Judging by some of the amazing crossover comics DC has published over the past couple of years, the multiverse is far bigger than we ever envisioned. These colorful miniseries—all of which have been far more fun than they have any right to be—have seen the heroes of the DC Universe mixing it up with the likes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats and the Masters of the Universe. In the latest of these crossover events, He-Man and the Power of Grayskull return once again…only this time they find themselves in the world of INJUSTICE for a six-issue miniseries written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Freddie Williams II.
The second issue of INJUSTICE VS. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is now in stores, and finds the two worlds further intermingling with each other as the forces of Apokolips attack Eternia and He-Man finds himself on Earth rescuing a woman who has lost all hope. As anyone who picked up the first issue could tell you, Seeley and Williams are telling a surprisingly weighty story for a comic that also featured Orko cracking wise about dinosorb poop. We were wondering how they managed to instill so many complex ideas into such a fun story that also seems to feature just about every Masters of the Universe and Injustice character you can think of, so we sat down with Seeley and Williams for a free-wheeling conversation that absolutely does NOT devolve into a Masters of the Universe geek-out session.
Well, not entirely, at any rate.
Where did this idea come from? In particular, I’m curious why it’s Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe and not just the DC Universe proper?
Tim Seeley: It was DC or maybe Mattel who said they wanted to do another He-Man book, and they liked how the Thundercats crossover turned out. I think it was Mattel who came up with the idea of combining it with Injustice. I had told [editors] Kristy Quinn and Jim Chadwick four years ago, when I started writing for DC, that if they ever had a new He-Man project to please just let me know because I’d love to do it. And they kept saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.”
Then out of the blue, I get this call from Jim where he says, “Hey, I got a He-Man project for you! It’s a crossover with Injustice.”
And I’m just like, “Whaaaaaat?”
At first, I was thinking that it doesn’t make sense. But then I thought about it and it actually makes the most sense.
Freddie Williams II: Actually, it does.
TS: It makes more sense than doing it with Justice League or something similar because the concept of Injustice is basically that s#!tty Superman takes over the world and becomes a dictator, right? In Masters of the Universe, Prince Adam is a sovereign ruler of this fantasy kingdom. So, this book is really a story about what to do with power, and it actually makes more sense than it would otherwise.
Plus, you get to see a fight between Superman and He-Man that is not a misunderstanding. It’s not like somebody’s mind-controlled. They have intense philosophical differences about ruling with power.
FW: Agreed. Superman makes for such an interesting foil, and it makes so much more sense this way. Tim connected it really well. He sent me the pitch outline that he’d sent to Jim and everybody at DC, and it was perfect. I had no reservations. It clicks together so well, that I was in without a second thought.
The story also seems to pull from current events as well, particularly with what’s happening on Eternia and how people feel about being ruled by Faker, who’s more authoritarian.
TS: Yeah, we made the blue robot He-Man into an authoritarian dictator.
FW: Which was really fun to draw, by the way. Faker is just really cool to draw with that darker blue hue of his.
TS: Faker was my favorite He-Man toy.
FW: I used Wite-Out in his eyes on my toy when I was a kid.
TS: [laughs] So he looks like more of a robot?
FW: Yeah, exactly!
So, was the idea of having Eternians enthusiastic over being ruled by an authoritarian there at the very start, or did it work its way in as you were writing it?
TS: Well, I’d always said that if I were going to write a He-Man story, the bad guy would be Faker. That’s because when we were kids, we never really got him on the cartoon. We got like this not-cool version. Faker was just never really used like he could have been. And then of course, there was just me being a nerd who wanted to put his favorite toy in the story.
But then I started thinking about it and I realized Faker could be the reason that He-Man's the guy Batman wants to defeat Superman. He sees Adam have this moment where he says [to the people of Eternia], “I use the power for your freedom, or I don’t use it at all.”
He gets to that moment because some of the people prefer Faker to him. In our story, Faker’s goal is not what Skeletor’s was. Skeletor’s goal has always been power. He wants the Power of Grayskull.
Faker takes over Eternia and becomes a dictator. He uses that power to punish dissidents. It’s why He-Man enters this battle knowing he’d disagree with Superman.
FW: Batman knows that it’s not going to be like supplanting one dictator for another. If He-Man is to defeat Superman, he’s not going to say, “Now, I am in control!”
Instead, he’s going to say, “I want to give control over to the people who deserve it.
TS: Prince Adam has that power. As Prince Adam, he is the ruler of Eternia and he hasn’t abused his position, and they see that. If you’re going to tell a story in the Injustice universe, it needs to be about this abuse of power. If you don’t address that in an Injustice story, you’re not telling a proper Injustice story.
Freddie, you’ve drawn a lot of these crossover comics lately—
FW: But not enough of them! I want to draw more of them!
That’s what I was going to ask. Do you just really enjoy mashing up universes? And what sort of challenges do you face as a crossover artist that you wouldn’t in more standard DC books?
FW: I really do enjoy it. It’s something that I’ve felt natural with because a lot of us within my generation would play with the toys together. He-Man and Thundercats toys were totally out of scale with one another, but I still played with them together all the time. So, it feels really natural. In my mind, they all occupy the same universe, so there’s no challenge in that respect.
On this book, the biggest challenge is more in keeping the purity of something like Eternia. Since I’m using inkwash and there are a lot of gritty textures, if you go too far with it, it starts to almost “decay” the purity of that world. But I’m mindful of that, and Jeremy Colwell, who an excellent colorist, is very mindful of not going too far into a darker color scheme.
Basically, though, as long as these kinds of opportunities keep presenting themselves, I will happily draw them for the rest of my life.
TS: I think you might have undersold something that you’re really good at and a reason why you’re the guy for these projects. You have this George Perez-like ability to take compositions that include a ton of characters and make them look really good. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s something that only a few really good comic creators are able to do—putting all these figures in a panel and still have it be readable. That’s something Freddie’s crazy good at.
In this book in particular, it’s like CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. There are hundreds of characters in this. Literally hundreds. You need somebody like Freddie who can create these really good compositions and keep it all readable.
I thought I had a sense of where this story was going until the last couple of pages of issue #1. How do Darkseid and Apokolips fit into the story?
TS: It comes down to the biggest, craziest fight we could dream up. At the end, it’s like all the Masters of the Universe, all of the Injustice characters and all of the New Gods having this huge war for the control of Castle Grayskull. We get to do crazy stuff. There’s a scene where Darkseid literally walks through a battle because he’s unconcerned about the fight around him, and he shoots down the Talon Fighter as it’s flying at him. This is what we’re building up to. It’s the floor of your bedroom when you were eleven, basically. It’s all the action figures!
But it has stakes and emotional resonance. There’s a very personal story in it for He-Man, Man-At-Arms, Superman and Batman. So, how do you make the craziest, most fun, throw-your-action-figures-at-each-other kind of fight, but also have it be emotionally resonant? That was the challenge for us. That’s what it leads to. I want you to feel something and maybe even have an opinion about it, but also, at some point, you get to see Cyborg driving a He-Man vehicle shooting down parademons.