Queen Marlena is the beautiful wife of King Randor, the ruler of Eternia. Her authority over the kingdom is roughly equivalent to her husband's, although Randor is the absolute monarch and the final word of Eternian law.
The queen was born Marlena Glenn on the planet Earth, where she excelled at aeronautics and became an accomplished astronaut for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA for short, the space agency of one of Earth's various nation-states. In her final mission for NASA, Glenn's ship was thrown off course, causing her to be hopelessly stranded on Eternia. Taken in by Randor, Marlena came to fall in love with him, and chose to remain there as his wife.Shortly after her arrival on Eternia, Marlena bore Randor their twin children, Prince Adam and Princess Adora, who grew up to fulfill their destinies as He-Man and She-Ra. That He-Man and She-Ra are her children is a closely guarded secret, which even the king does not suspect; however Marlena has hinted that she is aware of Adam's dual identity.
The concept of Eternia having a king and queen predates the establishment of Prince Adam as a prominent character and He-Man's alter ego. As such, the roles of the Eternian royals are fairly limited in early stories such as the minicomics written by Gary Cohn, where they are little more than an elderly couple looking on in horror when Skeletor threatens the kingdom.
With the introduction of Prince Adam in the Paul Kupperberg stories for DC Comics, both the king and queen take on a larger role, with the unnamed king expressing diappointment in his son's antics and the queen always taking Adam's side. The queen's backstory as an Earth astronaut is first indicated in From Eternia -- With Death!, to explain how He-Man is familiar with the exploits of the visiting Superman. Marlena is not named until Masters of the Universe #1, which fleshes out her origins.
Since Marlena originally hailed from Earth, she presumably believed in the monotheistic God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. When she married Randor, she probably converted to the worship of Eternia's Goddess, identifying the Goddess as the female aspect of her traditional God. Or, she may be an atheist.
Masters of the Universe Bible
Marlena's status as a marooned astronaut is greatly expanded in the Masters of the Universe Bible developed for the first animated series. Here she is the commander of a shuttle mission to the Jovian moon Europa, with Biff Beastman, Evelyn Powers, and T. E. Scope as her crew. When the shuttle is accidentally pulled out of Earth's universe, Marlena and the shuttle crash on Eternia while the others materialize on Infinita, the homeworld of Skeletor, and become his minions. However, these new concepts were largely unused, except in the storybook New Champions of Eternia.
In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Marlena's role is fairly limited, often serving no purpose except to sit beside King Randor during scenes in their throne room. Many episodes suggest nothing of her origins, although on occasion her background is used to justify an Earth-based reference in dialogue.
Her history is first depicted in "Teela's Quest," in which she uses a new device to project her memories for Adam to witness the events that led to the crash. Further details are provided in "The Rainbow Warrior," which shows the aftermath of the crash and her first encounter with Randor. It is implied in the episode's dénouement that she may also actually know that He-Man is her son's alter ego.
Marlena's ship is named "the space probe Valiant" in "Teela's Quest," but is called the Rainbow Explorer in "The Rainbow Warrior." In both of these appearances, it is consistently depicted as a one-person craft, apparently making it impossible for the Evil Warriors to have formerly been her crew as suggested in the series bible.
In "Visitors from Earth," another Earth spaceship is accidentally brought to Eternia, and its crew recognize Marlena. She is offered an opportunity to return with them, but the queen decides that her place is with her family.
The development of the She-Ra: Princess of Power series required the revelation that Adam has a twin sister, and so the episode "Reunions" establishes that Adam's sister Adora was kidnapped as a baby by Hordak, and that the Sorceress erased any memory of her existence from the Eternian people to spare them the pain of Adora's loss. Only Marlena, Randor, and Man-At-Arms were allowed to retain the memory of Adora's existence until Adam recovers her from Etheria.
Queen Marlena is usually voiced in the Filmation cartoon by Linda Gary, but in some select episodes is voiced by Jay Scheimer (Lou Scheimer's wife).
The New Adventures of He-Man
Queen Marlena appears in the first episode of The New Adventures of He-Man series, "A New Beginning". When her son, Adam, reveals to her and King Randor that he will travel to the future, he also reveals his secret identity as He-Man. Marlena and Randor tell their son they are very proud of him before he leaves. Marlena and Randor look similar to their previous Filmation incarnations, and wear the same robes, they are also seated in the same throne room. Curiously though, Marlena now has blue/grey hair.
2002 animated seriesIn the 2002 animated series, Marlena is given a somewhat reduced role, although is characterised much the same way. No mention is made, however, of Marlena having been an Earth astronaut in this continuity. She is, on one occasion, depicted as an accomplished diplomat and competent warrior, wearing battle-armor and defending herself against the Snake Men in episode 33 Of Machines and Men.
Native timeframeAlthough most Masters of the Universe stories ostensibly take place in the present day, albeit on another planet, Marlena's backstory makes this improbable since her mission and her spacecraft are beyond the technological capabilities of the 1980s, or even the 2010s. Her references to Earth do not clearly establish the time period from which she originated, and it is conceivable that she is from the future. This would suggest either that her journey to Eternia took her across both space and time, or that He-Man's adventures take place in the same century from which his mother originates.
Appearances by other characters clearly based in Earth's present--such as Superman, Kevin Corrigan and Julie Winston, and Miguel and Alisha--do little to resolve this question, since there is no direct evidence that all visitors to Eternia must originate from the same timeframe. Colonel Mark Blaze and Major Andrea Steele are clearly contemporaries of Marlena, but their native timeframe is no more clearly established than her own.
"Trouble in Arcadia" reveals that Marlena was among the first female space explorers in Earth's history, which in retrospect would seem to place her career in the 1980s. However, the episode originally aired only a few months after Sally Ride became the first American woman in space and years before a woman would command a shuttle mission--at the time, it would have been possible to conceive of Marlena being a pioneer even decades later.