As Masters of the Universe: Masterverse explores the He-Man multiverse, fans are getting a detective-noir take on the beloved franchise – one that will remind fans of the stylistic flair of Frank Miller’s Sin City.
Artist Victor Santos will be providing a story in the second issue of Masters of the Universe: Masterverse, a four-issue anthology series where writer Tim Seeley and a host of guest artists tell stories in the larger MOTU multiverse. Santos recently shared a page from the new issue via his newsletter Broken English, where he also gives a little bit more info on his story: “The story is about an alternate version of Man-at-Arms as a hard-boiled/Mike Hammer-esque hero in his most difficult case. MOTU and noir together at last!” Portraying Man-at-Arms in a classic, black-and-white scene, check out Santos’ brilliant work below.
He-Man’s Man-at-Arms Is a Gritty Noir Detective
The hit creator of the Polar graphic novels goes on to describe some of his influences when drawing the story in his newsletter. Says the artist: “For the art, I took inspiration for the old EC crime comic-books, and revised the Johnny Craig and Wally Wood material.” Santos’s use of screen-tones also demarcates it from the straight black-and-white style Frank Miller employed on Sin City, citing Wally Wood’s work in particular. The artist elaborates further: “I tried to use the ziptone (sic) in the way Wood used it in comic strips like Cannon.” Santos’ gorgeous art is also present in his variant cover for Masters of the Universe: Masterverse, below.
Masterverse Joins a Controversial History of Noir Comic Art
The crime comics of Johnny Craig and Wally Wood were certainly huge influences on Frank Miller. Johnny Craig was one of the stalwarts of EC Comics in the ’50s, where he contributed mainly to the titles Vault of Horror and Crime SuspenStories. Craig’s most famous piece of art was the striking cover for Crime SuspenStories #22 depicting a man holding a bloody axe and severed head, which was prominently used during the U.S. Senate hearings in the 1950s that ultimately led to the formation of the Comics Code. Wally Wood was another EC mainstay, producing memorable work in the suspense, horror, sci-fi and even humor titles. The work that Santos cites, Cannon, was a comic strip that ran in Overseas Weekly, a newspaper distributed exclusively to the U.S. Army. Filled with over-the-top sex and violence, the controversial strip was collected in its entirety in 2018 by Fantagraphics.
It seems unlikely that Victor Santos’ Sin City-style story will cause such controversy – if anything, this innovative take will be something He-Man fans demand to see again soon in future Masters of the Universe comics.
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Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #2 is on sale March 15, 2023, from Dark Horse Comics.
Source: Broken English