adam, Your Majesty, hang in there. I’ll have you free in a second.”

“Teela, it’s so good to see you.”



Teela has freed Adam and Randor and gives Adam his sword back.“Ah, that’s much better. Those chains really chafe.”

“Here. You’ll need this.”

“My sword! Praised be the ancients!”

“Got one for me as well, Captain?”

“Of course, Your Majesty.”

Randor fights Skeletor, while Duncan fights Evil-Lyn and Teela tries to get Adam to safety.“All right, Keldor, let’s see how you fare against me, when I’m not chained up.”

“Not the way I’d planned it, but slicing you up will be a pleasure, brother.”

“Oh, Duncan, we really have to stop meeting this way, especially when there are much more fun things we could do instead of fighting.”

“Back off, witch!”

“Adam, quick, let’s get you out of here.”

“Dad, no!”

“Adam, we must get away. Now.”

“I won’t leave my father.”

Randor fights Skeletor, Clawful is down, Evil-Lyn fights Duncan, Clamp Champ and Fisto fight Whiplash and Teela finally ushers Adam out of the dungeon.“Adam, come on!”

“No, Dad is in danger.”

“Get out of here, son. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Save yourself!”

“Adam, get out of here now! There’s nothing you can do here. Teela, make sure he’s safe.”

Adam and Teela are running through Snake Mountain.“All right, this should be far enough. Why didn’t you transform back at the palace?”

“Because I… well, I guess I wanted to prove to my Dad that I don’t need to become He-Man to be a hero.”

“Yeah, that went well. And now do your thing. But first…”

Adam and Teela kiss in Snake Mountain“Don’t you ever do that to me again.”

“Yes, Captain.”


Adam raises his sword, while Teela looks on.“By the Power of Grayskull…”

Adam transforms into He-Man with lightshow and sparkles, while Teela looks on

Adam transforms into He-Man with lightshow and sparkles, while Teela looks on.

He-Man holds up his sword, fully transformed.“…I have the Power.”

“I love watching you do that. And now let’s go and kick some Skeletor arse!”

“Ahem, Teela, there’s something else I need to tell you. Because it turns out that… well, that Skeletor might be my uncle.”

“Skeletor is your uncle? How on Eternia did that happen?”

“I don’t understand it either and Dad has got some explaining to do once we get back. But I… well, I just wanted you to know, just in case it changes your feelings for me.”

“Adam, nothing will ever change my feelings for you. Though I hope that the fact that you might be related does not change your feelings about kicking Skeletor’s arse.”

“Not at all. So let’s go!”

Randor fights Skeletor, Duncan fights Evil-Lyn and Fisto and Clamp Champ fight Whiplash“He-Man! Praised be the ancients!”

“No, not that accursed He-Man! Not again.”

“Oh look, it’s He-Man, who just happened to be wandering around Snake Mountain. By the ancients, what a marvelous coincidence!”

“Shut up and fight, Malcolm.”

“What fight?”


He-Man fights Skeletor and Teela fights Evil-Lyn, while Randor, Duncan, Fisto and Clamp Champ make their escape.“Get to safety, Your Majesty! I’ll handle this.”

“Adam, my son, is he…?”

“Adam is safe. And now get out of here! I’ll deal with Skeletor.”

“He-Man is right, Your Majesty. Let’s get out of here.”

“Accursed He-Man! Why can’t you just mind your own business, but have to stick your nose into mine?”

“Everything that happens on Eternia is my business. And now leave the royal family alone or face the consequences.”

“You’re a fool, He-Man. Why serve this sorry excuse for a king, when with the power of Grayskull at your fingertips, you could rule yourself?”

“Because I have no desire to rule anything, Skeletor. Not that I’d expect you to understand.”

“Leave my Dad alone, Lyn, or I swear I’ll whop your arse so hard it’ll hurt for a month.”

“Oh child, why don’t you leave adult matters to adults?”

Skeletor and Evil-Lyn fight He-Man and Teela back to back, while Randor, Duncan, Fisto and Clamp Champ flee.“Yield, Skeletor.  It’s over. I’d arrest you and take you to the palace dungeons, but getting the King to safety is more important right now.”

“Game over, Lyn. And leave your dirty fingers of my Dad.”

Skeletor and Evil-Lyn rant, while He-Man, Teela, Randor, Duncan, Fisto and Clamp Champ make a getaway.“Don’t think this is over, Randy. I shall have what is mine, one way or another. And if you won’t surrender the throne to me voluntarily, I’ll just take it from you and throw your body into the moat.”

“Bye, Duncan. Until we meet again. Hopefully under more pleasant circumstances.”


Later, at the royal palace:

Adam and King Randor talk, while Duncan, Teela, Fisto and Clamp Champ look on.“Adam, my son, I’m so glad that you’re safe. I… I don’t know what I would have done if he’d hurt you.”

“Father, what Skeletor said, is it true? Is he really my uncle?”

“Sigh. Yes, Adam, the man you know as Skeletor was once my brother Keldor.”

“And you never thought that this might have been an important thing to tell Adam? Or me as Captain of the Guard, for that matter?”

“Not now, Teela.”

“And why not? The King should have told Adam and… – Wait a minute, you knew, didn’t you? You knew and you never told Adam. And isn’t that just typical? You and your damned secrets!”

“Uh-oh, brother, you’re in trouble now. Yes, I know, I’ll shut up.”

“Teela is right, Father. We’ve all been fighting Skeletor for years now, so it would have been useful to know that he’s my uncle and that he actually does have a point.”

“Keldor never had a point.”

“Uhm, if he’s the older brother and should have inherited the throne, then he kind of does.”

“Keldor was never going to inherit the throne. He always knew that. We both did.”

“Skeletor obviously sees that a little differently.”

“Sigh, I guess it’s time you knew the whole story, Adam. A few years before I was born, my father, your grandfather was shipwrecked on the shores of Anwat Gar. A local woman found him and nursed him back to health. One thing led to another and she had a child, Keldor. According to Father, they were happy. But then he had to return to his duties in Eternos. She asked him to take the baby with him, to raise him and give him a good life. Which he did. Keldor and I grew up together at the palace as brothers. We played together, trained together, fought side by side. We were never treated any differently.”

“Except for the bit where you became king and he did not.”

“So let me get this straight: All this happened just because King Miro decided to have a fling with a random woman from Anwat Gar, got her pregnant and then abandoned her.”


“No, Teela is right. If Grandfather really fell in love with that woman from Anwat Gar, why didn’t he marry her and take her back to Eternos?”

“Because it would have been impossible. She was Gar.”

“You know Dad, nothing you’ve said so far convinces me that Skeletor does not have a point.”

“Sigh, you have a good heart, Adam, and prejudice is foreign to you. But you have no idea what things were like in those days. The people would never have accepted a Gar queen, let alone a Gar king.”

“Then maybe the people are wrong.”

“And maybe in time, we could have convinced them, Keldor and I, together. Because Keldor would always have had a place in the palace, by my side, as my brother, my friend and most trusted advisor. But Keldor decided to betray that trust. He always was a talented sorcerer and he dabbled in the dark arts and fell under the spell of Hordak. He turned renegade, murdered the Council, helped Hordak kidnap your sister, attacked the Hall of Wisdom and tried to kill me.  The terrible injuries that destroyed his face… that was the fate he had intended for me. That was the moment I realised that there was no way to save my brother. Keldor was gone and the monster Skeletor was all that remained.”

“I’m sorry, Dad. Losing your brother must have been hard. But you still should have told me.”

“And how? How should I have told you that my own brother turned into a monster and that there was nothing I could do to save him? You think I don’t blame myself for what happened to Keldor? Because I do, every single day. Cause maybe if I’d been a better brother, none of this would ever have happened.”

Randor hugs Adam and Duncan hugs Teela, while Fisto and Clamp-Champ look on.“That’s not true, Dad. I’m sure you were a good brother.”

“You know, when you and Adora were born, I swore to myself that I’d be a better father than I’d been a brother. But I failed at that, too. Your sister was lost to me and you… I wasn’t always a good father to you either. I’m sorry for yelling at you, Adam. I know that you meant well and wanted to help. And I know that Stratos and Buzz-Off respect you, so maybe they will listen to you, when they won’t listen to me. But next time you do something like that, you don’t go off alone, but take along Teela and an escort of guards.”

“Trust me, Your Majesty, I’m not letting Adam out of my sight ever again.”

“I lost my brother and I lost your sister, but I couldn’t bear losing you, too. Because I love you, son.”

“I love you, too, Dad.”

“Dad, I’m sorry for going off on you and the King like that. But I hate secrets. No matter how good the intentions, they only bring hurt and pain.”

“Believe me, Teela, the last thing I ever wanted was to hurt you. Or Adam”

“I know, Dad.”

“Don’t even think about it, Raenius. I’m not going to hug you.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Malcolm. After all, I wouldn’t want to piss off Krass.”


Later, in Duncan’s workshop:

Duncan talks to Adam and Teela, while Malcolm looks on.“Adam, lad, there’s something I… ahem… want to talk to you about.”

“Actually, Duncan, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about, too.”

“And that’s my cue to leave. Krass is expecting me for dinner anyway.”

Duncan talks to Adam and Teela, while Malcolm leaves.“Adam, when the alarm sounded, why didn’t you transform into He-Man at once?”

“Because… well, I wanted to show Dad that Adam can be a hero, too. And yes, I know that was a bad idea.”

“You’re damn right, it was. What if Skeletor had tortured or killed the King or worse, you?”

“You don’t have to tell me, Teela. I know I royally screwed up and got my Dad and myself captured.”

“I know it’s hard to keep your secret from your parents, lad. And I wish I could make it easier on you. But it’s just too dangerous.

“I know. It’s just… I just wish that Dad could see me for who I really am for once.”

Teela hugs Adam, while Duncan pats his back.“Oh Adam, if your father can’t see that you’re a hero than he’s blinder than a Spelean in bright daylight.”

“I know, lad, I know. But it’s just too dangerous. I trust you now understand why.”

“About that, I trusted you with my secret, Duncan. So why didn’t you tell me about Skeletor and who he really was?”

“Yes, Dad, why didn’t you tell Adam?”

“I wanted to tell you, lad. Believe me, I did. But I gave my word to your father not to tell you and I cannot just break it.”

“That’s always your excuse, isn’t it, Dad? That you gave your word to someone. Maybe not give your word then.”

“He’s my King, Teela.”

“Who else knows that Skeletor is really my Uncle Keldor? I presume Fisto knows, but who else?”

“Malcolm, Krass, Stratos, Meckaneck, Dekker. All the Masters who were already fighting by your father’s side during the Great Unrest.”

“So in short, everybody knew. And no one ever said anything. Just great.”

“We all gave the King our word…”

“Yeah, since when has that ever stopped Uncle Malcolm?”

“Adam, I know you’re angry and you have every right to be. But losing first his brother and then Adora was incredibly painful for your father. And if he’s sometimes hard to you, that’s because he’s terrified of losing you, too.”

“Duncan, you knew my uncle before he became Skeletor. What was he like? Was he already…?”

“Evil? When I met Prince Keldor, he was renown as a skilled sorcerer, great warrior and hero of the realm. Your father adored his brother and it broke his heart when Keldor turned against him. But in retrospect… the signs were already there. There was always a certain darkness in Keldor… and so much anger. He resented his position, that he would only ever be the number two, that he would never rule. Your uncle and I… well, we never got along, even before he turned renegade.”

“But he had reason to be angry, didn’t he?”

“I guess he had. Some of the people at court really did not treat Keldor well. But your father never, ever made Keldor feel unwanted and unwelcome and stood against those who did. Your father supported Keldor all the way… until Keldor turned against him.”

“Father said he fell under Hordak’s spell, just like Adora. But we got Adora back…”

“I know what you’re think, lad, but NO. Adora was but an innocent baby who had no chance to resist Hordak. Keldor sought Hordak out, sought his help, pledged his soul to him. What he did, he did of his own free will. And trust me, lad, Keldor did terrible things in his quest for the throne. I was there, after all. I watched him murder the Council, watched as he stole your sister and tried to steal you, watched as he tried to kill your father, more than once. You have a good heart, Adam, and always try to see the best in everyone. But whatever good there may once have been in Keldor is long gone. There is no saving Skeletor.”

“We’ll see about that.”


Even later, still in Duncan’s workshop:

Fisto and Duncan are having tea, when King Randor enters.“And then Krass said…”

“Your Majesty!”

“Nope, he didn’t – Oh!”

“If you’re looking for Prince Adam, Your Majesty, I’m afraid he’s not here. He went on patrol with Teela.”

“Really? I know I sometimes berate Adam for his laziness, but such dedication to the safety of Eternia is admirable, especially in the face of our ordeal of today.”


“But no, Duncan, actually I wanted to have a word with you. Alone.”

King Randor and Duncan talk and a grumpy Fisto leaves.“Yeah right, I know when I’m not wanted. Be seeing you, brother. Your Majesty.”

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty. There really is no excuse for my brother.”

“Trust me, Duncan, I know a thing or two about difficult brothers. And Malcolm, for all his faults, is much preferable to Keldor.”

“I’m sorry Adam had to find out like this, Your Majesty. Maybe you should have told him before.”

“Sigh. Yes, I probably should have. But how do you tell your only son that your own brother turned into a monster, because you failed?”

“What happened to Keldor wasn’t your fault, Sire. He made his own choices.”

“I know. But that doesn’t make it any easier.”

Randor and Duncan are sharing a cup of tea and having a heart to heart.“Would you like some tea, Your Majesty? It’s still warm. We have cinnamon rolls, too.”

“That would be lovely, Duncan. Thank you. You still have that old tea set? Amazing.”

“It was my mother’s – the only nice thing she ever had in her life. I’m saving it for Teela, for when she gets married. Though I don’t think she really wants it.”

“I’m amazed that the tea set survived Teela, Adam and Orko. The ancients know they managed to break enough of the palace’s china and crystal between the three of them… About Adam, how is he?”

“Angry and hurt. It’s probably for the best that he went on patrol with Teela, so he can clear his head. And Skeletor is still licking his wounds and won’t try something again so soon. The danger should be minimal.”

“I wouldn’t underestimate how devious and determined my brother can be. After all, he somehow managed to break into the palace in spite of all our security.”

“It won’t happen again, Sire. I’ll make sure of that. As for Adam, as soon as we heard the alarm, I sent him to get help. But he didn’t. Instead he headed straight to the throne room to take on Skeletor himself.”

“Sigh, why can’t my son listen just once?”

“Adam was worried about you, Sire. Also, he wanted to prove himself, to show you that he can be a hero. All Adam wants is your approval, Sire.”

“And I don’t give it?”

“If I may speak openly, Sire…”

“Go ahead, Duncan.”

“Not enough. Adam has grown into a remarkable young man, but he’s not a soldier like you and me.”

“These are troubled times, Duncan, times which call for warriors rather than young layabouts.”

“Sigh. Adam is not lazy. He’s very brave and absolutely willing to fight, if necessary. You’ve seen that yourself in the throne room. But even though Adam will fight, if he must, he’ll try to find a peaceful solution first. It’s his greatest strength.”

“You know, Duncan, whenever Adam and I had a quarrel, you always took his side. Every single time.”

“Because someone had to, Sire.”

“And whenever we went looking for Adam and he was not napping in the palace gardens or the stables for once, we always found him here, in your workshop. Sometimes, Duncan, it seems as if he’s more your son than he ever was mine.”

“I would never dream of coming between you and Adam, Sire. He’s your son and always will be.”

“Yet you’re the one he always turns to.”

“You yourself asked me to watch over Adam, Sire, and that’s what I’m doing. Watching over him and offering him a place to turn to as well as encouragement and support when needed. Just as Dekker did for me.”

“Sigh, we both had children around the same time, but you turned out to be so much better at this parenthood thing than me.”

“Believe me, Sire, I had no idea what I was doing, when I had Teela. I had no idea what a father was supposed to be like, considering I never knew mine. I just did the best I could. Just like you, Sire”

“Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Teela excels at everything and is much less trouble than Adam.”

“Only because you were never called away from your duties, when Teela managed to get a bloody nose or a skinned knee, because she’d gotten into a fight with two boys twice her size. No idea where she gets it from. Or maybe I do. Except that I always assumed that the only reason I constantly got into fights as a boy was because I grew up in the slums of the undercity and had no choice but to fight. But Teela managed to get into fights even in the safety of the royal palace, maybe I really was that way all along.”

“What you are, Duncan, is a good man and good father. I’m glad Adam has you as a mentor and friend. I’m also glad that I have you as a friend. Also, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry for stripping you of your rank, banishing you from the palace and threatening you with execution, after… well, after we thought we’d lost Adam.”

“That all right, Sire. We were all grieving.”

“I wouldn’t really have had you executed, you know?”

“I know, Sire. After all, your great- grandfather abolished the death penalty a hundred years ago.”


Meanwhile, at the outer perimeter:

Adam and Teela leaning against a Wind Raider and kissing

Patrolling the outer perimeter.

“You were right, Teela. Getting away from it all really does help me clear my head.”

“I’m always right. And besides, running away and hiding is what you always do, whenever you’re upset.”

“I don’t…”

“Of course you do. Back when we were kids, whenever you were angry or upset or had a quarrel with your Dad, you always ran away and hid somewhere on the palace grounds and usually feel asleep. And it always took the guards hours to find you. But not me, because I know all your hiding places.”

“You didn’t tell the guards, though.”

“Of course not. You’re my friend. And besides, the exercise did the guards good.”

“So… uhm… about what my Dad said about Skeletor being my uncle, does… does that change anything between us?

“What? No, of course not. I love you, Adam, and I don’t care if you’re related to Skeletor, Hordak, King Hiss or whoever. And besides, this means that I no longer have the most embarrassing uncle. But what about you? How do you feel about all this?”

“I honestly don’t know. Angry, mostly. Angry that Dad never told me and that no one else ever told me either, though everybody knew, and that I had to find out from Skeletor of all people. Though I guess I’ll have to call him Keldor now. I’m also disappointed. Not about my Dad, because I didn’t expect anything else from him. But I’m disappointed in your Dad. After all, he was always there for me and I thought I could trust him. Only that it turns out that he was lying to me, too.”

“Trust me, I know how you feel. I’m so fed up with Dad and his damned secrets. I mean, he never even told me that the Sorceress was my mother until she was dead.”

“I’m sorry. Your parents should’ve told you a long time ago. Or maybe I should’ve told you, except that it wasn’t my story to tell… – Oh no, I’m going to have to tell Adora about our uncle, do I? Since I’m pretty sure Dad won’t.”

“We can tell her together. You don’t have to go through this alone, Adam. Honestly, I’m so sick of all these secrets and lies. When we have kids, I swear I will always tell them the truth… – hypothetically speaking, of course. I’m not… well, you know?”

“I know. Not that it would be a bad thing. I mean, having a kid would be scary, but also kind of wonderful.”

“Adam, you promised me you wouldn’t pressure me.”

“I’m not pressuring you. I’m just talking hypothetically. Like you.”

“So we’re both clear that we’re just hypothetically talking about something that might happen in five years or ten or…”

“Or maybe one or two. But anyway, there’s something else. From what my Dad and yours said, Skeletor – Keldor – was angry a lot and felt unappreciated and unwanted. And I feel unappreciated and unwanted a lot of the time, too, at least as Adam. And yes, sometimes I get angry. So what if I turn out like him one day? What if I turn into a monster? After all, Keldor wasn’t always evil either.”

“Stop it, Adam. You’re not like Skeletor or Keldor or whatever he’s calling himself these days. You’re a good man, a hero. My hero.”


This story turned out quite a bit longer than initially planned. And a big part of the reason is the elephant in the room or rather the skeleton in King Randor’s closet, namely the fact that Skeletor is really Prince Keldor, Randor’s brother and Adam’s uncle.

Now Skeletor wasn’t always Keldor. Like most Masters of the Universe characters, he went through several incarnations. A very early proposal actually had He-Man and Skeletor as half-brothers (and it’s notable how close that version is to the later Keldor storyline), but in the mini-comics that came with the original action figures, Skeletor was introduced as a demon from another dimension who wanted to conquer Eternia. Meanwhile, the Filmation cartoon never gave Skeletor any origin at all, probably because it was assumed he didn’t need one. After all, most of the villains in 1980s cartoons never had origin stories, but just were. And so the only backstory we ever get for Skeletor in the Filmation cartoons is that he was once a member of the Evil Horde and Hordak’s right-hand man, before he turned against his erstwhile mentor.

The name “Keldor” first appears in the 1986 mini-comic “The Search for Keldor” by Steven Grant and Bruce Timm – yes, the Bruce Timm who co-created Batman: The Animated Series. In that comic, King Randor reveals that he has a long-lost brother named Keldor, who meddled with dark magic and was sucked into another dimension many years ago. However, the veil between dimensions is growing thin, so Randor decides to search for his long-lost brother and recruits his son Prince Adam (Randor still has no idea that Adam is He-Man at this point), the Sorceress and Clamp Champ (who had just been introduced and needed to be promoted) to help him with his quest. However, Skeletor learns of Randor’s plans and is very eager to stop him, because Randor finding out what became of Keldor could destroy Skeletor. So Skeletor sends some of his minions (conveniently all characters who had just been introduced) to stop Randor at all costs. Of course, the Heroic Warriors manage to beat Skeletor’s minions, but the moment of the dimensional alignment has passed by then and Randor never finds Keldor nor do we ever see what he looks like.

But why is Skeletor so very eager to prevent Randor from finding out what became of Keldor? The implication is that the reason is that Skeletor is what Keldor became in whatever dimension he ended up in. Alas, the original Masters of the Universe toyline ended shortly after “The Search for Keldor” mini-comic was released and the New Adventures of He-Man cartoon never discussed Skeletor’s origin either, so the mystery of Keldor and his link to Skeletor remained unexplained for fifteen years, until the 2002 cartoon picked up the Keldor thread again.

This time around, we actually see Keldor, portrayed as a handsome blue-skinned man. He already is a renegade at this point as well as in league with Hordak. The 2002 series starts off with Keldor and his forces attacking the Hall of Wisdom and the Council of Elders. The Council are defended by the Royal Guard, commanded by a young Randor who at this point is not yet King but Captain of the Guard. It is never explicitly stated, but strongly implied that Randor and Keldor are half-brothers.

This confrontation does not go well for Keldor. During the fight, Keldor hurls a vial of acid at his brother, but Randor raises his shield, deflecting the acid, which hits Keldor in the face instead, eats away the flesh and leaves him as the skull-faced villain we all know and love. And yes, I’m going to do a recreation of that story eventually, because I have most of the figures I need.

Almost all subsequent versions of Masters of the Universe kept the Keldor origin story for Skeletor. The lone exception is – oddly enough – Masters of the Universe: Revelation, which does not address Skeletor’s origin at all beyond the fact that he was once a member of the Evil Horde. But even the Netflix CGI series, which changed pretty much everything else, including bits which have been established almost since the very beginning, kept Keldor as Randor’s treacherous brother and Adam’s evil uncle. And in fact, the CGI series gives Keldor more screentime than pretty much any other version of the story, since it takes a few episodes until he turns into Skeletor, once again due to dabbling with dark forces that should not be dabbled with.

It’s easy to see why pretty much all post-2002 versions of Masters of the Universe kept the Keldor origin story. Not only does it raise the emotional stakes, but it also makes Skeletor, who can be a very one-note villain, a more nuanced character. For this backstory gives Skeletor a very good reason for wanting to conquer Eternia. Because in most versions of the story, Keldor is the older brother and should have become king, except that prejudice, either because Keldor is illegitimate or because he’s half-Gar or both, got in the way. Keldor has every reason to be bitter about the way he was treated, though that does not justify the many atrocities he commits to gain the throne he feels should be his.

When I decided to do a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story, in which Skeletor captures both King Randor and Adam, I initially just wanted to give Adam the chance to show his father that he can be brave and heroic as himself rather than He-Man. However, it quickly became clear that once I put Randor and Skeletor in direct confrontation, their relationship and the deep grudge they hold for each other would quickly come up. And indeed, this is exactly what happens the few times that Randor and Skeletor clash directly in the 2002 cartoon. Though the cartoon manages to avoid addressing the exact nature of the relationship between Randor and Keldor by either having Adam not ask the obvious questions at all or accept Duncan’s vague explanation that Randor and Keldor are old enemies who have a score to settle.

This always struck me as unlikely, because Adam would ask questions. And even if Randor and Duncan would be reluctant to answer, Skeletor definitely wouldn’t miss the opportunity to tell Adam all about how Randor stole the throne that should have been his.

Furthermore, it was also quite obvious to me that Adam wouldn’t just accept that Keldor was always evil and always wrong and never had a claim to the throne. Because Adam is not the sort of person who believes that anybody, not even Skeletor, is irredeemably evil. And in fact, there are several examples – in the Filmation cartoon, Revelation, the CGI cartoon and the various comics – where He-Man is forced to work with Skeletor and tells him, “You know, we don’t have to keep fighting.” So Adam would try to save Keldor, because that’s who he is. And in fact, he does save Keldor and restores him to his regular non-bony form in the CGI show.

As for Teela, she would mainly be angry that the people she trusted lied to her… again. She also wouldn’t be shy about letting everybody know just how she feels about that, because that’s who Teela is, even if some toxic fanboys can’t accept that. Teela would also absolutely support Adam.

When doing a story about the troubled relationship between Adam and his father, another issue that comes up is the much more positive relationship between Adam and Duncan and that Duncan was more of a father figure to Adam than Randor ever was. Oddly enough, this is never really addressed in any of the various cartoons, though the CGI show, which gives the father figure role to Cringer rather than Duncan, has a nice bit of dialogue where Randor and Cringer talk about raising Adam.

And since I had Randor and Duncan talking over a cup of tea, another issue that really needs to be addressed is how Randor lashed out at Duncan after Adam got himself killed in Masters of the Universe: Revelation. Because no matter how understandable Randor’s grief at losing his son was, there was absolutely no justification for taking out his anger on Duncan and stripping him off his rank, banishing him from the palace, forbidding him to make a living in the only way he can and threatening him with execution. Randor doesn’t even threaten Skeletor with execution after all the terrible things Skeletor has done (and indeed the Filmation cartoon explicitly notes that Eternia abolished the death penalty a long time ago), yet he would do that do Duncan, his long-time friend, comrade-in-arms and right-hand man? This is not only shocking, it’s also never really addressed in Revelation. Randor does apologise to Adam and Cringer on screen and there is a brief scene where he makes up with Marlena, but we never see him apologise to Duncan, since Duncan is locked up in the dungeon of Castle Grayskull at this time. Later, during the big battle outside Castle Grayskull, Duncan hands his big gun to Andra, grabs his mace and rushes to Randor’s side without a second of hesitation. The next time we see Randor and Duncan together in the palace at Andra’s promotion ceremony, they’ve clearly reconciled, but we never see Randor apologising to Duncan, not even a brief “I’m sorry” in the heat of the battle. It’s a glaring oversight in a show that otherwise did so much right.

So in short, these people all have a lot to talk about, so this story turned into a novelette.


And that’s it for today, folks. I hope you enjoyed this Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Photo Story. There will be more stories coming in the future, because I’m having a lot of fun doing these as well as plenty of ideas. And yes, I’m definitely going to do my take on how Prince Keldor became Skeletor.

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, I just bought some toys, took photos of them and wrote little scenes to go with those photos. All characters are copyright and trademark their respective owners.

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7 Responses to Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: “Family”

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  2. Lurkertype says:

    I see Malcolm is now learning to shut himself up! Saves time, really.

  3. Lurkertype says:

    I didn’t realize Eternia was so ridden with delftware that it even extends to dungeons.

    This would be an excellent idea for a prequel episode.

    • Cora says:

      Skeletor is very fond of Delftware, because it’s easy to clean, if the dungeon gets a little bloody or dirty.

      But in fact my house is riddled with Delftware, which has somehow accumulated over the years. Of course, Delft is only about three and a half hours away and my Dad worked in the Netherlands for years, but I was still surprised how much of it I have. And the Delftware rum carafe and sugar pot set (supposed to go with a tea set, but I only have these two pieces) makes a great photo story prop.

      I should probably include my Delftware snail (which a friend of my parents gave me as a kid, because I used to catch and play with snails) in the photo stories eventually as an innocent bystander.

      Coming soon: Skeletor goes to Delft to buy tiles to outfit Snake Mountain.

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