Interesting stories you have there, Master Jokubas.
I was originally writing this for a post about what could be done with Oo-Larr, but it just kept getting larger and larger, so I figured it deserved to have its own place.
Imagine a new He-Man with two separate stories running at the same time (whether it would alternate between episodes or be two separate shows or whatever isn't that important at the moment): A minicomic-inspired series taking place at the dawn of Eternia, and a Filmation/200X-inspired series taking place in the "modern day."
Powers of Grayskull
The latter would be much as we know it today. The former, however, would have to see some tweaks because I'm putting the more well-known modern day first, but I think it actually serves it well. Some barbarian leaves his tribe. His name could be Oo-Larr, D'Vann, Gray, etc., but let's just call him He-Man. This is a very early period in Eternia's history (at least thematically, previously there were the Great Wars, so apocalyptic remnants still exist). At this point, magic is really a part of life, but in a dangerous way, and supernatural creatures are commonplace. He-Man rescues a woman from great danger, only for her to reveal herself as a goddess. She grants him magical armor and weapons to fight evil, and tasks him with devoting his life to such.
So He-Man becomes a true hero, traveling the land and overthrowing whatever trouble he comes across. While he tackles the occasional mad wizard, other barbarian tribes, dinosaurs, Evilseed, ends up at odds with Granamyr, and other mythical beasts, his most recurring foe are the evil Snake Men, a race of inhuman monsters that seem to live for nothing but death and destruction. Eventually, he confronts the leader of these beasts, King Hiss, who reveals that he was truly the snake god Serpos in mortal disguise. After a great struggle, He-Man finally manages to slay the creature and put the evil god down for good.
A New Evil
Perhaps somewhat parallel to those previous events, another evil was rising. With all of the magic scattered throughout the world, someone was bound to abuse it. He-Man had tangled with hints of this growing threat, but he had no idea that it was horrible foreshadowing. The Goddess is targeted by this new force, who has already absorbed the magic from several enchanted lands and drained the power from magician and god alike. He-Man manages to prevent her from being killed, but the evil manages to drain the very essence of her godhood from her. She becomes Sharella, still a powerful warrior and the Teela equivalent of this timeline/reboot.
During this confrontation, however, He-Man finally learns the identity of this evil force: Skeletor, a mad wizard whose origins are unknown. Under his hood is simply a skull, begging the question if he is alive or dead, or if he was ever mortal at all. He-Man begins a quest to stop this Skeletor, who is the greatest threat Eternia has known. While the Snake Men destroyed and terrorized, they were largely a mortal army. Skeletor, on the other hand, has begun to attack the very nature of Eternia, draining its magic and its hope. Along the way, He-Man is forced to fight horrible creatures that Skeletor has either corrupted or empowered, each of a different aspect. There is Mer-Man, a mutated fish-like man who has control over sea monsters. Beastman, a massive creature of no known species that can force the beasts of nature to do its bidding. Webstor, a vicious horror in command of spiders, insects, and things that crawl in the shadows. In this way, Skeletor has begun to command the very world around him.
He-Man eventually tracks Skeletor to his lair, a horrific fortress surrounded by a bottomless pit known as Castle Grayskull. It is here that Skeletor is gathering all of the magic of the world into one place, from which he can use it to conquer the universe. He-Man attempts to confront Skeletor with his allies, but all of Skeletor's magic makes Grayskull impregnable. Realizing he will need magic as well as strength to defeat his foe, He-Man retreats to find what magic might be left in the world that Skeletor hasn't stolen.
Eventually, He-Man stumbles upon a mysterious old wizard known as Eldor, who has hidden himself away to protect the Book of Living Spells from Skeletor. Eldor tests the heroism of He-Man, and when he is satisfied, trains him in the ways of magic. Ultimately, he infuses He-Man's sword with the power of the Book of Living Spells, transforming it into the Sword of He. Ready to take on Skeletor once more, He-Man and his allies travel to Castle Grayskull. This time, the power of the sword is enough to shatter the Castle's defenses, lowering the jawbridge.
The Powers of Grayskull
He-Man and his allies face many dangers in the labyrinthine, ever-changing landscape of Grayskull. Overcoming them all, they eventually reach the throne room where Skeletor awaits them. After an epic battle of sword and sorcery that spans the length of the castle and back, He-Man finally brings Skeletor to his knees. Everyone agrees that Skeletor is too dangerous to leave alive, but even in defeat, his power has made in immortal in both age and tenacity. Instead, they banish him to the dark dimension of Despondos until more can be done.
Despite Skeletor's defeat, however, the magic of the world has been permanently disrupted and infused within Castle Grayskull. Many of He-Man's allies, known as the Council of Elders, decide to sacrifice themselves in order to guard the magic, their spirits dampening the beacon that it would otherwise be to future madmen like Skeletor. He-Man begins to live in Castle Grayskull at this point, as a physical guardian, while he still travels abroad helping wherever he can, earning him the title King Grayskull.
When He-Man grows to an old age, he knows he can no longer protect the power from those who would abuse it. At the same time, he knows that the power he used to guard it could equally be abused. Thus, He-Man splits his sword in two, creating the Power Sword and the Sword of Protection, one with the physical power of the Goddess and one with the living magic of Eldor. A Trollan Oracle who witnesses this event prophesies that the swords are destined for a distant descendant. This leads to the expectation that the swords must be rejoined someday, when in actuality its that Adam and Adora will each wield one. Sharella vows to guard the swords for their proper time, and that promise, combined with the tragedy of He-Man's death and the power of Grayskull, returns some measure of her old power, transforming her into the first Sorceress.
Masters of the Universe
A New Arrival
Skip ahead a few thousand years, perhaps. The world has moved on. Civilization has begun to reign. Grayskull is a long-forgotten memory lost to the overgrowth. Wars have happened, sorcerers have reigned, but nothing on the scale of the Snake Men or Skeletor have been seen since. So much progress, and it turns out that Eternia is not the only world in the universe. From beyond the stars, a new foe unrelated to King Grayskull has arrived: the Horde Empire. The leader of the Horde, Hordak, becomes intrigued by this great well of magic, but the sacrifice of the Council of Elders prevents him from detecting Grayskull. However, his best spies discover remnants of the old prophecy, and their strange technology is used to determine that the heir of Eternos, one of the greatest civilizations on Eternia, is the youngest descendant of He-Man.
As Horde forces spread across the world, they slowly make their way toward Eternos. Taking no chances, they want to make sure they have the land secured before they attempt to capture the power of prophecy. Their eventual attack on Eternos is twofold: a main assault on the city, with infiltrators entering the palace in case the royal family tries to escape before the main force gets there. In the struggle, baby Adora is kidnapped, but Duncan, a young soldier, manages to fight off the attackers and save Adam. Much to the surprise of the Horde, the forces of Eternos manage to break the siege, forcing the evil empire back in a massive counterattack.
The royal family was devastated by their loss, circumstances leading them to believe Adora had been killed. Despite their melancholy, they knew the Horde could not be held back forever, and sought help against their foe. They ultimately turn to one of their subjects, a famous wizard known as Count Marzo. Marzo doesn't tell them his exact plan, but promises to have a solution against the Horde. After collecting several rare artifacts, he casts the Spell of Separation on a much wider scale than it was ever intended. All of Eternia is momentarily in flux as something unexpected happens. The entirety of Eternia splits in two, creating a strange, magical copy that would become known as Etheria. Count Marzo, who already had a few skeletons in the closet, decides to go into hiding rather than risk what he assumes will be punishment from the royal family for the unexpected result of his spell. People are scattered on both sides of the separation, but the one good result that comes from the spell is that the majority of the Horde forces are left on the side of Etheria. This copy is somewhat magically phased from the rest of the universe, trapping the Horde and ending their intergalactic expansion.
A Hero Emerges
Over the years, life on Eternia begins to return to normal despite that shock, until the remaining heir, Adam, comes of age. He is telepathically contacted by the current Sorceress of Grayskull, who informs him that the day of prophecy has come, much to his shock. Duncan, Adam, and Cringer travel to the old castle to investigate this message (with Orko following). It turns out that over the years, Skeletor continued to grow in power, even while in Despondos, and is on the brink of shattering the barrier between realities. Adam is given the Sword of Power and told to call upon the power of the Castle. When he does so, it causes the power in the sword to transform Adam into an older version of himself with the strength and armor of his great ancestor. Likewise, Cringer is transformed into Battle Cat.
They leave just in time to find Skeletor emerging from Despondos right in the middle of Eternos. The Overlord of Evil has no qualms about immediately attacking the world around him and draining what magic he can find, creating a panic that Adam, as He-Man, enters during. Skeletor is surprised to see his ancient nemesis before realizing that he's a magical facsimile. This new He-Man is more than enough to fight him off, however. Skeletor explains that most of the power he had regenerated was expended to escape Despondos, so the new He-Man is simply lucky, before teleporting away in defeat. He-Man is disappointed that he wasn't able to seal Skeletor away once more, but the Sorceress insists that he did all he could for now. He-Man reverts to Adam, and decides to keep his identity as the hero a secret. This Skeletor is after the power of the world, not politics, and will probably care more about Grayskull than Eternos in the future if he doesn't know that He-Man is the prince there.
Meanwhile, Skeletor decides to regroup in another lost place of power that no one would expect: Snake Mountain, the petrified body of the old god. He begins to call upon his old servants, Mer-Man, Beastman, and others, although they too have been diminished over the years. He is also surprisingly tracked down and approached by a sorceress who simply calls herself Evil-Lyn and accepts her offer of knowledge on the world as it is now. Evil-Lyn is secretly much like the old Skeletor herself, a sorceress after as much magic and power as she can manage to gather.
Over time, Skeletor recruits or finds other allies, and the story starts to shape up much more how we know it. Then, at some point, the other half of the prophecy is revealed, Adora becomes She-Ra, the Horde is defeated, Skeletor leaves Eternia to become master of the universe and they follow him to Primus, that kinda thing.
For some reason I just really liked the idea of having both a minicomic and a Filmation story be canon, and mostly wrote around that idea. The biggest difference this led to were probably the changes to Skeletor. Honestly, I like Keldor, even if the uncle thing makes it feel like a family feud, but I wanted to see what it would be like if Skeletor was just Skeletor. Personally, I wouldn't want either story to be overly dark, but I think you could still do that with this Skeletor. Just because he once commanded unprecedented power and conquered most of the magic on Eternia doesn't mean he couldn't have a bit of personality.
I didn't really do the two swords thing during the minicomic era, but that was mostly because I didn't plan ahead, and just wrote as I went. There are so many powers and so many origins of powers from the various versions of He-Man that I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I really like the idea of the two swords being tied to the Power Sword and the Sword of Protection, so the easiest way of doing that was to make it a decision by He-Man to split it for the future. It's not the only way to do it, though. Feel free to suggest ways to implement the two swords during the Powers of Grayskull era that don't make things convoluted when taking that into account, there's gotta be one.
The major change to the present story was the Spell of Separation creating Etheria instead of a Dark Hemisphere. I'm still not exactly sure how I feel about this, it isn't crucial to my main ideas here, but I wanted to throw that in. So, in this version, perhaps the Crystal Castle and Light Hope are the Ethereal versions of Castle Grayskull and the Sorceress, split by the spell and more representative than literally being copies. I also considered that the planet originally be called Primus before it was split into Eternia and Etheria, but there were only so many major changes I wanted to put in at once. I just like the idea of the planets having a close connection that matches the twins and the names.
Hordak kinda comes across as a pushover in this version, but that's mostly because I wasn't focusing on his story. The idea is more that, he's a modern villain who runs an empire in space, not some ancient sorcerer, which I made Skeletor into. Thus, Hordak isn't going to initially be prepared for a lot of these things, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to adapt. Once he's trapped on Etheria, he's going to take over the place pretty easily, and once a path between Eternia and Etheria is established, he's going to have regrouped enough to be a huge threat even with the Rebellion taking shots at him. I say the Horde is defeated before they go into space, but it could easily be that they finally push the Horde off Eternia and Etheria for good, only to realize how big their space empire is when they get there.
I don't know if anyone will catch it, but a subtle thing I tried to do, was that the past is entirely about Eternia. It's just a savage world full of mystery and danger. Once you get to the modern era, however, suddenly the universe opens up and there are space empires and stuff. I hoped this would also make the Masters of the Universe name feel more appropriate, especially compared against Powers of Grayskull, while letting Powers of Grayskull really focus on the world and the adventure of a dangerous place with little civilization. Exceptions to this could happen, but they should be minor. For instance, a Zodac could appear in the past that works for some cosmic enforcer group, but you only ever see him in limited situations, whereas more members are seen in the "present."
One of my favorite parts about the two timelines are the things that can cross them. Granamyr, Skytree, and Evilseed are three characters I decided would definitely be relevant to both He-Men.
Another thing I was trying to be careful with was responsibility. I always hate when an ancient evil was sealed away by old heroes only for the new heroes to be forced to find a way to kill it, making you wonder why the old heroes didn't just do that and save everyone the trouble. That often also has a side-effect of making it look like the old heroes never accomplished anything. I tackled this in two ways. First, I insisted that Skeletor was literally unkillable at the time, and it's easy to just not write the end of Skeletor in the present since he's the main villain. Second, I imagined that the end of the Snake Men was definitive in the Powers of Grayskull era, giving that He-Man a major and lasting victory. The Snake Men just feel more appropriate to me as a villain group for that era, and Skeletor and the Horde are more than enough for the present day, especially since you can still do plenty of independent villains (and no reason there still can't be Snake Men remnants working for any of those). Also on the topic of responsibility, I had Count Marzo cast the Spell of Separation without telling them everything even before the accident because I didn't want it to look like the good guys were at fault, or make them feel responsible for it.
That's why I didn't end up doing something else I considered. I thought, what if Primus was the past, not the future? And "New Adventures" is seeing the civilization at its height that would one day be seen in nothing but ruins and strange leftover tech by the Powers of Grayskull era. I just didn't feel like coming up with a way to have that era end in an apocalypse without it just feeling horrible, even if He-Man and friends go back home before then. Knowing that's their fate is just disturbing.
So, anyway, what do you all think?
Interesting stories you have there, Master Jokubas.
Try to reach inside of me, try to drain my energy
Let me show you just what I'm made of
Simple curiosity trying to take a bite of me
Let me show you just what I'm made of now...
Now that I've read through the Minicomic Collection, I almost want to tackle this again, but there are a few thing that surprised me. First, that the minicomics portrayed the Snakemen as the dominant enemy in the past (which I'm pretty sure I chose because it felt appropriate for the wild setting). The other being that there was a story in which Skeletor was almost successful in draining all the magic from Eternia.