The Princess of Power in comics
DC Comics presents #47 is considered to be the first appearance of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in comics. It has long been a key book that commands substantial prices in high grade. Strangely, his famous twin sister Adora has not received such prestige. There is currently no official “first appearance of She-Ra” recognized by CBCS or CGC. Some characters have an obvious first introductory appearance. Some have last page, shadowy cameos or a preview that fans argue over endlessly. The precedent for a “true first appearance” is not black and white. The market tends to pick the winner not by technical means, but by popularity. This can be can be any number of circumstances including; rarest early appearance, best cover appearance or first in standard american comic format. Depending on your personal definition, She-Ra may be one of the more complicated first appearances I have come across.
The Princess of Power action figure line was introduced early in 1985. Like MOTU, every figure came with a mini comic. This is the first She-Ra in comic form, dated 1984. Of course the He-man figure also came with these books and the market does not recognize this as his first appearance. The figures were distributed in many countries. Here is a selection of her first mini comics from the U.S, Brazil and Italy.
She-Ra makes her animated premiere in the feature film “Secret of the Sword,” released in 1985. At the premiere, there was a free eight page promotional comic book featuring both He-Man and She-Ra, along with a contest entry form. An arguable first appearance. This features original comic art but the story is simply an adaption of film. I have seen eBay sellers describing this as her first appearance. There are many graded copies and it is not noted as such.
This next book is from the U.K. and it contains an original sequential comic story and artwork. It was published in 1986 but the exact month is unknown.
The UK published a bi-monthly series of Masters of the Universe starting in 1986. Issue 12 features the first She-Ra appearance. It is a cover appearance, original story AND the whole book comes poly-bagged with a second book. This free gift is an original preview copy of the upcoming self titled She-Ra series. This bagged set would be my choice for an official first appearance. I’m sure these books did not have a huge print run. Captain Britain #8 (1st Betsy Braddock – Psylocke) has taught us that once these UK weeklies find a demand, they can be very difficult to find.
Her self-titled series from the UK would run for 14 issues and had 1 special. The series was also printed in Spain in 1987 and Brazil in 1988. Here is a set of known first issue covers and an extra image of Brazil’s first issue.
Now, let’s talk about her first American appearance. Although there have been several MOTU series from multiple publishers throughout the years, I could not find a single appearance until recently.
For those not familiar with her story, here’s a quick breakdown you will need to know because it gets slightly complicated.
Adora was stolen from He-Man’s parents as a baby and taken into another dimension called Etheria by the evil Hordak. She was raised to be a general in his army, unknowing of her origin. At this point she is called Despara.
Despara first appears in issue 1 of the DC comic series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, in July 2013, which came out with an awesome She-Ra variant cover by Terry Dodson.
In issue 2 it becomes known to He-Man and Teela that she is Adora. In issue 5, Adora finds out who she really is. The cover of this issue features Shadow Weaver messing with She-Ra’s head, however, She-ra is not introduced in the story yet.
Issue 18 is the first time she holds aloft her magic sword and says “for the honor of Grayskull!” and finally becomes She-Ra. In 2014, 30 years after her creation, this is the first full American comic appearance I could find. The print run was relatively low at 11,000 and that cover is glorious.