The Revolution Will Be Televised: Some Thoughts on Masters of the Universe Revolution

When the first half of Masters of the Universe: Revelation came out in the summer of 2021, I watched it with very few preconceptions beyond having seen some really cool looking trailers and promo images and thinking, “This looks like the He-Man I remember from my childhood, only with better animation.”

I was thankfully oblivious of the controversies and flat-out falsehoods spread by some clickbait YouTube channels of the “We hate everything, cause it’s woke now” variety, largely because I finally persuaded YouTube to stop recommending such channels to me.

I did hear about the “Teela is a lesbian now” rumours, since those also popped up outside the YouTube rage channel biotope. This annoyed me a little, because Adora had just been reimagined as a lesbian in the 2018 She-Ra series and while I generally liked that storyline and found it compelling, I felt making Teela lesbian as well would have been overkill. Never mind that I was a lot more invested in the romance between Teela and Adam/He-Man than I’d ever been in any She-Ra/Adora’s love interests. Of course, the “Teela is a lesbian now” rumours turned out to be completely false, fuelled by the sort of people who mistake every close friendship between members of the same sex for romance.

Nonetheless, I went into Revelation with very few expectations beyond “This looks good and will hopefully provide some nostalgic fun.” And should I not enjoy the show for some reason, I would simply stop watching like I did with the She-Ra reboot that never quite did it for me, mostly because I really, really disliked the animation style. And yes, I know N.D. Stevenson just got an Oscar nomination for Nimona, but I still dislike the style.

So I watched Revelation and it turned out to be not just some nostalgic fun, but so much more. Here was the He-Man story I always wanted to see, a series which took the characters seriously in all their beautiful absurdity and found new depths in them and even managed to make me cry (something western animation in general very rarely does – crying is for anime), while also harkening back to the early 20th SFF which had inspired Masters of the Universe in the first place. Plus, the animation was gorgeous and finally looked as good as the Filmation cartoon looked in my memory, but never in reality, and the voice cast was stellar.

In short, Masters of the Universe Revelation was amazing, even though the usual suspects hated it, because women and people of colour got things to do (never mind that the original Filmation cartoon had plenty of strong women and people of colour in prominent roles) and because Teela, who has always been portrayed as a hothead all the way back to the original Filmation cartoon, was justifiably angry at being kept in the dark about Adam’s secret. Also, she finally had a more realistic body now and sported a new haircut. And one of the clickbait rage channels decided to pick a fight with showrunner Kevin Smith, claiming that he lied to them and demanding an apology. That same clickbait rage channel is now furious that they were not given an advance screener for Revolution BTW, while other smaller YouTube channels were. Gee, I wonder why that is.

The second half of Masters of the Universe Revelation came out four months after the first and ended with one hell of a teaser for a potential second season. And then the long wait for Masters of the Universe Revolution began. Until this week…

And once Masters of the Universe Revolution finally came out, it of course had to come out in a week where Dave McCarty decided to release obviously messed up Hugo nomination statistics and plunged all fandom into all-out war. Yeah, thanks a lot for that, Dave.

However, I still got to watch Masters of the Universe Revolution on release day and damn it, this one is a banger. While watching, I cried, I cheered and exclaimed several variations of “Fuck”, “Shit” and “Oh my God!”

Warning: Spoilers under the cut! And trust me, you don’t want to be spoiled for this, so go and watch Revolution and then come back here to read my analysis.

Okay, so now you watched it, that was great, wasn’t it? In fact was fucking amazing, as good as Masters of the Universe has ever been.

Now I’m somewhat coherent again, let’s delve right into the story.

We get a new version of the opening narration, probably because the classic Filmation opening narration about the fabulous secret powers revealed to Prince Adam is now obsolete, about how Eternia lies at the center of the universe and maintains the balance between magic and technology. Revelation‘s opening narration was delivered by Liam Cunningham, who voices Duncan a.k.a. Man-at-Arms. For Revolution, Susan Eisenberg, who voices the (now late) Sorceress of Grayskull, takes over the narration duties. As with Revelation, the opening narration is accompanied by some of the amazing artwork that William George, Earl Norem and Esteban Maroto created for the original 1980s toyline.

After the opening narration, Masters of the Universe: Revolution starts right in medias res with a hooded and cloaked figure at the gates to Subternia (Eternia’s Land of the Dead for those souls who don’t get to go to Preternia, their version of Valhalla). The hooded and cloaked figure passes right through the massive 2001 style monolith that blocks the entrance, which in theory shouldn’t be possible, at least not for someone who’s not dead.

And indeed, Scareglow, the ruler of Subternia (voiced by Tony Todd), warns the intruder to leave while they still can. The intruder, however, has no intention of leaving, at least not empty-handed. The robes fly away revealing Orko (voiced by Griffin Newman who does an amazing job and also seems to be a lovely person – see this great interview with him here) and Adam (voiced by Chris Wood who does a great job as well), who delivers a variation on the classic Filmation opening narration.

Scareglow isn’t too happy to see “the champion”. He’s even less happy to see Orko, considering that he got his arse handed to him by Orko the last time these two met at the end of Masters of the Universe Revelation (and their first encounter didn’t exactly go well for Scareglow either). It’s interesting that Scareglow, one of the more obscure Masters of the Universe characters from the original toyline, who never appeared on screen before, has such a prominent role in Masters of the Universe Revelation and Revolution. I guess he’s somebody’s favourite.

Adam assures Scareglow that they don’t want to fight, they’re only there to ask a favour. When Fisto and Clamp Champ were killed in Revelation in one of those “Why am I crying? I barely even remember these characters” moments that show was full of and Skeletor snuffed out their souls, they ended up in Subternia rather than in Preternia, which is Eternia’s version of Valhalla, where all the great heroes go after death to ride dinosaurs, go on pretend hunts, hang out by the campfire and ride the monorail connecting the three towers of the coolest playset ever made. Come to think of it, Preternia is a six-year-old’s idea of heaven and actually one of the most charming afterlives I’ve ever seen. I mean, who wants to sit on a cloud and play harp, if you could ride a dinosaur or the Eternia monorail instead? That’s probably also why I don’t really mind the important role that Subternia and Preternia play in Masters of the Universe Revelation/Revolution, even though I normally prefer my SFF without religion.

Fisto and Clamp Champ were heroes and died as heroes, so they should have and would have gone to Preternia, if not for Skeletor’s interference. Adam now wants to set this injustice right and asks Scareglow to hand over the souls of Fisto and Clamp Champ, so they can go where they were meant to go.

Masters of the Universe Masterverse Fisto and Clamp Champ

Two brave souls. Though sadly, they are still dead in the Revelation/Revolution continuity.

Scareglow, however, flat out refuses to hand over Fisto and Clamp Champ’s souls (reprented here by ghostly versions of their iconic weapons). For starters, he points out, there is no Preternia to go to anymore, since Evil-Lyn destroyed it in a massive fit of existential angst, when she realised that god was dead and the universe a vast uncaring place, so she decided to put everybody out of her misery. In short, she basically became a Lovecraft protagonist with a sword and super-powers. But Scareglow also doesn’t want to hand over the souls of Fisto and Clamp Champ, because they make a nice addition to his collection of artefacts and besides, he is enjoying their fear and suffering (cue some very graphic screams on the soundtrack) too much. We get a few glimpses of Scareglow’s “collection” of Easter eggs BTW and while I didn’t recognise every object (YouTuber Dad-at-Arms identifies a few more in this Twitter thread), I did recognise the Diamond Ray of Disappearance and the head of Shokoti, a memorable Filmation villainess who is basically Joan Collins’ portrayal of Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter, only that she’s a Gar and tries to summon Cthulhu. And yes, she is as awesome as she sounds, though unlike Fisto and Clamp Champ, she also deserves to be in Subternia.

Shokoti summons the Darkling

“Arise my Darkling, arise from the pit. I, Shokoti, summon thee.”

Since Adam’s attempt at diplomacy doesn’t work (and it’s very typical of Adam that he does try diplomacy first, even when dealing with his world’s equivalent of the Devil), he transforms into He-Man and a massive fight with Scareglow ensues. We already saw a lot of this scene in the clips shown at the 2023 San Diego Comic Con and later during the Netflix Geek Week event, probably because episode 1 was already largely finished at this point, while later episodes were not.  Scareglow summons his Shadow Beasts (and I really want a Shadow Beast or five now, though Shadow Beast figure ever made is very expensive), whereupon Adam reveals that of course he didn’t come alone either. Instead, we are witnessing a coordinated rescue mission.

And so Adam’s back-up drops in in the form of Buzz-Off, Ram-Man Snout Sprout and Rio Blast to kick some Shadow Beast butt. Ram-Man and Buzz-Off, leader of the Andreenoids, i.e. the Eternian bee people, have always been a fairly prominent Heroic Warriors with notable appearances in both the Filmation cartoon and the 2002 cartoon and also appeared in Revelation. But Snout Sprout, an Eternian firefighter with a robotic elephant head, only ever had a cameo appearance in a She-Ra episode and Rio Blast, a cyborg cowboy with guns popping out of his body, never had any screen appearances at all, even though he is a big fan favourite. So it’s great to see these more obscure characters get some screentime, even if Rio Blast still looks like he escaped from the Bravestarr cartoon. It also shows how much has changed since we first visited Subternia in Masters of the Universe: Revelation, where Teela had to face down Scareglow and her own deepest darkest fears alone. Adam, meanwhile, has friends to back him up.

And he has even more back-up hovering in the sky in the form of a massive ship called the Cloud Crusher under the command of Andra who was promoted to Man-at-Arms at the end of Revelation. She has clearly embraced her new role and updated the already formidable Eternian military arsenal with the Cloud Crusher as well as a massive Hulkbuster style suit of flying armour. I’ve seem some complaints about how this is just a Marvel rip-off, but a) Masters of the Universe has always been a hodge podge of ideas borrowed from elsewhere and b) it looks cool, so who cares where the idea came from? That said, I suspect that somewhere on Eternia – either in the basement of Castle Grayskull or via the Cosmic Key – there is a portal that leads to Earth and through which some occasionally supplies Queen Marlena with earthly goodies. After all, Adam has a Castle Grayskull playset in his nursery and we’re pretty sure Randor and Marlene did not buy that in an Eternian Target or Walmart. So I guess DVDs of Avengers and Iron Man movies found their way to Eternia and Andra was inspired to design the Cloud Crusher (which has a bit of Avengers Quinjet or SHIELD Helicarrier in it) and flying suits of armour.

Regarding Andra, we first meet her in the second episode of Revelation as Teela’s mercenary partner and friend. She shares a name with a liteutenant in the Royal Guard who had a few appearance in some British tie-in comics, but otherwise she was a new character. A lot of the vocal Revelation haters didn’t like Andra, because she was a black woman in a prominent role and that is “woke”, don’t you know? Never mind that there have always been characters of colour in Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power, going back all the way to the Filmation cartoons.

Indeed, one of the few not completely obnoxious arguments about Andra was, “But Masters of the Universe already has characters of colour? Why create a new character rather than use one of them?” However, it turns out that Andra is actually connected to one of the established characters of colour in Masters of the Universe. It’s not explicitly spelled out, but there are hints and one of the producers apparently confirmed this in an interview. Unfortunately, I will have to watch a two and a half hour YouTube discussion to find out where that interview is to be found, so there’s no link for now.

ETA: Around the 1:05 hour mark of this episode of the Geek the F Out YouTube channel, where they discuss part 2 of Masters of the Universe Revelation, someone mentions that Revelation/Revolution producer Ted Biaselli watched the discussion and messaged the channel to point that so far no one had noticed a possible connection between Dekker and Andra.

Anyway, in the 2002 episode “The Island”, Duncan, Adam and Teela go to visit Dekker, who was Duncan’s predecessor as Man-at-Arms and who also was to Randor (whom he called Randy) and Duncan what Duncan is to Adam and Teela, a mentor and a father figure (and as Revolution has shown us, Randor needed a mentor and father figure as much as Duncan did). Dekker only had that one appearance (plus a few in the comics), but he’s an awesome character. He also happens to be black.

Andra is implied to be Dekker’s granddaughter. She does mention growing up with her grandfather in Revelation a few times and how he told her stories about Castle Grayskull. Oh, I’m sure Dekker had stories to tell about Castle Grayskull such as drinking tea with Kuduk Ungol, the previous Sorceress, while his young apprentice Duncan and her young apprentice Teela-Na were getting busy with each other. So Andra not only succeeds her grandfather as Man-at-Arms, she also actually is family to Duncan and Teela. Okay, so there was no hint that Dekker had a family in “The Island”, but then the 2002 cartoon is a different continuity.

I only heard about the implied connection between Andra and Dekker a few days ago, but when I got a Masters of the Universe Classics Dekker action figure (the only one he ever had) and took a photo of the three generations of Eternian Men-at-Arms side by side, I did notice that there was a resemblance between Andra and Dekker that goes way beyond the fact that they’re both black. Indeed, I even made a joke about Dekker possibly having a little secret. Well, it turns out that he did. But see for yourself:

Three generations of Eternian Men-at-Arms: Duncan, Dekker and Andra.

“Uhm, Duncan, where did Teela pick up that girl again? Cause she reminds me of someone I knew long ago…”

But whatever her family background, Andra is awesome. As for some of the folks who disliked the character saying that she got less to do in Revolution, Andra actually plays a very important role in Revolution beyond supplying our heroes with new tech and there are several plot developments that wouldn’t have happened without her.

Also aboard the Cloud Crusher is King Randor himself. We first see him manning a big cannon and he seems to be having the time of his life. This is consistent with how Randor has been portrayed since the Filmation cartoon, namely as someone who sees himself as a soldier and man of action first and king second. And so, when Andra steps out of her Hulkbuster suit (I’ll just call it that until it gets a proper name) to take the helm of the Cloud Crusher, Randor borrows the suit and personally drops into Subternia to lend Adam a hand. And so we get father and son fighting side by side, while Scareglow gets his arse handed to him… again. Adam even gets the one thing he never got from Randor before he died, namely Randor telling Adam that he’s proud of hin.

The newly minted Sorceress Teela (now voiced by Melissa Benoist who is married to Chris Wood, who voices Adam, in real life) eventually drops in as well and uses her light powers to disssolve Scareglow’s Shadow Beasts. He-Man and Teela cast some smouldering looks at each other. Then everybody returns to the Cloud Crusher with the rescued souls of Fisto and Clamp Champ, while the gate to Subternia is sealed with a massive Eternium lid to make sure that Scareglow and his Shadow Beasts can’t get out and that no other poor souls will end up there. Adam and Teela engage in a bit of awkward flirting, egged on by Rio Blast who says what the entire audience is thinking, namely that everybody knew these two belong together all along. While everybody is celebrating, Randor steps out of the Hulkbuster suit and he does not look well at all. Shortly, thereafter he collapses – to the shock of Adam, Teela and Andra.

There is a cut and we’re back at Eternos Palace in the royal bedchamber with Adam, Teela, Duncan, Marlena (now voiced by Gates McFadden who IMO is a much better fit for the character than Alicia Silverstone and even looks a little like Marlena), Cringer, Orko and Andra all crowded anxiously around Randor’s bed, while Mendor, the royal physician (a character who first appeared in the 2013 DC “Eternity War” comics – more on him here) is examining Randor. Adam is clearly agitated and tells Mendor that he has no idea what happened, since Randor wasn’t injured during the battle. Mendor, unfortunately, does have an idea what happened and announces that King Randor is suffering from organ failure and that they still don’t know the cause. “What do you, mean you still don’t know?” Adam demands. That’s when Mendor drops the bombshell. Randor is dying and his condition was diagnosed weeks ago. However, Randor only told Marlena and Duncan (who’s been knighted Lord Duncan by now) and explicitly forbade them to tell anybody else, including Adam.

There is a certain irony in the fact that Adam now finds himself in the same position as Randor and Teela did at the beginning of Revelation, finding out something that he should have been told before in the worst way possible. Adam is also understandably upset that Marlena and Duncan let Randor come along on the mission to rescue the souls of Fisto and Clamp Champ, even though they knew he was dying. Duncan replies that this was Randor’s last wish. And while I feel for Adam, I can certainly understand why Randor chose not to tell him and why he wanted to come along on the rescue mission. Because Randor wanted to enjoy what time he had left with Adam untarnished by fear and grief. And since Randor has always viewed himself as a soldier first and king second, fighting the good fight alongside his son is clearly something he wanted very much. This may also be another reason why Randor was so furious at Duncan after Adam died – because Duncan got to fight alongside He-Man so many times and Randor rarely did, so the experience of fighting alongside his son was taken from him. This was Randor’s way of having that experience one last time.

Besides, Randor also considered Fisto and Clamp Champ his friends and wanted to help save their souls. Because something that’s often forgotten is that most of the heroic warriors are significantly older than Adam and Teela. They’re of Randor’s and Duncan’s generation and the 2002 cartoon explicitly shows that the Masters of the Universe were Randor’s team before they became Adam’s. Malcolm is Duncan’s older brother (though this isn’t addressed in Revelation/Revolution), so he’s definitely older than Randor. Clamp Champ only had very appearances over the years, mostly in the mini-comics, but he usually appears to be younger and closer in age to Adam and Teela. Furthermore, one of the few things that are consistent about Clamp Champ is that he’s Randor’s personal bodyguard. So in short, Randor has known Fisto and Clamp Champ for years, so of course he wants to help them, even if it’s the last thing he’ll ever do.

Adam, however, isn’t willing to give up on his father so easily and if Mendor can’t do anything, then maybe somebody else can. So Adam asks Teela to use her magic to heal Randor like she healed Adam after Skeletor stabbed him. Teela tries, but there are some things even her magic can’t heal. Randor also stops her and says that he doesn’t want that. Then he asks everybody to leave him alone with his family (even though everybody in that room is Randor’s family of sorts except possibly for Mendor). So everybody files out of the room and Teela squeezes Adam’s hand before she leaves and then breaks down crying outside the royal bedchamber, because she wants to help and support Adam, but doesn’t know how. Then she has an idea.

We next see Teela at Castle Grayskull, trying to restore Preternia. For even if she can’t heal Randor, she can at least make sure that his soul has somewhere to go. However, while Teela may be the Sorceress of Grayskull now, her magic isn’t strong enough to restore Preternia. Orko shows up to offer some moral support and tells Teela that maybe it’s time to ask for help. Teela, who’s always been very independent, replies that she can’t just go to her mother with every problem, but needs to figure out things on her own. But then Teela descends into the bowels of Castle Grayskull to the magical pool of transformation and there is the spirit form of the Sorceress. With Preternia gone, her soul is stuck inside Castle Grayskull, which does give Teela a chance to get to know her mother the way she never did in life. The Sorceress tells Teela that she only has the power of Zoar, but that’s not enough to restore Preternia. For Preternia and its towers were created by the combined magic of the three Eternian gods, Zoar, Ka and Havoc, the falcon, the snake and the ram. And in order to restore Preternia, Teela needs the power of all three. The Sorceress also tells her daughter where the ancient snake magic of Ka may be found, namely in the mountains of Darksmoke. Orko exclaims that Darksmoke is even scarier than Subternia, but Teela tells him that she is nonetheless going there… alone.

A lot of the people who disliked Revelation complained that Teela was acting out of character in that show by getting angry and storming off, never mind that Teela has always been portrayed as a hothead all the way back to the Filmation cartoon and that running off when she’s angry or scared or upset is something Teela tends to do (see the Filmation episode “Teela’s Trial” for a good example). And that’s also exactly what Teela does here – she finds herself in a difficult emotional situation, seeing the man she loves hurting and being unable to help him, so she runs off. And yes, she has a mission and a noble goal – to restore Preternia – but she’s still running away from her emotions. And in fact, it’s actually later spelled out in the dialogue on two different occasions that even though Teela’s intention to restore Preternia was noble, both Randor and Adam would have preferred her to just be there for Adam. And indeed I find it strange how many of the Revelation haters claim that Teela is so much more likeable in Revolution and that Netflix and Mattel clearly listened to their complaints and made changes, when Teela is still very much the same character she always was. Though she has longer hair and more traditionally feminine clothes here, so maybe that’s what really was bothering them.

But Revelation showed us Teela in darkest hour, after she lost her best friend and the man she loved and also learned that there was so much Adam never told her. Indeed there is a sweet flashback scene in Revolution where Teela and Adam are training in the palace garden on the day before Teela is named Man-at-Arms – and the day before Adam dies. Teela is annoyed that Adam is holding back and pulling punches, because they’re friends, when Adam shows her that he has taken her lessons to heart and sweeps her off her feet and into his arms. They’re only seconds from kissing when Orko pops up in a classic Orko Interruptus move.

This flashback is important, because it shows us what Teela’s life was like before everything fell apart. She and Adam are clearly in love, though not able to express their feelings for each other, because they’re both shy and a little dorky. And then, on the very next day, Adam dies and Teela learns that he was everything she ever wanted him to be and more. But Teela also never told Adam how she felt about him nor does she know if he felt the same about her (he obviously did, but Teela is insecure and feels that she needs to prove she’s worthy of love) and she can’t even talk to Adam about any of that, because he’s dead. So Teela does what she always does, she runs away.

In Revolution, however, Teela is in a much happier place. She is united with her family and friends and finally knows that she was not an unwanted and abandoned orphan (and the fear of being unwanted, unworthy and abandoned is very much what drives Teela, as Scareglow pretty much spells out in the dialogue in Revelation), but a child born of love who was wanted and cherished. Plus, Teela and Adam are about to take their relationship to the next stage, even though they’re both too shy and awkward to fully admit their feelings for each other. Indeed, a large part of why Revolution feels different and happier than Revelation, even though both are two chapters of the same story, is that we see these characters supporting each other and being a family in Revolution, whereas Revelation tore them apart. Masters of the Universe has always been a story about the importance of friends and family. Revelation took that away from the characters, while Revolution very much shows them being a family again. That’s why it’s a happier story, even though there are many moments that are heartbreaking.

Case in point: We see the dying Randor imparting his last words to Marlena and Adam and it’s utterly heartbreaking. Randor tells Adam and Marlena how much he loves them and what a great miracle it was that Marlena, the love of his life, literally came to him from the stars (Marlena was a NASA astronaut who crashlanded on Eternia). Randor reminisces about how he lost friends, family and even his brother (oooh, foreshadowing). He tells Adam that he’s his pride and joy, something Adam needed to hear for so long and yet never got until a few months or even weeks before his father’s death, and also tells Adam that he hopes Adam will find the same happiness Randor did, that he will know the joy of being a husband and a father and that Adam should get his act together and finally tell Teela how he feels about her. Randor literally tells Adam and Marlena with his dying breath that he loved them and if you didn’t cry at that moment, you don’t have a heart. And yes, we have been suspecting that Randor would probably die in Revolution ever since the very first teaser image with the broken crown on the ground and we have known for a fact that Randor will die since the trailer came out, but that doesn’t make those scenes any easier to watch.

Randor also has something else to say to Adam, because once he dies, Adam will have to become King. Randor also tells Adam that he can’t both He-Man and King, he’ll have to make a choice, a choice Randor never had to make. Of course, Adam could be both King and champion – Grayskull was both, after all, and possibly He-Ro as well. But Grayskull had his wife Veena and his council to take care of affairs at home, while he was off heroing. Adam doesn’t really have this, at least not at this point. And even though Randor says that he never had to make the choice Adam will have to make, he absolutely did. Because Randor was a soldier and never really wanted to be anything else and had the crown thrust upon him unexpectedly and very much against his will. The Filmation episode “Search for the Past” tells us that Randor abruptly had to become king well before he was ready, after King Miro vanished, and that he would happily have handed the crown back to Miro, once Randor, Duncan and He-Man rescued him. And in the first episode of the 2002 cartoon, when the Council of Elders pronounce Randor King before buggering off to parts unknown, Randor explicitly tells them that he’s a merely a soldier, not a king. So Randor was forced to become king against his will and before he was ready, which also explains a lot about his behaviour towards Adam. Randor wasn’t ready, so he’ll do anything in his power to make sure that Adam is ready.

Now I’ve been quite critical of Randor in the past. Randor isn’t an easy character to like and he’s not supposed to be. Randor is the distant parent who doesn’t understand his kid or see Adam for who really is, while the role of the supporting parent falls on Duncan. Randor is the parent who can’t express his feelings, who can’t say that he loves his son and is proud of him. Indeed, at the end of the Filmation episode “Prince Adam No More”, which delves a lot into Adam’s strained relationship with his father and his desire to make his father proud of him as Adam, not He-Man, Orko tells all the kids watching at home that even if our parents can’t always say that they love us, that doesn’t mean that they don’t. And I guess that’s a message a lot of us needed to hear.

And while Randor came off really badly in Revelation due to the way he treated Adam as a permanent disappointment and then banished Duncan in the first episode, Revolution did a lot to redeem his character (and Diedrich Bader’s voice acting is great) and also gave us some background regarding why Randor was the way he was, since Revolution shows us two of the three worst days in Randor’s life, where he lost two people he loved very much. The third worst day is of course episode 1 of Revelation, the day that Adam sacrifices himself to save all of Eternia.

One reason why Masters of the Universe has endured, while so many other cartoons from the same era, cartoons with better animation and just as many great tie-in toys, have faded is that no matter how fantastic their adventures, the characters and their dilemmas ring absoluely true. We can recognise these people, maybe we’ve even been there. How many of us wanted to be seen for who we truly are like Adam? How many of us secretly feared that our parents wouldn’t love us anymore and maybe even abandon us, if we weren’t always the best at everything like Teela? How many of us were scared of sometimes absurd things and yet wish we could be brave like Cringer? How many of us knew how everything should work in theory, but just couldn’t make it work in practice and always screwed up like Orko?

Parenting and particularly the roles of fathers were different in the 1980s and so a lot of the Gen X and early Millennial kids who were the original He-Man fans grew up with distant and emotionally absent fathers who worked a lot and who didn’t see the world the way we did, who wanted to push us into secure jobs and careers we didn’t really want (remember that Gen X was the original slacker generation who didn’t go for the gray flanel suit careers our parents had). Though it isn’t just our generation who look at Adam’s strained relationship with his father and see ourselves. Some of the most fervent critics of Randor I’ve seen are young fans who weren’t even born when the Filmation cartoons and sometimes not even when the 2002 cartoons came out. Yet they know all about strained relationships with parents.

Meanwhile, us original He-Man fans are now at an age where we’ve either already lost our parents or will lose them in the near future. And while I fully expected Randor the Warrior King to fall in battle and was surprised that he actually dies in bed of an incurable disease, that’s actually how most of us have lost or will lose our parents. I lost my own Dad in October, also unexpectedly and with barely any warning and also of a disease that the doctors didn’t know how to cure and didn’t even really know how or why it happened and also didn’t have much of an interest to find out. So that’s why those scenes hit so hard, because I know exactly know Adam feels. And through it all, I just wanted to hug the poor kid or wanted for someone to hug him.

There’s another cut and we see Adam on the day of Randor’s funeral, clad in a formal black uniform. Marlena, Duncan and Cringer are with him, though Teela is notably absent, because she’s off on her own mission to restore Preternia. Duncan goes through the process with Adam once more and he’s really the one who’s holding everything together, even though he has lost the love of his life, his son (and he clearly considers Roboto his son), his brother (though Revelation/Revolution never spells out that Malcolm/Fisto and Duncan were brothers) and now his best friend all in the space of a few months, if not weeks. Yet Duncan never breaks down, because he has to be strong for those around him. Also note how often we see him standing behind Adam, literally having his back. And that’s why Duncan is such an amazing character.

Adam is expected to hold the eulogy for his father and then he will be crowned king – while his dead father is still lying there in a glass coffin. And it’s obvious that he’s not even remotely ready for any of this. He even asks Duncan if they have to do the coronation right now and Duncan replies that yes, it needs to be now, because Eternia needs a king and has already been a full day without a king. And once again, I completely felt for Adam. Because even when there’s no one trying to put a crown on your head, when someone close to you dies, there are all sorts of things that are expected from you. You suddenly need to locate all sorts of documents and may not even have any idea where they are. You may be asked to pack up the possessions of a loved one – in a room you don’t ever want to enter again. Funeral parlour employees will thrust photos of coffins and flower arrangements into your face and you’re expected to choose one of them. You’ll have to call relatives you haven’t talked to in ages and may well find that the numbers in your parents’ messy phonebook are no longer current. And you’ll find yourself in the position of having to choose clothes for your loved one to wear in their coffin and wonder whether you should include underwear.

So Adam tries to hold his eulogy and can barely get out the words. And then he goes completely off script and recounts a time when he was a kid and very much wanted something called a billow bike, because all the other kids in Eternos had one. However, all billow bikes in Eternos were sold out, so Randor decided to build one himself, in spite of having zero practical talents (Why didn’t he ask Duncan for help?) and the results were just as you’d expect. Again, this scene made me tear up and not just me, because once again we’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten the wrong gift, the knock-off toy instead of the original, because Vultura from Golden Girl looks a lot like Catra. Many of us have probably also gotten a homemade gift our parents laboured over so hard (I still have the doll cradle my grandpa, who was a carpenter, made for me with pillows sewn by my grandma) and yet didn’t really appreciate it, because it wasn’t the exact thing from the toy catalog that we wanted. And then as adults, we realise how much love was poured into that doll cradle or that billow bike (and my cradle actually looks great, unlike Adam’s billow bike). So I completely teared up and just really, really wanted to hug Adam.

ETA: The billow bike story is apparently autobiographical, because Kevin Smith’s father tried to customise a regular bike into an BMX bike for him one Christmas, only that he had no more practical talent than Randor.

Adam finally gets back on script and states that he will never be half the man or half the kind his father was and I think everybody cried internally, “No, you’re a great person and you’ll be a great king.” And then suddenly, William Shatner’s voice rings out and says, “Then don’t accept the crown” (because the last thing anybody needs at their father’s funeral is Captain Kirk telling them they’re not worthy) and the camera zooms in on a blue-skinned man with a pointy beard clad in a dark cloak. It’s Keldor, Randor’s older brother, a character we didn’t even know existed in the Revelation/Revolution continuity.

Masters of the Universe Classics Keldor with crown

“Remember me? It’s the royal by-blow, the blue-skinned embarrassment, come back to take what should have been his.”

We’ve known since the 2022 San Diego Comic Con that William Shatner would be in Masters of the Universe: Revolution, though we didn’t know whom he would play until he literally crashed Randor’s funeral. There were plenty of theories and though all of those characters actually appeared in Revolution, it was gradually revealed that other actors were voicing them.

As for Keldor, he was first mentioned in one of the last original mini-comics as Randor’s brother who had been lost many years before and that Skeletor was very eager to prevent that anybody ever find out what really happened to Keldor. The 2002 cartoon not only actually showed us Keldor – and revealed that he was blue-skinned – but also revealed that Keldor was the man who would eventually become Skeletor (more about that here). However, the Revelation/Revolution continuity seemed to have gone back to the older backstory of Skeletor being a demon from another dimension, so no one really expected Keldor to appear in his show at all.

Unfortunately, a retailer in California got some upcoming Masterverse toys in stock early and decided to put them up for sale on their website, which included a Keldor figure. Now nobody had expected to ever get a Keldor fgure in Masterverse and indeed I had just purchased a quite expensive Masters of the Universe Classics Keldor, so I would have the complete royal family in seven inch scale. And even when we heard that a Keldor figure was coming, we assumed he wouldn’t be a Revolution figure but part of one of the other Masterverse sublines.

Now toys are notorious for spoiling plot developments, because they have to be produced way in advance and there’s always a retailer who will put them on the shelves too early. And while I was excited to get a Keldor figure in Masterverse, I would rather not have been spoiled about this, because imagine how much more shocking Keldor crashing his brother’s funeral would have been, if we didn’t have any inkling that he was even in this show. That said, even when Keldor shows up, we still have no idea how he will fit into the Revelation/Revolution continuity, especially since we’ve seen Skeletor earlier in the episode, forcibly converting Two-Bad (Baddrah, the purple half is voiced by Kevin Smith’s pal Jason Mewes and Tuvar, the blue half is voiced by Griffin Newman who also play Orko) to the cult of Motherboard. So if Keldor isn’t Skeletor in this continuity, then who is he and what is he doing here?

Keldor’s shocking appearance at his brother’s funeral is the cliffhanger ending of episode one. Episore two then starts off with a flashback, as Keldor tells his story to what we later realise is Prince Adam. And yes, he’s still Prince Adam, since the coronation was called off when a surprise claimant to the throne crashed the funeral. Though I hope they at least buried or cremated Randor and he wasn’t left lying there in his glass coffin.

We see Keldor and Randor as little boys. Randor is maybe eight or nine, Keldor is maybe eleven or twelve at this point. They sneak into King Miro’s study and the dialogue tells you that they’re both a little scared of their father, which is a red flag right there. Randor looks at Miro’s books, while Keldor finds Miro’s private flask of brandy (and can I just say that I love that Eternian adults drink alcohol, even though the show was originally for kids?). He unscrews the flask, wrinkles his nose at the smell and when Randor wants to know what it is, Keldor tells him “It’s fruit juice – sort of”. In short, they’re absolutely adorably kids. You can also see that the two brothers love each other very much.

When they hear footsteps outside the door, Randor and Keldor quickly hide under Miro’s big wooden desk (the same desk at which Adam is sitting when Keldor tells him that story), because they’re scared of being caught. And so they become witness to an argument between King Miro (voiced by Tim Sheridan who also wrote this episode and actually seems to be a lovely person in real life) and his wife Queen Amelia (voiced by Harley Quinn Smith, daughter of showrunner Kevin Smith) that was never meant for their ears.

Amelia wants to know when Miro will finally make good on his promise and ship Keldor off to his mother on Anwat Gar. Miro replies that if he sends Keldor to Anwat Gar, he can never return due to Anwat Gar’s isolationist politics. Also separating the brothers would be cruel towards Randor, who loves his big brother and thinks “he hung the moons”. Amelia insists that keeping Keldor around would be even more cruel, because Keldor will never be king due to being illegitimate. He’ll always be number two and then, once Randor produces an heir (Lady, the kid is maybe eight or nine), he’ll be number three and in time he’ll come to resent his brother. While their parents are arguing about their future, we see the hearts of the two little boys breaking. Randor starts to cry, while Keldor grips the flask he swiped so hard that his knuckles turn pale blue. And you just want to hug these poor little kids.

When I awarded the 2023 Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award to King Miro, I obviously had no idea that he would even appear in Masters of the Universe: Revolution, let alone how he would be portrayed. However, that was clearly a very prescient choice, because King Miro and Queen Amelia are the worst and apparently want to win another ugly vase. Pretty much every bad thing that happened on Eternia in the past thirty years or so is directly or indirectly their fault. And yes, Hordak also plays a role, but Hordak regularly tries and fails to conquer Eternia. But Miro and Amelia being shitty people and shitty parents gave him an opportunity that he wouldn’t otherwise have had.

When we first met Miro all the way back in the Filmation episode “Search for the Past” and the She-Ra episode “King Miro’s Journey”, he’s actually a likeable character, the loving grandfather of Adam and Adora who still knows how to throw a punch even in old age. And the appearance in Miro in Revolution is very much modelled after his appearance in the Filmation episodes rather than his brief cameo in the 2002 cartoon. The only difference is that this Miro is younger and has brown hair, though he is already bald. Queen Amelia, meanwhile, has never appeared in any of the animated shows at all and only had a brief appearance in one of the Masters of the Universe Classics mini-comics. She didn’t even get a name in that comic, she just was “the Queen” and is killed on the next page anyway. Amelia’s appearance in Revolution is clearly modelled after her appearance in this comic, as drawn by Wellington Alves (yes, I looked it up). As for her name, as far as I know a couple of fans came up with the name Amelia for Randor’s mother for some unofficial bios.

The introduce of Keldor throws a wrench into the dynamics of the Eternian royal family, because it requires that either Randor or Miro was a massive arsehole who set Keldor on his path. So far every writer has decided to throw Miro under the bus, because he is a far more obscure character than Randor. As for Queen Amelia, she’s so obscure that hardly anybody cares about her, so she can be portrayed as a raging arsehole. And make no mistake, Miro and Amelia are raging arseholes.

For starters, Miro could have kept his hands and his dick to himself. But no, he had to pursue a pretty blue Gar girl, got her pregnant and then abandoned her instead of standing by her and marrying her. And yes, there probably would have been laws and objections against the King of Eternos marrying a Gar, but guess what? Miro was the King. He could have just overruled anybody who objected to his relationship with Saryn. Also note that unlike his father, Randor marries his inappropriate girlfriend. And if anybody on Eternia thought a Gar queen would have been a problem, note that Randor married an alien (which is explicitly said in the dialogue). And I’m pretty sure that there were people in Eternos who were not happy about that either. However, I’m also pretty sure that Randor told them point blank, “Either you’ll let me marry my alien bride or you can find yourselves a new king.” Also note that on his death bed, Randor gives Adam his blessing for marrying Teela, should Adam feel that he needs it. And Randor being willing to buck tradition to marry an alien turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to Eternia.

As an aside, I would love to see more about young Captain Randor of the Eternian Guard and how he came to fall in love with a NASA astronaut and persuaded her to stay on Eternia and marry him, even though I imagine a young Randor was just as dorky and shy as his son. I also would have loved to see Marlena’s reaction to Eternia. After all, Marlena is a modern Earth woman and scientist. She’s also pretty much a gender-flipped John Carter – the Earthwoman who came to an alien planet and married the king. How did she react when Randor proudly showed off his new bride to all the non-human people of Eternia? How did she react when she learned that magic actually works on Eternia? How did she react when she was introduced to Mendor and told that healing mage with glowing tattoos on his head would deliver her child(ren) and that no, there would be no ultrasound or epidurals. Maybe we could even see young Lieutenant Duncan courting Teela-Na and having his heart broken. I don’t really see this as a cartoon, given how difficult and expensive animation is, but maybe as a comic miniseries.

But even if Miro wasn’t willing or able to marry Saryn, he could still have named Keldor his heir. Even if there are a laws against naming an illegitimate kid heir to the throne, laws can be changed. Indeed, we see Eternian laws of succession being changed twice in Revolution, so it’s not as if those laws are written in stone. And even if they are, there’s still the possibility to do what Kull of Atlantis did in Robert E. Howard’s “By This Axe I Rule”, where Kull takes a battle axe to outdated and cruel Atlantean laws and literally smashes the stone tablets they’re written on. Or Miro could have waited until his sons were older and let them figure out for themselves who would become King. Especially since Randor doesn’t even want to be King. And who knows if Keldor would have been that keen on becoming King, if he hadn’t been told all this life that he wasn’t good enough?

As for Amelia, Randor is a few years younger than Keldor, so it wasn’t as if she already had a kid with Miro, when he showed up and handed her a blue baby. If Amelia married Miro after Keldor’s birth, she really has no reason to complain about anything, because she knew that Miro had a kid from a previous relationship and that she would be his stepmother. And if Amelia was already married to Miro, when he decided to sleep with Saryn, she could always have dumped his arse. Marlena was considering leaving Randor, after Adam died and Randor started lashing out at all those around him, so Eternian queens can clearly leave their husbands. Also Amelia pretty much hands Keldor the playbook for how to make sure that he can become King, namely by eliminating Randor’s heirs. And no, the little boy who overhears that conversation clearly would never even consider doing such a thing. But I’m pretty sure that Keldor replayed that conversation in his head over and over again in years to come.

The flashback also makes it amply clear that the reason why Keldor couldn’t become King isn’t that he has blue skin, but that he’s illegitimate. Because frankly, the whole “Eternians are prejudiced against the Gar” thing never really made sense. For starters, Eternia is an extremely diverse world full of strange and wonderful beings. We clearly see in Revelation/Revolution that approx. fifty percent of the population of Eternos isn’t human. We even see some Gar among them. On a world that has bee people and alligator people and bat people and crab people and fish people, does anybody honestly think blue skin and pointy ears would be much of a problem?

Even past writers realised that “Eternians are prejudiced against the Gar, because they’re blue” doesn’t really hold up, so they came up with a blood libel type explanation – a thousand years ago, the Gar (actually Saryn) murdered King Grayskull and staged an uprising – which is why the rest of Eternia doesn’t like the Gar and banished them to their island. But as we’ve seen in the Forge of Destiny comic mini-series and also in Revolution, the Gar are as much responsible for their isolation as the rest of Eternia, because they basically barricaded themselves on their island, don’t let outsiders in and don’t let their own people leave. The Gar aren’t the Jews of Eternia, Anwat Gar is the East Germany of Eternia.

In many ways, what we have here is a story of intergenerational trauma. Randor has his beloved brother taken away when he was a kid and never saw him again – at least as far as he knows. Then he was forced to become King before he was ready. He suffered other losses along the way and all the trauma he experienced damaged his relationship with Adam and then, after Adam sacrificed himself to save all of Eternia and Randor finally saw who his son really was, he lashed out against Marlena and Duncan. Thankfully, Randor was able to repair his relationship with Adam, with Marlena and with Duncan before he died and the intergenerational trauma of the royal family will not be passed on to the next generation. Because there are strong hints that Adam will become a father before long himself and we just know he’ll be a great Dad.

Keldor tells Adam that he was gone from the palace within days of that conversation, shipped back to Anwat Gar. And there, with the help of his mother Saryn (who is usually not a positive character anyway and who likely had very few good things to say about Miro who impregnated and abandoned her) he found a home, embraced technology and became an inventor. He even shows off some of his inventions to Adam, a bracelet which can project holograms and some kind of glider. Adam asks Keldor why Randor never tried to find him, whereupon Keldor replies that the Horde attacked Anwat Gar when he was a young man and that he was reported to have been killed. And Keldor decided to let his brother believe he was dead, because it would be better that way for Randor. Yeah, more trauma to shovel on Randor.

Adam’s facial expressions in this scene are lovely, since he’s obviously completed dazzled by Keldor’s holographic projector. He’s also dazzled by Keldor, because William Shatner plays Keldor as a very charming and dare I say likeable character. Now Masters of the Universe fans know that Keldor is inevitably bad news whenever he shows up. Even in universes where Keldor manages to avoid having his face burned off and becoming Skeletor, he’s still usually a villain. One example can be found in the Masterverse anthology comic series, where Keldor is the power behind the throne, pushing Randor to conquer the rest of Eternia. Indeed, it’s even spelled out in the dialogue that in any timeline, Keldor is always the bad guy.

I’ve seen some criticism that Adam is way too trusting of Keldor and his story, but that’s exactly who Adam is. He’s someone who always wants to see the best in people. At the end of Revelation, he chooses to share the Power of Grayskull with Skeletor, because he wants Skeletor to know what it feels like to save the world – a trust Skeletor promptly betrays. And whenever He-Man and Skeletor are forced to work together – most notably in the Filmation episodes “Evil Seed” and “To Save Skeletor” – it usually ends with He-Man saying to Skeletor, “You know, we don’t really have to fight anymore.”

Besides, we’ve also seen Adam’s reaction when confronted with lost family members he didn’t even know existed in The Secret of the Sword, where he is willing to accept a twin sister he never knew about with barely any questions and his first reaction to learning Adora is his sister is not to demand a DNA test, but to hug her. And unlike Adora, Adam probably at least knew that his father had an older brother named Keldor who was lost years ago. So when someone claiming to be Keldor shows up at his father’s funeral and knows enough details about the royal family to sound credible, Adam will of course accept his long lost uncle. Never mind that Adam hasn’t watched umpteen Masters of the Universe cartoon episodes and read umpteen comics and doesn’t know that Keldor is almost always bad news. The audience knowing more than the characters do is actually a classic literary device called dramatic irony and it’s used to good effect here.

Besides, William Shatner’s charming and dare I say it handsome Keldor doesn’t just dazzle Adam and the rest of Eternia, he charms the audience as well. Even though we know who and what Keldor is, we want to trust this guy and still hope against hope that this may be the rare exception of a good guy Keldor. Because we have seen Keldor as a good guy before, most notably in the Masters of the Multiverse comic mini-series, which stars the one Keldor in the Multiverse who’s very definitely not evil. And even the Masters of the Universe Classics mini-comic, which features the sole appearance of Queen Amelia before Revolution, features Keldor being a good guy and a hero for two pages or so, before he runs Amelia through with his sword (and I for one can’t even blame him, considering how that woman treated him) and becomes a renegade.

And indeed, pretty much the entire second episode of Masters of the Universe: Revolution shows Keldor being a hero and fighting alongside the good guys, though unfortunately we never seen him wielding his iconic dual blades. For the conversation between Adam and Keldor is rudely interrupted by an explosion outside the palace. The cult of Motherboard is attacking Eternos, now led by a transformed Skeletor (or Skeletek, as He-Man calls him, though he’s still voiced by Mark Hamill in full-on villain mode). So Skeletor and Keldor are in the same place at the same time, which smashes several theories right there. Former Motherboard high priest Tri-Klops is still there, but he doesn’t talk. Ditto for his chief acolyte Trap Jaw. I guess they didn’t want to bring back Henry Rollins who voiced Tri-Klops in Revelation and whoever voiced Trap Jaw for such a brief cameo appearance. The Motherboard cultists pull down a statue of He-Man, smash up the city and – worse – throw bombs filled with nanites that infect the citizen of Eternos.

Our heroes observe the attack from the palace balcony before springing into action. Adam climbs onto Cringer, who’s not very happy about any of this, and jumps from the balcony, transforming in mid-air. BTW, I think this is the first time that we’ve seen Adam riding Cringer. Normally, he first transforms Cringer into Battle Cat and then saddles up. It does make for an impressive transformation sequence though. He-Man confronts Skeletor and the cultists and is joined by Andra, Orko, the Royal Guard and even Keldor who swoops in on his holographic glider like the Green Goblin from Spider-Man (I guess the same portal to Earth which hooked Andra up with Marvel movies also dropped a few Spider-Man comics on Anwat Gar). Meanwhile, Skeletor uses the power of Motherboard to raise an ancient Eternian war machine – a tentacled, multi-eyed horror that looks like a cybernetic Cthulhu – from far below the ground where it has been buried for centuries. We see these ancient war machines several times throughout the series and also learn that once upon a time, Eternia embraced technology more fully than they do now and built those war machines. In many ways, the ancient war machines buried underneath the ground are also reminiscent of the 1987 live action Masters of the Universe movie (which I really should review) where the carcasses of giant war machines litter the Eternian landscape. This won’t be the last callback to the 1987 movie in Revolution.

The war machine is a huge danger, throwing our heroes around like rag dolls. But luckily, Keldor has a plan how to neutralise it. He has programmed a virus that will initiate the war machine’s self-destruct mechanism. However, he needs the help of Andra to use her wrist blaster to fire the virus into the war machine’s central processor. They also need Orko to keep the monster in place long enough so they can upload the virus. So the three of them work together and – after a tense moment, when the war machine breaks free, before the virus is fully uploaded – they succeeded in initiating the self-destruct mechanism.

Some reviewers like Todd Luck have pointed out that it’s mightily convenient and also mightily suspicious that Keldor not only happens to know that the war machine has a self-destruct mechanism, but also just happens to have a virus that can trigger it. However, this version of Keldor has been introduced as a tech guy. Plus, the Gar – who used to be the tech guys and weapon makers of Eternia – probably built these war machines in the first place, so it makes sense that Keldor, the inventor from Anwat Gar, would know more about them than e.g. Andra. Plus, if there’s a giant techno-Lovecraftian horror trashing your city and then someone shows up with the solution to stop the thing, you wouldn’t ask a lot of questions either.

While Keldor, Andra and Orko deal with the war machine, He-Man comes into contact with the Motherboard nanites and realises that the Power of Grayskull flowing through his body neutralises them. A bit later, He-Man finds himself in an alley trying to protect a frightened kid. However, the kid has already been infected by the Motherboard and is being transformed before He-Man’s eyes. The transformation is clearly painful and the terrified boy is crying. He-Man takes the kid in his arms and tries to comfort the boy and also wonders how he can help the kid. He finally decides to use his sword and the Power of Grayskull to draw the techno-organic virus out of the kid, healing the boy. The kid is still terrified, though, and spontaneously throws his arms around He-Man, who hugs the little boy and holds him tight. And you see right there what a wonderful Dad Adam will be one day.

Once the kid has calmed down, He-Man returns him to his anxious parents and emerges from the alley just in time to see everybody cheering Keldor for saving them from the techno-Lovecraft monster. This scene clearly shows how different Keldor and Adam are. Keldor actually did something heroic here, but he also wants the accolades and the applause. Adam, meanwhile, is happy to save a single child in dark alley with no one the wiser. He doesn’t chase the accolades or the applause nor did he get them most of the time, because no one knew he was He-Man. And yet Adam was fine with that, because what he wants to do most of all is help others. So he makes what turns out to be a fatal decision. He’ll leave the throne to Keldor, so he can continue to be He-Man and protect Eternia and its people.

Duncan is not at all happy with this decision. And when Adam tells him that he doesn’t want to give up being He-Man, but that becoming king would mean giving up what has given meaning to his life for so long, Duncan explicitly goes against Randor (okay, Randor is dead at this point, but Duncan almost never goes against his wishes, but defers to him) and tells Adam that it doesn’t matter whether he hold a sceptre or a sword or a pen in his hand, what matters is what’s in his heart and that he’ll make a great king. I wonder whether Duncan knows more about Keldor than he lets on or if he’s just naturally suspicious of this guy who shows up out of nowhere and seems too good to be true.

Adam also confers with Battle Cat – and yes, he’s still Battle Cat and not Cringer at this point, though still voiced by Stephen Root who does an amazing job – and Battle Cat tells him that he’ll support Adam in whatever choice he makes, but that – even though that may surprise Adam – he loved being his Battle Cat. Now Cringer is Adam’s (and Teela’s) best friend and this somewhat older and wiser version of Cringer has always offered moral support to Adam as well as Teela in Revelation. Nonetheless, Cringer infamously doesn’t want to become Battle Cat and usually asks Adam “Must we really do this?” However, we’ve also seen Cringer being incredibly brave to protect Adam and those he loves. Revelation had some amazing scenes, where Cringer protects the Sorceress, intercepts a flying spear and goes up against Skeletor and Evil-Lyn – as Cringer not as Battle Cat – saving everybody. The 2002 cartoon also had several moments of Cringer being brave and heroic to protect Adam, though the 2002 Cringer sadly doesn’t talk. And even in the Filmation cartoon, there are moments where Cringer says that he doesn’t like being Battle Cat, but that he’s glad that Battle Cat is around. It’s also made clear that “Cringer” is something of a misnomer, a name he acquired as a young tiger cub when he was scared of anybody who was not Adam as we see in his origin episode. A comic later explains just why Cringer is always scared and shows what happened just before Adam found and rescued him. Cringer was the sole survivor of his tribe, he’d seen his parents and siblings killed and had been stalked for days by the creature that killed them, a Panthor-like beast called a Sabrecat, when Adam chased off the Sabrecat and rescued him. Cringer is scared because he’s deeply traumatised. Meanwhile, his alter ego Battle Cat is never afraid.

But whatever Duncan or Cringer say, Adam has made his decision. And so the law that forbids Keldor from taking the throne is changed – see, Miro, how easy that was – and He-Man himself places the crown (not Randor’s crown, interestingly enough) on Keldor’s head. So Keldor has finally achieved what almost every version of this character wanted all along. He has become King of Eternia. And I suspect all of us watching at home went “Uh-oh”.

This “Uh-oh” is absolutely justified, too, because shortly thereafter we see Keldor turning into Skeletor, the crown still on his head (a development that was sort of spoiled by the Masterverse Skeletek figure, which came with a crown) and realise that “Keldor” was just a holographic disguise. And the Skeletor who attacked Eternos was actually Motherboard, also wearing a holographic disguise. At this point I thought, “Oh, so that’s how they integrate the Keldor origin for Skeletor – as a disguise.” But it’s a lot more complicated and a lot cooler than that.

Of course, we’ve known who Motherboard is really working for ever since the stinger at the end of Revelation, when the Horde logo was projected from her forehead. However, in Revolution we actually see her holographic form reporting back to Hordak aboard his flagship who is currently besieging another planet (we later learn that it’s Geolon) with the Horde fleet.

Motherboard and the Evil Horde

Motherboard with Hordak and some members of the Evil Horde.

This is as good a time as any to talk about the Evil Horde. Since the teaser at the end of Revelation, we’ve assumed that the Horde would be the primary villains in Revolution.  However, while the Horde is certainly present and a threat in Revolution, they got less screentime than I assumed. The primary antagonist is still Skeletor.

That said, the Evil Horde is as terrifying as they’ve ever been on screen in Revolution. Because make no mistake, the Horde should be terrifying. They’re a malevolent galactic empire that “spreads across the galaxy like a virus” to quote Hordak, enslaving all in their path. They’re basically the Borg, if the Borg were led by Nosferatu and made up of horror film monsters.

Alas, the Horde as they appeared in the Filmation She-Ra cartoon were not always as terrifying as they should have been (though they are quite scary in The Secret of the Sword and the He-Man episode “Origin of the Sorceress”, which is actually their first appearance), because the show was aimed at kids. The brief glimpses we got of the Horde in the 2002 cartoon and the CGI Netflix cartoon certainly seemed like a massive threat, only that both shows were cancelled before they could get to the Horde proper. The 2018 series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power gave us a lot of the Horde, but while they were definitely a threat, they weren’t all that terrifying either, because it was still a TV show aimed at kids. The Horde as shown in the 2013 “Eternity War” comics was very terrifying indeed, utterly ruthless and utterly merciless, probably because comics can get away with more than cartoons.

But Revolution gives us the most terrifying on screen version of the Evil Horde yet. Keith David is fantastic as the voice of Hordak, giving us a Hordak who is ruthless and nasty, but also something of a coward who prefers to let his underlings do the fighting and conquering for him (though he absolutely knows how to fight, once he is forced to) and who’s also a massive arsehole. Of course, Hordak has always been something of an arsehole, a guy whom even his own subordinates hate. However, this version of Hordak really plays up that aspect of his personality to the point that you actually find yourself siding with Skeletor of all people.

The third episode starts with a brief scene which perfectly shows how utterly ruthless and dangerous the Horde can be. The Horde flagship is in orbit over a planet, later revealed to be Geolon, which is just getting bombed to bits. Hordak is lounging on his throne, when someone is dragged into his throne room by two Horde Troopers. The camera zooms in and we see that it’s Stonedar, leader of the Rock People (voiced by Cam Clark, who voices Adam/He-Man in the 2002 cartoon and Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). He’s come to challenge Hordak to one-on-one combat, hoping that this will persuade the Horde to leave his people and his planet alone. This matches the sole appearance of the Rock People in the Filmation She-Ra cartoon, where they are also fleeing a Horde invasion and are pacifists who don’t want to fight, unless there is absolutely no other way.

Hordak, however, is not impressed. He tells Stonedar that the Horde have conquered countless worlds and that on every planet there’s always a hero, who’ll inevitably wind up in the throne room and challenge Hordak. But it always ends the same. For Hordak doesn’t fight, he hires others to do the fighting for him. Cue the entrance of Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna. Now these three were never particularly scary in the Filmation She-Ra cartoon. Grizzlor and Leech at least had the potential, but Mantenna was mostly used as comic relief, constantly failing Hordak and getting dropped down a trapdoor. In Revolution, however, these three are absolute nightmares (particularly Leech, who can shoot tentacles with the mouths and teeth from his mouth and palms) and they make gravel out of poor Stonedar in the span of a minute.

And yes, I shed a few tears, because the transforming rock people Rokkon and Stonedar have always been personal favourites of mine. I remember seeing the figures on display in the Intertoys shop on the Lijnbaan in Rotterdam (still exists almost forty years later, which is fucking amazing) as a kid and thinking they were so cool. I never got them (and still don’t have them, because they haven’t been made again), alas, because my parents continuously failed to understand that when I spent ages staring at a particular display or toy in a toy shop, it meant “I want this. Buy it for me now.” The only one who got that was my Grandma, who once bought me the entire Strawberry Shortcake line of mini figures as available in January 1982. I still feel a little guilty considering how much that must have cost her, so thanks Grandma, wherever you are. So seeing poor Stonedar not just getting killed, but utterly demolished certainly hurt, though it also perfectly illustrates how ruthless and horrifying this version of the Evil Horde is.

Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna are the only Horde members other than Hordak, Motherboard and the Troopers we see in Revolution. These three are also the most iconic and memorable Horde members, originally released alongside Hordak back in 1985, so focussing on them makes sense. Even people who may have forgotten who Mosquitor or Dragstor are usually remember Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna. We don’t see any of the ladies of the Horde like Shadow Weaver, Catra, Scorpia, Entrapta (who would have been appropriate here as the Horde’s resident tech genius) or Octavia, probably because these characters were created for the Filmation She-Ra cartoon, so Revolution likely didn’t have the rights to use them, since the rights for the Filmation She-Ra cartoon are currently with NBC-Universal, not Mattel. That’s probably also why characters like Leech or Mantenna don’t appear in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, because Mattel has the rights for them, not NBC-Universal. Also while Catra and Entrapta had toys in the vintage line, they were part of the She-Ra line, while Hordak and his male minions were part of the He-Man line. And this mess right here, where the rights to characters who live in the same universe, who are actually twins and should appear in the same shows were divided up between two entertainment conglomerates illustrates why aggressively gendering toys is crap. Because if the She-Ra toys had just been part of the main Masters of the Universe line, none of this would ever have happened.

Hordak and Entrapta

“What do you mean, boss, I can’t go to Eternia with you?” – “Sorry, Entrapta, no girls allowed.”

But Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna are basically cameo appearances. Hordak’s main minions in Revolution are Motherboard (voiced by Meg Foster, who played Evil-Lyn in the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie) and Skeletor. Hordak is pleased that Motherboard has brought his wayward former acolyte Skeletor back under his control. But if you know anything at all about Skeletor, you know that he’ll never play second fiddle to anybody for long.

For now, Skeletor is on team Horde and even compliments Hordak on coming with the Keldor story. “Oh, that wasn’t a story,” Hordak replies, “Keldor was real enough.” Skeletor is taken aback. “So Keldor was a real person?” he asks. This is considered impertinent, for one does not ask Hordak questions. So Motherboard decides to teach Skeletor some manners and slaps him around Snake Mountain. This will prove to be a fatal mistake.

Skeletor is furious at Motherboard slapping him around, because no one treats the Lord of Destruction like a mere lackey. He takes out his frustrations by punching the walls of Snake Mountain. Then he suddenly hears a voice in his head. He looks at his reflection in the mirrored walls and who’s staring back at him but Keldor, who smugly remarks that it took just one little voice in Skeletor’s head to finally shut him up. And yes, it’s depressing when even the voices in your head can’t stand you. Especially if they’re speaking with the voice of Captain Kirk.

Skeletor yells “Get out of my head!”, but the ghostly Keldor does not leave. He tells Skeletor that Motherboard slapping him around unlocked a part of his brain that was long hidden. Then he touches Skeletor’s forehead and we see a memory flashback. Only that the memories are clearly Keldor’s.

We see Keldor as a young man during the Horde attack on Anwat Gar, frightened and crying as the city burns around him. We see the young Keldor kneeling before Hordak’s throne. We see Hordak and Keldor, now clad in Horde garb, the same Horde garb Skeletor was wearing in a flashback in Revelation, in the Fright Zone – the toy version with the cave, the cell and the spooky tree. The Havoc Staff is floating in mid-air and Hordak instructs Keldor to take it, whereupon we see a gruesome close-up of Keldor’s face melting due to contact with dark magic of the Havoc Staff.

Skeletor in Horde garb and Hordak

“You never told me this would happen, Master.” – “Well, of course not. Or would you have taken the staff, if I told you?”

Then we get the most illuminating part of the flashback. We see Skeletor on his knees, being restrained by Eternian guards. We see a close-up of a blonde baby crying its heart out. And we see a grinning Hordak, jumping out of the window, while cradling something in his arms. At this point, I thought, “Wait a minute, could this really be…?” and paused the video. And yes, it’s exactly that. It’s a recreation of the kidnapping scene from The Secret of the Sword. Indeed there is one shot where we see the entire royal nursery. There are two cribs. One has a green tiger plushie, the second has a unicorn plushie and has been overturned in the struggle. The kids also have a Castle Grayskull playset. We see Queen Marlena on her knees, clutching the crying Baby Adam. We see a younger Randor with one arm around his wife and the other hand on the hilt of his sword, clearly debating whether to hug his wife and son or to run Skeletor through. We see the captured Skeletor on his knees, restrained by a young Duncan (and it’s clearly him, his armour is very distinctive) and a guardsman. And we see Hordak grinning and jumping out of the window and while we never see what or rather who he’s cradling, we know exactly who it is. It’s Baby Adora, who will grow up to become She-Ra.

As revelations go, this one is even more shocking than that Skeletor is really Keldor, because up to know we’d assumed, based on statements by the production team, that Adora/She-Ra could not appear in Revolution due to the complicated rights issues. Here, however, we have definite confirmation that Adora exists or rather existed in this timeline.

Skeletor, meanwhile, is of course shocked that his entire life was a lie. “Yes, I’m really you and you’re really me”, Keldor confirms and tells Skeletor that Hordak brainwashed him into believing he was a demon from another dimension.

Demo-Man confronts Skeletor

“You, a demon from another dimension? Pah, that’s my story, not yours. You are just a frustrated princeling who came crawling to Hordak for help when the world didn’t give you what you wanted.”

There have been a few attempts to merge the two very different origin stories of Skeletor. The most notable one happened in the Classics mini-comics where Hordak merges the mortally wounded Keldor with a demon he keeps in a jar in his lab, as one does. That demon is the green fellow in the photo above and he’s based on some very early concept art that was long believed to be an early version of the character who eventually became Skeletor, though this has since been debunked. The character is also much too cool to be just a part of Skeletor.

I much prefer the Revolution version of the Keldor/Skeletor origin story. Now I actually like the idea that Keldor managed to get his own face burned off after trying to throw a vial of acid at his brother, because there’s so much poetic justice in it. Though it also makes sense that the dark magic of the Havoc staff would corrupt Keldor spiritually and physically. After all, its previous owner was a sorcerer named The Faceless One (see him below). Something similar also happens in the CGI show, where Keldor is a regular human before havoc magic burns away first his hand and then his face.

Masters of the Universe Classics The Faceless One

“So you think you can play with Havoc magic? Be warned, for mastering havoc demands a high price.”

The whole “merged with a demon” thing was always silly. It makes much more sense that the “demon from another dimension” thing is just a false memory/identity implanted by Hordak, because brainwashing his followers is what Hordak does. He brainwashes Adora or rather has Shadow Weaver do it, the Motherboard cultists are clearly brainwashed and it’s also been said in the Classics character bios that some Horde members (Grizzlor, Leech and Dragstor, possibly others as well) have also been brainwashed into serving Hordak. The Horde even has a whole mechanism, the infamous Slime Pit playset, for brainwashing captured enemies and turning them into mindless slaves.

We only get snippets of the relationship between Hordak and Keldor/Skeletor and their shared history in Revolution, but apparently what happened is that Hordak met a young Keldor in the burning streets of Anwat Gar and agreed to spare him in exchange for his servitude. Keldor clearly went along with this, though whether this was to save his life or because he hoped that Hordak would help him gain the throne he believes should have been his we don’t know. As for what Hordak wanted with Keldor, Hordak and the Horde in general are all about technology. They can’t handle magic, they don’t understand it and they also fear it. This is why Hordak always needs a mage as his right hand. In both She-Ra series, this role falls to Shadow Weaver. In the brief glimpses we get of the Horde in the 2002 cartoon, Hordak has several robed and hooded mages in his employ who look not unlike Motherboard cultists. And before Shadow Weaver, Hordak’s mage was Keldor/Skeletor. As for why Keldor, who after all is from Anwat Gar, the island that’s all about technology and doesn’t trust or believe in magic, wound up becoming Hordak’s mage, he probably had inate magical abilities, either inherited via Miro (Keldor is a descendant of King Grayskull and Veena, a former Sorceress of Grayskull, after all) or via his mother Saryn, who has been portrayed as a magic wielder in the “Eternity War” comics which introduced her to the world. If Saryn is a magic wielder in this continuity, she might even have trained her son. And she clearly fostered his simmering resentment against his father and brother.

So Hordak takes Keldor on as his acolyte, trains him in combat and also enhances his magic abilities via the Havoc staff. I strongly suspect that once Keldor takes the Havoc staff, he is fully corrupted and becomes Skeletor. Because I cannot imagine that Keldor, no matter how resentful, would have tried to steal his brother’s baby. Skeletor, however, goes along with Hordak’s plan, only to find himself abandoned by his master. It’s also possible that Skeletor is already brainwashed at this point, because this is a moment, where he turns against Hordak.

The ghostly Keldor tells Skeletor that “We were never meant to serve. We were meant to rule.”  But for now, Keldor/Skeletor still pretends to go along with Hordak and Motherboard’s plans and returns to Eternos as their king who pretends to be very concerned about his people.

By now, He-Man has told Andra, Duncan and Orko that he was able to cure the kid in the alley from the Horde’s techno-organic virus via his sword and the Power of Grayskull. So maybe they can cure all the other infected citizens that way, too. Duncan agrees, but also points out that they need to amplify the Power Sword to cure all the citizens of Eternos at once. And Duncan knows only one person on Eternia with the skills to upgrade the Power Sword. So He-Man hands his sword to Duncan and Orko who go to see that person.

Soon Duncan and Orko find themselves in the region of Eternia that looks Vasquez Rocks (because thirty percent of the known universe looks like Vasquez Rocks). And the person they’ve come to see is none other than Gwildor, famous locksmith and inventor of the Cosmic Key. Now if there’s one character I expected to see in Masters of the Universe Revolution even less than Keldor, it’s Gwildor. Because Gwildor is a character who was created for the 1987 live action Masters of the Universe movie as a stand-in for Orko, when the production team couldn’t recreate Orko on a Golan-Globus budget. As a result, he initially wasn’t very popular with fans, because many of the kids watching the film were like “Where is Orko and who is this guy?” Gwildor actually did have a toy in the vintage line – a toy I distinctly remember seeing in a shop and thinking, “They made a Gwildor figure?! Who on Earth would want to buy that?”

Masters of the Universe Masterverse Gwildor and Orko two-pack

Yeah, guess who bought a Gwildor and Orko two-pack.

The 1987 movie was reevaluated and embraced by fans over time and so was Gwildor. The fact that veteran actor Billy Barty (who would have turned 100 this year) gave a great and memorable performance as Gwildor didn’t hurt either. Nonetheless, I never expected Gwildor to show up in Revolution, because the rights to the movie are almost as complicated as the rights to She-Ra – see how long it took until we actually got action figures of He-Man, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn in their movie looks. And even when a Gwildor figure was displayed at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, I thought he was a movie figure, since Mattel has done other figures based on the 1987 movie in recent times.

However, Gwildor appears in Revolution, voiced by producer Ted Biaselli, who actually was a voice actor before he became a producer at Netflix (see a great interview with him here). And Biaselli does a great job, channelling Billy Barty’s unique voice and performance from the moment he snaps at Duncan and Orko through the closed door of his cave, “If you’re here to spread the good news about Zoar, I’m an atheist.” A bit later he quotes’s Clarke’s Third Law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” with the addendum, “But that doesn’t mean that it is magic”.

Orko and Duncan go to see Gwildor

I think I managed to recreate Vasquez rocks pretty well, though I had to use Exiled Duncan, since we don’t have Dress Uniform Duncan yet. Plus, I now want a pink Cadillac for Gwildor.

Duncan eventually persuades Gwildor to open up by reminding him of the adventures they shared travelling across the cosmos. Gwildor is happy enough to see his old friend Duncan, less happy to see Orko, since these two dislike each other at first sight and keep snapping at each other and remarking about their respective sizes. Which is hilarious, especially considering Gwildor was a stand-in for Orko in the 1987 movie. Even Duncan, who knows a thing or two about squabbling children, says that they are very much alike. And we have the feeling that this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Gwildor’s cave home/workshop looks pretty much like it did in the 1987 movie, though the design is less intricate and steampunky than it was. And if you look closely, you can see the pink Cadillac that Gwildor commandeered and modified (because internal combustion engines are so wasteful – yes, Masters of the Universe has always been woke) during his adventures on Earth. Which means that the events in the 1987 movie happened in the Revelation/Revolution continuity, that He-Man, Teela, Duncan and Gwildor travelled to Earth and that Adam has actually visited his mother’s homeworld (and I wish the 1987 movie had explored his earthly roots more, because Adam probably has family on Earth he knows nothing about).  Coincidentally, this also means that Detective Lubic is running around on Eternia somewhere, probably fighting Motherboard cultists or Horde invaders.

When Duncan asks Gwildor, if he can upgrade the Power Sword, Gwildor notes that it’s very difficult and could have cataclysmic consequences, if he makes a mistake. But yes, he can do it.

Of course, He-Man also shares his plan to use the Power Sword to cure the infected citizens with Keldor, who is the King, after all. Keldor agrees that this is a good plan and also casually asks why He-Man doesn’t have the sword, whereupon He-Man tells him he sent it away for upgrades. Keldor then persuades He-Man to attack the Motherboard cult in their stronghold in Snake Mountain. Yes, he doesn’t have the sword right now, but surely he won’t need it. He still has a battle axe, after all, and besides Andra has created some new battle armour for He-Man. This is a reference to the Battle Armour He-Man figure from the vintage toy line, which has a revolving barrel in his chest that can go from battle-damaged to fully healed. It was an extremely popular toy, but up to now we have never seen He-Man don his battle armour on screen.

So He-Man and Battle Cat agree to take the fight to Snake Mountain. Andra wants to come along, but He-Man tells her that someone needs to stay in Eternos and hold the fort, lest there is another attack. Andra is clearly not happy about being left behind – also note that Teela, who is her best friend after all, has been off on her own mission the whole time. So Keldor sidles up to her and tells her that He-Man’s plan to cure the infected citizens of Eternos is good, but maybe they don’t even need magic to solve the problem. Maybe they can find a technological solution by reverse-engineering the Motherboard virus to not only make the citizens immune, but to also enhance their strength, so they can defend themselves. What could go wrong?

Andra, however, happily goes along with Keldor’s plan, but then she has been feeling sidelined as all her friends went off on their separate quests. Not to mention that Andra is still a fairly new addition to a circle of people who’ve known each other for years. Besides, we know that Andra is prone to hero worship – see her fangirling He-Ro in Revelation – and Keldor knows just how to charm and flatter her. Finally, he is her King, so she is obliged to obey him. And so they get to work and come up with a variation of Keldor’s holo-projector bracelet paired with an implanted chip. Keldor assures the people that this will make them strong and powerful, so they won’t always have to rely on He-Man to protect them. He even demonstrates what the chip can do by making a limping old man walk again. And yes, I got Jim Jones vibes from the whole scene.

ETA: The German He-Man podcast Das He-Manische Quartett sees some parallels to conspiracy theories surrounding the covid vaccine and vaccinations in general in this scene and are quite upset about this. I can certainly see the parallels, but I really can’t get worked up about a scene set in a fictional world accidentally or deliberately matching a real world conspiracy theory. This is one moment where I feel compelled to say, “Folks, it’s just a cartoon.”

In general, while I like Das He-Manische Quartett, the members (just three of them this time) occasionally display the “The audio dramas and the mini-comics are the only canon that counts” attitude that often annoys me about German Masters of the Universe fans. And I’m saying this as someone who likes both the audio dramas and the mini-comics. However, no one outside Germany knows the audio dramas and the mini-comics were superceded by the Filmation cartoon in the rest of the world.

While they are chipping the citizens of Eternos, Andra asks Keldor why he isn’t wearing his crown. With a sinister smile, he replies that he doesn’t need it and that he left it on his chair at home. Cut to He-Man and Battle Cat at Snake Mountain, tossing around Motherboard cultists and cyborgified Evil Warriors, while showing off his new battle armour. They fight their way into the throne room of Snake Mountain, only to find it empty. Neither Skeletor nor Motherboard is there. But on the empty throne lies Keldor’s crown. And He-Man finally realises that he and the people of Eternos have been betrayed. So He-Man and Battle Cat race off to confront the treacherous Keldor. But they won’t get far…

Because while everybody has been off on their own side quests – and note how both Revelation and Revolution emphasise that these characters are so much better, when they work together, and that bad things happen, when they split up – Castle Grayskull is empty and undefended, allowing Motherboard to walk right in and infect the castle with her techno-organic virus, transforming Grayskull into a bat-winged nightmare version of itself and also disrupting the flow of the Power of Grayskull. Once Motherboard has taken over Castle Grayskull, she sends a signal to the Horde fleet to invade and settles down on the Sorceress’ throne.

Motherboard towering over a bowl of Christmas ornaments

Motherboard is exploring the secrets of Grayskull.

While Castle Grayskull is being invaded, its current guardian Teela is on a mission to Darksmoke in the polar regions of Eternia to ask Granamyr, oldest, wisest and grumpiest of all dragons, for help. Granamyr was introduced in the Filmation cartoon (and also appeared in the mini-comics, though he’s green there) as a giant red dragon who is thousands of years old and has seen everything before and wasn’t impressed then. He’s basically a particularly grumpy cat in the form of a giant dragon. Granamyr also really doesn’t like humans, because they are ugly and ungrateful and never keep their promises.

Granamyr has been redesigned a little for Revolution, but he’s still his delightfully grumpy and haughty self. He is voiced by John DeLancie who has some experience playing ancient, nigh immortal beings with a strained relationship to humans. So when Teela asks Granamyr for help with accessing the ancient snake magic of Ka, so she can rebuilt Preternia, Granamyr reacts exactly as you would expect. He flat out tells her no and also tells her that the last time he helped humans and gave them the magical gifts they asked for, they immediately made war on each other. Though at least this time around, Granamyr doesn’t ask Teela or anybody to chop down a tree. By the way, I wonder if my love for trees and my intense dislike for people who cut them down was instilled by watching He-Man cartoons at a young age or if I always felt this way.

Granamyr also seems to know quite a bit about Teela and reveals that “she” said Teela would be coming and that “she” called her little bird. Since little bird is what the Sorceress calls her daughter, we assume that Granamyr has been talking to the spirit of the former Sorceress. However, it turns out that he’s really been talking to Evil-Lyn, who was last seen burying her old staff on Trolla, where she’d apparently been exiled, since no one on Eternia was keen on having the person who destroyed the afterlife and nearly destroyed the entire universe in a fit of existential despair around. Cause it also turns out that Lyn mucking about with the cosmos also fatally wounded Granamyr. The oldest and wisest of dragons is dying. And Lyn is there to take care and him to make amends for what she did. It’s a kind of Eternian community service.

Teela is not at all happy to see Lyn, which leads to some delightful sniping. At one point, Lyn even calls Teela a “bait and switch”, referring to those YouTube rage clickbait channels who complained that Revelation was a “bait and switch”, because He-Man wasn’t on screen all the time and Teela, Andra and Lyn played important roles. Which apparently means that Kevin Smith lied or something. Honestly, I have no idea what those people are even on about. Though I have to admit I laughed at the “bait and switch” line.

Lyn also manages to persuade Granamyr to help Teela with her mission by pointing out that even if the ancient Eternians abused the magical gifts he gave them, it was still Granamyr’s fault for not being a bit more discerning. Basically, don’t hand weapons of mass destruction to people who may well use them. And since Granamyr caused a lot of death and pain, that means he’s going to Subternia, when he dies. So it’s in his own best interest to help Teela, because if she manages to restore Preternia, Granamyr still has a chance to redeem himself and spend eternity playing with dinosaurs.

Granamyr finally relents and gives Teela snake magic as well as the staff of Ka. The magic transforms Teela and she not only gets a new staff and a sexy snake costume, her skin also turns mint green and she becomes a character who is known as the Green Goddess in Masters of the Universe lore.

Masters of the Universe Origins Green Goddess

The Masters of the Universe Origins Green Goddess, one of only two action figure versions of this character.

The Green Goddess has something of a complicated history. The original Teela action figure from the 1980s came with a snake headdress and armour as well as a snake staff, even though Teela never wore either the armour nor used the staff in the Filmation cartoon. The reason is that original Teela action figure was intended to represent two separate characters. Without the armour, she was Teela the warrior. With the armour, she was the Goddess, a prototype Sorceress. Like many other characters, the Goddess was als miscoloured in the first few mini-comics, probably because Mattel either hadn’t settled on a colour scheme yet or failed to inform artist Alfredo Alcala about the colour scheme. So the first few mini-comics portrayed the Goddess as a green-skinned woman who gives He-Man, who is just a wandering Barbarian and not Prince Adam at this point, his weapons and his armour.

The Green Goddess was quickly dropped in the mini-comics and eventually became the Sorceress, when the Filmation cartoon came out. However, the character was later reincorporated into Masters of the Universe lore, first as an ancient Eternian deity in the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline, which also gave her her first ever action figure. The “Eternity War” comics also returned to this character who hadn’t been seen in thirty years at this point and made her what Teela becomes when she falls into the Starseed at the center of Eternia. In the comics, this transformation also came with a personality change and an army undead snake people who worshipped her.

Revolution thankfully ditches the personality change and the undead snake people and just turns Teela green and gives her a new sexy costume and a new staff as well as some green glowy magic to complement the white glowy Zoar magic. Of course, Teela still needs to learn how to control her new powers, so Lyn takes it upon herself to teach her. She says she can also teach Teela how to use havoc magic and she’s probably correct, considering that Lyn is the only person who can hold the Havoc Staff without suffering any physical effects and having her flesh burned away.

We get some nice scenes of Lyn and Teela sparring in the snow, while Lyn goads Teela to bring out her passion. Because snake magic is emotion and passion, including – and yes, they use that word – carnal passion. Something Lyn knows a lot about and Teela very little. So Lyn tells Teela that Teela’s just jealous at the way He-Man always looked at Lyn. “I’m the forbidden fruit who lifts his loincloth” Lyn tells Teela. Which is nonsense, He-Man never showed much interest in Lyn and Lyn stopped trying to flirt with He-Man once she realised he was young enough to be her kid. Except for that inappropriately erotic whipping scene in the 1987 movie (which we know is canon in Revelation/Revolution), where Lyn and Skeletor pretty much orgasm on screen, while watching He-Man getting whipped. And yes, young Cora was rather confused by that moment (“Why are they looking as if they’re enjoying this? And why are my innard tingling? And why is Mom so uncomfortable?”) and I doubt I was the only one. Honestly, who needs Fifty Shades of Grey, when you watched the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie at an impressionable age? That said, in Revelation/Revolution, Lyn is a lot more interested in Duncan, who is more age appropriate and which would royally piss off Teela as well.

Teela, meanwhile, is still deep in denial and tells Lyn that she and Adam are just good friends. Yeah, right. Lyn of course no more believes that than anybody else and point blank tells Teels that she’s running away from her feelings as usual and that King Randor was less worried about what happens to his soul after he died and would have been a lot more at peace, if he’d known that Adam was in Teela’s arms. Finally, Lyn also tells Teela that she was in lust with Skeletor, which is interesting, because in the 2002 cartoon, Lyn falls in lust with Keldor, who’s handsome and charming and dashing, and then is stuck with him, once he becomes Skeletor. This version of Lyn, however, has never met Keldor as far as we know. After all, we see their first meeting in Revelation and he’s already Skeletor at that point. That said, Skeletor can be very charming. We never really see it with Lyn, since they are already together, when we first meet them. But in New Adventures, Skeletor flirts with Crita, the sexy evil mutant, a lot and he’s actually charming there.

Lyn finally goads Teela enough that Teela gets control of the snake magic. But then suddenly she experiences a headache and finds herself cut off from the Power of Grayskull, when Motherboard takes over the castle. So Teela and Lyn take off to find out what the hell is going on. At the same time, sound and sight of the Horde fleet in the sky above draw Duncan, Orko and Gwildor out of Gwildor’s workshop. Duncan takes off to muster the Eternian defence, since he still is commander of the Eternian military, and tells Orko and Gwildor to learn to work together.

He-Man, meanwhile, also finds himself cut off from the Power of Grayskull and abruptly reverts back to Adam, while Battle Cat reverts back to Cringer. And since he doesn’t have his sword, he can’t turn back into He-Man either. Adam is also obviously injured and clutching his arm. Nonetheless, he heads to Castle Grayskull and then we get the shot we saw in the trailer of Adam and Cringer looking over the plain at the Horde infected Castle Grayskull with the Horde fleet in the sky above. Coincidentally, the Filmation and 2002 cartoons portrayed Castle Grayskull as surrounded by the Evergreen Forest, but in Revelation/Revolution, the castle sits on barren, desert-like plain, which I didn’t even notice until this moment.

Though Motherboard has taken over Castle Grayskull, the Horde is invading, Adam doesn’t have the Power Sword and can’t transform into He-Man and is injured, too, he still goes to confront Keldor. Which shows once again how incredibly brave Adam is, even when he’s outnumbered, injured and cut off from the Power of Grayskull. It’s a pity that so many people only want to see He-Man and don’t appreciate Adam. Because it’s easy to be a hero, when you’re He-Man and have Superman/Hulk level strength. It’s a lot more difficult when you’re Adam who is just human and not a particularly big and strong one either. And yet Adam repeatedly stands up to Skeletor and other villains, because someone has to do it.

Adam and Cringer are almost immediately captured and brought before Keldor and Motherboard. Adam is forced to his knees, because Skeletor has a thing for Adam/He-Man kneeling before him, as we’ve known since the 1987 movie. A furious Adam wants to know why Keldor betrayed all of Eternos, whereupon Keldor drops his holographic disguise and reveals himself to be Skeletor.

If Skeletor were smart, he’d kill Adam right there and then, while he’s captured and powerless. But Skeletor has never been smart and likes to torture his victims before killing them. So he locks up Adam and Cringer in the royal dungeon instead. And because Skeletor likes to twist the knife, he calls Adam “nephew”. “So you really are my uncle”, Adam says and then asks, “Did my father know?” Which again shows what kind of person Adam is. He’s just been captured and imprisoned by his archenemy who wants to first torture and then kill him and yet his first concern is whether his dead father knew what became of his beloved brother. Skeletor never answers, but personally I don’t think that Randor knew who Skeletor really was.

A bit later, two guards – and note that the Royal Guards, the palace staff and the citizens of Eternos are all under the control of Motherboard by this point and therefore have no choice but go along with Skeletor’s and Hordak’s orders – drag Queen Marlena into the dungeon and throw her into the same cell as Adam and Cringer. The guards have roughed her up, too. And Skeletor promises Adam that he’ll capture and hurt every single one of his family, friends and loved ones – including Teela – before he’ll kill Adam. Because Skeletor knows only too well that Adam’s love for his friends and family is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. After all, Adam’s love for his family is what allowed Keldor to worm his way into the royal palace and onto the throne in the first place.

There’s a sweet scene, where Adam cradles his injured mother in his arms, while locked up in his own dungeon. There are a couple of scenes, particularly in the 2002 cartoon, where we see Randor protectively wrapping his arms around his wife, but this is the first time we see Adam doing it, stepping into his father’s shoes. He also notes that Skeletor wants them unharmed… for now.

Meanwhile, Teela and Lyn have made their way back to Eternos and are looking for Adam. But Motherboard is still interfering with Teela’s connection to the Power of Grayskull, making it difficult for her to locate Adam. Though she deduces that he’s probably being held in the dungeon. Lyn points out with her typical snark that they’re actually supposed to be looking for Skeletor, since they need the Havoc staff to allow Teela to restore Preternia.

Teela and Lyn are not the only ones looking for Adam. Andra is looking for him as well and has more luck than Teela, because it turns out that Andra equipped Marlena with a tracking device before Marlena allowed herself to be captured, hoping that the tracker would lead them to Adam. It works, too, and so Andra comes to break out Adam, Cringer and Marlena. As Man-at-Arms, she probably has the access codes to the dungeon, too.

As the three of them make their escape, they promptly find themselves attacked by Horde Troopers and cyborgified Royal Guards, including Buzz-Off, Rio Blast and Snout Sprout. He-Man would be really handy right now, but the Power Sword is still with Gwildor and Orko. So Adam asks Andra to help him break into his father’s private armoury. Andra also feels guilty for being duped into helping Keldor, but Adam assures her that they’ll make everything right.

Duncan shows up, sporting his new Iron Man inspired Man-O-War suit, and helps fight off the possessed Eternians, but our heroes are still surrounded and dare not hurt the possessed Eternians either, because they are victims of Motherboard and Skeletor. Just when it seems that our heroes will be overwhelmed, Teela shows up, dual-wielding the Staffs of Zoar and Ka, and blasts all the brainwashed Eternians away.

Upon seeing Teela’s new look, Duncan exclaims “What happened to you?” like the concerned father that he is, while Teela hugs him to show that she’s still the same person even though she looks different now. Coincidentally, the same thing happened when Duncan and Snake Goddess Teela were reunited in the “Eternity War” comics, only that Duncan has to fight off some undead Snake People intent on protecting their goddess to get to his daughter first.

We also get what is sadly the only instance of Lyn and Duncan flirting in all of Revolution, when Lyn exclaims “What happened to your uniform, Man-at-Arms?” upon seeing Duncan in his new suit of armour, whereupon Duncan proudly informs her that his rank is Man-O-War now. It’s a pity we don’t get any more sparks flying between Lyn and Duncan in Revolution, because these two have so much chemistry. Besides, they’re both single now, they both deserve some happiness and besides Duncan likes magical women and Lyn likes dangerous men, so they’d be a perfect match. Voice actors Liam Cunningham and Lena Headey, both of Game of Thrones fame, are amazing as well. Mark Hamill got a well-deserved Emmy nomination for portraying Skeletor in Revelation, but IMO Lena Headey and Liam Cunningham would have been just as deserving.

Adam also joins the fight, wearing the Hulkbuster armour seen earlier, which is why he had to break into his father’s private armoury to retrieve. The reunion between Adam and Teela is also very sweet. Upon seeing Teela’s new look, Adam exclaims, “You’re green?!” Teela tells him that she did it for his father, whereupon Adam exclaims “You turned yourself green for my Dad?” Teela now explains that she was trying to restore Preternia, so Adam would be at peace knowing that his father’s soul had somewhere to go. And note that she didn’t Adam any of this before, but just ran off on her private mission. Adam is clearly touched by Teela’s explanation and tells her that this was a very sweet idea, but that didn’t have to do any of that. The only thing Adam needs to be at peace is having Teela by his side.

Though Adam needs his sword, too, to turn back into He-Man and cure all the infected citizens of Eternos. However, Gwildor is still busily updating the sword and bickering with Orko, when the door to Gwildor’s workshop is kicked in once again. The Horde has found them and Hordak has sent Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna to deal with Orko and Gwildor.

Since Gwildor needs to finish upgrading the sword, Orko goes out to deal with Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna whom we saw utterly demolishing poor Stonedar shortly before. However, this is no longer the old Orko whose spells only worked half the time. This is Orko reborn. His magic finally works and he kicks arse, easily holding his own against three terrifying Horde members. And I for one loved it, even though it annoyed the guys of Das He-Manische Quartett. Once Gwildor finishes with the sword, he joins the fray, asking Orko what to do. “You’ve got a sword”, Orko replied indignantly, “Swing it!”

Orko and Gwildor fight Grizzlor and Octavia

I only have Grizzlor in the correct scale, so I brought in Octavia, who is a formidable Horde warrior in her own right.

Back at Castle Grayskull, Keldor’s voice points out to Skeletor that Motherboard is so busily absorbing the mysteries of Grayskull that she doesn’t even notice Skeletor is there. And wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to get rid of Motherboard and Hordak as well?

Shortly thereafter, we see Hordak overseeing the brainwashed Eternians who are now his slaves.  Skeletor sidles up to him carrying a gift-wrapped box with a “present” for Hordak. Now anybody who’s ever seen a serial killer movie or TV show (I guess the portal which delivers Earthly goodies to Eternia dropped off a bunch of DVDs at Snake Mountain) will immediately guess what’s in that box. And just in case you don’t get it, Skeletor even took care to wrap the box in distinctive pink and purple paper. Hordak, however, does not watch serial killer movies and so he opens the box to find himself faced with the head of Motherboard.

This is when Skeletor reveals that he knows he was once Keldor and that Hordak brainwashed him and also abandoned him. Skeletor also tells Hordak that he would have been perfectly satisfied with the throne of Eternia and would have made sure that the Horde had a foothold there, if Hordak hadn’t betrayed him. Now, however, Skeletor wants Eternia for himself. “Time for a Revolution”, he announces, finally giving us a reason for the title.

What follows is an intense and brutal fight between Skeletor and Hordak, punctuated by flashbacks to their past relationship. We see Hordak holding out a hand to a young Keldor in the burning streets of Anwat Gar and we see them training together in the Fright Zone (the toy version, not the cartoon version) with Hordak kicking Keldor’s arse. At one point, Skeletor even sees Hordak turning into King Miro in his tortured mind, suggesting that Keldor may well have viewed Hordak as a father figure after his own father abandoned him. Also note that there is no indication that the rest of Eternia is coming to Anwat Gar’s aid during the attack on the island, though that may also be due to the Gar refusing to accept outside help. Still, it makes sense that Keldor would have felt completely abandoned.

Hordak, meanwhile, tells Skeletor that he’s just an acolyte, that the Horde will never follow him and that he should have left him to die on that miserable island. This really sets off Skeletor, who we suspect secretly agrees that Anwat Gar is a miserable island where he never wanted to be in the first place. The fight is also remarkably vicious and demolishes much of Eternos Palace. Hordak may prefer to let other people do the fighting for him, but that doesn’t mean that he cannot fight. And yes, Hordak transforms into a rocket at one point as we’ve seen him do in the Filmation She-Ra so many times.

Skeletek versus Hordak

“You’ll never best me, Acolyte.” – “We’ll see about that.”

Hordak and Skeletor are so caught up in their personal battle that they don’t notice anybody else. However, our heroes clearly notice them, especially since Hordak and Skeletor are bringing the palace down around them. Lyn also realises that Skeletor has the Havoc staff, which they need to bring back Preternia, and decides to retrieve it. So she emerges from a portal, distracting Skeletor long enough to chop off his his right arm, which merged with the Havoc staff after Motherboard infected Skeletor with her techno-organic virus. Whatever Lyn once felt for Skeletor, she’s clearly over him now.

Skeletor, however, isn’t much bothered by Lyn chopping off his arm and snatching the Havoc staff. He not only grows a new arm from what appears to be Motherboard nanites, he also has a couple more tricks up his sleeve. When Hordak taunts Skeletor that he cannot defeat Hordak with his own technology, Skeletor replies that Hordak has forgotten one thing: They’re on Eternia and on Eternia magic and technology coexist and are in balance. However, Hordak cannot use magic, he doesn’t understand it and fears it, that’s why he needs a magic user as an acolyte. But Hordak doesn’t have a magic user anymore, while Skeletor has managed to perfect his control over both magic and technology. Skeletor then takes control of all the infected Eternians as well as of the crews of the Horde ships in orbit. The he transforms himself into a combination of Terror Claws Skeletor, a 1980s Skeletor variant wearing a pink metallic crop top and oversized clawed gauntlets, and the so-called Disco Skeletor, a 2003 Skeletor repaint in an offbeat colour scheme of metallic blue, gold and orange. Hordak still isn’t backing down and calls Skeletor “Keldor”, whereupon his opponent exclaims “My name is Skeletor” and runs him through in a true “Oh shit, did that just happen?” moment. Could this really be the end of Hordak, the one Masters of the Universe villain who’s a bigger threat than even Skeletor?

Now that Lyn has acquired the Havoc staff, she gives it to Teela. The effect is immediate. Preternia briefly appears and Teela transforms once more, into a horned, purple-pink Sorceress who looks a bit like Crita from the New Adventures cartoon. However, the power of all three staffs is too much for Teela. She keeps shifting between her three forms, as magical energy swirls around her. Lyn tries to use her own magic to stabilise her, but it’s not enough. Teela is being torn apart.

Adam wants to rush to her side and has to be restrained by Duncan and Andra. It’s a heartbreaking moment, because here we have three people who love Teela in different ways and yet who cannot help her. All Duncan and Andra can do right now is trying to keep Adam from getting himself killed.

Luckily, Orko and Gwildor arrive in the nick of time with the new and improved Power Sword. “I can’t hold her together”, Lyn exclaims. “I can”, Adam says determinedly and ventures into the magical tornado swirling around Teela, Power Sword in hand. He makes his way to her side and warps his arms around the weakened Teela.

“What the Devil are they doing?” asks Gwildor. “Training”, Orko replies blissfully, referencing a flashback of Adam and Teela training in the palace garden and ending up in each other’s arms, nearly kissing. It’s not quite clear whether Orko really has no idea what’s going on – he may come across as childlike, but he is an adult and has a girlfriend/fiancee – or whether he simply assumes that “training” is the term humans use to describe kissing and maybe even sex.

Adam holds Teela in one arm and the Power Sword aloft with the other and whispers “By the Power of Grayskull.” And then we get the most amazing transformation scene in Masters of the Universe history, as He-Man and Teela transform simultaneously into new versions of themselves. The animation is gorgeous and Bear McCreary’s music blends He-Man’s and Teela’s themes. The scene is also remarkably erotic and probably as close as we’ll ever get to an on-screen sex scene in Masters of the Universe, since it’s not that kind of show.

The double transformation ends with He-Man and Teela briefly admiring their new forms. And then at last, we get the moment that many Masters of the Universe fans have been waiting for for forty years now. He-Man and Teela finally kiss on screen and that kiss is a joy to behold, as is the reaction of their friends and family who are witnessing this monumental occasion.

He-Man and Teela kiss, while Gwoldor, Lyn, Duncan, Orko, Andra, Marlena and Cringer look on

The kiss.

And so Marlena, Cringer, Orko and Andra emit variations of “Oh” and “Aww” (and no, Andra is not jealous, but happy for her friends). Duncan exclaims “About time”, echoing what many fans are feeling. Lyn rediscovers her inner seven-year-old and regals everybody with a schoolyard rhyme and Gwildor states the absolutely obvious, “I think those two like each other”. Cringer is also a little miffed that his own transformations are not quite as pleasant and complains to Adam, “All this time you could have hugged me into becoming Battle Cat.”

I should probably also say something about Adam and Teela’s new looks, surely coming soon to a toy shelf near you. They both look gorgeous. He-Man looks as handsome and dare I say it sexy as he ever has. His new look incorporates elements from the 1987 movie costume, the CGI show, the DC “Eternity War” comics and even the vintage Thunder Punch He-Man toy. As for Teela,  after cycling through a bird, snake and ram motif (quite literally) she ends up with a lion motif in blue. Her costume is very clearly inspired by the Central Tower of the Eternia playset (coming soon to those who backed the crowdfunding campaign in 2022 – expect photos), reimagined as Preternia for Revelation/Revolution. This makes sense, too, because just as Teela combines the magic of Zoar, Ka and Havoc now, Central Tower was intended to combine the opposing forces of Grayskull (Zoar) and Snake Mountain (Ka). Of course, since we now explicitly have a third magical power, that probably means that there is a fourth tower of Eternia/Preternia out there somewhere. I guess Mattel will probably offer the Havoc tower as an add-on for those who backed the Eternia playset eventually.

However, before more kissing and heavy petting can occur, there’s still a battle to fight and a war to win. For Skeletor is still out there and he has control not only over the brainwashed Eternian citizens, but also over the Horde fleet and ground troops. So Revolution concludes, like all good Masters of the Universe stories, with a giant battle of good versus evil.

So our heroes take the fight to Skeletor. He-Man uses the upgraded Power Sword to free everybody from Motherboard/Skeletor’s control, whereupon the Royal Guards and Heroic Warriors join the fight, the ordinary Eternian citizens flee and the Horde fleet hightails it out of Eternia’s orbit, running back to Horde Prime with their tails tugged tween their legs. We don’t see what happens to the possessed Evil Warriors. I suspect most of them ran off, deciding that this was not their fight. Though Tri-Klops and possibly Trap Jaw as well always seemed like Motherboard true believers who didn’t have to be infected to spread the evil word of Motherboard.

Since Skeletor suddenly finds himself without brainwashed minions, he uses his newfound abilities to raise more ancient Eternian war machines, so the forces of good find themselves faced with multiple Lovecraftian techno-horrors, which either look like vintage Masters of the Universe toys (I spotted Monstroid and Spydor) or looks like they should have been toys.  Luckily, the forces of good get some reinforcements as well in the form of Granamyr, who has decided to stop being grumpy and emerge from Darksmoke for one last battle, as well as the souls of all the dead heroes who should be in Preternia. And so we see Fisto, Clamp Champ, Moss Man, King Grayskull and Bionotops join the fight. Even Randor’s spirit reappears and gets the chance to fight alongside his son one more time and even punch Skeletor in the face. I’m pretty sure he still has no idea who Skeletor really is, which is probably for the better.

Fighting one of the giant Lovecraftian techno-horrors is too much for Granamyr who expires, while Lyn weeps on his cheek. With his last breath, Granamyr calls Lyn “Good Lyn”, leaving not a dry eye in the house. But luckily, Teela manages to restore Preternia just in time, so all the brave souls have some place to go. And so we see all the Preternian heroes we met in Revelation – King Grayskull, He-Ro, Vykor, Wun-Dar, Kuduk Ungol and Moss-Man – as well as new arrivals Randor, Teela-na, Fisto, Clamp Champ, Granamyr and yes, even Roboto, who heroically gave his life in Revelation to reforge the Power Sword. Roboto’s last words were “I wasn’t a mere machine, I was a miracle”, so it’s satisfying to see the soul of a being who in theory shouldn’t even have one in Preternia. Stonedar is also there, maybe because his own homeworld doesn’t have an afterlife. There are two other characters as well, a young black man who I suspect is D’are, King Grayskull’s and Veena’s oldest son, who died in the Masters of the Universe: Revelation prequel comics, and a brunette woman in a two-part fur bikini, who obviously is Sharella, a character who was mentioned in some background materials for the 1987 Powers of Grayskull line and only appeared once in the background in the box art for Megator, one of the two giant figures that came out at the very end of the original toyline. Sharella apparently would have been He-Ro’s girlfriend and this is the first time we ever see her in animated form.

ETA: For Eternia has a video explaining who the fallen heroes and heroines of Preternia are.

While everybody else is fighting Lovecraftian techno horrors, He-Man goes blade to blade with Skeletor. The fight eventually ends with He-Man running Skeletor through with the Power Sword. The Power Sword neutralises the techno-organic Motherboard virus that Skelator had been infected with, but it also does more than that. For it neutralises the effects of Havoc magic as well, turning Skeletor back into Keldor. Keldor immediately whines that he is a king denied and that the throne should have been his, but He-Man has had thoroughly enough of his shit. He replies that he gave Keldor the throne and Keldor immediately abused his power and sold out Eternia to the Horde. He-Man also tells Keldor that he’s not the victim here, but that in every timeline he’s always the bad guy. The last we see Keldor, he’s locked up in the dungeon of Castle Grayskull, in the very same cell where he locked up Duncan in Revelation, which seems like poetic justice, and still clutching his crown. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this guy.

Keldor is being arrested by two Royal Guards, while He-Man and Duncan look on.

“Keldor, you are under arrest for treason. Off to the dungeon with him.” – “No, you can’t do this. I am your King.” – “Actually, he’s our King and you’re just a usurper.”

The series ends with He-Man in front of the ruins of the royal palace, holding a speech. He says that crowning Keldor was obviously a mistake and shows how much damage one bad king can do. Though Keldor got one thing right, when he said, “Power to the People” before infecting everybody with the Motherboard virus. Therefore, Adam will not become King of Eternia, but instead will dissolve the monarchy and introduce democracy.

The usual suspects were annoyed with this development, but personally I find that it makes perfect sense. Consider where Adam comes from. Yes, his father was King of Eternia, the last in a long line of kings stretching back to King Grayskull , but his mother is a NASA astronaut and Marlena surely discussed the concept of democracy with her husband and son. And the Eternia Council with delegates from the various species of Eternia that we see in the 2002 cartoon is clearly the result of Randor listening to his wife and giving this crazy democracy idea a try. Adam just goes a step further and abolishes the monarchy altogether. Which makes sense because he never even wanted to become king in the first place. And indeed after his speech, he asks Duncan and Marlena if he did the right thing and they both say yes and that Randor would be proud of him.

King Randor, Queen Marlena and Adam are discussing democracy.

“So do I understand this right? On Earth, the people choose their own king?” – “Well, actually president, but yes, my love. We call it democracy.” – “Rule by demons sounds about right. That’s madness.” – “I don’t know, Dad. I think it sounds like a noble idea.”

Andra declares that with no king, there won’t be any Man-at-Arms either (though Eternia still needs military commanders, especially since the Horde will obviously be back eventually and various Evil Warriors as well as secondary villains like Count Marzo and Evil Seed are still out there as well). Then Andra announces that she wants to run for office and excuses herself to give He-Man and Teela some privacy. Orko does his Orko Interruptus routine again, but quickly teleports away, once he realises that humans prefer privacy, when they are “training”.

So He-Man and Teela are left alone, both still a little awkward and shy, considering they’re the two most powerful people on Eternia. He-Man points out that with no monarchy and the royal palace in ruins, he doesn’t have anywhere to live, whereupon Teela replies that Castle Grayskull has more than enough room, even if it’s a little drafty and there’s a power-hungry madman locked up in the basement. They walk away arm in arm to start their new lives together.

And yes, it’s notable that they are moving in together without getting married first (though I’m pretty sure we’ll see their wedding eventually, either in season 3 or in a tie-in comic). Of course, this is 2024 and people living together before marriage stopped being a big deal sometime around 1970, but Mattel always insisted that couples had to be married first before living together and potentially having children. Note how whenever one of Barbie’s friends, most frequently Midge (the Barbie movie even makes fun of this), was about to be issued in a mother and baby set, there would inevitably be a wedding set first.  Even Masters of the Universe did not escape this. Note how the Sorceress explicitly mentions her husband in both the Filmation cartoon and the 2002 cartoon, when she is revealed as Teela’s mother. The 2002 cartoon even gave us a flashback, where the Sorceress and a wounded amnesiac soldier with a bandaged face fall in love in a village inhabited by fuzzy Ewok-like creatures. And since the Sorceress refers to the wounded soldier as her husband, this means that their wedding was officiated by a fuzzy creature that looks like Gizmo from Gremlins or Beep the Meep from Doctor Who.  However, it seems that Mattel has dropped the “no baby outside marriage” requirement, because in Revelation, there’s no indication that Duncan and the Sorceress were ever married. And while it’s been a while since I watched Barbie, I think Midge isn’t married to Alan this time around either.

One of the more reasonable criticisms of Masters of the Universe Revelation was that many fans wanted to see more He-Man. I don’t agree with this. Personally, I think He-Man is best used sparingly, to come in and save the day, but I prefer him to be Adam otherwise. In Revolution, He-Man gets more screentime than Adam, but since the story is very action-packed, this also makes sense. However, in those final scenes, Adam and not He-Man should have been the one who holds the speech and then goes off with Teela. For starters, Adam is the one who should have been King of Eternia, not He-Man. And yes, King He-Man makes a cool action figure, but I’ve never liked the name or the concept. It’s very clear that Adam is the primary persona, so he would have been King Adam who occasionally becomes He-Man in times of need.

And when he goes off with Teela in the end, he should have been Adam as well, because Adam and Teela have had feelings for each other since long before He-Man even appeared on the scene. Besides, pretty much everybody assumes that once they get to Grayskull, Adam and Teela will have sex, probably so much of it that Keldor down in the dungeon will complain of cruel and unusual torture. However, since this is the first time they’ll have sex with each other (and at least for Adam likely the first time ever, though Teela may have had the occasionally one-night stand in her mercenary days, when she thought Adam was dead), it should really have been Adam and not He-Man. Besides, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for hot, super-powered sex later.

Revelation ended with the revelation that Motherboard was really an agent of the Horde’s. Revolution, meanwhile, ends with not one but two teasers for a third season, which will hopefully be annnounced soon. The first shows Zodac and his corps of Cosmic Enforcers welcoming a new member to their group, Lyn of Zalesia. Yes, Lyn has redeemed herself and is a Cosmic Enforcer now and will have great and glorious adventures, though I do hope she’ll visit Eternia from time to time.

Masters of the Universe Masterverse Zodac and Lyn.

“So are we good now, Zodac?” – “Let’s settle on lawfully neutral, Lyn.”

The second teaser is even more exciting. We see the Horde flagship and Hordak suspended in a tank. Well, he is too good a villain to stay dead. A woman in Horde uniform and wearing a helmet that looks like Hordak’s face is standing in front of the tank and remarks that thankfully, Horde Prime was able to heal Hordak. And she personally will make sure that Skeletor will pay for what he’s done. Skeletor and “this He-Man”. She takes off her helmet, though we don’t see what or rather who’s underneath.

This character first appeared in the DC “Eternity War” comics and is called Despara, voiced here by Grey DeLisle, who also voiced Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Evil-Lyn in the CGI He-Man show, Madame Razz in the 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Daphne in twenty years worth of Scooby Doo cartoons and many others. Despara is a Force Captain of the Horde and believes that she is the daughter of Hordak and Shadow Weaver. We know her better as Adora.

Masters of the Universe Classics Despara

“Force Captain Despara reporting for duty. Rest assured, Father, you will be avenged.”

Yes, they found a loophole to bring She-Ra into the Revelation/Revolution continuity. And Despara is a loophole, because this version of Adora did not originate in the Filmation She-Ra cartoon, but the “Eternity War” comics, which were written by Rob David who is now one of the producers of Masters of the Universe: Revelation/Revolution. Of course, Mattel will still have to come to an agreement with NBC-Universal to be able to use Adora/She-Ra or any of the other Princess of Power characters (and I assume we’ll see at least Shadow Weaver and Horde Prime and probably Catra as well), but they appear to be confident that such an agreement is possible. And frankly, I don’t think why it shouldn’t be, since this will further raise the profile of She-Ra and maybe even bring the proposed live action movie that has been in limbo for a while now closer to reality. Which means more profit for both Mattel and NBC-Universal.

Despara kneels before Horde Prime and Hordak

“I am glad to see you restored, Mighty Hordak. Horde Prime has been merciful.” – “Your concern is noted, child. And now go and conquer Eternia for the glory of the Horde.” – “As you command, my Lord. They’ll never know what hit them.” – “Or who…”

The magic versus technology conflict that simmered in the background during Masters of the Universe: Revelation is front and center in Revolution. And the purely technological side – Motherboard and the Horde – is defeated, at least for the time being. One critism I’ve heard that this is a problematic message in a time of growing anti-science sentiment in the real world.

However, Eternia is not Earth. Magic actually works on Eternia. And yes, the magic versus technology conflict is clearly a metaphor. Initially, I assumed it was an updated version of Robert E. Howard’s barbarism versus civilation conflict, but now I think it may also be a metaphor for imagination versus reason or even arts and humanities versus science and STEM. Besides, the moral of the story is not that either magic or technology is superior, but that you need both, in harmony with each other.

Neither the heroes nor the villains are fully associated with either magic or technology, but both sides have magic wielders and engineers. The Power Sword was forged by magic, but upgraded by technology. Both Teela and Adam are children of both magic and technology: Adam’s mother was a NASA astronaut, his father king of a magical realm. Teela’s mother was the Sorceress of Grayskull, her father the royal Man-at-Arms and engineer. The Gar focus fully in technology and isolate themselves from the rest of Eternia and what does it gain them? The Horde bombs their island to smithereens. The Horde is defeated – at least for now – because Hordak forgot that he needs a magic wielder as his right hand and that he should treat that person well enough not to turn against him. And Skeletor is able to defeat Hordak, because he has managed to master both magic and technology. He-Man defeats Skeletor, because he has also mastered both magic and technology. Teela literally combines three different and opposing types of magic in one person. If there’s a message to Revolution, it’s that you need balance and harmony. And now imagine Orko or Loo-Kee explaining all that at the end of the show.

As you can probably tell from this very long review, I really enjoyed Masters of the Universe: Revolution. However, I do have a few quibbles and the main one is: Five episodes is too short.

According to showrunner Kevin Smith, Netflix claims that according to their algorithm, five episodes is a sweet spot for this type of show. However, the Netflix algorithm also believes that I want to watch The Crown or Griselda and keeps recommending these shows to me, even though I have zero interest in them.

But while Kevin Smith and his team managed to tells a really great story in only five episodes, there are still things I would have liked to see more of. For example, while I like action and all out battles as much as the next girl, I also really like the quiet characters moments and those were sometimes given short shrift in favour of big battles. We got some really great character moments in Revolution, but I still would have liked to see more of Adam/He-Man and Teela being awkward around each other, more Lyn and Duncan flirting, more of Orko and Gwildor bickering, more of Adam’s friends and loved ones supporting him in his grief, more Adam in general and of course, I would have loved to see more of the Evil Horde. Because for such a massive threat, the Horde is dealt with very quickly in the end. And yes, the teaser at the end makes it clear that they will be back, if there is a season 3 (and considering that critical and fan reactions were overwhelmingly positive, that’s almost assured), but I still would have liked to see more of the Horde being terrifying and flat-out evil.

That said, Masters of the Universe: Revolution was a great series, as good as Masters of the Universe has ever been. If you’ve ever been a fan of He-Man in any incarnation, you owe it to yourself to watch Revolution and Revelation, too.

This entry was posted in TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Revolution Will Be Televised: Some Thoughts on Masters of the Universe Revolution

  1. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 2/5/24 To Boldly Scroll Where No Fan Has Scrolled Before - File 770

  2. Pingback: Join the Horde! Conquer the Universe! Sign Up Now! | Cora Buhlert

  3. Pingback: Comic Review: Masters of the Universe Revolution Prequel #1 by Ted Biaselli, Rob David, Tim Sheridan and Daniel HDR | Cora Buhlert

  4. Pingback: Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: “Puzzle” | Cora Buhlert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *