Masters of the Universe turned Hordak’s Fright Zone play set into He-Man’s darkest location. As the leader of the Evil Horde, Hordak has cut a path of destruction across the universe, but as seen in 2014’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #15, first published by DC Comics, there is so much more to him than fans thought – he is actually a cosmic entity, one who lives to kill and destroy.
Hordak was a late entry in the Masters of the Universe canon. Debuting in 1985, four years after the toy line began, Hordak hails from the world of Etheria, which he rules with an iron fist. To carry out his will, Hordak has an inner circle called the Evil Horde, as well as countless numbers of Horde Troopers at his disposal. In Eternia’s distant past, King Grayskull defeated Hordak, banishing him to another dimension. Hordak brooded, waiting for the right moment to avenge himself. He attempted to abduct two of Grayskull’s descendants, Adam (the future He-Man) and Adora (the future She-Ra), with the intent of corrupting them. Fate intervened, and Hordak was only able to kidnap Adora. Hordak raised Adora as his own, making her a general in his army; he then sent her and an invasion force to Eternia – where at last he would have his revenge on King Grayskull. However, confronted with her past, Adora began questioning Hordak and eventually broke ranks, striking out on her own.
Hordak’s Fright Zone Is a Living Nightmare
In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #15, written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Pop Mhan, Adora and He-Man enter Hordak’s Fright Zone, which has been established on Eternia. Adora reveals that anywhere Hordak conquers becomes a Fright Zone, whose sole purpose is to cultivate fear. Hordak feeds on the emotion, building up to eventually consume the souls of those affected, causing the Fright Zone to spread like a cancer in the process. He-Man is shaken, but Adora is not finished: she reveals Hordak is “inevitable. Like an ancient god.” Adora speculates that Hordak is as old as the universe, and that he even has a role to play in the grand cosmic drama – that of an agent of entropy and of endings.
Not only does Hordak get a serious upgrade, but the Fright Zone as well. Introduced as a playset in the original Masters of the Universe toy line in 1985, the Fright Zone here is reimagined as an extension of Hordak. The Fright Zone is not merely a base of operations, it is how Hordak gains power too; the Fright Zone is a terrifying reminder of Hordak’s evil. Hordak was introduced as He-Man’s ultimate villain, but the comics made him far more terrifying, evolving the original Fright Zone play set – a dingy prison guarded by a gigantic serpent – into a place of existential despair, where an eldritch god consumes the hope and souls of its prey.
The Fright Zone Lives Up To Its Name
Various entries in the Masters of the Universe franchise have depicted Hordak as a terrifying villain, but those portrayals were tempered by the all-ages nature of the cartoons. In this issue, free from such restraints, Hordak is repurposed as a cosmic villain; a force of nature who doesn’t simply imprison others, but infects the world around him with hopelessness. DC’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe reimagines Hordak’s combination of power and sheer evil, turning a fun ’80s play set into a terrifying expression of his horrifying might.
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