In which Skeletor makes friends with Eternia’s version of Batman.
As the episode opens, Orko is telling Teela and Man-at-Arms that he’s lost “a book about unicorns, with lots of pictures.” So far, so mental, but then Orko reveals that the book was intended for Prince Adam’s birthday. Unless it’s a large BBC Wildlife coffee table book, the implication is that Orko has a seriously low opinion of Adam’s intelligence. He could hardly have made it sound more childish if he’d referred to it as having rubber pages.
We are next treated to a return appearance of Professor Smullen, from Keeper of the Ancient Ruins, who informs King Randor that all the books in the kingdom have disappeared. Randor doesn’t believe him at first, suggesting idiotically that maybe Smullen has just lost them, but eventually agrees to get Adam and Man-at-Arms on the case.
The first thing on the agenda is, of course, a transformation into He-Man, following which a visit to the Sorceress is in order. The Sorceress yammers on about how books are worth more than gold. In the case of a Read-It-Yourself book I used to have called Jim Hedgehog’s Supernatural Christmas, that’s debatable, but still. She also reveals that the books can be found at the Temple of the Sun, a conclusion that Teela and Orko had already reached without the Sorceress’ help. So yet again, she’s not much use.
The villain of the piece is now revealed: a gentleman called Batros, who is a cheap knock-off of Batman, so cheap that he can only afford to wear Batman’s headpiece and a pair of blue underpants. Batros is deluded enough to believe that nicking Eternia’s books will somehow result in him being made Emperor. Skeletor becomes aware of this none-too-elaborate plot, and sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw out to capture Batros, in order to persuade him to work for Skeletor.
Once these two clowns arrive at the Temple of the Sun, Batros agrees to go to see Skeletor. Beast-Man leads the way, leaving Teela and Orko to have a fight with Trapjaw, a fight into which Trapjaw puts absolutely zero effort and winds up tied to the rafters. They then head off to report the location of the books, and warn He-Man that Skeletor is peripherally involved.
At Snake Mountain, Batros and Skeletor indulge in a few pleasantries, bonding over some unkind remarks at Beast-Man’s expense. However, things get a little nastier moments later when Batros reveals he considers Skeletor might work for him, whereas Skeletor feels the inverse would be more satisfactory. Skeletor gets the better of the discussion, and Batros agrees to help him conquer Castle Grayskull.
He-Man re-enters the episode at this point, having been absent for some length of time. He seems to have spent this time travelling from Grayskull to the Temple of the Sun, and once he gets there, he immediately receives word that Skeletor and Batros are going to attack Grayskull, meaning he’ll have to go all the way back. He-Man isn’t one to say things like, “For Christ’s sake,” but there’s something of a dangerous edge to his voice when he says, “I’ll go there at once.”
He arrives just in time to do a meet-and-greet with Skeletor, who instantly decides to run away. Batros puts up slightly more resistance, but quickly finds himself thrown off to the other side of the planet. It subsequently emerges that Skeletor has occupied himself in taking the books from the Temple to Snake Mountain, necessitating a trip to get them back. Once this is over, it’s time for Adam’s birthday, where he gets his rubber unicorn book and for no readily apparent reason claims that this is the best birthday of his life.
In today’s adventure…
Well, bugger me sideways if today’s moral doesn’t inform us that books are great, because you can use them to find out about subjects including but presumably not limited to science, dragons, sports and bodybuilding. While I agree that books are great, it wasn’t really demonstrated in the episode – perhaps if a problem had been solved by use of a book, the link might have been clearer. As it stands, I’d say the main moral is if you’re going to dress up as Batman, you should put in the effort to buy the whole costume.
Popping out from their padded cells for today’s little excursion are Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, the Sorceress, Professor Smullen, Batros, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Mer-Man and Tri-Klops.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
“Excuse me. I have something important to do,” says Adam vaguely, and wanders off. Randor looks sadly after him, bemoaning the fact that Adam doesn’t take the books problem seriously – but nonetheless, he doesn’t think to inquire what Adam’s important something is. I genuinely wonder sometimes if everyone on Eternia, and King Randor in particular, is brain-dead.
Skeletor is in a foul mood this week, especially with Beast-Man, referring to him variously as a “worthless hunk of fur”, a “dummy”, and a “furbag”. He also makes the slightly more subtle comment to Beast-Man that, “Unlike you, Batros has a brain.” Elsewhere, Skeletor finds time to call Battle-Cat a “stupid beast”, with perfect sneering disdain.
Batros considers that Teela and Orko are “fools” and that Trapjaw is a “rust-head”. Orko thinks Batros is a “bat-brain”, and Trapjaw summons up sufficient wit to call Orko a “little pest”. This is a surprisingly frequent insult for Orko, perhaps because it’s true.
Does it have the Power?
It’s not really a Great Books Mystery, since we find out very quickly who’s nicked the books and where they’ve put them; it’s more of a Great Argument About Some Books. Despite pointless quibbling about the title, though, the episode is a good, solid adventure romp, and it was nice to see Skeletor actually going to try to break into Castle Grayskull again, for the first time in absolutely ages. Batros was a passable villain but ultimately couldn’t hold a candle to Skeletor, and frankly his scheme of “nick books, become Emperor” needed a bit of fleshing out. Overall, I’d call this episode pretty strong, and definitely better than last week’s drivel, but unlikely to make anyone’s Top Ten.