“Reclaiming Thundera – Part 1”
In Cats Lair on New Thundera, Lion-O recounts by video screen to Tygra and Pumyra on Third Earth his battle with Pyron and Mumm-Ra inside the Book of Omens. Lion-O explains how his victory helped restore New Thundera to its original grandeur, and proclaims that the planet is now no longer known as New Thundera, but simply “Thundera”. Lion-O instructs Panthro to begin building a beacon, and requests Tygra to begin designing a signal tower, to alert the other Thunderians across the galaxy that their homeworld is back and ready to be repopulated.
Meanwhile, deep within Mumm-Ra’s Onyx Pyramid on New Thundera, the Ancient Spirits of Evil decry Mumm-Ra’s latest failure and decide to summon a new warrior to take on the ThunderCats. They call upon Shadowmaster, who emerges from Mumm-Ra’s glowing cauldron, and tell him that they will create an eclipse on Thundera, bringing darkness to the planet, and thus providing Shadowmaster with the power to destroy the ThunderCats once and for all. Shadowmaster revels in the opportunity, stating that he has a score to settle with the ThunderCats himself, and the Ancient Spirits of Evil tell him that if he succeeds they will free him from the Shadow Realm, but that if he fails they will banish him there for all eternity. Shadowmaster pledges to succeed, stating that on Thundera, in the shadows, his power is unstoppable. Laughing manically, Shadowmaster disappears.
Back in Cats Lair, Panthro’s sensors notice the eclipse taking place, arousing the ThunderCats’ suspicions. The darkness begins to blot out their sensors, and Lion-O sends Cheetara out to investigate what’s going on. Cheetara spies what looks like a flood of black water, and as she nears it, Shadowmaster reveals himself and tells the female ThunderCat that he has been expecting her. Shadowmaster instructs Cheetara to deliver a message to the other ThunderCats, the message that he is coming to kill them! Pursued by living shadows at Shadowmaster’s command, Cheetara realises that he is obviously more powerful than when Lion-O last faced him, and vaults up to the top of one of the statues surrounding Cats Lair to take a better look. Cheetara is shocked to see an army of shadow-creatures swarming towards Cats Lair, and races inside to warn the others of the oncoming army. Drawing the Sword of Omens, Lion-O leads the ThunderCats into battle against the shadow creatures.
The ThunderCats first attempt to use their weapons to slice the shadow creatures in half, which seems to slow the creatures down but not stop them. Panthro reasons that, as they are living shadows, normal weapons cannot harm them, and that therefore the only way to defeat darkness is with light. Panthro instructs the Thunderkittens to use their flashbombs to destroy the shadow creatures, and to share out their flashbombs with the rest of the ThunderCats. The Thunderkittens eagerly launch themselves into the fray, whilst Lion-O asks Lynx-O to use his heightened senses to locate Shadowmaster himself. Lynx-O tells the young lord that Shadowmaster has hidden himself within one of his own monsters, and that he just needs to discern which one.
Enthused by the thrill of battle, WilyKat tells his sister to cover him, and, despite WilyKit’s words of caution, launches himself deeper into the battle, only for his spaceboard to be grabbed by a shadow creature, sending him flying to the ground where he is surrounded by several of the shadow creatures. Ben-Gali uses a flashbomb to save the Thunderkitten in the nick of time. Meanwhile, the others are running out of flashbombs, just as Lynx-O is able to reveal Shadowmaster’s location to Lion-O. Lion-O charges towards the shadow creature containing Shadowmaster, declaring that he should have stopped him for good back in the Shadow Realm and vowing not to be so lenient this time. With an angry swish of the Sword of Omens, Lion-O dispels the shadow creature concealing the Shadowmaster and uses the light of the Eye of Thundera to overpower him, banishing him from Thundera forever. With Shadowmaster defeated, and with the sun emerging from the darkness, Lion-O encourages the others to return to work on the signal beacon, declaring that they have a planet to repopulate.
In the Onyx Pyramid, the Ancient Spirits of Evil rue their latest setback, declaring that as more Thunderians return to the planet their power will wane, and so resolve that they must destroy the ThunderCats soon. The Ancient Spirits of Evil decide to resurrect their true champion, and Mumm-Ra emerges from his cauldron reborn, vowing that the ThunderCats will tremble at his feet!
* This issue is a direct sequel to “The Book of Omens”, the final episode of the TV series, and begins by recapping the closing events of that episode. This is interesting, as it pitches this story almost directly at pre-existing ThunderCats fans. This story also heavily references another episode from towards the end of the cartoon’s run, “Shadowmaster”, the only episode to feature the villain of the same name.
* Whilst obviously not cartoon canon, Mumm-Ra’s resurrection and exclamation of being “reborn” at the end of this comic raises new speculation as to Mumm-Ra’s fate at the end of “The Book of Omens”, his use of the word “reborn” perhaps suggesting that his entrapment within the book had caused him to become overpowered or even destroyed.
* The first story page of this comic states that the ThunderCats concept was created by “Ed Wolf”! This should obviously read “Ted Wolf”, and was corrected in future issues.
For all that they would lose their way later in the series’ run, this first “proper” issue of DC/Wildstorm’s first ThunderCats miniseries successfully backs up the claim made by the team working on the title that they are true ThunderCats fans. Taking place almost immediately after the final episode of the cartoon, “The Book of Omens”, and also serving as something of a sequel to the episode “Shadowmaster”, writer Ford Lytle Gilmore certainly proved that if nothing else, he had done a commendable amount of research to craft a story that not only makes several very accurate references to events that took place in the cartoon, but also by coming up with an issue that, at least for my money, manages to communicate a lot of the “vibe” and “feel” of the cartoon.
Whilst the story in this issue is actually quite simplistic, particularly when compared to Marvel’s ThunderCats stories from the 1980s, this is not detrimental to the issue at all. The primary word to sum up this issue would be “action”, and this it delivers in spades. In many ways, the art team (particularly penciller Ed McGuinness) deserve almost a co-writer’s credit, for one of the primary strengths of this issue is its breathtaking visual storytelling! From page 1, where we see Lion-O battling Pyron inside the Book of Omens, almost every panel of every page helps to visually further or enhance the story, with some of the action threatening to almost leap off of the page. Perhaps the most visually memorable page is the one where McGuinness and Martin recreate Lion-O’s famous “Thunder…Thunder…Thunder…ThunderCats Ho!” sequence from the cartoon, with beautiful accuracy and yet still managing to give it a contemporary, unique flavour.
Not everything about this issue feels 100% correct from a cartoon perspective – WilyKat’s slightly more immature nature, as first showcased in #0, continues to jar slightly as he rushes impulsively into battle in this issue. Whilst it’s true that the Thunderkittens were portrayed as having immature tendencies in the cartoon, WilyKat’s portrayal nonetheless feels wrong somehow. However, this is more than negated by some of the excellent details present, a particular favourite of mine being when the Shadowmaster tells Lion-O to “prepare to join his father” – Lion-O’s father, Claud-Us, had ascended to the Astral World in the episode “Shadowmaster”, and this little reference really helps enhance the feeling that this is a sequel to that episode.
Sadly not all of DC/Wildstorm’s issues could boast this claim – but, for fans of the ThunderCats cartoon, this issue is for you! Exciting, action-packed, fun and fan-friendly (and with a fabulous front cover!), as a continuation of the TV series, this issue makes an excellent read!