DC Comics is bringing back "Masters of the Universe" very soon and to stir up interest, a trio of digital-first comics is dropping from a variety of creators. This first one is from Geoff Johns and Howard Porter, introducing a new character to the mythos, Sir Laser Lot.
Sir Laser Lot was apparently created by Johns when he was 8 years old and he's finally in a position to make the gem-powered, ponytail wearing rogue legitimate. It's easy to understand Johns' motivation for bringing this character into the MOTU mythos, but it's also all too easy to see this as a recipe for self-indulgent disaster. To be fair, this comic is so thin, there's not actually enough narrative to judge whether this bold knight is a quality addition or not. So far, he's merely hinted at with possibility for more use later.
What little story presented is about some young travelers attacked by a gang of Beastmen. Of course, Sir Laser Lot comes in swinging violent protection and whisks them away. It is understandable that this comic is made up of half sized pages and it is a third of the price of regular DC output -- the length of the story isn't the problem, but rather the way pages are seemingly wasted. A lot of time is spent on very little happening. It's pacing that doesn't pay off for what should be a product that bangs for your literal buck.
Howard Porter's art is atmospheric and generates a forest of Eternia that houses true threats. This style of art makes you feel this is going to be a story with adult themes and consequences and thus perhaps something new. Not to say even '80s childhood stalwarts need to be given the grim-n-gritty approach, but it is a nice idea to treat this seriously. However, all that good will is ruined when Porter draws the usual villains of Eternia, the result of which is a break from the tone of the story and a splash page into the absurd. These clownish bad guys have not been redesigned and look as goofy as we remember. Tri-Klops is an especially awkward lurker in the fringes of the page.
It is also jarring to read this as a series of half pages, but also have a few full splash pages inserted. It feels like DC will eventually let these stories see print but for now they're just cutting pages in half to suit the iPad format.
This digital short of "Masters of the Universe" might not be very effective as a story in itself, but there is something to be said for it whetting your appetite. It's a shame the main effect is suddenly wanting to see more of this universe we all love delivered in a much better fashion.