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Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 1: By the Power of Netflix, Kevin Smith Uses (or Abuses?) the Power

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Yours truly is exactly the kind of cat who Kevin Smith and Netflix were looking to snare with this project,  as someone who played with the toys, watched the cartoon, and has no resentment and even some reverence for the 30+ years of body dysmorphia that subsequently invaded my six-year-old psyche. The trailer for Masters of the Universe Revelations’ long-awaited debut, complete with a classic Bonnie Tyler/Jim Steinman tune, gave this writer an inspiration of nerd-joy not felt since Captain America used Mjolnir on the big screen.

And the end result is not disappointing. 

At the time of this writing, there are already reports of low audience scores seemingly based on a lack of certain characters’ involvement and attributed by some as “anti-wokeness” or “dudebro rage.” More on that later (your official spoiler warning), but there are two big hints in the title itself. 

Whereas Netfix’s five seasons of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and 2002’s too-soon-for-DVR He-Man series on Cartoon Network were reboots, Revelations is a direct continuation of the original Filmation series/toy commercials that those of us north of forty grew up on. In those days, there were a lot of displays of power that virtually never resulted in use of power. “The Most Powerful Man in the Universe ” was strong enough to throw dinosaur-shaped tanks over a mountain and had a magical sword,  but seemingly never even punched anyone in 130 episodes. Now, we have more combat action but also the direct result of that action is seen.

Letting the cat half out of the bag here, Kevin Smith kills characters right in the first of five episodes and keeps on going. There is combat death and there is noble sacrifice. Part of the “revelations” name refers to a long-held secret being told and others teased yet-to-come. The other part is more familiar to those who went to Sunday school. The biblical Book of Revelations was apocalyptic and, thanks to the combined efforts of He-Man (Supergirl’s Chris Wood), Mark Hamill’s Skeletor, and The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull (Susan Eisenberg of Justice League Unlimited), we spend the rest of the series in an end-of-Eternia-as-we-know-it scenario, as magic is all but eliminated from their world.

Sarah Michelle Gellar voices Teela, former Captain of the Guard, now making her way as mercenary and tomb robber with engineer/sidekick Andra (Tiffany Smith, Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal). In a world without magic, they encounter everything from technocratic cults headed by former henchman, Tri-Klops (voiced by Henry @#$%ing Rollins!), to a population desperately rationing out the last scraps of magic under the protection of Teela’s now-disgraced dad, Man-at-Arms (Game of Thrones Liam Cunningham). Strange bedfellows are made when Evil-Lyn (former Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey) hires a motley crew of former friends to try and bring back the magic. Among the faces are plenty of familiar voices such as animation all-stars Kevin Michael Richardson, Cree Summer, Phil Lamarr, and Batman himself, Kevin Conroy, and they are joined by the likes of Justin Long, Alicia Silverstone, Stephen Root, and Dennis Haysbert.

This odyssey is reminiscent of DC Comics’ original (and easily their best) 52 series. What stories can be told when the marquee names are out of the picture? More than we might think and, if given a chance, better than we thought. Maybe the nostalgic have a point in calls of “bait-and-switch” or “cheap shock value,” but these five episodes are the start of a longer journey that has us genuinely curious and hopefully doesn’t fall prey to the dreaded “Kevin Smith lag.”

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix.


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