“Masters of the Universe: Teela’s Secret”

There was a change in car­toons in the 1970’s, fol­low­ing a mis­placed furor about vio­lence in chil­dren’s car­toons. Vio­lence, even car­toon vio­lence, was sud­den­ly for­bid­den. That was the rea­son you nev­er saw Thun­darr the Bar­bar­ian decap­i­tate any­one with his Sun Sword. It was why Cobra pilots always bailed out before their jets explod­ed. It was why GI Joe and Cobra used laser weapons that only seemed to affect tanks and jeeps instead of ordi­nary rifles and machine guns. (The lat­ter was also cheap­er to animate.)

It forced writ­ers to devel­op new and dif­fer­ent (or old and dif­fer­ent) sto­ries and plot devices on a week­ly basis.

Enter Mind Control.

Mind Con­trol was a stan­dard fic­tion­al plot device since the days of Mes­mer, and it had a reoc­curence in car­toons dur­ing the 1970’s. It was espe­cial­ly con­ve­nient for pop­u­lar fan­ta­sy or super-sci­ence based shows like He-Man and GI Joe, because there were many more ways to invoke Mind Con­trol. With Mind Con­trol, car­toons did­n’t need phys­i­cal vio­lence to add con­flict. Which leads us back to He-Man and the Mas­ters of the Uni­verse: “Tee­la’s Secret”.

“Tee­la’s Secret” is a Gold­en Book, a 48 page per­fect bound hard­cov­er book with illus­tra­tions on each page, accom­pa­nied by short para­graphs of one to three sen­tences each. It was from aimed at the 7–9 age range.

Back cov­er text: Teela was He-Man’s side­kick. She was secret­ly the daugh­ter of the Sor­cer­ess, but nev­er knew her par­ents. Skele­tor used the Jew­el of the Ages to entrance Teela into believ­ing Skele­tor was her father. The Jew­el gave Teela the pow­er to defeat He-Man for Skeletor.

Mean­while, Skele­tor’s lack­ey Evil-Lyn betrayed him to his puta­tive supe­ri­or Hor­dak, leader of the Horde, because Evil-Lyn is jeal­ous of Tee­la’s new con­nec­tion with Skele­tor. Hor­dak returns the betray­al by betray­ing her, hop­ing to defeat Skele­tor and He-Man at the same time and rule both Eter­nia and Ethe­ria. He-Man is able to reach the good­ness with­in Teela and get her to reject Skele­tor’s lies, and togeth­er they defeat Skele­tor and Hor­dak. The Sor­cer­ess heals Teela, telling her that she is sure her moth­er is very proud of her, and every­thing is back to normal.

Quite a bla­tant episode of MC, and in a kid’s book, too. I was quite sur­prised to dis­cov­er it at the local used book store, idly glanc­ing inside it. When I saw the image of Teela and the Jew­el, I knew I had to have it for the Collection.

Fur­ther information:

This is an expand­ed ver­sion of a series of tweets.

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