- This article is about the character. For other uses see He-Man (disambiguation)
- By the power of Grayskull. I have the power!
Fictional character biography
- Main article: He-Man (early minicomics)
In the illustrated minicomics released with the first series of toys and drawn by Alfredo Alcala, He-Man is a barbarian from an Eternian tribe. The planet's inhabitants are dealing with the aftermath of the Great Wars, which devastated the civilizations that once ruled supreme over all lesser beings. The Wars left behind advanced machinery and weaponry known only to select people. An early incarnation of the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull gives He-Man some of these weapons, and he sets out to defend the secrets of Castle Grayskull from the evil villain Skeletor. He-Man possesses one half of the Power Sword; the second half is possessed by Skeletor, who uses it as his main weapon. When joined, the two halves of the Power Sword will provide the key to Castle Grayskull. This is why the two figures' swords could combine into one sword, when the action figures were initially released. In one early illustrated story, He-Man and Skeletor actually united their two Power Sword halves to form the true Power Sword in order to defeat a common enemy (The idea of He-Man and Skeletor's swords being two halves of an ultimate power was never referenced in the cartoon. However, this premise was used in Blackstar, a similar Filmation cartoon that aired in 1981, two years before Filmation's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe).
First DC comic book apperance
- Main article: From Eternia -- With Death!
From Eternia—With Death! is the first Masters of the Universe story published by DC Comics. It is the lead feature in DC Comics Presents #47 (July 1982). Superman, the regular lead character in the DC Comics Presents series, is thrust into the world of Eternia in a crossover with the Masters of the Universe characters. This is the first appearance of the Prince Adam identity; before it, He-Man was depicted as being a hero in full time. It bridge the gap between the original four minicomics written by Donald F. Glut, which cast He-Man as a simple jungle savage, and the Masters of the Universe Bible that refines the concepts seen in the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 1983 cartoon.
- Main article: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (classic cartoon)
By the time the Filmation series was being developed, He-Man's origins had been revised as follows: his true identity is Prince Adam of Eternia, son of King Randor and Queen Marlena who live in the palace of Eternos along with Adam and the rest of their inner circle. The Queen, originally Captain Marlena Glenn, was a lost astronaut from the planet Earth. The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull endows Prince Adam with the power to transform into He-Man, which Adam does by holding aloft his Power Sword and proclaiming: "By the power of Grayskull..."
Prince Adam's pet is a cowardly green tiger named Cringer. Whenever Adam becomes He-Man, he similarly transforms Cringer (in the latter's presence) into a brave armored green tiger named Battle Cat. Battle Cat serves as He-Man's "steed" and fierce fighting companion; like He-Man, he was created prior to his alter ego.
Adam is friendly with the beautiful and strong-willed Teela, the adoptive daughter of his mentor, Man-At-Arms/ Duncan. Adam and Teela grew up together and now, as Captain of the Eternian Royal Guard, Teela is entrusted to protect the prince. She often sees Adam as lazy and cowardly because she is unaware of his alternate identity as He-Man. Teela is revealed to be the only daughter of the Sorceress and the future inheritor of Grayskull; the Sorceress chose adoption for Teela after her father died, when she was just a baby.
Duncan, also known as Man-At-Arms, is He-Man's closest companion and the Eternian royal family's innovator of technology and weapons. In many episodes, Man-At-Arms unveils new and fantastic weapons or devices that help He-Man and his friends.
Castle Grayskull is the source of He-Man's powers. Inside the Castle lives the Sorceress, who grants Prince Adam his transformative abilities, and communicates telepathically with He-Man. The episode "Evil-Lyn's Plot" reveals (in dialogue He-Man delivers) that she also created He-Man's harness from a rare Eternian mineral called coridite, which adds to his physical strength.
To protect his family, He-Man keeps his double identity secret, sharing the knowledge only with Man-At-Arms, Orko, Cringer/Battle Cat, and the Sorceress; with the advent of the She-Ra: Princess of Power series, this list is expanded to also include Adora/She-Ra, Spirit/Swift Wind, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Madame Razz and Kowl. The original cartoon series also includes the dragon Granamyr and the cosmic enforcer Zodac being in on He-Man's secret. The episode "The Rainbow Warrior" also strongly hints that Queen Marlena has worked out He-Man's secret but will not admit it. He-Man is usually accompanied by an assortment of allies in his battles, such as Ram-Man and Stratos.
The spin-off cartoon series She-Ra: Princess of Power later revealed that Adam has a twin sister, the Princess Adora, a former force captain of the Horde turned leader in the Great Rebellion against Hordak on the planet Etheria. Adora, like Adam, is given the gift of the power of Grayskull and has her own sword which she uses to transform into She-Ra, Princess of Power. He-Man makes a number of appearances in She-Ra: Princess of Power.
He-Man's chief adversary is Skeletor, a blue-skinned sorcerer with a skull for a head, wearing a cowl. He is skilled in black magic as well as all forms of combat. Though his origin is mysterious, and the cartoon describes him only as a "demon from another dimension". It is revealed in the animated motion picture He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword that Skeletor was Hordak's right-hand man up until his capture, and supposed release. Skeletor is accompanied by a group of henchmen who aid with his evil schemes.
According to Lou Scheimer, executive producer of the Filmation animated series, the idea of He-Man having a teenage alter-ego was derived by from the Fawcett/DC Comics character Captain Marvel, about whom Filmation had already produced two TV series: Shazam! and The Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam!. He-Man's twin sister She-Ra was created as a female spin-off, as Captain Marvel's twin sister Mary Marvel had been.
The New Adventures of He-Man
After the demise of the MOTU toy line, Mattel attempted to reinvigorate interest in He-Man by producing a new toy line, simply titled He-Man. The accompanying storyline in the minicomics packaged with the figures explained that He-Man had now left Eternia and pursued Skeletor into the depths of space, where Skeletor had now set his sights on conquering the distant world of Primus, a planet with high technological resources. He-Man was shown to have given up the identity of Prince Adam altogether to permanently become He-Man, basing himself on the world of Primus where he had allied with a team of defenders known as the Galactic Guardians and become their leader. He-Man's appearance was re-designed for the new toy line, with a space helmet and golden armor added to his attire to give him a more futuristic appearance, and his sword was also completely redesigned.
A cartoon series was produced by Jetlag Productions to accompany the toy line, titled The New Adventures of He-Man. Although generally in-keeping with the story line from the mini-comics, this series maintained the double identity of Prince Adam and He-Man. On the world of Primus, Prince Adam posed as a traveling merchant and the nephew of the character of Master Sebrian in order to disguise his secret identity. His transformation oath was also altered slightly to become "By the Power of Eternia".
- Main article: Masters of the Universe (film)
Although generally portrayed in much the same manner as other media, there were several notable differences in the character of He-Man within the movie. His additional use of a gun in several scenes, rather than only his characteristic sword, caused controversy among some fans. Also, there was no mention of his secret identity of Prince Adam within the film, which some fans have interpreted as an implication that the makers envisioned him as having only one permanent identity, as in the early mini-comics. He is portrayed as a widely recognized hero, regarded as a great leader and Eternia's best hope of survival.
2002 TV series
To tie-in with a new line of revamped figures based upon the original toyline, a new He-Man cartoon series was produced in 2002-03 by Mike Young Productions, again titled He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. This series retold the MOTU story from scratch. He-Man's origin was told in a 3-part episode that began the series, in which the 16-year-old Prince Adam is summoned to Castle Grayskull by the Sorceress to take upon the identity of He-Man and the role of Eternia's defender. The portrayal of his character in this series was mostly consistent with Filmation's portrayal, although the character of Prince Adam was shown to be much more brash and youthfully energetic than his 1980s counterpart, to convey the image of a teenage boy saddled with the overwhelming responsibility of defending the entire planet from evil. The second season episode "The Power of Grayskull" also revealed He-Man to be a descendant of King Grayskull, an all-powerful barbarian hero from Eternia's ancient past, who sacrificed his life to save Eternia from the Evil Horde and was the original wielder of the Sword of Power. He was the original owner of Castle Grayskull, and his sword was concealed in the castle for centuries before being given to Prince Adam, who inherits his ancestor's own power which is channeled through the sword (thus giving an alternate meaning for the phrase "By the Power of Grayskull").
In the 1980s series, He-Man/Adam is voiced by John Erwin, for many the definitive He-Man, a congenial hero with an endless supply of one liners. In the 1987 live-action feature film, he is played by Dolph Lundgren. Gary Chalk provides the voice of He-Man for the 1989 series The New Adventures of He-Man, and later the voice of Man-At-Arms for the 2002 series. He does not provide the voice of Prince Adam; Adam is instead voiced by Doug Parker, unlike the 1983 and 2002 series, where Adam and He-Man were voiced by the same actor. In the 2002 series, He-Man is voiced by Cam Clarke.
He-Man action figures
Masters of the Universe (classic toyline)
The first He-Man action figure was released by Mattel in 1981, and had a twist waist and power punch action. The figure came with the grey half of the Power Sword, a battle axe and a shield, together with a removable baldric. In 1982 the figure was also released in a set with either Battle Cat or the Wind Raider vehicle. The He-Man figure was released again in 1983 together with Teela and Ram-Man; and the figure was also released in 1986 together with the Jet Sled vehicle.
Starting with the third wave of figures in 1984, a different He-Man variant, and corresponding Skeletor variant, was released with each new wave. The first alternate version was entitled Battle Armor He-Man. The chest contained a springloaded rotating drum bearing three "damage indicators". As before, the power sword and battle axe were included. The figure was also re-released the same year, in a two-pack with Battle Armor Skeletor, and the figure was also available packaged with the Road Ripper vehicle. In 1986, the figure was released again, together with Battle Armor Skeletor and Orko.
Another alternate version was released in 1985, with the name Thunder Punch He-Man. The toy was powered with caps to make a bang when he threw a punch. The power sword, colored mustard gold with this version of the character, and a new design shield (which could carry the power sword) were released with the figure, together with some red caps. "Dragon Blast Skeletor", featuring a water spraying armor and chains was its counterpart. Battle Armor He-Man was re-released with Battle Cat, and again in a collector's pack with Man-at-Arms and Man-E-Faces.
1986 saw the release of another version, named Flying Fists He-Man. The figure's arms moved as his waist rotated. The figure included a spinning trident mace and a rotating shield. A double-pack was later released containing both Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor.
In 1988, a final version was released for the original toy line, entitled Laser Power He-Man, which lit up He-Man's Power Sword powered by batteries inserted into the back of the figure. The figure was limited to releases in Italy and Spain, although it also appeared in some major department stores in London, England, and is one of the rarest and most highly sought after figures of the toy-line due to its limited release. This figure is also notable in that, whereas previous alternate versions had stuck to the basic original He-Man head, this new version had a completely new head sculpt, inspired in part by He-Man's appearance in the 1987 movie.
It should also be noted that He-Man, along with all of the early figures (bar a few exceptions), was originally released with a hollow rubber 'squeezable' head. In the later days of the line, the He-Man figure, as with a number of the early figures, was altered to have a solid head. The soft head version is the far more common of the two, with the hard head version being relatively scarce. Thunder Punch He-Man and Flying Fists He-Man were released with hard heads; Battle Armor He-Man, like the original version, was originally released with a soft head, but later also appeared with a hard head. Not all countries of production adopted the later hard head alteration.
The first He-Man figure for the 1989 toyline could move his arms to make a sword slash or block with his shield when his waist was turned. He included a Power Sword, shield, and removable armor and helmet. Under the armor, He-Man had a baldric reminiscent of his classic appearance, yet evoking the new toyline's futuristic feel.
1990 saw the release of Battle Punch He-Man, who was mostly similar in appearance to the unarmored looks of the previous version. He included a Power Sword and shield.
In 1992, the last He-Man of the toyline re-used both the Thunder Punch He-Man moniker and the "twist for a punch" action. He had a wristband evoking the appearance of the "Thunder Punch" roleplaying accessory released the same year. The figure included a Power Sword, shield and removable baldric.
He-Man and the Religion of Eternia
Increasingly, He-Man is being viewed by worshipers of the Goddess, Eternia's most popular deity, as being ultimately empowered by her through the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull. The Sword of Power, as He-Man's main weapon, is also viewed as a symbol of the Goddess' power. Both as He-Man and as his alter ego Prince Adam, He-Man himself must view himself as specially endowed by the Goddess through the Sorceress Teela Na.
Powers and abilities
- Superhuman strength: He-Man is characterized by his immense strength but it is an issue rarely tackled and seems to vary depending on the adaptation. He-Man and the Power Sword, the booklet that accompanied the first action figure of the character already described his immense strength to the point that he could open cracks in the rocks with his fists. In the intro sequence of the 1980s cartoon series he is "The Most Powerful Man in the Universe". Similar wording is also used in early packaging of He-Man toys. In his first DC comics appearance he was able to trade punches with Superman. And in one episode, he even lifted AND was able to throw Castle Grayskull itself (when it was transported to another dimension), though this was the result of a temporary increase in power. Typical of most adaptations is that He-Man is often shown successfully attempting feats deemed impossible by other characters. Episodes of the original cartoon also depict him as being able to swim at a far faster rate than is humanly possible. It is unknown if there is a limit to how long He-Man can remain He-Man before he reverts to his original form of Adam, but in the 2002 series, He-Man is shown enduring the brunt of at least two large explosions, which he survives, but reverts to Adam in the process, suggesting that even He-Man has a limit as to how much abuse he can endure before his superhuman strength and stamina are exhausted.
- Superhuman reflexes: His physical prowess is not limited to strength, however, and he is also depicted as being extremely fast and acrobatic. These traits do not show themselves in He-Man's movie appearance, but this may have been due to budgetary reasons, as well as the fact that Dolph Lundgren, in the absence of a fitting stunt double, was forced to perform all his own stunts.
- On the other hand, He-Man as a character is largely non-violent and usually only resorts to combat as a last resort, often preferring to outsmart his adversaries, his most violent actions typically consist of picking up an enemy and tossing him away like a rag doll, though the 1987 film and 2002 series show him fighting more aggressively.
- Leadership: He-Man is also depicted as a leader, most noticeably in the movie adaptation where he is referred to as the leader of the resistance. Sometimes He-Man's intellect appears to cross a point not within his character, but this usually happened in the original 80s cartoon.
- The main weapon of He-Man is his sword, "The Sword Of Power." It is virtually indestructible, and can deflect rays magical or technological. The Sword Of Power can also shoot energy beams, and also absorb energy. Originally, He-Man's primary weapon was an axe. The chest piece on his baldric (battle harness) is made of an Eternian mineral called coridite, that helps add to his physical strength.
Due to the limitations of his clothes, he can rarely carry large items with him. The 1980s cartoon depicts He-Man sometimes carrying items in his chest-plate and in some cases in his belt. This has caused some irritation with fans, who consider the latter cases embarrassing to the character. The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon by Filmation has also given He-Man a number of powers that many fans considered silly or over-cartoonish and which, as a result, have not appeared in other versions. Such powers have included:
- He-Man being able to blow, using the full-capacity of his lungs, a gust of wind powerful enough to knock over most opponents (similar to Superman's "super-breath").
- Able to transform himself into a human tornado (sometimes with the aid of spinning his sword) to divert objects, or even fly short distances on rare occasions ("Evilseed" and "The Shadow of Skeletor" being two such examples).
- Able to run at high speed, creating a vacuum ("The Once and Future Duke")
- Able to rub his hands together fast enough to turn sand into glass (as seen in "Temple of the Sun").
There are also dubious feats specific to plot, such as an inexplicable ability to fix a broken chain by merely connecting both ends ("Evil-Lyn's Plot"), to adjust the course of one of Eternia's moons by flying a Wind Raider to it and pushing it ("Jacob and the Widgets"), and shattering/deflecting a falling moon (on a collision course with Eternia) by throwing a rock from the ground at it ("Eternal Darkness").
- ↑ http://www.he-man.org/cartoon/exclusivefeatures/exclusive-he-man-seriesguide-3.shtml
- ↑ Latchem, John (2006). "Filmation Nation". Agent DVD Online. Retrieved from http://agentdvdonline.com/agentdvd/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=439045 on July 30, 2006. Interview with Lou Scheimer. Excerpt from Scheimer: "[The dual identity for He-Man] was really inspired by Billy Batson and Captain Marvel, from the 1970s “Shazam” show. It was this kid who became a superhero. His background is really more interesting than Superman’s. One of the reasons I like Captain Marvel is it really empowered kids. So on He-Man, we’re going from an 18-year-old kid to He-Man."
- ↑ Grayskull: Masters of the Universe