It's been a long time since X-E's last Masters of the Universe article, so why not? Today's focus isn't on the cartoon or toys we love so much, but rather a more sinister foray that let kids color He-Man's skin in all the wrong colors. Yes, izza coloring book.

Not just any coloring book, though. It's one of those coloring/activity books that tries to tell an actual story through pictures and puzzles, and that's where the trouble starts. I've got a pile of He-Man storybooks that go as high as my ceiling (okay, halfway), and as strange as they all are, the tales told in this silly coloring book go straight past "surreal," right into a territory of which there are no words to describe because the people who create our vocabulary just haven't seen anything this stupid yet. In the years we've been together, you and I, we've looked at plenty of weird Masters of the Universe cartoon episodes. We've seen Hordak transform himself into a living missile, we've seen one-shot villains raid Eternia's library -- Hell, we've even seen He-Man thwart a giant scorpion by blowing sand into the form of a glass box with which to imprison it. As odd as the toons were, this book is even stranger.

It's a big ass book with tons of pages, but only a few are noteworthy. Most are just what you'd expect -- line drawings of He-Man, Skeletor and friends in peculiar situations. There's at least fifteen pages with pictures of the evil Tri-Klops standing in front of Castle Grayskull for no apparent reason, along with another twenty of Man-At-Arms grabbing Teela's arm really hard. They're fun to look at if you're a He-Man fanatic, but as far as we can gather from Mattel, He-Man fanatics are becoming few and far between these days. I'll stick with the really oddball stuff.

There's a few stories within the book -- two, actually -- and they're by and large the strangest Masters of the Universe adventures I've ever seen. I've taken the liberty of scanning these stories in their entirety, in part because I think you'll enjoy them, but also because there's no finer way to spend Tuesday night than with one hand on a scanner and another on the mouse clicking "SCAN" for three hours straight. My theory? The Sorceress will appreciate my efforts and make God put me in Heaven.

I've divided the review into three sections -- two for the stories, and a third page filled with random crap found in the coloring book that no He-Man fan shouldn't see. You know, stuff like crossword puzzles and pictures of Mer-Man stripping He-Man down to his panties and licking his balls. I'm almost serious about that, too. The story reviews contain dozens of scans and run several pages each, so grab a beverage and kick back for a spirited round of "let's laugh at the coloring book." We will have so much fun.

Click on the section you'd like to read first. Better yet, start with the first section. Yeah, do that instead.

-- Matt (3/03/04)