Back then, you see, I didn’t have cable television, so my mind wasn’t numbed by the stupidity of the dull-witted Filmation cartoon. Instead, my playtime was shaped by the likes of Alfredo Alcala and Mark Texeira.
But like any other major corporation, Mattel, the makers of the He-Man toyline, was prone to odd little hiccups in their production.
Case in point: There wereactually two versions of “The Power of Point Dread,” a story meant to feature the toy accessory called “Point Dread and the Talon Fighter,” which was a very interesting toy in itself.
You see — it was a vehicle and a playset all in one. The vehicle was a pot-bellied bird-shaped jet plane. The playset was a rocky, fort-like structure called Point Dread, which was a landing perch for the jet and served as a “RADAR” conning tower that could be mounted atop the greatest playset of them all — Castle Greyskull.
Packaged with the Point Dread toyset was “The Power of … Point Dread!” (and note that there are ellipsis in the title — that’s important later).
This comic was one of CotB’s first He-Man mini-comics, and it gloriously set the stage for what He-Man meant to this little collector.
The story opens with a great image of Skeletor, levitating in the lotus position in front of Castle Greyskull. Back then, it was an unsettling image to your little CotB columnist — it was a skull-faced guy engaging in some creepy occult activity after all.
From there, we learn of that Skeletor has the Crystal of the Caverns (a name that deepens the creepiness) that will allow him to gain control of the Point Dread and the Talon Fighter.
Okay, sure, we’ll go along with that. He does just that and promptly starts attacking Eternia, and things go downhill as they always do for Skeletor. (You’d think Skeletor would just attack some other part of the planet. Some part where He-Man isn’t!)
A fight ensues and, you guessed it, He-Man smashes the crap out of things.
Along the way, another incredibly important aspect of the He-Man universe was revealed to CotB: That Eternia had things like lasers and jet planes … right beside the monsters, magic and swords.
To me, that was like all the awesomeness of Conan crashing into Star Wars. It was a concept I had never thought of, and it was mesmerizing!
As the mini-comic wrapped up, another cool thing caught CotB’s loving eye. In the background of one panel, Man-at-Arms leads away Skeletor’s army in chains. What was so cool is that they all looked different. Some were short, others were tall. There were fat monsters and there were beanpole monsters.
With that, I understood how Skeletor had the nuts to even try to fight He-Man, who was so clearly Skeletor’s superior. Skeletor had man power … no, wait, he had monster power!
And since they all looked different, that meant that any monster toy I had could be on Skeletor’s side. From Sand People to Shogun Warriors to Bigfoots, I had an instant army to team up with Skeletor.
Here’s what He-Man.org says about the mini-comic version of “The Power of … Point Dread!”
This minicomic seems to be a sequel to the book it was packaged with.
Skeletor, using the Mystic Crystal of the Caverns to focus his psychic
energies, captures the Talon Fighter from Grayskull after a brief
struggle. In the process of boarding the ship, he drops the crystal,
which shatters upon impact of the ground. Ignoring the fact, he almost
immediately begins wreaking havoc on the palace at Eternos. During the
battle, he even knocks Zoar out of the air. Fortunately, He-Man evades
Skeletor’s lasers and tricks him into crashing. Later, the Talon Fighter
and Point Dread magically reappear on Grayskull. Chalk another one up
for the home team.
Packaged with Zodac and Point Dread and Talon Fighter playset.
1983, Series 2.
But that all was what was great about “The Power of … Point Dread!” (with ellipsis). It wasn’t long after getting that comic, that I got “The Power of Point Dread!” (without ellipsis).
That version of the “Point Dread” story was something completely different. Where the “…”-titled story was drawn by Mark Texeira, this one was drawn by Conan artist Alfredo Alcala.
And while both were comics, the non-ellipsis version of the story was a wonderfully done read-along audio book. This story was sold in the audio section of most department stores, and came with a small record that told the story for you on your record player.
Most importantly, it didn’t just “blah-blah-blah” its way through the story, this was intensely voice-acted, had a spine-tingling soundtrack and wild sound effects. This, not that dumb Filmation cartoon, was He-Man at its absolute best.
Topping it all off is some really fantastic art by Alfredo Alcala. It was easily his best art while working for Mattel.
Check it out here: http://youtu.be/QU9We5oeClE
Even today, I get really excited just listening to it. Like the mini-comics, this audio drama has some intensely creepy mysticism, and that is exactly the way the “Masters of the Universe” should be. A “Masters of the Universe” world where Orko and Cringer are out, and Cthulhu-type magics and bird-shaped planes are in.
Which of the two “Point Dread” stories is the best? Even though the mini-comic greatly influenced how I played with the toyline, the sheer bombastic nature of the audio drama wins that race.
It truly has the power.