KEITH GIFFEN Explores Magic Vs. Science as HE-MAN Meets the DCU
CREDIT: DC Comics
After modernizing the Masters of the Universe characters for comics, writer Keith Giffen gets to crossover the world of Eternia with the new DC Universe.
August will see the debut of the six-issue crossover The DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe, which Giffen is creating with artist Dexter Soy. The comic will show what happens when He-Man, Skeletor and other characters from Eternia encounter DC superheroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
The crossover comes after the launch of a comic book mini-series last year with designs by artist Philip Tan, Masters of the Universe was successful enough for DC to make it an ongoing series, allowing Giffen to expand the comic-based world of the former cartoon characters. Earlier this year, Giffen added She-Ra to the comics’ roster, and he's even lent his penciling skills to special issues.
Besides Masters of the Universe and the upcoming crossover, Giffen is also writer on DC's current Larfleeze ongoing comic, although his Threshold title is ending in August.
The He-Man comic is based on the 1980's media franchise that was built around a line of popular action figures and toys. In fact, Masters of the Universe was once so popular that the toys spawned a TV cartoon series and several spin-off lines of action figures.
So what happens when He-Man meets Superman? And is this the new, young Superman of the New 52? And is this in continuity? Newsarama asked Giffen, and we found out there may be more DC projects coming from the writer/artist soon.
Newsarama: Keith, you've been building the Masters of the Universe into a vast world, and the DC Universe is, of course, huge. Who are you choosing from those two worlds to participate in this crossover?
Keith Giffen: On the He-Man side, we've got He-Man and Teela and Battle Cat. That's pretty much a given. Out of the Masters of the Universe, we've got Man-At-Arms, Stratos, Moss Man, and Roboto.
On the DCU, it will focus mostly around the various Justice Leagues. Why bother doing the crossover if you're not going to play with the primary players in the DCU? So we'll have Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all those main players from DC.
But I also want to play a little with Justice League Dark and a few other characters.
It'll be the primary characters. It's not going to be, like, oh, let's stuff the Creeper in here. There's just no space for it.
Nrama: And Skeletor?
Giffen: Of course. Skeletor is involved, and his dark master, so he's not the top of the food chain. And of course, you'll have to read to see how and why Skeletor came to the DCU.
So the He-Man characters come to the DCU to stop Skeletor from doing to the DCU what he's always wanted to do to Eternia.
Nrama: So what's it going to be like for these characters to meet one another?
Giffen: It seems to be the unofficial rule of crossovers of this kind that they meet, misunderstand, fight, talk, and team-up. But I tried to play it a little bit less than cliché.
That means He-Man and company show up on earth, and there's culture shock. They're not used to it. So misunderstandings will abound. I'm still playing around with it at this point, trying to feel my way around the characters' reactions.
But I don't want to jump right into them fighting. If there's going to be a misunderstanding, it's going to make sense. Like Teela doesn't want to hang out with Batman, because she thinks he kills kids, plus they associate his batsuit with Hordak, who's a villain.
So there will be those kind of misunderstandings. It's not going to be, "Well, we don't know who you are, so all of the sudden we're the WWE and we're beating the crap out of one another."
There will be some manipulation on the villain's part.
But for the most part, it is a team-up without a battle royale between the characters.
Nrama: But I assume there will be some fun moments between certain characters. Like you can imagine Teela and Wonder Woman meeting each other.
Giffen: Yeah, we'll see He-Man and Superman, and Teela and Wonder Woman, but again, I'm probably not going to play that up too much, just because it's expected. There are certain things that are expected. I know I can't avoid He-Man/Superman. You can't avoid that. And I don't want to. But something like Teela and Wonder Woman will probably not be played up into this huge thing. I'd prefer to have them bounce off one another very briefly.
It comes down to how much I want to play into expectation. Obviously, you have to take into consideration what the fans want. But you're also supposed to give the fans what they don't know they want yet. And I'd like to think that's what makes a good story.
Nrama: Will the magic of the Masters of the Universe work in the DCU?
Giffen: Yes. The reason Skeletor is on Earth has to do with the essence of magic.
Magic is an important part of the story. So as you would expect, the DC characters who play a major role in the story is the Justice League Dark.
Nrama: Is this "in-continuity" with either universe?
Giffen: Well, kind of. I mean, it's in continuity in that I'm writing the current DC characters, and I'm not going to cut off Wonder Woman's head. But it's kind of like the Legion and Star Trek crossover they just did. It's self-contained. You won't see He-Man wondering around the New 52 books, nor will you see the DC heroes showing up in Masters of the Universe. But I'm not changing things radically. The New 52 is what it is. So if I used Justice League Dark, I respect what Jeff Lemire is doing with the book, and therefore I don't mess with it. You know what I mean? It just comes down to the professional respect you have for the guys doing the books. Whether it's an actually ironclad canon story in continuity? I don't know, and I don't really care, because I think the story should transcend that.
Nrama: What's your approach to the crossover? Is it like what we've been seeing in Masters of the Universe?
Giffen: Yeah, I like to think I'm telling a kind of serious story, but with a sense of humor. The reason I insert a sense of humor into what I do is, I don't know anybody who takes everything really seriously. I've even noticed that, a lot of times, during crisis situations, people will get a little flippant and sarcastic and they'll fall back on dark humor to get themselves through it. Policemen are infamous for odd comments when they're in grisly crime scenes, and it's not because they're heartless; it's because it's almost a defense mechanism.
And with the DCU characters, I'm trying to keep the characters consistent. If DC is doing the Christian Bale version of Batman, it does me no good to bring in the Adam West version.
Nrama: So it's the He-Man characters as you've been writing them in the MotU comic.
Giffen: Yes. Absolutely. And I see this more as a He-Man book that guest stars the DC Universe. It's an Eternia story that spills over into the DC Universe.
Nrama: But it sounds fun.
Giffen: He-Man stuff, to me, has been fun. And with this crossover, I'm trying to have a little fun with these characters bouncing around the DCU.
It's always fun to do stories of the character out of his element. You know? The guy from the 16th Century who winds up in the 21st Century, and the misadventures he has trying to figure out the technology.
That's what's kind of going on here. We're putting He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in the middle of the DCU, in the present time, and the coming from a magic-based society and bumping up against a society that's completely science-based. So it will be fun to play with that situation.
Nrama: Before you go, Keith, I know it was just announced that Threshold is ending in August. But knowing the way you work, you've already got more stuff in the works to replace your time on that title. Will we see more from you at DC in the fall?
Giffen: Yeah, we're cooking up something I think people are going to really like, and you'll hear about it soon. You can't get rid of me that easily.