Heroic Nihilism -- The Eternian Apocalypse of Masters of the Universe: Revelation

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Masters of the Universe - Revelation

Kevin Smith's Masters of the Universe: Revelation dropped on Netflix today -- or, at least, the first five episodes have. And while many fans are already commenting and commiserating that He-Man is largely absent from this tale that is all about a bitter Teela's quest to save Eternia, there's a mix of good moments in this, albeit blighted by the nihilistic plot points that come up later in the run.

The series opens with Skeletor and his forces mounting an attack on Castle Grayskull. Again. And pitting all their might against The Sorceress. Again. Only this time they deceive her, and she puts out the call for her champion, Prince Adam, who is attending a promotion ceremony. His friend, Teela, has risen to the rank of Man-at-Arms, equal to her father. When the distress signal is received, Teela leads the forces of Eternia to the rescue, while Prince Adam does his Shazam thing to become He-Man. During the heat of battle, Skeletor angers He-Man enough that he stabs Skeletor through the chest with the Power Sword -- exactly as Skeletor planned. The sword was also a key, and the keyhole was hidden behind Skeletor. The power that has been hidden by Castle Grayskull all this time is now accessible to him and, healed by Evil-Lyn, he takes it -- a move that has the potential to wipe out the entire universe. He-Man has moments to stop it, which he does, but in the ensuing explosion both he and Skeletor are gone, and the Power Sword has been split into two parts -- and vanished.

This is only the beginning of the loss of all hope in the series. Back at Castle Eternia, Man-at-Arms must tell the king that He-Man is dead -- and that He-Man was also Prince Adam. The king does not take this well, casts out Man-at-Arms, and barks new orders at Teela. But Teela, realizing that everyone she knew, all her friends, had been lying to her for years about Adam, is bitter and angry. She resigns her commission and storms out on her own.

The next time we see Teela, she's shaved half her head and takes missions for hire. Accompanied by her new friend, Andra, she accepts a quest from an older woman who turns out to be Evil-Lyn in disguise. Ultimately, this puts Teela on a course from the now frail Sorceress herself to retrieve the two halves of the Power Sword and reunite them so that magic can return to Eternia and save both it and the universe itself.

The quest takes Teela and her companions to the two spiritual realms of Eternia -- Subternia, the underworld, and Preternia, paradise. In Subternia, Teela must face her fears, wth He-Man being among them. She retrieves the sword and Evil-Lyn -- yes, they're doing a Cruella on Evil-Lyn -- uses it to open a door to Preternia. But to get everyone there safely, Orco must make the ultimate sacrifice.

It turns out that Preternia's version of Heaven is just a retirement frat-house where dead heroes -- and, yes, Prince Adam is among them, so he's really dead -- relive their glory days and recount their many adventures. Our traveling heroes meet He-Ro (who looks an awful lot like Malibu Comics' Prime) and King Grayskull, the first to weild the Power Sword. But there's no sign of Orco, so did he really die earlier?

Well, yes, and maybe. But even if he did for sure, he wouldn't end up in Preternia. Because apparently that's only for heroes. When Adam decides to make the journey from paradise to Eternia with his friends (following the mortal sacrifice of yet another member of the team), he is warned that he would be mortal again -- and when mortals die, they just return to the earth. So their heaven is reserved only for a select few. Your average person simply ceases to exist, which seems pretty depressing.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation is incomplete. There will be more episodes to drop in the future. But the rumors about it being Teela's story aren't rumors, but facts, and Kevin Smith seems hell-bent on killing off He-Man for good with this series. There's a bit of language in the series, all of which comes from Andra. It's nothing you wouldn't find on a prime time sitcom, but at the same time, it's out of place in a MOTU cartoon.

The truly great moments of the show come when the men sacrifice themselves for the greater good -- Orco to save his friends, Roboto to reforge the Power Sword, and Prince Adam to return to Eternia and fix what went wrong. But there's also a pervasive feeling of futility, and a heavy dose of it with the mid-series cliffhanger.

2.5 / 5.0