Thursday, 11 December 2008

The He-Man Annual 1989

As a kid, one of the highlights of the Christmas season were the annuals based upon every... thing in sight, from Dino Riders to Ghostbusters to Transformers. It was an art-form, now lost to time apart from the few Action Man Annuals that seem to crop up in bargain bins everywhere... not that I look or anything. But back in the day (the 'day' being the 80's rather than last Tuesday) there were two main annual companies - Marvel and World. Marvel created quality items based upon licenses such as Thundercats and Transformers, utilizing such talent as Simon Furman, Andy Wildman and Geoff Senior. World, on the other hand, employed their mums to draw and write their products, and their 3-year-old daughters to print them off.

Today, I will look at the He-Man 1989 annual, that great work of the English language, worthy of Mr Shakespeare himself. And by Mr Shakespeare, I mean the Mr Shakespeare who cleans my gutters, not the writer-dude-guy (this is from an English Undergraduate). My critical eye has thusly been cast over this tome, and below are the ten highlights of this... thing. But first, a look at the cover:

Yes, He-Man weakly waving his sword in front of a one-armed Skeletor as King Hiss runs away and a very, very large Hordak tries to leap off Snake Mountain in a bid for attention. Kind of sets the scene well, doesn't it...

1 - Boozing
The first offering of the day is a text story called "Bat Attack". Personally, I never cared much for the text stories, skipping straight to the comics. Still, this epic tale has plenty of pictures all drawn by an expert. In gardening or something like that, probably. Here we can see the only MoTU 'drunken stupor' scene ever, as Man-At-Arms depressingly clutches his pint with the terrible realization that his toy is now six years old and no longer sold, whilst Fisto wonders whether the complimentary mouldy cheese can be picked up with his giant, misshapen hand with fingerless metal glove. Sweet.

2 - Amazing Fact Files!
Throughout this annual are 'random' fact-files, which coincidently happen to feature toys that are available and in the shops now! Snout Spout is pushed hard, and we learn that he was given his powers by Hordak himself. His powers... of having a giant water-shooting elephant head. Dragstor got a big wheel on his stomach, hell even Extendor gets the power of TWO MEN, but Snout Spout...? In the great wheel of life, he got shafted to the tiny dead insect that's stuck to the tire.

3 - Spot The Difference
Can YOU spot the difference, and win kudos, glorious kudos? No? Well, you suck. Most of the amazing differences are just miscolours, but it would have been more exciting to see King Hiss in a tutu, or He-Man murdering a small baby in cold blood. Now that would have been a REAL difference.

If you look carefully, Tung Lashor has a Horde symbol in the second picture. In the She-Ra cartoon, he was actually a member of the Horde! This is, apparently, pant-wettingly exciting stuff.

4 - Poor Snout Spout
In one of the amazing comic strips, everyone mocks Snout Spout for the lame Kobra Kahn rip-off that he is. What's even better than the fact that the neon orange elephant man admits this fact is that it's Rio Blast who is mocking him. The same man whose amazing power is that he has a big gun-hat, and guns instead of anything substantial like 'bones' in his legs. Snout Spout may be weird, but at least his designer wasn't on too much crack at the time...

Anyway, if Snout Spout wasn't on the side of the HEROIC WARRIORS, he'd be with the villains. And I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't want to meet that guy down a dark alley. I don't have enough changes of underwear for that sort of situation.

5 - Snout Spout WINS
Webstor underestimate Snout Spout. His plan was perfect - gas everyone with sleeping gas (instead of deadly gas. Wouldn't want to... KILL your enemies, would you?) and do something randomly evil. But he had reckoned without some crazy deformed robot elephant who had a robot nose that shot water, therefore wasn't affected. I think.

Of course, to end with a humiliating defeat, Snout Spout shoots Webstor's gun out of his hands with a water blast. And so ends the career of this criminal! And then Snout Spout tries to kiss him, I think. I'm not sure, this is a very, very scary thing to look at. He might be trying to cruelly crush his neck.

6 - Insanely Hard Trivia Quiz
I generally think myself up to knowledge about He-Man, tragic that the fact is. And with the internet, and the vast store of useless information that abounds, you would think that me, a University graduate, would be able to easily tackle a quiz meant for a six-year-old.

God is a git, sometimes.

Try to answer the following. And no, I'm going to be mean and not tell you:

"Skeletor comes from which planet?"
"Rokkon and Stonedar are members of which alien race?"
"He-Man's sword is called the Sword of Power. By what name is She-Ra's sword known?"

It's... too crazily hard for me. I'm a failure.

7 - Sick German-style Porn
Please, can I not write anything about this? But Hordak captures Extendar and from the picture (since I didn't bother with the story) it seems that he... did bad, BAD things to him.

BAD things.

8 - Stupid Gimmicks Alert
"Oh no, we're not making this annual simply to sell the new toys. The stories are all deep and meaningful tales complete with complex moral messages for today's youth. The fact that He-Man and Hordak are spinning BRAND NEW tom bola accessories at each other in a weak and feeble fashion is a complete coincidence"

9 - Evil Bastard He-Man
If you look at this quickly, it seems that He-Man is stabbing a mini Rio Blast whilst laughing merrily. That's all I have to say on that. But that's what happens when you mock the greatness that is Snout Spout. Don't throw stones, especially if you're a space cowboy with guns instead of a chest!

10 - Animal Cruelty
He-Man saves the small Unicorn from Skeletor... and immediately locks it up in a fishtank for all eternity. How cruel is that - how will it exercise in such a small environment, let alone find companionship. It will turn bloated and crippled, much like shutting a hamster in an ice-cream tub and forgetting about it. Now we know who the REAL menace is!

That ends this trek through the world of the He-Man Annual 1989. Feel free to buy it off me if you like, I'm desperate enough. Although both inside pages have breaks tears where the spine is and the unicorn is coloured brown via crayons at one point. Mad.

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