MOTUC Bio Discussion #4: Skeletor

Inspired by He-Man.org’s Roast Gooble Dinner podcast, welcome to PGPoA’s latest MOTUC Bio Discussion: Skeletor!

NOTE: This bio was slightly altered for the figure’s re-release (after all the trademark and copyright applications had gone through). Here’s the bio as written on Mattycollector.com:

SKELETOR

Real Name: Keldor™

Mortally wounded in battle with his half-brother Captain Randor™, Keldor™ turned to his dark-arts master Hordak™ to save his life. Merging Keldor™ with the extra-dimensional being Demo-Man™ from Despondos™, Keldor™ was forever changed into Skeletor®, Overlord of Evil™! He gathered together the greatest outcasts and evil warriors of Eternia® in his quest to gain entry into Castle Grayskull™ and obtain what he believes is the universe’s ultimate power source.

Portrait art source: “The Vengeance of Skeletor” minicomic

While there was some intriguing material in the He-Man bio, this is the first bio that really begins to depart from any of the previous MOTU incarnations and carve out a MOTUC-specific canon. I speak, of course, of Demo-Man…but more on that in a moment.

This is, to my knowledge, the first time it’s been explicitly stated in any official MOTU material that Keldor is Randor’s brother (half-brother, but brother nonetheless). It was strongly hinted, but not confirmed, in the minicomic “The Search for Keldor.” The Millennium cartoon never explicitly stated it, though at least once, in “The Last Stand,” Skeletor says to Adam, “It’s not nice to take what rightfully belongs to others. But then – like father like son.” But in the MOTUC canon it’s confirmed–Skeletor can now say, “Adam–your father never told you what happened to your uncle…” etc. etc.

It’s also confirmed that Hordak, once again, was Skeletor’s “master” in the dark arts, and–as in the Millennium cartoon–it was Hordak who saved Keldor from certain death and turned him into Skeletor. However, the manner in which he did so is probably the most controversial thing in these bios so far.

First, some background: way, way back in the earliest development days of the original Masters of the Universe toy line, before any of the character’s names had really been nailed down, the working title of the villain was “Demo-Man.” Presumably the “demo” is meant to evoke “demon,” but it’s still a lame name, which is no doubt why it was changed to Skeletor. This became an extremely obscure piece of MOTU trivia that only Mattel insiders and the most diehard fans were aware of.

The image to the left is concept art by Mattel artist Mark Taylor, generally identified as representing “Demo-Man.” As you can see, he looks more like Beast Man than Skeletor. Image from Grayskull Museum.

I’m not sure what the bio writers’ motivation was in including a reference to Demo-Man. It’s not like the character, or even the concept art, were particularly popular with fans (even the “barbarian He-Man” had more of a following than Demo-Man). If it’s meant to be a wink to diehard fans it’s a misguided one, since barely anyone knew about it and most of those who did didn’t like the name. But here’s what I think happened: the writers knew about Demo-Man and thought it would be a cool idea to work him in somehow. Obviously a lot of people think they were wrong, but there it is.

What’s at stake here is the growing story of the bios is increasingly implying Keldor/Skeletor may not be the Overlord of Evil we know and love. I’ll get into this more as we move through the bios, but the concern is that this weakens the character. If Skeletor is no longer wholly responsible for his actions, he’s not really the bad guy, and he loses a lot of his appeal. I would hate to think the bio writers are setting up a grand Star Wars rip-off whereby Anakin/Keldor ultimately saves his son/nephew Luke/Adam from the Emperor/Horde Supreme.

There have been some fan theories that attempt to explain the Demo-Man thing without compromising the character too much. One is that that Demo-Man operates like the “symbiote suit” of the Spider-Man enemy Venom, amplifying Keldor’s powers and hatred but not creating them. Another theory suggests that, while Skeletor received some of Demo-Man’s physical features and powers, the demon’s mind was not part of the exchange.¹ Thought of another way, the two were forcibly merged but Demo-Man died in the process.

While the idea of merging Keldor and Demo-Man may be controversial, there’s no question the concept is interesting. Having never seen an artistic depiction of the event, I commissioned our own MechaShiva to draw his own conception of the merging. While I knew MS was good, I had no idea I’d receive this masterpiece in response! Click on the image for a larger version. –PG

Ultimately, all we know from the bio is that Keldor was merged with a being named Demo-Man. I’ve already noticed a few cases where it looks like bios were tweaked to match fan speculation or concerns, so I wouldn’t be surprised to get a better explanation of how the merge worked–perhaps when we get the inevitable Demo-Man figure (whom Mattel has already trademarked).

Speaking of a MOTUC Demo-Man figure, here’s He-Man.org member The Raw‘s interpretation of what it might look like. Pretty neat, I say (although Demo-Man was apparently colored green in the art book). Bios and lame name aside, I love the idea of getting a Demo-Man figure–but then, there are very few characters I wouldn’t like to see in MOTUC. The more the merrier!

Returning to the bio, Demo-Man apparently hails from the dimension of Despondos, home of Etheria (She-Ra’s homeworld) and the place that Hordak was exiled to by King Grayskull. We’re definitely going to have to find out more about what went on in Despondos. Were Hordak and Demo-Man buddies for a while before the whole Keldor thing?

The bio ends with the standard mention of Skeletor forever trying to break into Castle Grayskull to get whatever secrets it holds.

Next time: Faker!

¹ Interestingly, this theory reminds me of the Hellboy story “The Island,” where (spoiler alert) a human revenant absorbs some of Hellboy’s blood and begins to transform into a demonic creature, while maintaining its own mind and motivations.

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8 Comments

  1. Thrawn

    I hate the Demo man concept. The idea that he also increased Keldor's power is not something I'm happy about either. I can't see any aspect of this idea that I like.

  2. Russ

    I happen to have no problem with the Demo Man angle.

    It opens the door for even more exploration into other parts of the Horde's past.

    I do agree with "Snarf! Snarf!" that Hordak is not one to intentionally save his minions; I believe he had ulterior motives for both of them, but the possibility also exists he may've somewhat underestimated Keldor considerably.

  3. Dlia

    The bios are okay. I really don't pay attention to them since apparently the Marty Mattel folks (or rather Toyguru says) they're not considered official canon and its up to fans "to make their own canon."

    But some of the story still doesn't fit together even with this caveat. They don't do their homework or rather the Marty Mattel Interns don't do their homework when answering Q&As. Recent example was answer to the Techno Sword in the latest Q&A. Big thread going on at the Org about this.

  4. Cythagen

    Meant to say *doesn't* sound so far fetched.

  5. Cythagen

    Personally, I have no problem with the Keldor/Demo-Man merger. I was actually struck by one possible explanation that has been so played out in various horror/fantasy stories that I'm absolutely SHOCKED that no one else suggested it.

    Suppose Demo-Man is an incredibly powerful spirit (who may or may not have had a previous physical form) whose powers Hordak is hoping to access for his own use. The disembodied spirit needs a vessel to be at full strength, which Hordak all too happily provides in the form of his maimed lackey. Once housed in Keldor's altered body, Demo-Man turns on Hordak, adopts the identity of Skeletor, and makes use of all of Keldor's assets (including his army of criminal outcasts) in order to further his own evil agenda.

    That does sound so far-fetched, does it?

  6. dayraven

    what if we're missing the obvious? what if demo-man was a perpetual loser obsessed with an unattainable goal in penetrating castle grayskull? and he is keldor's penance for getting his face burnt off? like demo-man is hordak's idea of a joke he's playing at keldor's expense?

    after all, we know hordak isn't a nice guy, but she ra proved he has a sense of humor, such as it is.

    i too have an issue w/ the idea of skeletor as a sympathetic villain. i want an evil badass!! i want a skeletor who'd eager to turn on his master and his allies, so long as it advances his cause. i want an uncle keldor who was letting little adora play with his magic wand when hordak came a calling and she was tossed into the wagon. i want a keldor who was eager to acid bath his brother and had nefarious plans for his sister in law before a tragic accident left him dying, embarassed and angry, and now, in the ultimate humiliation, he's saddled with a half-assed demon who manages to botch his best laid plans. for that embarassment, hordak must pay!!

  7. Snarf! Snarf!

    @Poe: my thought was incomplete in that post and I was unable to edit it for some reason… (stupid desire to make a Demo joke…)

    I believe Hordak Hordak did NOT merge Keldor with Demo-Man in order to save Keldor… Since Hordak is supposed to be so ruthless that he'll kill his own men even if they are right… Like Callix. The Merger was more like a way for Hordak to get rid of Demo-Man. He's basically sending Demo-Man to another world and binding it to a dying man.

    So if Keldor dies then Demo-Man would die. If Keldor somehow made it then Hordak would have a better servant in Eternia. That's how I see it. Unfortunately for Hordak, Skeletor was a lot tougher than expected.

  8. Poe

    @Snarf! Snarf!: You're right–that Ghost Rider interpretation is a good one that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere…though it also suggests much more of a duality in the joining than I like. Ultimately I'm not really a fan of the Demo-Man merging at all; however, despite not like that concept or his name, I do want a Demo-Man figure.

    But if you don't think Hordak saved Keldor, how do you think Keldor became Skeletor? What did Hordak do?

    @Mysterious Stranger: You're right, this is #4. Fixed.

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