Inspired by He-Man.org’s “Roast Gooble” podcast (which I highly recommend to MOTU fans), as well as Masters of the Universe Chronicles, I’ve decided to add a new feature wherein I discuss my thoughts on the MOTUC bios, and invite you to do the same.
A few things to discuss before we get to the first one. First off, I’m skipping King Grayskull for now because he didn’t have a proper “parchment” bio card, and aesthetically that bugs me. I like having the graphic to post. He’ll get one for the re-release later this year, and I’ll do his discussion then.
Second, I want to state for the record that while I find the bios interesting, I’m not considering my imagination any more beholden to them than any other incarnation of MOTU–that is to say, I’ve got my own story of MOTU in my head, and it’s constructed of the various bits of the previous incarnations that I’ve liked, along with a healthy dose of my own ideas. For example, I just can’t think of Gygor as a bad guy; it’s just not in line with the way I’ve thought of him since I first read about him. Also, in my vision, the two “halves” of the Power Sword are in fact complete swords, one purple and one gray, that magically combine together to form a glowing combined Power Sword (i.e., He-Ro’s sword).
But I digress. Let’s get started.
Real Name: Adam of the House Randor
A direct descendant of the legendary King Grayskull™, Prince Adam® of Eternia® was chosen to protect his ancestor’s Power Sword® from evil. At first, he used a techno vest with a built-in force field to fight evil, but Adam has since learned to combine both halves of the Power Sword®, using it to channel the energy of the Elders to become He-Man® – The Most Powerful Man in the Universe™! He guards the safety of all Eternia® alongside the heroic Masters of the Universe®.
Portrait art source: Original He-Man figure card back
First off, the real name. It’s funny how the bio writers have insisted on giving almost every character a surname, but Adam gets away with “of the house of Randor.” What does that mean? Is he then Adam Randor? Adam Randorson?
The first sentence of the bio immediately connects Adam to King Grayskull, identifying him as a direct descendant of KG. This is interesting, because these bios seem to pull a lot from the 2003 Mike Young Productions (MYP) cartoon series, and yet in the KG episode (“The Power of Grayskull”), while the Sorceress does tell Adam that KG is his ancestor, there is no sign whatsoever that King Grayskull and his queen Veena had any children. “Direct descendant” suggests something closer than, say, KG’s brother or cousin, but maybe in the MOTUC canon KG and Veena did have a kid. Moving on…
The “Power Sword” stuff already starts to get confusing here. The idea of He-Man “protecting” the Power Sword, rather than using it to fight evil, was very much a part of the early, pre-cartoon minicomics in the 1980s, and that seems to be what they’re referencing here, particularly the whole “techno-vest” thing, which is straight out of “He-Man and the Power Sword.” Of course, the He-Man depicted in that comic may now be a completely different character called Oo-Larr, so you have to wonder exactly how far ahead they had these bios planned out in the early days of the line.
So let’s break this down. At some point, the Sorceress tells the powerless Adam it’s his job to protect the Power Sword (wherever it is). So she gives him the techno-vest, which uses a built-in force field. So it appears at this point, Adam is running around dressed up like He-Man but without his actual powers (I’m guessing this was around the same time Man-At-Arms gave Adam the techno-sword, but more on that with MAA’s bio). At some point, Adam unites the two halves of the Power Sword¹ and “officially” turns into He-Man.
The idea of Adam playing at being He-Man before actually being able to turn into He-Man is both bizarre and intriguing, with some dramatic possibilities. It does make some sense, given what we’ve learned since this bio, what with Wun-Dar and Oo-Larr (and possibly Vikor) being earlier “He-Men” without He-Man’s real powers. The Goddess gave Wun-Dar a magical vest (and a gun) so it’s not unprecedented.
The idea of the “Power of the Elders” being what turns Adam into He-Man is, again, straight out of the MYP cartoon. I have to say I like Filmation’s take on “the power” better (where it comes out of the Abyss, possibly originating from the Starseed itself), but of course all the Filmation stuff is strictly off-limits for these bios.
Finally, there’s the idea of referring to the good guys as “The Masters of the Universe.” I have to agree with the assessment of Val Staples in the Roast Gooble discussion on this bio: I prefer “Masters of the Universe” to refer to both sides, or rather, what both sides are struggling to be. It’s the stakes, not a faction.
¹ It’s not stated whether the two halves were always available and Adam simply didn’t know how to unite them, or if, for example, Skeletor had one half for a while, as he did in the early minicomics.