Heroic Vehicles

The Battle Ram in Minicomics and Golden Books

The longer I write this blog, the more I realize there is almost no limit to the amount of material that can be written about the vintage Masters of the Universe toyline. I will run out of steam before I ever run out of subjects to write about.

In this post, I’ll examine the Battle Ram‘s appearances in minicomics and Golden Book stories (I’ll skip the Golden coloring books, simply because I don’t have good images for all of them).

Interestingly, in the earliest minicomic stories, it was the Battle Ram, not Battle Cat, that was He-Man‘s primary mode of transportation.  By 1983 that changed, and He-Man and Battle Cat became inseparable, while the Battle Ram became more frequently associated with Teela or Man-At-Arms.

When I went through the Dark Horse He-Man Minicomic Collection, I was actually a little surprised at how infrequently the Battle Ram shows up. It actually appears much more often in the Golden collection of stories.

For reference, the vehicle in question is called the Battle Ram, but the detachable front half is referred to as the Jet Sled – although that term isn’t often used within the stories below.

Update #1: I should note that the Battle Ram was designed by Ted Mayer. Alfredo Alcala’s depictions of it (including the image at the beginning of this article) are based on the early prototype sculpted by Jim Openshaw, which in turn was based on Ted Mayer’s concept drawings. More on that at Ted Mayer’s website and in my original Battle Ram toy feature.

Update #2: I wasn’t originally going to include the Giant Picture Books because they’re not really stories per se. But the artwork is so nice, I broke down and decided to include them. Thanks to Jukka for sharing the lovely images, which come from James Eatock (internal) and Polygonus (covers).

1982 Minicomic: He-Man and the Power Sword 

The Battle Ram is pretty ubiquitous in the first ever minicomic (written by Don Glut, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala). Notice that in early media like this, the front half of the Battle Ram does not soar through the air – rather it hovers low over the ground. That was Mark Taylor‘s idea for how the vehicle was supposed to work.

Gifts from the Sorceress
He-Man parks his ride out front while he punches himself a cave out of the bare rock.
He-Man shows off the Battle Ram’s “space-warp” device.
Hovering low to the ground.
He-Man pays the price for overconfidence.
This is the only time the back half of the Battle Ram shows up in the first series of minicomics. Based on the prototype designed by Ted Mayer, it seems to have a flame thrower as well as a missile launcher.

1982 Minicomic: The Vengeance of Skeletor

The Battle Ram is a near-constant presence in what would turn out to be one of the most violent of the MOTU minicomics. Written by Don Glut, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala.

Again the Battle Ram hovers close to the ground.
Overturned Battle Ram.
Smoking in the background.
He-Man rights his vehicle.
Chugging along the ground.
This is why it’s called the Battle Ram!
Parked next to Teela’s Charger.

1982 Minicomic: Battle in the Clouds

Battle in the Clouds is the first story where the front half of the Battle Ram (Sky Sled) is not limited to hovering close to the ground. In this story it can soar high into the sky, which serves as an excuse to write it into a story about a furious air battle featuring the Wind Raider. Written by Don Glut, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala.

Mer-Man watches as He-Man overwhelms Skeletor with superior firepower.
He-Man flies off, no longer earth bound. Mer-Man makes a pact with Skeletor.
Stratos pushes the Battle Ram out of harm’s way.
No seat belt on the Battle Ram.
Mer-Man learns not to press random buttons.
Battle Ram vs. Wind Raider
Man-At-Arms takes a tumble.
Man-At-Arms watches the air battle from below.
Stratos removes Mer-Man from the aircraft.
Stratos learns to embrace technology.

1983 Minicomic: The Tale of Teela

This is the first minicomic that features both halves of the Battle Ram together. which seems to be Teela’s vehicle of choice. Sadly, it’s also the last appearance of the Battle Ram in the vintage minicomics. Written by Gary Cohn, penciled by Mark Texeira, inked by Tod Smith, colored by Anthony Tollin.

Responding to voices in her head, Teela takes the Battle Ram out for a drive. What could go wrong?
Tri-Klops nearly undergoes a chestectomy courtesy of the Battle Ram.
Separated from her vehicle.
The long drive home.

1983 Golden Book: Thief of Castle Grayskull

In this story, Teela is again the driver for Battle Ram, which seems to be mostly used as transportation, as far as this story is concerned. Written by Roger McKenzie, illustrated by Fred Carillo, cover by Gino D’Achille.

The heroes, with their fantastic vehicles, congregate outside Castle Grayskull. The Battle Ram is dark gray instead of its usual slate blue color.
The skies darken.
Teela pilots the Battle Ram over rocky terrain.
Battle Ram in silhouette.
Teela prepares to blast Beast Man and his henchmen.
Obscured by flowers.

1983 Golden Book: The Sword of Skeletor

Teela is again the driver for the Battle Ram in The Sword of Skeletor. In this story, the Battle Ram can apparently travel across water as well as land. Written by Roger McKenzie, illustrated by Fred Carillo, cover by Gino D’Achille.

An amphibious Battle Ram!
Parked in front of Grayskull once more.

1983 Golden Book: The Sunbird Legacy

The Sunbird Legacy is probably the greatest of the Golden stories, with an epic, comic book feel. In this story Man-At-Arms is the driver for the Battle Ram, and he uses it to great effect against Beast Man. Written by Roger McKenzie, illustrated by Adrian Gonzales and Fred Carillo, cover by Earl Norem.

Man-At-Arms takes the Battle Ram for a spin.
Battle Ramming!
Either a tiny Battle Ram or an enormous Beast Man.

1984 Golden Book: Mask of Evil

This story features a brief shot of an out-of-scale Battle Ram from the rear. It’s not clear who’s driving it, though. Written by John Hughes, illustrated by Al McWilliams, cover by Earl Norem.

Apparently the Battle Ram came in child sizes as well. All kinds of perspective issues here!

1984 Golden Book: Giant Picture Book – Heroic Warriors

This isn’t a story so much as a collection of lovely artwork by Fred Carillo. The Giant Picture Book series does include some biographical information on selected characters, however.

Image source: Polygonus
Man-At-Arms smashed through the undergrowth in his trusty Battle Ram. Image source: James Eatock

1984 Golden Book: Giant Picture Book – Evil Warriors

This evil version of the heroic Giant Picture Book gives us a tantalizing look at the Battle Ram – just before Jitsu goes and destroys it. You’re not winning any points with me, Jitsu! Artwork by Fred Carillo.

Image source: Polygonus
A Filmation-style Jitsu tosses Man-At-Arms. Image source: James Eatock
Jitsu commits the unpardonable sin. Image source: James Eatock

1985 Golden Book: The Rock Warriors

This story features a single shot of the Jet Slet, again piloted by Teela, but colored in red and orange. Written by Michael Kirschenbaum, illustrated by Fred Carillo, cover by Earl Norem.

Teela pilots a red version of the Battle Ram!

1986 Golden Book: A Hero In Need

Two gray Jet Sleds are on almost every page of this story, piloted by Teela and Prince Adam. Written by Elizabeth Ryan, illustrated by Fred Carillo, cover by Earl Norem.

Prince Adam and Teela race through the woods.

Teela zooms away as Adam looks for some privacy.
Teela apparently forgets the Battle Ram has its own blasters.
A quick 180.

Well, this is confusing.
Perspective issues strike again.

 

 

Golden books images comes from He-Man.org

More on the Battle Ram:

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