200x, Artwork, Comics

2002 Masters of the Universe Comic Cover Gallery – MVCreations

I really like Masters of the Universe comics. Heck its no secret I’d love to one day write and/or draw art for an official publication in the future. And since its now been 20 years that the reboot comic series ended, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate the cover artworks on that series.

The 2002 comics for Masters of the Universe were produced by MVCreations. While the animated series by Mike Young Productions was aimed at a younger demographic, the comics had the opportunity to appeal to the older fans who grew up with He-Man in the 80s.

From 2002 to 2004, the Masters of the Universe comic series was published through Image Comics (15 issues), CrossGen Entertainment (8 issues) and MVCreations (6 issues).

Since the beginning, there were many variant covers for the comic issues. But some fans reported how they couldn’t keep up with them, so the president at MVCreations, Val Staples listened to the feedback and decided to not feature them during the Volume 2 ongoing comics and the mini-series “Icons of Evil”. Accordingly it “cut the sales by almost half, and made the comic extremely hard to produce later on.” [1] They added them back when Volume 3 started, as limited releases and special exclusives, which “helped a little.” There were also ideas for other special gimmick covers they wanted to do, but never got the chance – such as a lenticular cover depicting Adam transforming into He-Man, or a felt texture cover with Moss Man.

The cover artwork especially was really terrific, with a multitude of talent from regular to variants, so I’d like to highlight them in this article. Full disclosure, it was also a way for me to dig through old hard-drives (from 2004) and folders on my computer, so that I can share the logoless cover versions, many of which can’t be found online in 2024 anymore. They are displayed next to the final covers. When researching other sites, I found some to have omitted variant covers or credited wrong artists. So I’ve tried my best to include as many of the unique cover artworks in this gallery (meaning a special museum edition won’t be here, since it used art on its cover from the existing 5-page preview comic), and the artist & colorist credit.

Below you can find links to different sections:

Vol. 01 covers
Vol. 02 covers
Vol. 03 covers
Rise of the Snake Men
Icons of Evil
Specials
Trades
Unpublished/Unused covers

Hope you enjoy the images and if you found some errors or missing unique art by MVCreations, please let me know! Some of the scans are my own, and I’d like to give a special shout out to grahamcrackers, milehighcomics, comicvine, mycomicshop, cilman and RED.


VOLUME 1

Issue 1 – Cover A (wraparound)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 1 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: J. Scott Campbell
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 1 – Cover C (wraparound)

Art by: Earl Norem

Issue 1 – Graham Crackers exclusive cover (wraparound)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Issue 1 – Reprint (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 2 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 2 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Kevin Sharpe
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 2 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: Francis Manapul
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 3 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 3 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Matt Tyree
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 3 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: Brett Booth
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 4 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 4 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Tone Rodriguez
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 4 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: Keron Grant
Color by: Val Staples


VOLUME 2

Issue 1 – Cover A
Regular (wraparound)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 1 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: Drew Struzan

Issue 1 – Cover C
Graham Crackers exclusive (wraparound)

Art by: Cully Hamner
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 2 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 2 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Issue 2 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: JJ Kirby
Color by: Joel Benjamin

Issue 3 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 3 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Jonboy Meyers
Color by: Tony Washington

Issue 3 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: Tommy Lee Edwards

Issue 4 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 4 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Leanne Shaw Hannah
Color by: Tony Washington

Issue 4 – Cover B (wraparound)

Art by: Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell

Issue 5 – Cover A (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 5 – Cover A (back)

Art by: Matt Roberts
Color by: Tony Washington

Issue 6 Cover (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 6 Cover (back)

Art by: Jonboy Meyers
Color by: Val Staples


VOLUME 3

Issue 1 – Regular Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 1 – Incentive Cover (wraparound)

Art by: Frank Quitely
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 1 – He-Man.org Exclusive Cover

Art by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Issue 1 – Convention Gatefold Cover

This cover depicts all of the 5 covers that were planned for Masters of the Universe Encyclopedia. [Click HERE to download a high-resolution scan by Jukka Issakainen]

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia and Enza Fontana
Color by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Issue 2 – Regular Cover

Art by: Enza Fontana
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 2 – Incentive Cover

Art by: Brett Booth
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 3 – Regular Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 3 – Incentive Cover

Art by: Sam Liu
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 4 – Regular Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 5 – Regular Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 5 – He-Man.org Exclusive Cover

Art by: Tim Seeley
Color by Jeremy Roberts

Issue 6 – Regular Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 6 – He-Man.org Exclusive Cover

Art by: Andy Smith
Color by: Jason Keith

Issue 7 – Regular Cover

Art by: Leanne Shaw Hannah
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 7 – He-Man.org Exclusive Cover

Art by: Eamon O’Donoghue
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 8 – Regular Cover

Art by: Mike O’Hare
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 8 – Graham Crackers Exclusive cover

Art by: Randy Green
Color by: Val Staples

Issue 8 – He-Man.org Exclusive Cover

Art by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch


ICONS OF EVIL

Beast Man – Cover

Art by: Tony Moore
Color by: Val Staples

Mer-Man – Cover

Art by: EJ Su
Color by: Val Staples

Trap Jaw – Cover

Art by: Mike Pedro
Color by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Tri-Klops – Cover

Art by: Corey Walker
Color by: Val Staples


RISE OF THE SNAKE MEN

Issue 1 – Regular Cover

Art by: Jonboy Meyers
Color by: Tony Washington

Issue 1 – He-Man.org Exclusive Cover

Art by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Issue 2 – Regular Cover

Art by: Andie Tong
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Issue 3 – Regular Cover

Art by: Andie Tong
Color by: Jeremy Roberts


SPECIALS

Promo comic – cover (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Promo comic – cover (back)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Special Preview comic – cover (front)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Special Preview comic – cover (back)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Dream Halloween 2002 – cover

Art by: Enza Fontana
Color by: Val Staples

Dream Halloween 2003 – cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Masters of the Universe Encyclopedia Season one – cover

[*See Volume 3 Gatefold cover variant #1 that depicts all 5 covers intended for the Encyclopedia mini-series]

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia and Enza Fontana
Color by: Nathan “Baena” Baertsch

Target 2-pack He-Man & Skeletor insert comic – cover

Art by: Neal Adams

TDK Gameboy Advance insert comic – cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Episode 40 Adaptation Comic – cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples



Trade Collections

Volume 1 – TPB Cover (hardcover version)

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Volume 2 – TPB Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia and Enza Fontana
Color by: Jeremy Roberts

Icons of Evil – TPB Cover

Art by: Emiliano Santalucia
Color by: Val Staples

Unused/Unpublished covers


[1] Staples, V. [JVS3]. (December 3th, 2007). He-Man.org Discussion Boards.

200x

2002 MOTU KMart Art Cards

During the 2002 relaunch of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, there were many promotional variants with the initial release of the figures. Some figures came packaged with a VHS cassette, starting with select Filmation episodes and as the new series by Mike Young Productions aired; episodes from the new cartoon.

One instance with variant releases was the Kmart-exclusive Art Cards (or as they are referred to in the packaging, Trading Cards). The following figures came packaged with their respective card:

  • He-Man
  • Skeletor
  • Man-At-Arms
  • Beast Man
  • Stratos
  • Mer-Man
Image from “The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” Guide book by Dan Eardley and Val Staples [Dark Horse 2021].

All the cards have a foil treatment, which sadly doesn’t translate well in the scans. According to the Toys of He-man and the Masters of the Universe guide, the cards were produced by MVCreations, and “it is speculated that a thousand of each existed”. Looking at the cards, the artwork was done by Emiliano Santalucia with colors by Val Staples.

The style on the cards is still a very early version that Santalucia used when illustrating the characters. The easiest example comes in the Skeletor trading card. The pose appears to be based on a page from the pack-in comic that MVCreations produced for the He-Man and Skeletor Target exclusive 2-pack, with some edits on hand poses and the added weapons. That comic was done in the span of just two weeks and it helped the studio to get the ongoing comic deal with Mattel. The “toony” art style here is based on the early Mattel presentation images by Ruben Martinez. (But for the ongoing comic, Santalucia established a less angular, yet more detailed style.)

Comparison image: Kmart Skeletor card and a comic page from Target 2-pack.

A Special thanks to he-man.org member Cilman for these scans of the cards!

He-Man

He-Man’s pose and the background of Castle Grayskull in the distance appear to be inspired by the promotional poster art by Mike Young Productions (which itself was based on the 2001 poster by Ken Kelly). The back of the card features the figure’s accessories Power Sword, Battle Axe and Battle Shield.

Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms stands battle ready at his workshop. The back of the card features the figure’s accessories Battle Club, Hand Cannon and for some reason, they include Removable Chest Armor (when many figures had their armor as removable).

Stratos

Stratos appears flying in the sky, possibly near the Mystic Mountains. The back of the card features the figure’s accessories Arm-mounted Wings and Sky Pack.

Skeletor

Skeletor stands in front of his throne inside Snake Mountain. The back of the card features the figure’s accessories, including his Double Blade Sword and his Havoc Staff, described here as Battle Staff.

Beast Man

Beast Man is ready with his whip inside one of the caverns at Snake Mountain. There are some nice little touches on the ground with small bones and a skull. The back of the card features the figure’s accessory, referred to as his Beast Whip.

Mer-Man

Mer-Man is in his element underwater, looking up ready to strike. The back of the card features the figure’s sword and trident accessories.

Hope you enjoyed this little look at the 2002 Masters of the Universe exclusive Kmart Trading Cards!