“Reclaiming Thundera – Part 4”
Riding their spaceboards through the jungles of Thundera, the Thunderkittens race each other, shouting boastful remarks to each other. WilyKit tells her brother that he should know the fastest one doesn’t always win the race, the smartest one does. Playfully goading WilyKat into pursuing her, WilyKit races further into the jungle and spies a large tree with a hole in the centre. WilyKit decides to use a smoke bomb to slow WilyKat down by throwing it into the hole in the tree, and emerges the other side still goading WilyKat. Surprised when her brother fails to emerge, WilyKit is shocked when she looks skyward and sees WilyKat being carried off by a winged Ma-Mutt!
At Cats Lair, Panthro has completed building the Signal Beacon that will summon the other Thunderians back to their home planet, and defers the honour of activating it to Lion-O. Cheetara tells the young lord that it is a momentous occasion, and that it is OK for him to be a little scared. Panthro reassures Lion-O that his fears are unfounded, for he has proven himself as Lord of the ThunderCats, and Cheetara chimes in, reiterating to Lion-O that he was the one who lead them to Thundera and restored the planet – in short, that he was the one brought them all home. Panthro tells Lion-O that now is the time for him to bring the others home too, and that the young lord is ready for the task. Lion-O pauses for a moment, and then activates the Signal Beacon. The moment is interrupted, however, when WilyKit bursts onto the scene, recounting to the other ThunderCats the details of WilyKat’s capture. Lion-O tells WilyKit to calm down, and pledges that he will lay down his own life before he will let Mumm-Ra take her sibling. Cheetara states that it is probably a trap, and Lion-O readily agrees, but attests that it doesn’t matter, that if Mumm-Ra wants to escalate the conflict between them, they will bring it to him. Lion-O reminds the others that he has infiltrated Mumm-Ra’s pyramid before, and can do it again, only this time taking the other ThunderCats with him.
Within his pyramid, Mumm-Ra has WilyKat caged and suspended above his cauldron. Mumm-Ra tells the Thunderkitten that it looks like his fellow ThunderCats will be there soon, but assures him that he won’t let any harm befall him, so long as Lion-O surrenders the Sword of Omens to him. WilyKat tells Mumm-Ra to let him go, but Mumm-Ra mockingly taunts the Thunderkitten, telling him that he isn’t even giving him and Ma-Mutt a chance – at which point, Lion-O, Panthro and Cheetara appear, and Lion-O tells the devil priest that they have already given him enough chances. Mumm-Ra tells Lion-O that if he gives him the Sword, the ThunderCats can walk out of his pyramid alive, but the young lord turns the tables, telling Mumm-Ra that if he gives them WilyKat, he will spare Mumm-Ra. Mumm-Ra transforms into Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living, and again commands Lion-O to give him the Sword. Lion-O draws the Sword from his Claw Shield, and tells the other ThunderCats to free WilyKat whilst he takes on Mumm-Ra. Lion-O and Mumm-Ra launch into fierce battle, whilst Cheetara vaults up to the cage holding WilyKat and prepares to free him. The Thunderkitten asks where Panthro is, and Cheetara tells him that he is taking care of Mumm-Ra’s Sarcophagus, stating that, as the source of Mumm-Ra’s power, if they destroy it they can defeat Mumm-Ra.
As if on cue, whilst Lion-O and Mumm-Ra battle, Panthro lifts up Mumm-Ra’s Sarcophagus and hurls it into the devil priest’s cauldron, which enables Lion-O to viciously overpower him. Mumm-Ra disappears, and Lion-O states that now the ThunderCats can return home. WilyKat asks if it’s over and if Mumm-Ra is gone forever, and Lion-O tells him that Mumm-Ra always comes back, but that they know how to stop him. Panthro wonders at the ease of their victory, stating that Mumm-Ra knew that Lion-O possessed the knowledge that his Sarcophagus was a means of defeating him, and wonders why Mumm-Ra didn’t protect it? As they exit the pyramid, Lion-O tells the ThunderCat engineer that Mumm-Ra is arrogant and underestimates the collective strength and teamwork of the ThunderCats.
Once the ThunderCats have departed, lightning strikes Mumm-Ra’s tomb and the devil priest reappears, laughing. Mumm-Ra replies to the ThunderCat’s boasts, stating that he is the arrogant one, for underestimating Mumm-Ra and never changing their strategy. Mumm-Ra attests that this has been proven to him thanks to Lion-O’s “jumping through hoops”, just as Mumm-Ra wanted, claiming that this battle was never about the Sword of Omens, but that he had wished to lure the ThunderCats to his pyramid so that he could draw upon Thundera’s life force and channel the spirits of the ThunderCats’ ancestors. Whilst speaking, Mumm-Ra mystically draws his Sarcophagus out of the cauldron, but when it emerges, the tomb is covered with ornate markings and the ThunderCat insignia at their centre. Mumm-Ra continues with his monologue, explaining that he needed the combined energies of the Lord of the ThunderCats and the Eye of Thundera to carry out his plan. Mumm-Ra states that Thundera will die by his hands, but that it will always be Lion-O who sealed her fate. Mumm-Ra’s Sarcophagus slides open, and reveals a mysterious figure inside – the figure of Grune the Destroyer!
* For some reason, penciller Ed McGuinness has been credited for this issue as Ed “Big Daddy” McGuinness – one suspects that this was some form of in-joke amongst the comic’s production team, as letterer John Layman is also credited this issue as “J-Lay”! The credits would return to normal next issue.
* This is the first issue of DC/Wildstorm’s ThunderCats run to credit the cover artists inside the comic, this issue crediting both McGuinness/Martin, and variant cover artist Udon.
* As with the issues that have preceded it, this story also makes reference to an episode of the ThunderCats cartoon – however, this is the first time that an issue references a season 1 episode, namely the ThunderCats’ plan to destroy Mumm-Ra’s Sarcophagus as a means of defeating him, as previously used by Lion-O in “The Trial of Evil”, the fifth part of Lion-O’s Anointment Trials.
After the low point that was #3, this issue sees a refreshing rise in quality that again sets out its stall to attract longstanding ThunderCats fans with its clever writing and beautiful, action-packed artwork. As with previous issues, there are lots of little touches in this issue that longtime fans of the cartoon will love – the Thunderkittens’ racing on their spaceboards, the ThunderCats’ plain to defeat Mumm-Ra via his Sarcophagus (a reference to Lion-O’s Anointment Trials), and the resurrection of fan favourite Grune the Destroyer at the end of the issue to name but three. With the art team of Ed McGuinness and Jason Martin back firmly in the driving seat the artwork is back to its striking, action-packed best, the two-page spread of Mumm-Ra and Lion-O launching into battle against one another being a particularly exceptional image from this comic.
Another element of this story that is very likeable is the character interaction between the three adult ThunderCats seen in this issue – Lion-O’s self-doubt about maturing from the leader of a small band of Thunderian survivors with whom he has a family-like relationship to being the “king” of a whole planet with a long and rich history is handled very believably, and his “pep talk” with Panthro and Cheetara, who he had often looked up to as elders despite being their leader, was heart-warming. A large point of the overall Reclaiming Thundera story arc was to show Lion-O’s character coming full circle and building on the character development shown in the cartoon episodes telling of his Anointment Trials – which is perhaps ironic, given that this issue references part 5 of those episodes.
Perhaps most notably, this issue begins to set up significant events that would take place both in the next issue of this mini-series, and in the entire The Return mini-series that would follow. To summarise, this issue is possibly the strongest and most emotionally stirring of this mini-series, and a pleasure to read.