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Masters of the Universe sometimes referred to as the He-Man or She-Ra series is a sword and planet -themed media franchise created by Mattel. He-Man and the accompanying Masters of the Universe franchise would make their debut in with Mattel ‘s release of the original «Masters of the Universe» 5.
Masters of the Universe, often abbreviated as MOTU, would begin its mythos through the minicomics that accompanied the toys throughout the s. These initial mini comics were soon followed by several children’s books and issues of DC Comics.
However, the Masters of the Universe franchise would become best known through Filmation ‘s groundbreaking He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series. Since its inception, Masters of the Universe has usually placed its focus on the two primary characters, the blond muscular He-Man , «the most powerful man in the Universe,» and his nemesis, the evil skull-faced, blue-skinned sorcerer Skeletor and their many moral-themed encounters on the planet Eternia.
Skeletor is originally described as an evil being from another dimension and in some later MOTU lore as a disfigured and vengeful relative of the royal family, known as Keldor. These core minions usually include Beast Man , an orange-furred, apelike master of beasts;  Mer-Man , an aquatic fishlike ocean warlord;  Evil-Lyn , a powerful sorceress and one of Skeletor’s most feared and competent associates;  Trap Jaw , an iron-jawed criminal with a mechanical arm that can be fitted by a various assortment of weapons;  and Tri-Klops , a mercenary swordsman with a rotating three-eyed visor.
The series overall would feature a wide and ever-expanding cast of heroic and villainous characters added to the toy line, the Filmation cartoon, and other media; with the franchise far outshining prior expectations, continuing to grow through and He-Man would be brought back in in an entirely new and space-based cartoon series and toy line known as » The New Adventures of He-Man.
Jetlag Productions would go on to produce 65 episodes of the New Adventures cartoon, with a few mini comics and adventure magazines also created for this new series.
Ultimately, though, the series would not be as successful and the entire franchise would go on a hiatus for more than a decade. After some success with a «Commemorative Series» rerelease of the classic action figures in , Mattel relaunched the toy line with all-new action figures, playsets, and vehicles, sculpted by Four Horsemen Studios in Although popular with longtime fans and collectors with mini-statue figures being released by NECA until , the new series failed to catch on with a larger audience and was canceled in From to , a new assortment of Masters of the Universe action figures has been released under the banner of «Masters of the Universe Classics.
DC Comics would soon follow suit and relaunch a new grittier, contemporary version of the Masters of the Universe franchise, releasing various new comic book series from until ; featuring crossovers with the DC Comics Universe , ThunderCats , and a new origin for She-Ra, culminating in Hordak’s conquest of Eternia.
In , Mattel released a new line of 5. Netflix and DreamWorks released an animated series entitled She-Ra and the Princesses of Power in , which released five seasons until This was followed in by Masters of the Universe Revelation , a new Netflix animated series produced by Kevin Smith. Glut , and several other contributors. In the race to design the next hit action figure, Roger Sweet , a lead designer working for Mattel’s Preliminary Design Department throughout much of the s and s, according to his book Mastering the Universe: He-Man and the Rise and Fall of a Billion-Dollar Idea , was the first to conceptualize the idea of He-Man.
I glued a Big Jim figure [from another Mattel toy line] into a battle action pose and I added a lot of clay to his body.
I then had plaster casts made. These three prototypes, which I presented in late , brought He-Man into existence. I simply explained that this was a powerful figure that could be taken anywhere and dropped into any context because he had a generic name: He-Man!
Originally set under the working title «Lords of Power,» the name «Masters of the Universe» came into being when it was suggested that the former name of the toy line was too religious in nature. This would eventually lead to a meeting with Filmation head Lou Scheimer and the creation of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series.
Earlier in , the rights-holders of Conan the Barbarian had been negotiating the character’s toy rights with Mattel and they entered into an agreement the following year regarding characters from the Conan movie. However, with Mattel introducing the Masters of the Universe toy line in , the rights-holders sued Mattel claiming the character was an infringement on the character of Conan. Joe: A Real American Hero lines.
Later on that year, the first wave of action figures in would also include Teela «heroic warrior goddess» , Mer-Man «evil ocean warlord» , Stratos «heroic winged warrior» , and Zodac «the cosmic enforcer». Brief descriptions of the characters would appear on the packaging and box art with illustrations by Errol McCarthy, Rudy Obrero, William Garland, William George, and others. Glut , with artwork by Alfredo Alcala.
He-Man is introduced in the first mini comic, He-man and the Power Sword , as a wandering barbarian , leaving behind his jungle tribe on Eternia. The events of the war have also opened a rift between dimensions, which has allowed the evil warlord Skeletor to travel into Eternia. This inaugural incarnation of Skeletor sets his sights on obtaining both halves of the Power Sword originally split in two in these early stories , in order to gain entry into the ancient Castle Grayskull depicted, in these early comics, as being inhabited by the ghostly «Spirit of Castle Grayskull».
To combat Skeletor, He-Man is given special powers, armor, and weapons by the Sorceress she has green skin in her debut appearance and is wearing the «snake armor» that came with the original Teela action figure, instead of adorning her more familiar birdlike attire, as seen in the Filmation series.
This second series, consisting of seven new mini-comics and released in —83, was produced by DC Comics , written by Gary Cohn and featured artwork by Mark Texeira.
Cohn did not continue the same canon as was set in the first four minicomics. Additional waves of action figures, creatures, vehicles, and playsets were released every year until , totaling 70 distinct figures in all including 24 creatures, 12 vehicles, six playsets, and 10 accessories with the final overseas releases from the original line coming from Italy in This version of Adam, however, was originally depicted wearing a blue vest and portrayed as somewhat of a philanderer, rather than his later more wholesome pink-vest-wearing character.
In , Masters of the Universe would debut perhaps its most famous incarnation, with the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Created by Filmation under the direction of executive producer Lou Scheimer , the cartoon made its television debut on September 5, , with the episode «The Diamond Ray of Disappearance».
Running through two seasons, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was one of the first animated series produced directly for weekday syndication , as opposed to reruns primarily based on Saturday mornings. Totaling episodes, with each season of 65 episodes stretching across 13 weeks, the series last episode, «The Cold Zone,» on November 21, Similar to the comics that came before, the series is set on Eternia, which is ruled by King Randor and Queen Marlena visibly younger in age and with more colorful attire than their previous comic versions.
He-Man’s nemesis, the evil wizard Skeletor now famously portrayed by voice actor Alan Oppenheimer as a cackling and more comedic villain , still wishes to conquer Castle Grayskull and learn of its secrets, but also now desires to take over the royal palace and rule Eternia; often seeking ancient and mysterious beasts and artifacts to try and stop He-Man and his allies. Other villains not allied with Skeletor would occasionally appear as well, such as the powerful wizard Count Marzo , the plant-demon Evilseed , Kothos, Shokoti, Negator, and the rabbitlike space pirate Plundor, to name a few.
Despite the limited animation techniques that were used to produce the series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was notable for breaking the boundaries of censorship that had severely restricted the narrative scope of children’s TV programming in the s.
For the first time, a cartoon series could feature a muscular superhero who engage in on-screen combat although most of the time wrestling -style moves were utilized instead of direct violence. The cartoon was also groundbreaking in that it was produced in connection with marketing a line of toys, as advertising directly to children was controversial during this period.
As an attempt to mitigate the negative publicity generated by these controversies, a «life lesson» or «moral of the story» was played at the end of each episode, which was usually tied to the action or central theme of the episode in question although in the United Kingdom, the closing «morals» were often edited out of the original broadcasts.
Brynne Stephens , and many others, including early script-writing work from Babylon 5 creator J. Fontana of Star Trek fame. The series, although still popular, would not be renewed for a third season in However, the characters would make occasional guest appearances in the She-Ra: Princess of Power Series , which was set in the same universe and followed the same continuity.
The She-Ra series began with a 5-part animated serial which was later condensed into the animated movie The Secret of the Sword , released theatrically in the spring of and featuring most of the main characters from both cartoons. The characters would continue to appear in guest roles throughout the She-Ra series, as well as a Christmas Special.
Sales of the toy line continued to increase with the exposure of the animated series, and new waves of figures and vehicles were produced during this peak of popularity. Making their toy-line debuts in were He-Man’s allies Buzz-Off «heroic spy in the sky»; beelike insectoid warrior with wings ,  Fisto «heroic hand-to-hand fighter»; bearded warrior with a large smashing fist as an action feature ,  and Mekaneck «heroic human periscope»; featuring an extending bionic neck.
Series three of Mattel’s MOTU mini comics contained stories similar to the Filmation animated series, with mini comics such as Dragon’s Gift , Masks of Power , and Double-Edge Sword adapting stories straight from the first-season episodes of the same name.
The wave of action figures again included new versions of He-Man and Skeletor with special action features: Thunder-Punch He-Man whose backpack could be loaded with plastic ring caps to create a loud «bang» when turning He-Man’s waist and Dragon Blaster Skeletor which included a small water-squirting dragon chained to Skeletor’s armor.
The largest addition to the Masters of the Universe toy line came in the form of the Evil Horde , whose characters were set to debut in the animated He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword motion picture. Although villains in the soon-to-debut She-Ra: Princess of Power animated series, five out of the six initial Evil Horde action figures were produced for the Masters of Universe line instead of the Princess of Power toy line with the Horde villainess Catra being the sole exception.
In , Mattel and Filmation decided to diversify the Masters of the Universe line beyond its traditional realm of «male action,» in the hopes of bringing in a young female audience as well. Michael Straczynski. The Secret of the Sword animated movie from earlier that spring was essentially a compilation of what would become the first five episodes of the She-Ra cartoon series. The series would run for two seasons, 93 episodes, from to She-Ra: Princess of Power was produced in lieu of continuing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for a third year; however, He-Man often appeared in episodes of She-Ra to aid his sister, and several other characters from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe , both heroic and evil, also appeared in multiple crossovers.
After first transforming into She-Ra and seeing the error of her ways, she becomes a member of the Great Rebellion ; a secret small band of rebels, living in the Whispering Woods and fighting to free Etheria from the tyrannical rule of Hordak. Unlike He-Man’s sword, She-Ra’s possesses the ability to transform into different weapons and accessories, such as a lasso, a shield, or a flaming blade.
The premise of the She-Ra TV series was the reverse of the He-Man cartoon, where the heroes are actually rebels countering an evil establishment rather than Skeletor trying to conquer Eternia. Released in , Mattel’s toy line Princess of Power sometimes abbreviated as POP featured almost exclusively female characters, all of whom featured an emphasis on hair and clothing, with «real» hair and partially soft-goods costumes.
Described as «fashion action dolls,» essentially the line attempted to fuse the appeal of Masters of the Universe with Mattel’s successful line of fashion dolls , Barbie , and added many «Fantastic Fashions» clothing accessories packs to complement the female action figures.
The line of Princess of Power figures included She-Ra without a separate action figure for Princess Adora , Bow the only male figure in the POP line, without his moustache, as seen in the cartoon series , Glimmer «the guide who lights the way» , Kowl «the know-it owl» , Angella «angelic winged guide» , Frosta «ice empress of Etheria» , Castaspella «enchantress who hypnotizes» , Catra «jealous beauty» and the main female antagonist , and Double Trouble «glamorous double agent»; created only for the toy line and mini comics, never appearing in the Filmation cartoon series.
She-Ra’s main playset was Crystal Castle, a «shimmering castle of fantasy and fun for She-Ra and her friends! Apart from the main Princess of Power line, the preeminent villains of the She-Ra series, Hordak and the Evil Horde originally created by Filmation in collaboration with Mattel , were released by Mattel under the Masters of the Universe branding.
The character Catra was the only villain to be released in the first wave of the Princess of Power figures, with Mattel downplaying her connection to the Evil Horde in the toy line. Also late into the line in were three original characters from the live-action movie: Blade «evil masters of swords» , Saurod «evil spark-shooting reptile» , and Gwildor «heroic creator of the Cosmic Key» , with their entry into the MOTU mythos explained in one of the last original mini comics, The Cosmic Key.
One of the main storylines of the later mini comics, released with these later waves of action figures, was the introduction of a new major villain faction known as the Snake Men, first appearing in the mini comic King of the Snake Men. All of this was leading toward what would have been a continuation of the series in «The Powers of Grayskull» line, before being discontinued. The proposed exploration of the distant past of Eternia, dubbed «Preternia,»  forms the basis of what was originally to be the next incarnation of the toy line, entitled «The Powers of Grayskull.
The proposed storyline was to focus on Ancient Eternia, which was populated by many creatures, including the aforementioned cybernetic dinosaurs and giants. When the Sorceress and He-Man arrive, followed by Skeletor, they find King Hiss leading an attack on a village in the hope of drawing out «The Elders,» using some of the cybernetic dinosaurs to their advantage. Hiss serves an «unnamed one» and agrees to unite with Skeletor on the basis that he might be an emissary. Seeing Skeletor’s interference, the Sorceress allows He-Man to enter the battle but, «for reasons that will be made clear to you in the future,» he had to be disguised.
He finds himself overwhelmed, but then a shadowy figure appears who turns the odds with a powerful wand. The stranger then sends the Snake Men back to their base and all the time travelers home. However, some marketing press releases and prototypes have shed further information on this. The wizard was to be He-Ro , an ancestor of He-Man. Raised by his mentor Eldor and discovering special powers in a cave, He-Ro would have led the fight against the Snake Men.
According to the mini comics’ writers, it was intended that the central antagonist would be Keldor, a character revealed similarly late in the line to have been He-Man’s uncle and also strongly hinted to have been the former identity of Skeletor.
Whether or not Keldor was also supposed to be the «Unnamed One» Hiss served is not clear, although in an interview writer Steven Grant vaguely recalls that the intention was that the Unnamed One would be a greater evil who, as the Emperor was to Darth Vader , was intended to be the one who caused Keldor to become Skeletor.
In the years after the animated series ended, generally going along with the established Filmation continuity, Marvel Comics would release a younger-skewing Star Comics Masters of the Universe series that ran from to bimonthly and produced 13 issues; featuring many of the later characters introduced in the toy line, as well as new ones such as Lieutenant Andra.
Bitner’s creation, Fearless Photog , was never realized in the s and an action figure was not produced until the Masters of the Universe Classics collector’s toy line in Daily Masters of the Universe comic strips were also in newspaper syndication from until The strips were primarily written by Chris Weber and edited by Karen Willson, with distribution in the U.
The newspaper strips were generally lesser known to the wider fan base until 1, of the 1, daily strips were finally collected in hardcover format with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips , released by Dark Horse Books in The series was headed by Brian Clarke, and is often noted for in-depth stories expanding the canon and the origins of many Masters of the Universe characters.
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It is widely considered to be both the beginning of the superhero genre and the most valuable comic book in the world. Action Comics would go on to run for numbered issues plus additional out-of-sequence special issues before it restarted its numbering in the fall of It returned to its original numbering with issue , published on June 8, cover-dated August and reached its 1,th issue in On August 24, , a copy graded 9.
Published on April 18,  cover dated on June 30, ,  by National Allied Publications ,  a corporate predecessor of DC Comics, it is considered the first true superhero comic; and though today Action Comics is a monthly title devoted to Superman, it began, like many early comics, as an anthology. Action Comics was started by publisher Jack Liebowitz.
Liebowitz would later say that selecting Superman to run in Action Comics 1 was «pure accident» based on deadline pressure and that he selected a «thrilling» cover, depicting Superman lifting a car over his head. In January , Jerry Siegel wrote a short prose story titled » The Reign of the Superman «, which was illustrated by his friend Joe Shuster and self-published in a science fiction magazine.
It told the story of a bald villain with telepathic powers. Trying to create a character they could sell to newspaper syndicates, Siegel re-conceived the «superman» character as a powerful hero, sent to Earth from a more advanced society.
He and Shuster developed the idea into a comic strip, which they pitched unsuccessfully. National Publications was looking for a hit to accompany their success with Detective Comics , and did not have time to solicit new material. Jack Liebowitz, co-owner of National Publications, told editor Vin Sullivan to create their fourth comic book. Because of the tight deadline, Sullivan was forced to make it out of inventory and stockpile pages.
He found a number of adventurer stories, but needed a lead feature. Sullivan asked former coworker Sheldon Mayer if he could help. Mayer found the rejected Superman comic strips, and Sullivan told Siegel and Shuster that if they could paste them into 13 comic book pages, he would buy them.
The original panels were rewritten and redrawn to create the first page of Action Comics Two new panels offering a «scientific explanation of Clark Kent’s amazing strength» were added.
The panels do not identify Superman’s home planet by name or explain how he was named Clark Kent. The next twelve pages showed Superman attempting to save an innocent woman about to be executed while delivering the real murderess, bound and gagged, and leaving her on the lawn of the state Governor’s mansion after breaking through the door into his house with a signed confession; coming to the aid of a woman being beaten up by her husband, who faints when his knife shatters on Superman’s skin; rescuing Lois Lane who also debuts in this issue from a gangster who abducted her after she rebuffed him at a nightclub, which leads to the cover scene with the car; and going to Washington, D.
All the while, Clark tries to keep Superman out of the papers. Comics Buyer’s Guide estimated in that only 50 to original copies of Action Comics 1 exist. Action Comics 1 has set several sales records for comic books. The sale, by an anonymous seller to an anonymous buyer, was through ComicConnect. Estimated by ComicConnect. One copy was stolen from American actor Nicolas Cage , an avid comic book collector, in Cage had previously received an insurance payment for the item. A CGC 9. The seller Darren Adams, a comic book store owner in Federal Way, Washington , had purchased the issue from the estate of a man who had originally bought the issue from a newsstand on its release in The original buyer lived in high altitudes in West Virginia and stored the comic in a stack with others, which provided the optimal «cool, dry and dark» conditions that lent well to a comic’s age, according to Adams.
The record for the highest amount paid for a copy was narrowly broken again on April 6, , when ComicConnect. The first reprint of Action Comics 1 was published in as part of the «Famous First Editions» series.
These reprints were oversized, roughly double the size of the original editions, and had a cardboard-like cover. The interior, however, was an exact reprint of the original comic, right down to the ads. As a result, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has, since the s, published a warning advising that attempts have been made to pass off the reprint, stripped of its Famous First Edition cardboard cover, as an actual 1.
However, the Guide does not cite any actual instances of this. DC reprinted Action Comics 1 in as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Superman that year.
The complete issue was reprinted in with an additional half-cover featuring the Superman stamp from the U. It was sold by the U. The complete issue, save for the inside front, inside back, and outside back cover, was reprinted in as part of DC Comics’ Millennium Edition series of reprints of famous DC comics.
The , and reprints were published to the page-size standard of the — period, and not the larger page size utilized by Action Comics in In September , DC Comics canceled all of its monthly books, and relaunched 52 new ongoing titles, with a completely new fictional continuity , an initiative branded The New The first issue of Action Comics volume 2, with a cover date of November , went on sale September 7, The New 52 version of Action Comics 1 went through five printings.
The fifth printing, which went on sale March 28, , is cover-dated May in both the UPC box on the cover and the indicia , with no mention of its original November cover date. As a result, Action Comics vol. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Comic book. The correct title of this article is Action Comics 1.
The substitution of the is due to technical restrictions. Action adventure fantasy superhero Western. See Catalog of Copyright Entries. United States Library of Congress. Retrieved August 26, A «pristine» copy of Action Comics No. The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television.
ISBN Retrieved May 31, Keith ed. Archived from the original on May 20, Retrieved April 25, Liebowitz coined the title Action Comics and asked editor Vin Sullivan to find material to fill it. The Comic Book History of Comics. The Comics Chronicles.
Archived from the original on March 30, Retrieved February 23, December 13, The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 29, Archived from the original on December 6, Retrieved February 22, Diamond Galleries.
Archived from the original on August 25, Retrieved April 26, Comics Buyer’s Guide. Archived from the original on September 3, Retrieved December 21, There are only 50 to thought to exist and only a handful in decent condition. Associated Press. April 6, Archived from the original on April 7, Retrieved April 7, February 22, Archived from the original on March 11, The Independent. March 30, Archived from the original on April 2, Retrieved March 30, Archived from the original on April 1, October 10, Retrieved October 10, The Comics Journal 81 : May Retrieved June 17, ABC News.
Archived from the original on August 4,