Readers may know him best for his stories about outer space, but Dan Abnett's next project has him traveling to Eternia, the home of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Abnett and artist Rafael Kayana will be writing issues #7-#12 for the series, with the current creative team of Keith Giffen and Pop Mhan expected to return after getting a head start on issue #13 and beyond.
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.
Last year, DC Comics worked in conjunction with Mattel, owner of the licensed property, to launch a new, six-issue He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic, trying to attract a whole new audience to those once familiar characters. The comic revamped the heroes for a new generation of readers, keeping true to the core of the characters while tweaking costumes and concepts.
After the success of that original, introductory mini-series, DC launched an ongoing comic earlier this year, with a story that included the first appearance of She-Ra in the comic book universe.
In August, DC will also be using the He-Man characters in The DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe event, 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.
That project kept Giffen busy enough that he and DC decided to open the door for Abnett to put his stamp on the He-Man universe. When Abnett takes over with issue #7 in October, he'll launch a new adventure that pairs He-Man with King Randor for a quest to find "the one object that might free Eternia."
Newsarama talked with Abnett to find out more about his plans for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Newsarama: Dan, what's your history with the "He-Man" property? Are you new to these concepts? Or was He-Man something you knew before?
Abnett: Though I’ve never written for the He-Man property before, I'm very familiar with it, and I cut my teeth as a comic book writer back in the late '80s, writing for many of the contemporary franchises like Thundercats, Transformers and Ghostbusters. This is a great chance to write the one big property that I missed out on then.
Nrama: As a writer, what's the greatest attraction for you about this current He-Man series?
Abnett: The wonderful thing here is that it’s pitched at a slightly older audience, so the stories are more epic and complex. We’ve had a great start to the new material at DC, with some exceptional creative talent on the book, and perhaps the most exciting thing of all is the creative freedom. This is a chance to re-envision Eternia and the characters, good and evil.
The guys at Mattel are incredibly supportive and enthusiastic, allowing us to really develop this slightly "older" version of the property, while carefully retaining all the key elements and aspects that long-time fans will demand.
Nrama: What's your goal for the comic overall?
Abnett: I want to deliver a really good, epic story arc that will delight fans — and shock them. This is not just a story of the week; this is part of the legend. Big things happen.
Nrama: Will the tone change as you take over?
Abnett: I’m trying to retain the tone set by the wonderful Keith Giffen. If there’s any change at all, it’s that the first six-issue arc had a strong sci-fi/tech feel to it. I’m deliberately going for a much more heroic, fantasy, epic feel, really doubling down on the "sword and sorcery."
Nrama: As you take over the series, what's the status of the characters and the universe?
Abnett: I don’t want to spoil too much of where I’m picking up from, but things are bleak. Things are bad. These are desperate times, and some of our most beloved and courageous characters are about to take desperate action... action they may regret!
Nrama: What can you tell us about the story you're telling during your six issues? How do you start it?
Abnett: I start as I mean to go on, in the middle of a huge fantasy battle, and then I launch our key characters into a life-or-death quest. Hey, there’s got to be a quest in a fantasy epic, right? Really, this is Lord of the Rings-scale He-Man stuff, with the fate of the world at stake. Literally.
Nrama: What characters will get the focus?
Abnett: He-Man, Teela, Randor, Battle-Cat... plus some great co-stars and guest villains. The fans will love it.
Nrama: What's the main threat in the story?
Abnett: Ah, that’s a secret... and the point of the whole story!
Nrama: Then is there anything else you want to tell fans about taking over He-Man?
Abnett: The fans have got to read this story. Not only is it a great slice of high adventure, with huge concepts and amazing action, it’s crucial. Things happen in this story that will change things forever. It will change characters forever. If you love Masters of the Universe, this is essential and unmissable.