"Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor" #1 from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Frazer Irving is a look into the past of the beloved He-Man villain. This issue shows a glimpse into the past of Keldor, a man defined by his connections to others. He is the son of the king, and the brother to the future king. Who he is on his own is obscured, which is fitting for a man whose face becomes obsolete in this tale. The past reflects the present as we see Keldor make the ultimate villainous choice.
It is nice to see a He-Man character treated with such a serious tone. This is a graphically brutal tale that touches the horror vibe original fairy tales used to have. Fialkov constructs a story of jealousy, betrayal and the downfall of a man who never saw himself as having much of a perch from which to fall. Keldor is dying and he uses his last efforts to exact what he sees as a righteous act. At its core, this tale is simple and yet effective. It is easy to cause a rift between siblings and while there are parallels to the Thor/Loki paradigm, this is not the true heart of the story. The internal downfall of Keldor is what makes these pages gripping.
Frazer Irving is a major part of the success of this comic. He brings an ethereal atmosphere of latent doom and destruction. His use of colorful smoke is downright scary and it makes this otherwise goofy character suddenly hold more gravity than he ever has before. Irving also structures pages according to emotional weight with quiet moments often getting more page space than the dialogue heavy scenes. The image of Keldor falling down the stairs and shattering is full of meaning and a sense of dramatic and heartbreaking awe.
The one-shot nature of this issue stresses the importance that readers understand the emotion behind Keldor's fall than the actual plot devices that bring it about. Fialkov emphasizes the desperation mixed with latent evil that make Skeletor come to life. This is an emotional tale that allows plenty of moments for the gorgeous art to carry it.
"Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor" #1 is not a kids' comic, though they will love it. This is an adult look at how serious a kids' story can still be. Keldor's downfall is a terrible moment leading right up to the reveal of his gruesome visage. You can earn extra marks for thinking of all Keldor's lines in the classic Skeletor voice, but mostly you'll be too engrossed in Irving's art to goof around.