King Hiss  (King Hssss in the 2002 Action Figure franchise, but still King Hiss in the 2002 show) is a character in the Masters of the Universe franchise. He is the villainous king of the Snake Men. Although he never appears in the original animated series by Filmation, which had ceased production by the time the figure was released. Hiss makes a belated animated debut in the 2002 relaunch of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe by Mike Young Productions, this time as the major villain of the second season.
Early War for Dominance
Despite his defeat at the hands of Hordak and the death of King Grayskull, King Hiss and his Snakemen returned once more in order to conquer Eternia. This time though they would face the might of the Elders and Zodak. The leader of the Snakemen would unleash the gigantic snakeform of Snake Mountain on his enemies but this brutish monster was defeated by the power of the Elders who in turn imprisoned Hiss along with his army in a timeless dimension called the Void. The entrance of this realm was deep within Snake Mountain and required a special key in order to free the denizens trapped within.
Freedom from the Void
Centuries later, King Hiss would nearly escape from the Void due the machinations of one of the Snakemen's descendants known as Kobra Khan. However, this failed but allowed Rattlor to escape the timeless prison in order to plot Hiss's freedom once more. This time, they would succeed and King Hiss would take his army and reclaim Snake Mountain after defeating Skeletor and his Evil Warriors effortlessly. He would almost devour Evil-Lyn who had allied herself with King Hiss but once she promised the power of the Elders to King Hiss, he spared her life on the condition that he take her to where their power was held namely in Castle Grayskull.
- "He is as generous to his friends as he is ruthless to his enemies." - Kobra Khan
According to the original toys' minicomics, King Hiss is the ruler of a race of interstellar conquerors. Although his people are a race of humanoid snakes, Hiss for some unexplained reason has the default appearance of a human; a notional disguise to hide his true form, an upper body comprised of five intertwined serpents. Although one head is clearly central and dominant, the 2002 animated series depicts all five heads speaking in unison. Hiss and his Snake Men were fighting a protracted war of conquest on the planet Eternia, when they were eventually overcome by the combined magic powers of the planet's Elders, alluded to in the pre-Eternia comics by He-Ro and his mentor, Eldor, whose magic flung King Hiss and his army into a limbo-like dimension.
After millennia of imprisonment, King Hiss and a handfull of his followers were freed by Skeletor, who desired to learn the secrets of the Snake Men. The two villains formed an uneasy alliance to conquer Eternia and destroy its champion He-Man, but both planned to eliminate the other once their mutual enemy was destroyed. The nature and extent of Hiss' powers in the minicomic were never fully expanded upon but was suggested to possess magic that rivaled that of both Skeletor and Hordak. His snake form also possessed a powerful hypnotic ability that was capable of putting even He-Man into a stupor.
2002 seriesIn the 2002 series, the basic storyline remains the same, with only slight differences. In this continuity, King Hiss is freed from limbo by his right-hand man, General Rattlor, and a descendant of the original Snake Men, Kobra Khan. The two Snake Men free him with the help of Skeletor's second-in-command Evil-Lyn. Skeletor's base, Snake Mountain, is then revealed to have formerly been King Hiss' headquarters and is later shown to also be the actual petrified body of Serpos, the god of the Snake Men. King Hiss then temporarily takes back Snake Mountain, since it is his rightful throne.
King Hiss is described by the Sorceress as possessing magic as old as the Elders themselves. When cast, his spells usually appear as snake-shaped tendrils of energy which Hiss can use to grapple, bind, or even pierce his enemies with. His snake form is also capable of delivering venomous bites from each of its five heads. It is shown in a later episode that King Hiss had menaced Eternia even before the Elders came into power, during the time of King Grayskull. His army of Snake Men and the soldiers of Grayskull fought for dominance of the world until a new force arrived on Eternia to claim it for themselves.
The Evil Horde led by Hordak attacked the Snake Men first, removing them as a possible threat, then Hordak set his sights on King Grayskull. Despite losing the battle, King Hiss and his army survived, but then had to contend with the powers of the Elders who had formed after King Grayskull's death in battle against Hordak, in which he and the Horde were defeated and trapped in a different limbo.
King Hiss' personality in the 2002 cartoon is lawful evil. Power-hungry and quite ruthless, while the cartoon also shows him gleefully eating people alive for pleasure. Kobra Khan describes him as being as generous to his friends as he is ruthless to his enemies. King Hiss is even capable of grudging respect towards some enemies; seen when he compares He-Man to King Grayskull. While shown to be contemptuous towards both the Elders and Cosmic Defenders and the power they wield, King Hiss is also leery and even fearful of Hordak; to the point of taking a great personal risk in order to avoid ever having to contend with Hordak and his power again.
Unlike Skeletor, who regularly abuses and humiliates his minions, King Hiss respects his warriors, giving sincere praise and rewards as appropriate. It is worth noting that when Kobra Khan threw himself in front, King Hiss, in order to protect him from Roboto's attack, and got injured as a result, King Hiss' eyes glowed with anger. In return, the Snake Men are fiercely loyal to him, ignoring any personal ambitions they might have in order to serve their leader out of fanatic devotion, to the level of being self-sacrificing minions willing to die for him. This is quite the opposite of Skeletor's Evil Warriors.
The only fault King Hiss has in this regard is that he practices cronyism; his playing favorites, such as Kobra Khan over General Rattlor, led to much friction among his Snake Men. King Hiss seems completely oblivious of this; of course, it is possible that he intentionally plays one Snake Man against the other to make them compete for his favor.
Also, unlike Skeletor's tendency to come up with all his plans at random, which he immediately puts into motion without much forethought, King Hiss seems to put a lot of time and thought into his plans before he puts them into action; making sure he has had every weak link tied and has handled all details, no matter how small. This is made clear in "Second Skin" when he utilizes the tablet of the "Serpent's Ring", making sure he knows exactly how to use it and the vastness of its power.
Also distinctive is that King Hiss is portrayed as racist. He sees his Snake Men as a master race, and all other people as food or, at best, slaves. Even non-Snake Men who assist his cause are not above his wrath; he would have eaten Evil-Lyn alive, despite helping to free him from the void, if she had not offered him the power of Castle Grayskull amidst pleas for her life. Even then, he only seems to grant her a brief reprieve. This is quite the opposite of Skeletor, whose minions are very racially diverse and whose hatreds seem reserved for individuals or political groups, rather than any racial groups.
King Hiss is last seen in the last episode of the 2002 He-Man series, beaten and seemingly dead; his four snake-head arms having eaten his primary head after Zodak took control over them. (Although the four remaining heads remained alive and speaking afterward, declaring that there were ways for Hiss to be restored.) It is most likely that, if he tried to return to his humanoid form at this point, he would have returned without his head and died. If a third season had been produced, it would have been revealed that King Hiss' head would be regenerated and he would have returned as a menace; however, to what extent is now unknown.
2013 DC series
In the 2013 DC comic book series of Masters of the Universe, King Hiss first appears when during the quest for the new Sorceress the quest leads them through the realm of the dead, to the party's utter surprise King Randor is driving their air ship deliberately into the ground. After He-Man digs his father out he asks what his reasoning was, Randor's arms suddenly split open and Hiss reveals himself.
Hiss then tells that Randor has been dead far longer than anybody will ever know and goes as far as taunting He-man that it is possible that Randor had been dead when Adam and Adora were born but he isn't telling. Hiss then orders the race of Snake Men to arise from the dead, since with He-Man in the realm of the dead, they will finally have the power to do so.
After a brief battle the Snake Men, now in their hundreds, take He-Man to the star seed with all intention of sacrificing him enabling the resurrection of the Snake Men as the dominant race on Eternia. But just before they can do so Stratos flies over and delivers Teela right in front of them. Teela proclaims that Hiss should face her first but Hiss swats her away like a housefly making her end up in the Star seed. Where the spirit of Teela-Na grants her the power which is her birthright, changing her into the Goddess. As the Goddess emerges from the star seed Hiss proclaims that after so many eons waiting for the opportunity to bring the snake men back under his rule, he isn't going to accept the Goddess. But with the other snake men bowing down in worship, Hiss has lost all control over his own people.
Hiss attempts to strike at the Goddess but is thwarted by He-man who punches Hiss making him fall into the abyss. Afterwards The Goddess takes the Snake Men to Snake Mountain their ancient home and crowns He-Man to be the new king.
But as Stratos and He-Man reflect on their chances of winning the battle against the Evil Horde with a whole army of Snake Men on their side, He-Man says that he doesn't accept the crown until the battle is won. He-Man says that with the loss of King Randor and with Teela having become the Goddess, even a victory over the Horde will be a hollow victory. He-Man then breaks down and says that the price of victory has been too great.
Meanwhile on Etheria, Adora is hailed by an old woman asking her for some water. After having received it, the woman wishes Adora well but also warns her to look out for what the future might hold after which her eyes turn into snake eyes, they haven't seen the last of King Hiss...
Powers and abilitiesIn both incarnations his default appearance is human, but he is capable of shedding his human skin revealing everything from his waist up to be a writhing mass of serpents. Hiss possesses a host of somewhat vague magical powers. The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull once states that Hiss' magic is as ancient as that of the Elders.
- ↑ The spelling of the character's name was changed to King Hssss in the 2002 relaunch of the Action Figure franchise.