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Scarabs take the place of Skeletor.

Masters of the Universe Chronicles:
Man-At-Arms' Triumph...Plus Glass Making!

Matt - 7.13.01

I was going to hold off on posting a new article until we implemented some new features on the main page, but true to this site's form, that's taking longer than expected. By tonight, maybe. Meantime, I thought I'd kill some time jumping into that limey Attak Trak and heading down to Snake Mountain for the eighth installment of the...


Episode VIII: Temple of the Sun

When I was young, I'd always get really pissed if an episode of my favorite cartoon featured one of those rotating 'other' villains - you know, the kind that show up once in a blue moon instead of the usual baddies to give the heroes a little slice of variety in their virtuous thwarting. Didn't they understand that we wanted to see the main villain? Don't they know that good guys only complete half the puzzle? It was even more annoying when you held out hope for a half hour that the real bad guys would at least make a cameo. If they didn't, you felt really gypped.

But that was then, and this is now. I've matured. I've grown up. Now I realize that, even if Skeletor doesn't appear in a He-Man cartoon, it's still going to be stupid and hilarious. So with that, today's episode was a life lesson for me. Things don't have to be familiar to be charming. They just gotta have that special something. In this case, that 'special something' is a guy who comes upon absolute power and omnipotence only to utilize it by turning birds into glass. Thanks He-Man, you've given me yet another social epiphany to carry me through life. He's also given me an intense misunderstanding on how people maintain a tan, but that's another story...onto the review! Download to follow for all you diehards...

For those of you who don't remember the rules of my reviewing procedure, if a really shitty character has a name I can't recall, I'm allowed to simply make up my own. Today's lead villain is indeed a shitty character, so in honor of that, I'll name him after the shittiest candy I've ever eaten: Mary Jane. MJ, for short. MJ has a lot to be pissed about - namely the fact that he's Eternia's sole raving homeless derelict without a place to call his own or a colorful costume to boost his social standing. MJ is seen early in the episode scattering about the desert looking presumably for a respectable place to keel over and die, but his plans take a temporary backseat when he realizes that he's inadvertently stumbled upon a place of great intrigue...The Temple of the Sun!

(PS - I could've sworn they used 'Temple of the Sun' to describe Batros' old hideout, but I guess we can overlook that considering that they also use the same animation clips throughout the course of over 50 episodes)

Sure enough, MJ finds what so many have hoped and dreamed for: the ancient Scarab of Power. Scarab scmarab, that's obviously an ankh. Come on guys, you know we're into Vertigo. The Scarab, essentially, does the same crazy shit Thanos' gauntlet did in Marvel's Infinity trilogy. The only real difference is that, unlike Thanos, MJ completely and totally lacks creativity in how he hopes to use his newfound ultimate power.

Obviously, a new look is in order. Let's face it, even if you are the most powerful being on the planet, if you're dressed like a hobo you still won't get any respect. MJ's not going to let this psychological nuance thwart his quest for recognition, so he uses the Scarab to transform himself into a hot Egyptian with a really silly hat. He also tends to hold the ankh away from his body the same way you would a dirty sock or a dead rat. Maybe he's allergic to whatever it is Scarabs are made of. Or maybe, just maybe, some young prankster soaked the thing in concentrated ammonia before heading back to the Enchanted Forest, located directly east of that big cave where Skeletor keeps a stock of slave chains for no apparent reason.

Then it hit him: MJ needed a symbol of power. I guess he forgot that a Scarab is a symbol of power. Oh well, two symbols are better than one anyway.

MJ's a little confused as to whether the bird he just knocked out of the sky is a hawk, talon, or eagle, but no matter how you slice it, it's his new symbol of power. What his newfound supreme intelligence doesn't tell him is that this ain't no bird. That's the Sorceress!

This episode, by the way, really drives home the idea that nobody in MOTU did anything they should. In this case, the Sorceress was 'scouting the desert' before getting captured. Scouting the desert?! Since when does the Sorceress scout anything? Wasn't Greyskull full of those great little portal wells that showed her everything that was going on anyway? I think she just used the now-infamous 'scouting excuse' so she wouldn't have to admit to just really getting a kick of being a bird from time to time.

You knew Mary Jane was heading for trouble when he arched his brow in a way only a true villain would. But once you mess with the Sorceress directly - that's basically giving a personal invite for He-Man to come and throw big rocks at your head. Sure enough...

The Sorceress telepathically contacts Prince Adam, screaming, in her final breaths, 'Asshole! Out of the queer gear! Bird needs you at Sector 1138 STAT!' Words to that effect, anyway. As I sat there watching this, as nobody my age should, I couldn't help but wonder, if the Sorceress had enough strength to produce a friggin hologram halfway across the globe, why wouldn't she have enough strength to just revert back to her human form?

I think the answer is obvious: the Sorceress just wants attention. The girl's like Demi Moore from St. Elmo's, only a little less inclined to do coke with the Iraqis. They're a lot alike come to think of it. The Sorceress is being held captive by a crazed god, Demi Moore had to kiss Whoopi Goldberg. Both are pretty significant personal traumas. Maybe the Sorceress could escape on her own...but why bother? It's a lot more fun to get rescued by He-Man, and hell, it'll do wonders for the amount of airtime she gets in this episode.

Prince Adam probably suspected some chicanery, but the bird's boss, so he morphs into He-Man and prepares to serve justice as only a sword-wielding guy in fuzzy underwear can.

In a weird moment, Cringer cuts the usual Greyskull transformation process short, cutting a deal with He-Man to let him go 'as is,' not as Battle Cat. Cringer feels he's a lot more apt to be persuaded by He-Man's suicide missions when Greyskull pumps him full of testosterone and gives him a big red helmet, and since they're going into the uncharted and presumably dangerous desert, the green feline wants to play it safe.

Man-At-Arms tries to improve his worth by asking He-Man to turn him into Battle Cat, but everyone in Eternia laughs over the idea of expending so much magical energy on someone so utterly useless in every way. So our team remains this: He-Man, Cringer, Man-At-Arms. Not quite the search party the Sorceress wanted, but Buzz-Off had to take some days off here and there.

Elsewhere, MJ totally misuses his ultimate power. We've been told that this ancient Scarab basically gives it's owner absolute and total control over everything around him. If anyone else had this kind of power, you'd be there'd be some serious, planet-shattering circumstances. Luckily, MJ's a buffoon who can't dream up anything better than the same stupid rock monsters Skeletor employed at least 35 times in previous episodes. For those who haven't watched He-Man, the idea here is pretty simple. Rock monsters are completely impenetrable fortresses of destruction, but they do have one weakness: a He-Man punch. He-Man's battle setlist isn't unlike Hulk Hogan's, so he relies on that magic punch pretty often. In other words, Rock Monsters pose absolutely no threat to anyone, including the animators who get to use the same shoddy strips over and over again.

Mary Jane also notes one of the rock monsters as the 'general' and seems to be under the belief that he's more powerful than the others, but I can't tell the difference. MJ's mystical insight fills him in on He-Man's plans, so he employs the use of more inane obstacles to try to stop him...

First up, an evil sandstorm. Attak Trak, He-Man sarcastic vehicle of doom, fills the boys in that there's something funny going on with the weather. The plot meets a quick demise as He-Man outspins a freakin sandstorm, shooting it out into the sky with ease.

It's things like this that make me argue why there shouldn't possibly be any villains in Eternia...or at least bad guys who make a point to announce themselves as bad guys. I think He-Man's proven that you could drop 14 Ford Pintos and a nuclear warhead on his face, and he'd still come out on top. Why bother? Eternia should just be a complete utopia, not so much because everyone wants a utopia, but because anyone who wants differently is just gonna get comet punched to the jaw by He-Man anyway. The bad guys are always fighting a losing battle. Now they just need defeatest, half-empty glass attitudes.

MJ's next obstacle should be a little more's a giant scorpion!

Oh. My. God.

I don't even know if I want to explain what's going on here, but I'm sure the animated pic leaves a few questions unanswered. Alright...there's a giant, mutated scorpion posing imminent danger to our heroes. Despite the fact that He-Man could do the obvious by just walking around the scorpion, or even just kicking him 50 miles out of the way, he debuts a new move. A really, really weird new move.

To combat the scorpion, He-Man digs his hands into a pile of sand and...makes glass? Yes, that's what he's doing. He's using his super-speed and heat capabilities to make large pieces of glass. Why, He-Man? Why are you making glass? Who TAUGHT you to make glass?! This just proves my theory that the show's writers sat around with a bottle of JD daring each other to include asinine plot developments. 'I bet you can't fit in a scene where He-Man makes glass!' 'Hey, what I really want to see is Skeletor doing the Charleston on top of Man-E-Faces' torso!' 'I double dog dare you to make every character in this episode use the phrase 'I gotta get me summa dat!' at least once!' I love He-Man, this is total train-wreck television.

As things turn out, He-Man was making big pieces of glass to trap the scorpion with. This is definitely one for the highlight reel. The good guys then all comment on how it'll take at least a full night's work for the scorpion to dig himself free, all the while ignoring the fact that even if they're not personally around to see it, a giant scorpion probably isn't something to let run around loose in Eternia. Oh well, this episode wasn't built on the plot infrastructure ideal, I should just be glad He-Man did something to trap him instead other than using his Superman-breath to blow him away.

Mary Jane is none too pleased, which is expressed through a series of grunts.

He-Man better hurry up with this whole rescue mission, because MJ's upgraded his symbol of power by turning the Sorceress into glass. This episode's running theme, apparently. I think, at some point, everyone in Eternia has been either turned to glass or stuck in a dimensional outworld. It's one or the other. I'm amazed that these people aren't more jaded, but I guess they've been conditioned to accept this kinda bullshit on a daily basis.

Now, finally, He-Man enters the Temple and seeks to do battle with MJ. Actually, he runs in and expects the guy to just hand over the Scarab. That plan doesn't work out, so He-Man has to fight off his horde of rock mutants. Yeah, like that'll be a problem.

Oops, I neglected to mention that Cringer transformed into Battle Cat at some point during the course of this, but I take solace knowing that nobody out there reading this really cares.

At first, He-Man seems a little upset because one punch isn't enough to break the creatures into pieces, but is reassured when he finds out that two punches does the job nicely. Mary Jane hasn't done much right since becoming the all-powerful, but give him credit for being able to create villains even lamer than he is.

Then, the impossible becomes a reality. He-Man and Battle Cat successfully fend off the bootleg Inhumanoids guys, and just as MJ is preparing to use the Scarab to it's fullest potential, the heroes get a reprieve from a most unlikely source: Man-At-Arms!

Wow, first time for everything, ol' Duncan finally did something right. Using a piece of twine, he simply snatched the Scarab away from our would-be conquerer with ease. MJ immediately reverts back to his hobo scumbag form, and the day is saved! Thanks to Man-At-Arms, of all people. This must be the result of one of those drunken dares we talked about the writers participating in earlier. Man-At-Arms saving the day? Forget doubles, we're well into triple dog dare territory here. This is really going out on a limb.

Seriously, how many weeks do you think Duncan spent gloating about this? After all, it's once in a millenia that he does anything with a degree of success. He probably drove everyone at the palace nuts with this story...

Man-At-Arms: Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I lassoed a Scarab away from a world-threatening villain supreme?
Ram Man: Only about 46,000 times, Duncan.
Man-At-Arms: You know...He-Man would've died if I wasn't there.
Ram Man: Yeah. He-Man told me you almost let Skeletor into Greyskull when he dressed up like a beat up old lady once.
Man-At-Arms: How was I supposed to know it wasn't really a woman in despair?
Ram Man: The skull-for-a-head would be the usual tip off.
Man-At-Arms: I saved the day from the evils of the Scarab!
Ram Man: You're wearing a mixing bowl on top of your head.
Man-At-Arms: Gah. You should be bowing to me - I saved your life!
Ram Man: I slept with your daughter last night. Bow to me.
Man-At-Arms: Teela?! She swore to me that she was a virgin!
Ram Man: Yeah, she told me I was her first. I didn't believe her either.

The Sorceress is thankful to be back to her old self, and is feeling so gracious about her rescue that she allowed MJ, now absolved of the evils of the Scarab, to serve as it's protector/Eternian botanist. Man, forget what I said in the intro. This episode *really* needed Skeletor.

So, what have we learned from Temple of the Sun? The Sorceress is a drama queen, He-Man knows how to make glass, and Teela gave it up to Ram Man. Other than that, it's pretty dry. I'll let you decide for yourselves though...we've got the episode available for download.

Click Here To Download!

Enjoy. Or at least, try to.

- Matt
AIM: xecharchar

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MOTU Chronicles 1

MOTU Chronicles 2

MOTU Chronicles 3

MOTU Chronicles 4

MOTU Chronicles 5

MOTU Chronicles 6

MOTU Chronicles 7