Injustice vs the Masters of the Universe #1 // Review
In 1982, when the original Masters of the Universe toys were first appearing in stores, DC Comics published a Masters of the Universe miniseries in which the heroes of Eternia met the Man of Steel himself. Ever since, it’s always been an event when He-Man and his crew get to meet DC’s flagship heroes–which is what makes Injustice vs the Masters of the Universe #1, the first of a six-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley, Freddie E. Williams II, Jeremy Colwell, and Wes Abbott, so perplexing.
The story being told here doesn’t take place in the continuity of the currently-running Injustice 2 digital-first comic series by Tom Taylor, which bridges the gap between the first and second Injustice video games. Instead, it takes place following the second game, but only in the continuity of a particular ending–if you finished the story mode of the game playing as Superman, this will make sense, but if you have only finished it playing as Batman, it won’t. Long-time followers of the various (really quite good) series of Masters of the Universe comics published by DC since 2012, written primarily by either Keith Giffen or Dan Abnett, will be similarly confused, as this story ignores the events of those four years’ worth of comics. The story does, however, make reference to the events of last year’s He-Man/Thundercats miniseries.
Taken on its own merit, Tim Seeley’s story isn’t half-bad. Batman, Harley Quinn, and a handful of other rebels from the world of Injustice come to Eternia to ask for He-Man’s help, figuring that the magical underpinnings of this hero would be effective in deposing their tyrannical Brainiac-enhanced Superman (who, of course, unbeknownst to them, has thrown in with He-Man’s nemesis, Skeletor). Heroes fight and then reach a detente thanks to an ingenious scene between Swamp Thing and Moss Man, and all of our heroes have a shared mission.
Williams’ idiosyncratic art style is well-suited to the Masters of the Universe, uh, universe: his exaggerated, over-muscled style, paired with Colwell’s painterly colors, fits the sci-fi barbarian to a tee. The more (relatively) realistic heroes of the DCU are less well served by his cartoony indulgences, but that’s easy to forgive, particularly in this goofy, Filmation-esque story. Williams’ layouts are particularly good, and a one-page recap of the events of both Injustice games is especially inspired.
If DC Comics and Mattel set out to create the comic book equivalent of mindlessly throwing toys together in the backyard (or of mindlessly mashing buttons to make Wonder Woman and Cyborg fight for no reason), they have succeeded. Injustice vs the Masters of the Universe is a fun, if substance-free, romp--provided you can see past the confusing continuity issues--and it ends with a cheeky nod to the original MotU’s shameless swipes from Jack Kirby that promises more ridiculousness in issues to come.