After many years, the original He Man show is finally getting its long awaited sequel. This one was certainly surrounded by controversy right from the jump when Teela ended up being the main character of part 1 along with things getting rather tough for He Man several times there. Still, Part 1 ended up being rather great I’d say and then Part 2 stepped things up further. I think you’ll be quite satisfied with how this sequel series plays out no matter who your favorite character is. (With the exception of Moss Man who is admittedly a little disrespected here)
The series starts off with a bang as Skeletor and his forces attack Castle Grayskull once more. Teela had just been promoted to the Man at Arms role so this is her first chance to prove herself. With He Man and the rest of the army at the ready this should be an easy win and yet it doesn’t go the way everyone had hoped. Skeletor and He Man both die in the carnage. Due to this, everyone learns He Man’s true identity which leaves Teela particularly shattered.
After a falling out among Teela and the royals, she is banished from the kingdom along with Duncan. Teela teams up with Andra and the two effectively work as bounty hunters now. This allows Teela to put some distance between her and the kingdom but deep down she knows that the kingdom needs her. Can Teela find her inner strength to take down Evil-Lyn and the remnants of Skeletor’s army? Also, is He Man really gone for good?
The first arc really goes by quickly. Now, if He Man and Skeletor had actually died then I think the controversy would have absolutely skyrocketed to new heights. If that had happened, then I think it would be fair to say that this really was a bait and switch. That said, there’s no way they would keep the two biggest players out of this. Both He Man and Skeletor return to action before long and we even get some new lore and world building out of it. I’ll touch on all of that as we get through the review but first lets talk about the cast of characters here.
Naturally He Man is great as always. Whether he’s Prince Adam or in his He Man form he tends to steal the show. We see him as a capable hero and a selfless warrior. The show gives him good moments in both forms and he always fights to the end. His single best scene is when he shares a laugh with Skeletor before entering his ultimate mode. Now that was a really intense moment and it also just made a lot of sense. Of course He Man should still be able to use the power without the sword. Now the side effect of him losing his mind is rough but it made sense. The show has characters thinking of new ways to use their abilities and I’m definitely all for it. At the end of the day He Man is as confident as ever and it’s quite deserved.
Unfortunately, as good as He Man looks is as bad as Skeletor does. Personally I didn’t care for his portrayal here all that much. He panics a lot and is suckered by the oldest trick in the book of someone flirting with him. Really…this is what Skeletor has become? I wouldn’t be surprised if some ended up not liking the show just because of him. He does look powerful when he has his own super form but his base form is treated like a joke by the end. You’d think that normal Skeletor would still be able to do something but he really isn’t respected by the cast. He ends up getting outshined by quite a few villains in the show. Throw in how he’s always violent with Evil-Lyn for no reason and he really might be one of my least favorite villains in this show. Maybe…even the worst one?
As for Teela, well she gets off to a very rough start in part 1. I mean extremely rough because she blames He Man for dying and saving the world. That’s the kind of thing you’d expect the school bully type character to think, not the main heroine. She just has a bad attitude throughout and doesn’t really become one of the solid characters until the climax. She can fight which is good but it was hard to get over her blaming He Man for quite a few episodes.
Now she does have a really good moment near the end of the series when she realizes that she can wield the power without agreeing to any limitations. I really liked this part because a lot of times the character would just take the legends in stride. If they’re told to just stay put because that’s the only way they can use the power, or they can only use their power 3 times in a day, the character will listen. Here Teela basically just says “Minez!” and runs off with the power. It’s the smart move to make there. Why listen to the legends when you’ve got the power yourself? This at least helped Teela end on a high note.
Her partner Andra gets considerably less to do in part 2 but she’s not bad. She’s your average bounty hunter genius and tends to bring a lot of custom weapons to the fight. It felt like she didn’t have a whole lot to do and was only here so Teela could have a teammate though. Perhaps in Season 2 she would have more of a role. The cast was rather large so it makes sense that it would be hard to juggle all of them.
Like poor Moss-Man who only appears for a scene or two. It’s not great for his fans but maybe he’ll return at some point. I wouldn’t get my hopes too high for that though. Cringer gets a little more to do here. He’s still not really my kind of character but in his Battle Beast form he helps out quite a bit. It’s just a bit of an issue that he never wants to transform though so it really seems like He Man is mind controlling him in that form. With how the power changes He Man’s mind without the sword, it’s not all that far fetched.
The original Sorceress looks good here as well. The fact that she can’t even leave the castle is an enormous weakness though and she ends up looking bad by the end of the series because of the choice that she did not make. At best you could say there was no way to escape now that she made the contract but at worst you could say that she didn’t think this part through. Her powers always look good visually though and she certainly can fight.
One character who gets a really big role here is the original Man at Arms, Duncan. Duncan may not have He Man’s level of super strength but he is quite strong in his own right and has a lot of good gadgets as well. He’s always got some kind of weapon for the occasion and doesn’t let up against the villains. Even once he is captured the guy is always talking tough. So I was impressed with him, he didn’t really have any bad scenes.
For the villains, next up we have Evil-Lyn. She gets a really big role here which the show starts hinting at early on. She’s always put up with quite a lot but looking back at it, this just makes less and less sense to her. Perhaps she is approaching this all wrong and that’s when she makes her move. I think the show went a bit overboard in how powerful it made her since this leads to a lot of power level issues by the end. That said, I wouldn’t say the show is always amazing with how powerful everyone is, the power levels tend to fluctuate a bit. If He Man is able to go toe to toe with an amped up Skeletor then he should be absolutely decimating everyone else. I don’t want to see it take multiple blows to beat the Mer-Man or for He Man not to instantly take out the Beast Man. Teela and Man at Arms shouldn’t be keeping up with Skeletor’s blasts if he’s fast enough to hit He Man. Things like that.
As a character Evil-Lyn is fun though. I wish she would have tricked Skeletor in a different way as that would have benefited both of their characters though. It may have been the most obvious twist on who the big villain is since many would suspect this from episode 1 or 2 but it was executed well. He Man’s parents King Randor and Queen Marlena also get a role but don’t get a ton to do. They are having a lot of relationship issues as a result of what happened early on. The King looks super unreasonable when he throws Teela and Duncan out of the kingdom and the Queen didn’t really try hard to stop him. They have their emotional moments but if you cut them from the story nothing would really change.
Orko looked really good so I think his fans should have a blast here. His magical abilities have come a long way from his training days and he gets a massive power boost as the show goes on. He doesn’t quite keep up with the best of the heroes but he’s a fun character to have around. Back to the villains, we’ve got 3 more with roles. First is the Mer-Man and his role is the smallest. He seems like a good villain but I’d like to have seen more of him. The Beast Man is a very loyal guy but when asked if he is Man or Beast I felt that he made the wrong choice there. It probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference in how things went though.
Finally we have Tri-Klops and I liked him quite a bit here. He represents an interesting possibility for a third faction of fighters here. Someone who could cause both the heroes and villains some trouble as the series goes on. It’s hard to say how powerful he is. I doubt that he will be a really big fighter physically but I’m sure he has a good amount of tech to back him up.
So Arc 1 is mainly about Teela’s adventures as she deals with her grief. She makes it hard to care about her but the writers likely knew that so just about every episode has a flashback sequence of He Man beating up on some villains. It was a good way to squeeze him into each episode and those were always the highlight moments. The show has a good sense of humor and He Man always had a one liner at the ready. This all made for a nice combo as keep in mind Part 1 would have been an 8 even without part 2. You could still expect a good action scene every episode.
Now we are introduced to a new concept near the end of Part 1 which is that anyone who uses the powers of Grayskull is given a second life. Basically you have fun in the jungle for a while and you can even come back to life whenever you want. The catch is that you can only come back to life once so when you die again your soul is just destroyed forever. None of the previous guardians seem all that heroic to me as they were willing to just stay in this world forever and never came in to help. I was expecting them to pop up at some point but they ended up just staying in this place the whole time. It really wasn’t a great look for these guys who are supposed to be the ultimate heroes. The existence of this world helps give someone a good destructive feat later on but I think this place just shouldn’t exist. It really comes out of nowhere and doesn’t add to anything. It’s also rough for good guys who don’t have the power and have to go to the underworld anyway. Doesn’t seem like a very fair tradeoff. Fortunately one of the heroes realized that and quickly stops one person from being sent back there later on.
Part 2 is really filled with fights the entire time. We get the big army against army fight scene that you’ve been waiting for. With a series like this where each part is only a few episodes, you do see most of the events in the trailers but at least that way you’re always gearing up for the next fight. The show never really stops to catch its break which is good. The pacing is on point.
One thing that pops out at you immediately is how great the animation is. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is absolutely top tier for western animation. I haven’t seen an art style this vivid since Justice League Unlimited. This show would fit right in with the DCAU and can hold its own against any other western show without exception. The fights are really good and you feel the power behind each blow. I thought the show really did justice to He Man’s incredible power and the rush when he gets his power. The first transformation scene was great.
As for the soundtrack, I wouldn’t say it’s super memorable or anything but it gets the job done. The tunes during the action scenes are on point and the show always has a lot of energy. If you count it, the trailer had a great theme with the “I need a Hero” track. Now that’s a tune that’s always in season.
Naturally the show does end with a cliffhanger and it’s an interesting one. I would definitely be down to see how it all plays out but they’ll need to find a way to make it so the villains are a threat. Now that we have He Man and the powered up Teela at the ready, it’s hard to see these villains being a thread without some kind of massive upgrade. I also think depowering He Man again would be a bad move since it just happened so that’s off the table. Maybe have him be busy off planet? Not sure if that works since he is the protector of Castle Grayskull though. Well, they’ll think of something.
Either way we should hopefully get more He Man vs Skeletor moments. Those are really the scenes when the show is at its peak. Each of their fights really ends up being quite the spectacle and as the faces of good and evil in this world, you always want to see them clash. The top notch animation certainly helps with that as well. We also get a cool teamup in the show which is something I was waiting for. If there was a nice He Man moment you were looking forward to or wanted to see, odds are that the show delivers on this. There’s quite a lot of replay value to be had here as well so this is a show you’ll probably go back to or at least to look up the fights.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend checking this show out. It really does a great job of showing the He Man mythos and events. It’s a nice follow up to the original series. Some concepts like the Otherworld may have been best left on the drawing board but I suppose it doesn’t matter much now anyway. I wouldn’t say the show has any real weaknesses. Part 2 covers for any element that may have had you worried in Part 1 and so when you watch it all together, the season works out nicely. My only real complaint by the end is that it went too far in making Skeletor look really bad most of the time so hopefully he can regroup in season 2. It’ll be difficult for the CGI title to even try and match this one.