Review: 'Injustice vs Masters of the Universe' #1 Sets Up an Action-Packed Showdown

The upcoming Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe comic looks to finally answer who would win in a fight: He-Man or Superman.

The new series, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Freddie E. Williams II, has some deep ties in continuity, although Seeley does a pretty decent job of explaining where the book lies in both the He-Man and Injustice timelines. Notably, this book does not have a direct tie to the ongoing Injustice 2 comic, but it does use one of the possible endings from the Injustice 2 video game.

Set after the events of the Thundercats/He-Man crossover miniseries, the new six-part series stars a conflicted Prince Adam as he deals with the aftermath of a failed coup by the robot Faker, who impersonated Adam/He-Man for months. Although He-Man was able to put down Faker's takeover attempt, he discovers that some on Eternia actually preferred Faker's rule, even though he was a despot who behaved in a manner not dissimilar to that of a certain current US leader.

Adam (whose secret identity was exposed after his adventure with the Thundercats) is then quickly recruited by Batman and a small team of allies to help stop another despot -- Superman, who has re-emerged as the leader of a new regime and enhanced by Brainiac's technology. After all, He-Man does have ties to Earth, and He-Man is one of the few beings in the universe (being endowed with magical strength) who could fight Superman head-on.

I thought it was interesting that the core theme of Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe is the fight against despotism, a common topic in superhero comics, but not something typically explored in He-Man media. Contrasting that with a Superman (and one other "surprise" villain who appears on the last page) who uses his abilities for absolute control could make for an interesting topic, especially if Prince Adam is somehow swayed by his people's call for authoritarian rule upon seeing Superman in action.

Freddie E. Williams II is no stranger to crossover events, having illustrated both the He-Man/Thundercats miniseries and two crossovers between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman universes. In Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe, he presents most of the characters with extreme muscular bulk. While it's okay to draw He-Man as a muscular behemoth, it's weird to see Batman all hulked-up. Presumably, Williams is trying to emulate Batman's heavily armored design in the Injustice universe, but it just doesn't look natural at all. Batman looks like he could fight He-Man in a straight-up fistfight, which I don't think is how the character is meant to be portrayed.

Some readers might also be put off by Williams' distinctive art style, which is accentuated by Jeremy Colwell's coloring. Williams and Colwell work well together -- Colwell adds a certain level of texture to Williams' designs -- but he often uses too much shadow effects, which causes the foreground to blend into the background of the art. If you're used to Williams' recent work, you won't notice too much, but newer readers might turn up their nose at the art.

There are a couple of lingering questions in the comic; there seems to be two versions of Batman in play, and it's strange that Superman would accept Skeletor into his regime so quickly. I also feel that this comic could suffer from having too many characters given that most of the DC characters outside of Batman get only a line or two of dialogue, which is hardly enough space to establish any sort of personality. Still, Seeley is an experienced DC writer, so I'm not too worried about how he'll depict DC's various superheroes and villains.

Overall, Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe is a rather standard setup to what should be a fun crossover series. There's an intriguing (and politically relevant) theme at play and lots of explosive conflicts to be set up. The only real question is how deep this comic will dig into the Injustice and He-Man universes and whether either universe will be the same after the miniseries is done.

Published by DC Comics

On July 18, 2018

Written by Tim Seeley

Art by Freddie E Williams II

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Colors by Jeremy Colwell

Letters by Wes Abbott