Before the horrible kiddy cartoon and silly toyline, HE-MAN & THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE was fucking awesome! It was much more in the realm of CONAN and FRAZETTA fantasy imagery. In its fledgling days there were only 8 figures; He-Man, Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Teela, Mer-Man, Stratos, Zodac and Beastman. Each figure came with a kicass mini-comic that was more "storybook" than sequential "comic book", and they ruled. Unfortunately, the MOTU's coolness level lasted only 4 measly books and was then re-imagined of sorts into the horrible horrible silly lame cartoon most people know and remember.
During those first 4 books, He-Man was the greatest warrior of his Tribe who ventured out from his village and into the grand lands to defend Castle Grayskull against evil Forces making a play for her power.... Forces he discovers that are led by Skeletor. The setting was one of a devasted world after a Great War in which the advanced civilizations were wiped out. However, some of their advanced weaponry and machinery still existed and functioned.
Also, in that first book, "He-Man & the Power Sword", BEASTMAN looked very different from the toy and cartoon version (pic above). His 2nd appearance was in Book 4, "Vengeance of Skeletor", where he looked like most of us remember him. But even in that 4th book, his original image was used to promote the figures. As a kid I always preferred the original design and wished they had made a version of that figure. Hmmmm, maybe I can convince the Four Horsmen to make one in their new kickass figure line; variant con exclusive perhaps?!
Quick addition: Originally, the Sorceress looked like a green Teela in the snake garb. Later she became the one most people know with the bird motif. It was during that time that it was revealed (or retconned???) that Man-At-Arms was Teela's father, and the Sorceress (unbeknownst to Teela) was her mother.
During those short short early days, there was no lame alter-ego Prince Adam. There was no Orko. It was great fun imaginitive Sword & Sworcery. It wasn't until the 3rd wave of mini-comics did those lame ideas come forth, and many young fans ran to the hills screaming in sadness. I still have those first books, and they still rock. And because I love you all so much... well, those who read this entire silly post... Here are the first 3 books: ONE, TWO and THREE!