He-Man Action Figure Versions Masters of the Universe
The alter-ego of Prince Adam, He-Man is “the most powerful man in the universe” and the alter-ego of Prince Adam. A power harness enhances his strength and carries the Sword of Power, a battle axe, and a shield. He-Man tries his best to avoid a fight and does everything in his power to keep his enemies alive so they can live another day. Possessing superhuman strength, he is capable of performing incredible feats, such as lifting boulders, buildings, and mountains. The son of King Randor and Queen Marlena, Prince Adam is carefree, fun-loving, lazy, and pretty much a coward who runs from everything but this is a charade to keep people from suspecting that he is also He-Man. The Sorceress, keeper of Castle Grayskull, gave Prince Adam the Sword of Power and when he lifts the sword and says “By the Power of Grayskull… I Have the Power!” he is transformed into He-Man in a hail of lightning that turns him into the defender of Eternia. There are only three others who share He-Man’s identity! Man-At-Arms, Orko, and the Sorceress share this knowledge and depending on where Prince Adam is, he either transforms into He-Man in front of them or runs off to a secluded place nearby in order to save Eternia from the evil powers of Skeletor.
In his earliest incarnation, He-Man was a noble barbarian warrior who inhabited a land of magic and incredible technology. As a young man, He-Man felt the need to leave his village and explore the craggy cliffs and quake-torn valleys of Eternia, and indeed he was the first of his people to do so. In his travels, he aided a green-skinned woman who was under attack by a vicious monster. The young warrior quickly realized the green-skinned woman was the powerful Sorceress. The Sorceress informed He-Man that his strength and courage marked him as the legendary hero who was to inherit the treasures she had guarded for many years. She gave the barbarian special garments, vehicles, and weaponry made by Eternia’s scientists before the Great Wars, including two harnesses: one which granted him supernatural strength and another which created a force field around him. Prophecy spoke of a hero destined to unite both halves of the mysterious Power Sword and thus would become king of the legendary Castle Grayskull. The Spirit of Castle Grayskull secretly knew that this hero was He-Man, a mighty warrior who left his jungle tribe to battle the forces of evil and prevent them from controlling the castle. He-Man’s chief allies were the warrior goddess Teela, Man-At-Arms, and Stratos, and he rode a large and loyal green tiger named Battle Cat. Together, they thwarted the schemes of the evil mage Skeletor.
Largely following in the footsteps of the Filmation canon, in which he was portrayed with extremely powerful superhuman abilities, the later minicomics presented stories in which the Sorceress bestowed new armaments with special powers upon He-Man, such as the Thunder Punch and the Flying Fists. Additionally, further tidbits pointed to the origin of He-Man’s power. Legends referenced on toy packaging spoke of the ancient wizard He-Ro and his connection to the Powers of Grayskull, hinting at a mysterious link between He-Ro and He-Man.
1983 MOTU Filmation Animated Cartoon Series
In contrast to earlier canons, the Filmation animated series established that He-Man received his tremendous strength through the power of Castle Grayskull. Though no origin was ever presented, it was established that the Sorceress gave Prince Adam the Sword of Power that allowed him to transform into He-Man when Adam held the sword aloft and cried, “By the Power of Grayskull!…I have the power!” He-Man’s harness, fashioned by the Sorceress from Coridite, added to his incredible power. Sworn to defend Eternia and the secrets of Grayskull, most especially from Skeletor, He-Man never shirked his duties and performed them always with honor and dignity. Although possessed of great strength, He-Man preferred peaceful resolutions over battle. Using his mind instead of his muscle, he would often solve a problem without violence. He only fought when forced and hoped each time would be the last. Showing great strength of character, He-Man displayed a willingness to renounce his power when he believed he had killed an innocent man. Further, he successfully fought off the temptation to rule the universe and destroy Skeletor when such power was in his grasp in the form of the Starseed. Despite the great challenges he often faced, He-Man displayed a wry sense of humor. For instance, he enjoyed calling the evil Skeletor “Bonehead.” He-Man’s strength had almost no limits. He could lift castles and move moons. He could perform martial arts, execute acrobatic flips, and even hold his breath for extended periods. His powers were primarily limited to physical feats, such as lifting, pushing, crushing, kicking, punching, throwing, spinning, dodging, and smashing. Additionally, He-Man could telepathically contact the Sorceress and certain other heroes. Though he would use the Sword of Power to project or deflect blasts of energy and cut objects, it primarily functioned as a conduit for the Power of Grayskull and was rarely used in battle. He-Man may have been the most powerful man in the universe, but he relied on his good friends and allies for support and help. Man-At-Arms and the Sorceress guided and advised him during difficult times. His trusted companion and steed, Battle Cat, joined in his adventures. Teela was a reliable and competent warrior who often helped He-Man. Orko may have caused some mischievous trouble, but he was always willing to stand by He-Man’s side. The secret of his dual identity was protected by Man-At-Arms, the Sorceress, and Orko. In order to resume his Adam identity, He-Man exclaimed, “Let the power return!” He-Man carried a variety of weapons. Among these were a bolo and a grappling hook. He also made use of a thin yellow tube which, when blown into, produced a bubble that trapped anyone inside in zero gravity.
1985 She-Ra and the Princess of Power Animated Cartoon
Continuing from the portrayal in the MOTU animated series, the POP series showed us some new sides to He-Man’s personality. After traveling to Etheria, He-Man discovered his lost sister, Adora. He was surprised and overjoyed to have a sister in his life, particularly one who could stand as his equal in battle. He would make occasional journeys to Etheria to visit his sister and help her with her fight against the Horde. Over time, He-Man became a fixture within the Great Rebellion, often undertaking missions with a variety of Rebels. A new side of He-Man’s personality was revealed when Frosta took a romantic interest in him. He was uncomfortable and awkward around her, and he repeatedly attempted to spurn her advances. Conversely, He-Man found himself attracted to Sweet Bee, who seemed to be oblivious to He-Man’s interest.
1987 Masters of the Universe Movie
Clad in cape and armor, He-Man fought to reclaim Castle Grayskull from Skeletor and his mercenaries. Even on Earth, He-Man was always willing to help. He saved the Earth girl Julie from the Evil Warriors. He nobly made himself prisoner to Skeletor in order to gain the freedom and lives of his friends. He embodied the castle’s power through the Sword of Grayskull. Upon He-Man’s victory over Skeletor, the Sorceress was freed, and the power of the universe returned to the castle.
1990 New Adventures of He-Man Animated Series
When needed in the future, He-Man willingly gave up his life on Eternia and traveled to Primus. Though initially skeptical, the Primans accepted He-Man as their champion, and he took leadership of the Galactic Guardians. His comrades, Captain Hydron and Flipshot, often came to him for advice. He-Man and the Guardians worked together as a well-integrated team. He-Man and Skeletor frequently fought to a draw, as each knew the other very well from their previous years of battles, a fact both commented on. Still sharing a telepathic link with He-Man, the Sorceress provided guidance and advice. She instructed He-Man on the “power of the good and the way of the magic.” Though he was still infused with the Power of Grayskull, He-Man’s feats of strength were less impressive than they’d been in earlier depictions. Focus was placed on the use of the power of the good and the way of the magic. Additionally, He-Man’s sword gained new importance, displaying abilities to fire energy blasts or unleash magical pulses when needed. When He-Man became homesick for Eternia, the Sorceress created a dimensional gateway and brought Teela to Primus to be temporarily reunited with him. At the end of the war between Primus and the Mutants, He-Man and Mara faced off against Skeletor and Crita. He-Man trapped Skeletor and Crita in a shuttle pod. He used his sword to permanently lock them in and banished the shuttle into deep space. With Skeletor finally defeated and Primus free, He-Man claimed to have fulfilled his destiny.
2002 Masters of the Universe Modern Series Cartoon
Drawing heavily from earlier canons, the animated series provided an origin story for He-Man. When Skeletor broke through the Mystic Wall to threaten Eternia, Prince Adam was taken to Castle Grayskull to assume the power on his sixteenth birthday. Though initially reluctant, the young prince accepted the mantle and transformed into He-Man, drawing on the power of King Grayskull, which had been infused into the Sword of Power. Adam, as He-Man, took on the great strength, courage, and kindness of his distant ancestor. As in previous versions, in order to transform into He-Man, Adam raised his sword and used the oath, “By the Power of Grayskull!…I have the power!” Alongside a redesigned Sword of Power which incorporated technological components, He-Man carried a shield on some occasions. The shield had a button to activate a kind of force field to protect him from things such as roaring flames. When King Hssss and his Snake Men threatened Eternia, the Elders’ power enhanced He-Man’s might by providing him with armor and weaponry especially suited to defending against the new menace. Among these were pincers concealed in a gauntlet and a new shield to provide protection against Khan’s acidic venom. Though incredible, there were limits to He-Man’s power. His enemies, on a few occasions, inflicted harm on him, causing him to lose consciousness and even revert back to Prince Adam. In order to willingly turn back into Prince Adam, He-Man intoned, “Let the power return!”
Blending details from previous incarnations and adding a great deal of new information, the Classics canon constructed a complete life story for Prince Adam’s He-Man persona. When Prince Adam combined both halves of the Sword of Power, he could channel the power of the Great Orb in Castle Grayskull and become He-Man. In time, he learned how to tap into the knowledge of the Elders and create new and specialized armaments from the energies of the universe, such as his protective Battle and Snake Armors and his Thunder Punch and Flying Fist weapons. After many years, Skeletor used Faker to frame He-Man for the murder of King Randor, who had been banished to Despondos. Renegades, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe retreated to Tundaria. Shortly thereafter, He-Man’s lover, Teela, acting as the new Sorceress of Grayskull, sent He-Man back in time to Preternia in an attempt to find the key to their victory. Joining King Grayskull and He-Ro against the Snake Men, the Horde, and the forces of Skeletor in the First Ultimate Battleground, He-Man discovered that the Spell of Separation was the key to defeating the Snake Men in his own time. Returning to the present with a captured Skeletor, He-Man called a truce with his archenemy, and together they defeated the Snake Men and the Horde in the Second Ultimate Battleground. After Skeletor stole Hordak’s technovirus and fled into the cosmos, He-Man and Teela were wed. Soon afterward, He-Man and She-Ra left with Hydron and Flipshot to battle Skeletor on Primus. Forsaking his identity as Prince Adam, He-Man combined his power with that of the Starship Eternia. Alongside the Galactic Protectors, he defended the planet Primus from Skeletor and his army of former Horde Space Mutants. During an assault on Horde World, He-Man and Skeletor were transported to Trolla, where the old enemies engaged in what appeared to be their final battle. He-Man called upon the Power of Grayskull and split Skeletor into the separate beings Keldor and Demo-Man. His uncle, repentant, bade him rule Eternia justly before he died. Returning to Horde World, He-Man found She-Ra missing and the empire destroyed. He spent ten years searching for his sister, only returning to Eternia upon hearing of King Randor’s passing. There, he was reunited with his wife and met his now-teenaged son Dare, who had grown up listening to the stories of his father’s adventures. Crowned king of Eternia, He-Man moved the seat of power to Castle Grayskull to allow Teela to rule at his side and unite his family. Realizing he had to make a symbolic gesture if peace were to return to Eternia, he surrendered the Sword of Power by placing it in the Force Field Anvil. During his reign, he established the Time Agents, watched his son take up the Power of Grayskull to become He-Ro II, and protected Eternia from an attack by Despara and a resurrected Skeletor. After the Third Ultimate Battleground, King He-Man ruled Eternia alongside his family. In time, a resurrected Keldor convinced He-Man that Castle Grayskull’s absence would cause devastation throughout the universe. He-Ro’s spirit concurred and finally revealed his true connection to He-Man and She-Ra, telling them that they must return their powers to save Castle Grayskull. They transformed back into Adam and Adora, but when Keldor tried to steal the power for himself, Adam transformed back into King He-Man in the presence of the renewed Grayskull. To his surprise, his youthful appearance was restored. He-Man defeated Keldor, which prompted the villain to willingly transform himself back into Skeletor shortly thereafter.
Source: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: A Character Guide and World Compendium Volume 1 by Dark Horse Comics