He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse, the popular Mattel character’s latest DC limited series, will feature countless iterations of He-Man - putting the character through what series writer Tim Seeley calls a “Crisis on Infinite Masters of the Universes.”
Kicking off this week, the six-issue title will feature versions of He-Man characters like the He-Man from the Masters of the Universe 1987 movie, the young Skeletor character called Prince Keldor, and Anti-Eternia He-Man, an obscure but fan-favorite evil version of the character from a 1980’s German audio play.
Working with Seeley on art are Dan Fraga and Richard Friend, who are challenged with portraying He-Man versions that originated on everything from live action to video games.
Seeley is no stranger to He-Man crossovers, having written 2018’s Injustice vs. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. And the writer has established his adoration of the character with the hardcover book he wrote with his brother Steve Seeley, The Art of He-Man and Masters of the Universe.
With a new live-action film on the horizon and more animated series for Netflix, He-Man is making a surprising comeback. Newsarama talked to the creators behind He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse to find out more.
Newsarama: Tim, how did you guys come up with the idea to incorporate all these different versions of He-Man into one story?
Tim Seeley: We were talking to Mattel about doing another He-Man series, and Rob David, who’s the brand manager at Mattel, said, we have so many cool versions of He-Man and there’s so many different fans, it’s now generational. And there’s people who come into it from all these different angles. And he kind of felt like we should justify and celebrate all of them.
So that was the original idea, was to make all of this stuff real - you know, New Adventures is real, and Tappers of Grayskull video game is real, and Masters of the Universe 1987 movie is real - and treat them all with respect and show them off again.
Nrama: So are all these different versions going to interact with each other?
Seeley: Absolutey! The first issue, you get Anti-Eternia Skeletor, which is Prince Keldor, interacting with 1987 movie He-Man. And you get little snippets of all kinds of different stuff.
There’s even stuff in there, in the first issue, I’m pretty sure most people aren’t familiar with, like Star Comics version of He-Man.
So I try to make sure everything is available - we’re making sure that all of it is on the table.
Nrama: Dan and Richard, what are the challenges of drawing these different interpretations of the same character?
Dan Fraga: Just kind of getting to the bottom of some of the aesthetics and design notes that make each of them unique.
In issue #1, the Sideshow versions of He-Man were very difficult to reproduce because they were so detailed. And I found a similar challenge when working on the space adventures because they were characters I hadn’t seen before, and their designs are very complex. I mean, Skeletor alone - he’s got so many doodads on his design that it took a lot of time to take care of those things.
Richard Friend: For the inks, there’s a lot of different textures. You know, some characters have fur, some have bone, some are more robotic and stuff like that. Dan does these beautiful pencil drawings, and then I try to come up with ideas for texturing.
Seeley: You just perfectly described Masters of the Universe with the, “some of it is bone and some of it is machine and some of it is fur” - that’s He-Man right there.
Nrama: What’s the threat that brings them all together?
Seeley: The threat in our story is the character Anti-Eternia He-Man, who is a real character from the mythos of He-Man, which was created for a German audio play back in the 1980’s. It kind of captured the imagination of fans for years, because it was such a crazy idea.
There was an evil Grayskull called Hell-Grayskull. And there was all this weird stuff in it that people were kind of fascinated by.
For years, it just kind of survived on message boards as, like, this legendary thing, but Mattel added an Anti-Eternia He-Man to the Classics line, so the figures showed up.
I mean, I had made a custom for myself when I was in my 20’s, so that’s how much of a nerd I was for this character - I thought he was so cool.
But we brought him in, and that’s really the driving force of the story is that Anti-Eternia He-Man is the antithesis of He-Man - he’s the only evil He-Man in the Multiverse. So there’s something wrong with him that he should not even exist.
But that allows him to go through the Multiverse and take the power swords and the power of Grayskull from all these He-Men and give it to himself.
Nrama: Wow, I think we’ve established that Tim really is a total nerd for He-Man. So Dan and Richard, what about you guys?
Fraga: I was a fan as a kid. I really liked the cartoon a lot - I was a huge Skeletor fan; really enjoyed his jokes and the way he would laugh. I still find him to be my favorite to draw. I also liked anything that had interaction. Like, I remember there was something called the Thunder Punch He-Man. He was like, this He-Man that you put a cap inside it - you know, the old caps that you’d put in a cap gun?
So then when you would spin him, and you’d throw a punch, it would emit this loud cap.
And they also had Battle Damage He-Man, which I also liked. When you punched him in the chest, the thing would flip around.
That was my gateway, I think, was the cartoon and the interactive toys.
Friend: For me, it was the internet. It was people collecting Sideshow statues and the hype that was created by them going after the He-Man license, and then doing three statues.
And then it was the Netflix series The Toys that Made Us. Tim and was it your brother, Tim, that you guys did the book?
Seeley: Yeah. Steve.
Friend: Yeah, there’s a beautiful, beautiful hardcover He-Man book called The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and I was just sold. And there’s a lot of youtube videos of people who collect the toys. So all of that combined got me pretty obsessed with it, honestly.
I think they’re some of the coolest character designs I’ve ever seen. And I love the names of the characters - the whimsical quality of it. But they’re cool too. It’s like a perfect balance. The colors … everything. It’s just great.
Nrama: Tim, this sounds like such a fun concept, and fans today seem to enjoy Mutiverse stories. Do you think other properties might follow this example?
Seeley: Yeah, I think so. I think part of it is just that, you know, as comic books fans, we’re used to this idea of the Multiverse. It was usually created to justify crossovers, right? It was like, Justice and JSA - we had to come up with a Multiverse because there were two Flashes and two Supermans. We’ve been doing this in comic book/ongoing serial adventure fiction for a long time.
But I think now, the rest of the world is trained up in superhero stuff. We’ve had more than 10 years of Marvel movies, and years and years worth of DC TV shows. There’s a Watchmen TV show that’s the craziest thing that exists.
I mean, if you had pitched, you know, a 1989 Batman sequel going into the Multiverse to find other Batmans, people’s heads would have blown up. But now, you have a much wider acceptance of the crazy tropes and genre stuff that we can do.
So now, it doesn’t seem as crazy to bring everybody together.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the series?
Fraga: It’s going to be awesome!
Seeley: Yeah! We’ll have something for everybody. If you’ve been a fan of any of these versions of it, or if you’re just curious, we’re trying to do a “Crisis on Infinite Masters of the Universes,” and it’s a lot of fun, but it’s also got some emotional weight. And it’s got some heart to it.