‘Masters of the Universe’ gets arty on Melrose

Jan. 18, 2010 | 9:28 p.m.


In the long and often cheesy history of the American superhero there have been some truly silly names — who could ever forget Matter-Eater Lad or Brain Boy? And what about Man-Thing, that shambling muck monster from Marvel Comics who sounds more like a gay porn film. And then there was He-Man.

He-Man whiny

Ah, does anything say 1980s more than He-Man, that muscle-bound hero from Saturday morning cartoons and the pages of DC Comics? The wholesome, muscle-bound hero from Castle Grayskull may have been a bit stiff but for thirtysomething fanboys just the sight of a Power Sword or Skeletor can bring smiles to their faces. The beefy blond hero obviously had some traction in the pop culture memory — just consider “Under the Influence: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” a quirky exhibit and art sale at Gallery 1988 (7020 Melrose Ave.), running through Jan. 29 and co-sponsored by Mattel. Fifteen percent of the gallery’s profits will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Greater Los Angeles.


The gallery has been transformed into a Castle Grayskull and 100 up-and-coming artists have created pieces that celebrate, mock or subvert the big guy and all the other denizens of magical Eternia — among them She-Ra, King Randor, Orko, Teela and Man-At-Arms (seriously, who comes up with these names?).

During the Reagan years, “Masters” was a hot corner of the toy aisles and the property even reached the big screen in 1987 with Dolph Lundgren swinging a Power Sword and bellowing, “I have the power!” which transforms him from Prince Adam into the mega-strong He-Man. Frank Langella, long before he was nominated for an Oscar for “Frost/Nixon,” was the skull-faced Skeletor but he may not remind people too often. The movie was a massive failure.

He-Man was already fading by the time the movie reached theaters, the kids had roamed Castle Grayskull long enough and were ready to move on. But old heroes never die — apparently they just become kitsch on Melrose. If you know a guy who was 8 in 1985, take him over to the exhibit and watch him grin and spend some cash. Don’t laugh, it’s a man-thing.

— Geoff Boucher



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CREDIT: Exhibit images, Gallery 1988


9 Responses to ‘Masters of the Universe’ gets arty on Melrose

  1. Man, I don't care for He-Man, but you better be nicer to any G.I. Joe exhibits you find…

  2. Christian G says:

    38 and I still have some He-Man Skeletor stuff in the glass case Good times and the wifey can't take my toys away..lol

  3. Bo Rash says:

    FilthyRichmond.com gives good skull

  4. Michael Logan says:

    You must be thinking of the unintentionally hilarious "Giant Size Man Thing, " which lasted an amazing five issues. I guess nobody ever said the name out loud before it was approved.

  5. Sheldon says:

    I'm surprised that you didn't mention the 2002-3 reboot of the animated series which, unlike the original and the movie, was well thought out, brilliantly written and even better animated than most of its contemporaries.

  6. MLA17 says:

    I was 9 year-old girl in 1985 and my sister and my friends absolutely loved loved loved He-Man and She-ra! I'd love to go check it out.. How much is it to get in??

  7. miguel grano says:

    yeah seriously, who came up w these names…do not forget mer-man and bow catra

  8. Bryan Cooke says:

    Hmm, good, but check out Robert Burden, painter extraordinaire. <a href="http://www.robertburden.net” target=”_blank”>www.robertburden.net

  9. Mickey says:

    And rule 34 strikes again.
    For the record though, I love the Dolph Lundgren He-Man movie.

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