Review – Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artwork: Eddie Nunez, Daniel “Pez” Lopez, Fico Ossio
Colorist(s): Rico Renzi
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 17th April 2023
And so we reach the final issue of Masterverse, Dark Horse’s Masters of the Universe anthology series which has seen a variety of talented artists – many of whom aren’t exactly synonymous with the established He-Man style – giving their own distinctive take on this well-loved franchise.
In the first story of this issue, Unfakeable takes us to the world of the Netflix He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series (the GGI one, not the Kevin Smith one) as our band of heroes are forced to deal with a group of copycat villains who mirror them in every way. Full disclosure, I’m not exactly a huge fan of the CGI series, but Seeley does an admirable job of capturing its distinctive tone and cheesy dialogue, while Daniel “Pez” Lopez delivers some fantastic and detailed artwork. The panel layouts add some real dynamism to what is essentially a nine-page fight scene, although there’s a bit of confusion caused by the fact that, y’know, both sides are absolutely identical. No blue skin and orange hair here, folks. That said, this is still a fun offering, and one that fans of the CGI series will definitely get a kick out of it.
The second story of this issue and the final offering of this anthology series, The Megabeast Matrix features a fantastic concept and a wide variety of oft-overlooked characters. In what feels like the epic conclusion to a sprawling MCU-style movie adventure (or at least a tasty six-part Dark Horse comics series), Modulok is on the verge of taking over all reality by splitting his mind across the multiverse and taking over the inhabitants of different universes like some insidious parasite. Standing in his way are He-Sol, Zak, Valiant Tina, Hi-Ra, Platino, He-Wo and King He-Man. Yes, the He-Force are back, folks, and looking better than ever thanks to some typically striking artwork from Fico Ossio. This is a ton of fun, and – as has become a bit of a trend in my reviews of this series – is definitely something I would have loved to see more of rather than just an eight-page taster.
Interestingly, in spite of the stunning artwork of Eddie Nunez, the framing sequences have probably been some of the weakest parts of this series, trying and failing to offer a coherent explanation for the various stories featured in each issue. A lot of the stories themselves don’t really seem to fit into what the Sorceress and Zodac are trying to do, and the attempt at a resolution here falls more than a little flat. I can’t help but wonder whether a simple, Crypt-Keeper style narration at the beginning of each story might not have been a better option.
All in all however, this series has been a real treat for He-Man fans, delivering some fascinating and unconventional takes on this well-established universe. While a lot of the stories have suffered slightly due to the constraints of the format (i.e. the low page count allotted to each one), this series should be considered an essential purchase for fans who want to see their beloved franchise taken in some new and unexpected directions. Here’s hoping we get more of this kind of thing in the future.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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