Thursday, 8 May 2014

Interview - writer Dan Abnett

Before the next new story arc starts on DC Comics' He-Man, check out Dan Abnett's thoughts on She-Ra, the mythology and some teasers of what is up ahead! 

Dan Abnett has been writing comics for almost two decades now.

He's worked for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, having chances to touch upon a wide array of titles and characters, including The X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Planet of the Apes, Batman, Conan the Barbarian and Scooby Doo.

He started with He-Man in Issue #7 of the current ongoing series and continues to the next.

**If you have not read upcoming solicitations or latest Issue #12 of MOTU, this interview will contain Spoilers.**

How did you land on a project like Masters of the Universe? Did you pursue it or were you contacted for it?

DC came to me and asked me. Mattel, as I understand it, knew of my Warhammer (novel) work and thought I’d be a good fit for the epic sword and sorcery.
"They are the outsiders, the pariah. What they did at the time of King Grayskull 1000 years ago was dreadful. We see their story, their effort to make amends, and the rift between them and the Eternians."

Dan Abnett on the topic of Gar.

Were you familiar with the characters and world in He-Man previously?

Of course. When I started work in comics in the late eighties, I worked on every license imaginable - Ghostbusters, Transformers. GI Joe, Thundercats, Galaxy Rangers, Thomas the Tank Engine, Care Bears (lol)... and I have done ever since.

He-Man was one of the biggies that slipped past me. I was very happy to get the chance to make my mark now.

You stepped in to the book right as the first main story-arc by Keith Giffen had ended and we were in the middle of reading the crossover with Justice League and He-Man when "What Lies Beneath" began.

How much reference were you provided to shape this new story?

Everything. Everything I needed to know. Keith and DC were both very good about that, and about getting me up to speed.

The issues went through 3 different artists in this one story arc. How did you feel about their works?

All are amazing. I’ve worked with Tom Derenick before on Hypernaturals for Boom!, so I knew he’d hit it out of the park. It’s also fabulous to work with great artists I’ve never teamed with before. And Pop Mhan is simply killing the next arc. Awesome!

The story is credited to Rob David and Lloyd Goldfine. What was your role and theirs for this tale?

Those guys are great. This is a reinvention, a telling of the stories again, but for the first time.

Mattel is steering it carefully, and being quite amazing in their direction and what they’re prepared to let me do. The story comes from Mattel - it’s what they want, how they see the characters. I then turn it into comics (adjusting, adapting, interpreting, etc).

I’ve never known a licensor so willing to meet me halfway. Or be so creative. I can’t believe the things they’ve let me do. 

Were there any re-writes to the story?

Just a few minor continuity tweaks. Mattel seems to like what I do a lot.

Which character you felt was the easiest to write? What about the most difficult?

Teela is the easiest. She feels so natural. He-Man is the hardest. He’s SO heroic, there’s a danger of making him lumpy and comical. I hope I haven’t done that.

How was it working with DC and Mattel on this project?

Like I said, really great. Amazing. Creative. Inspiring. Productive. DC editorial have alway been fantastic collaborators. Mattel are so generous. I have loved working on this book.

The reveal with Hssss and Randor was a Big shocker. Will we learn more of it later on?

Oh, this is going to build...

Can you tell us more about the 6 circles in Subternia?

That all came from Mattel, and I had to develop it. It’s Dante’s Inferno, basically. I found a few imaginative ways to play with it during the story.

We see the gate for "Ring of Dreams" has the Zoar-symbol on it, but the last gate for "Ring of Eternity" has the Snake Men-symbol. Can you elaborate on those choises?

Eternity is the deepest, darkest, oldest ring. And the Snake-Men came from before, the oldest time. When you get right to the heart of Subternia, it becomes primordial.

What symbols do the other 4 Gates (Earth, Sky, War, Death) have?

All Zoar, I think. Life is brighter and newer up there.

Where comes the name Horokoth? Who used it?

According to Mattel, that's the Horde's name for Zoar. Different species, different manifestations of the Goddess/light.

Loved seeing the Sorceress in Issue #12 with the familiar Filmation outfit. Can you tell more about this?

A deliberate easter egg for the fans. I loved that too. So cool.

Any chance of seeing her [the Sorceress] again?

Uhm... yes :)

What about other Sorceresses? (Veena was the wife of King Grayskull and possibly the first Sorceress of Grayskull. Then there is Kuduk Ungol in Filmation cartoon as the predecessor to modern-day Sorceress, do they exist in this new canon?)

Oh, you’re gonna LOVE the next arc!

How did the decision come for Teela to become the Goddess?

Mattel, with my greedy approval. A great idea.

Will she stay as the Goddess?


Can you tell more about He-Man's new Armor and Powersword?

You’ll see more of that in the next arc. He’s a king now. You thought he was powerful before, but...

We haven't seen Skeletor's Evil Warriors anywhere. Where might they be at?

Hordak and the Horde are the big foes at the moment. I guess Skeletor and his warriors can't be far away...

You are set to continue with the upcoming story arc about She-Ra and her origin. Starting with Issue #13 and King Grayskull in Preternia. How was it working on that story in comparison to the previous one?

I’m enjoying delving into the past. It has an epic feel. The story is also quite shocking and brutal. MOTU (almost) meets Game of Thrones lol!

The solicits hint that we might see the Gar. What can you tell us about them?

They are the outsiders, the pariah. What they did at the time of King Grayskull 1000 years ago was dreadful. We see their story, their effort to make amends, and the rift between them and the Eternians. Don’t forget, times are hard. The Horde holds Eternia. 

Can you share some hints about what we can expect for She-Ra in upcoming story?

She will be born. Eternia will change. EVERYTHING will change.

There was a hint left open for King Hssss. Will we see him again anytime soon?


Have you seen the new redesigned costume for She-Ra? Did you have any input on that?

Not yet. In the next few days.

Will you continue writing for "He-Man" beyond Issue #18?

If they let me. I damn well hope so!

One last question. 

Do you know the Secret of Grayskull? ;)

Oh course I do. Shhhhh!

Thank you very much for all the answers Mr. Abnett!

Best, Dan.

author photograph by James K. Barnett
Dan Abnett is a seven-times New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning comic book writer. He has written fifty novels, including the acclaimed Gaunt’s Ghosts series, the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, volumes of the million-selling Horus Heresy series, The Silent Stars Go By (the 2011 Christmas Doctor Who novel), Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero, and Embedded. 
In comics, he is known for his work on The Legion of Super-Heroes, Resurrection Man, The New Mutants, Nova, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Infinite Crisis, Battlestar Galactica, Masters of the Universe, and the Vertigo series The New Deadwardians. A regular contributor to the UK’s long-running 2000AD, he is the creator of series including Grey Area, Kingdom and the classic Sinister Dexter. He has also written extensively for the games industry, such as the forthcoming Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation. He was eduated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and lives and works In Maidstone, in the United Kingdom.

Interview by Jukka Issakainen - May 8th, 2014


  1. Hey, man. Really cool interview and site. I'll be making this a regular stop on my internet rounds. This new Masters series has been killer. -Gint (McSoss)

    1. Thanks for the reply and compliments.

      The new comic series is getting better and "Eternity War" in Dec 2014 sounds especially awesome. :)