You might not be familiar with the Masters of the Universe, or Prince Adam, but you've probably heard of the epic battles between He-Man and Skeletor. Despite the fact that the iconic Mattel brand hasn't exactly been all that popular these past few years, Kevin Smith (known for Jay and Silent Bob) has helped bring the universe back to life with Masters of the Universe: Revelation, an animated TV series that serves as a direct sequel to the 1980's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. With the first part now out on Netflix, consisting of five, twenty-or-so minute episodes, I've watched the show and I can already tell that it is aiming to deliver an experience that will please returning fans, whilst also serving as a great jumping on point for those unfamiliar with the world.
Set after the events of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, this series mostly follows Teela as she scours the lands to find the missing Power Sword, which is split after a confrontation between He-Man and Skeletor. I won't delve too far into the narrative, as it is in spoiler territory, but just know that while He-Man does feature a lot, this inaugural part of the series is focussed on Teela, years after the events that caused the Power Sword to split - meaning the storyline takes place in an Eternia where magic is dwindling and the heroes or yore are far past their prime.
With this change to the world of Eternia, you might be worried that the show lacks the action that defined the He-Man brand, but that is far from the case. The signature 80s style of animated combat makes a welcome return, and it both fits right in place and always manages to deliver the sort of satisfying action that you would expect from a He-Man show - even if the Champion of Eternia himself is often not the one swinging the punches.
Talking about the animation and art style, Masters of the Universe faithfully brings its cast of characters back, in all their original glory. I will say that the characters do look a little dated in their design, in the aspect that the He-Man brand, and other classic 80s IPs for that matter, haven't exactly transitioned that well to the modern day, but considering this is a direct sequel, the authenticity is commendable.
Building on the characters, this show has a respectable cast lending their talents to ensure the narrative and the world feels more lively than ever. Between Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn, and Liam Cunningham as Man-At-Arms, just to name a few, you can bank on characters and interactions that engage and display emotion, even if the animation style can often struggle to keep up.
The key part of Masters of the Universe: Revelation that truly allows it to stand on its own, is that despite its efforts to continue and prey on nostalgia, it also never conforms to the prior constructs that made the show what it was in the 1980s. Kevin Smith and the creative team who have brought the show back have given the characters, many of which have never even appeared in an animated form before, the chance to develop beyond the name of He-Man, as the show doesn't lean on the macho man to carry its tale forward. It's the sort of leap of faith that if not handled correctly could've made for a forgettable and disappointing series, but by showing a deep understanding and love for the IP, Smith and Co. have managed to modernise the 80s brand whilst staying true to its roots.
As the world of Eternia has a lot to explore, this series can head in a range of directions. From what has been shown so far, which is around 120 minutes of content, we get an ample display of what is to come, without overshooting and stumbling in the process. As we've only seen five episodes so far, quite a limited amount for that matter, it's hard to know whether the show will be able to keep up this pace and level of excitement all throughout. But, for the time being, I've thoroughly enjoyed this overly muscular series making a comeback and I can't wait for more episodes to make their debut down the line.