“Reclaiming Thundera – Part 3”
Out in space, Evil Chaser First Class Mandora is caught in the midst of battle, and radios in to the Interplanetary Control Force to tell them that the distress call they received from Planet 48462 was a trap. Amidst a hail of laser fire, Mandora informs them that the patrol that responded to the distress signal was ambushed, she being the only officer to make it out alive. Mandora tells her base that her assailants have hijacked the Interplanetary Control Force patrol craft and are pursuing her through the debris of the planet’s third moon. Within the patrol craft, a shadowy figure prepares to gun Mandora down but is told that she is wanted alive. The patrol craft launches a net that ensnares the Evil Chaser, and she is brought aboard, where she finds herself facing the fearsome Lunataks!
Meanwhile on Third Earth, Panthro, Lion-O and Ben-Gali are out driving in the new Thundertank, the revamped vehicle coping well on the rough terrain. Bengali questions why rough terrain like this exists on Thundera, after Lion-O had helped restore the planet to its former lush beauty when he was inside the Book of Omens. Panthro explains to Ben-Gali that Lion-O had been able to restore most of the planet to its former grandeur, but that some areas would always remain arid and dry. Panthro tells the ThunderCat blacksmith that this is not an area where he would wish to spend too much time anyway, as his sensors indicate that there is a large deposit of Thundrilium close by. Ben-Gali asks whether this means that they are in danger, but Panthro assures him that as long as it’s all stable they should be fine, and that all they need to collect is enough for Cats Lair and the Signal Beacon. Lion-O reminds Panthro that they are likely to need a lot more once other Thunderians begin returning to Thundera, but Panthro reassures the young lord that he believes there is enough Thundrillium in this territory to power Thundera for a millennium or two. Using the Thundertank’s new enhancements, Panthro begins drilling into the rock face where he believes the Thundrillium is located.
Back in space, Luna awakens Mandora, who defiantly asks the Lunataks’ diminutive leader what they want with her. Alluro tells the Evil Chaser that they crave vengeance for their first meeting, where she caused great destruction to Skytomb, recounting how they had tried to use Lynx-O’s braille board so that they could remain hidden from the ThunderCats and live in peace, trying to extract the information needed from Lynx-O using the Lunataks’ Skull-Scope. Alluro recalls how all was going well until Mandora showed up, looking initially for Chilla but preventing the whole Lunatak group from carrying out their plans. Luna chips in, and recounts how Mandora had earlier defeated Red-Eye and stolen his pacifier, and that, after Mandora destroyed the Skull-Scope, she used Red-Eye’s weapon to attack Alluro and Amok. Luna reminds Mandora how she used the pacifier’s heat powers to defeat Chilla, almost killing her, and then forced her to drink anti-freeze before taking her into custody. Luna then recounts how Mandora split the Lunataks apart, eventually helping the ThunderCats to banish them and Captain Cracker. Luna states that the Lunataks had vowed to escape and seek revenge against the Evil Chaser, and tells her that they are here to make good on their promise. Mandora insists that Luna has a selective memory, and tells the Lunatak to do whatever she wishes to her, that the law will catch up with them in the end. Luna laughs off Mandora’s threats and tells the Evil Chaser that she now is the law, and that she and the ThunderCats will be punished for their trespasses against the Lunataks. Chilla turns round, and tells Luna that they have arrived at their destination…
In Cats Lair, Cheetara radios Lion-O and the others to ask how the expedition is going, and Lion-O responds that it was a success. The ThunderCats’ exultations are interrupted, however, when an attack is launched on Cats Lair, causing the Thundertank to lose contact. The Thundertank speeds back to Cats Lair, whilst the ThunderCats are shocked to see that they are seemingly being attacked by the Interplanetary Control Force! Lynx-O surmises that it may not be the ICF but someone else piloting one of their ships, and urges Cheetara to use her sixth sense like they have been practicing, to ascertain who is piloting the craft. Cheetara does so, and discovers that the Lunataks are at the controls, with Mandora as their prisoner.
Meanwhile, the Thundertank has reached the Cats Lair, and Lion-O outlines a plan to the others. Lion-O tells Ben-Gali that Panthro is going to launch the Thundertank right over the Lunataks’ ship, and that they are to jump on the ship’s wings and take out its cannons whilst Panthro spins out to take the defensive. The ThunderCats successfully execute their plan, and the ship is grounded. Lion-O tells the Lunataks to exit the ship slowly and not do anything stupid, but the Lunataks ignore his instructions and emerge fighting. A fierce battle ensues, but the ThunderCats defeat the Lunataks with relative ease. Luna is furious, and demands to know how the ThunderCats bested them so easily. Lion-O tells her it is because they are the ThunderCats, and tells the Lunatak that he is tired of wasting time on Plun-Darrian garbage like them, stating that they are taking their planet back and that they are not going to give third-rate criminals like them any more second chances. Luna urges Amok to prepare to attack the young lord, but the pair are stopped by Mandora, wielding Red-Eye’s staff. Mandora apologises to Lion-O for the delay in arriving, stating that she had managed to free herself from her handcuffs some while earlier but could not escape until there was no one guarding her. Mandora thanks Lion-O for the ThunderCats’ help in apprehending the Lunataks and assures him that they will be going away for a long time. Lion-O responds that forever wouldn’t be long enough.
Watching everything in his pyramid, Mumm-Ra observes to Ma-Mutt that no matter what planet they are on, or how much stronger or smarter they make the Mutants, or who is in charge of them, the ThunderCats always win. Mumm-Ra tells Ma-Mutt that it is time to take matters into their own hands and employ a different strategy. Mumm-Ra instructs his dog to metamorphose into his flying form, bigger than normal, and strong enough to carry a prisoner – Mumm-Ra looks into his cauldron and gazes upon an image of WilyKit and WilyKat, and then instructs Ma-Mutt to bring him “the littlest ThunderCat”!
* This issue, in the same vein as the two that precede it, serves as a sequel to several episodes of the cartoon series, in this case “Sideswipe”, “The Exile Isle”, and “Cracker’s Revenge”.
* This is the only issue of DC/Wildstorm’s Reclaiming Thundera mini-series to feature no interior artwork by Ed McGuinness and Jason Martin, instead being drawn by the art team of Francisco Herrera and Carlos Lobo Cuevas.
* Surprisingly, this is the first ever comic appearance by the Lunataks! Although the Lunataks featured prominently almost from the commencement of season 2 of the cartoon series, they never appeared in Marvel’s 1980s comic series in either the US or UK.
OK, let’s get the biggest negative of this issue out of the way first – the artwork in this issue is absolutely awful! Actually, to be fair, “awful” is possibly the wrong word – “heavily stylised” would be another way of putting it. Why I find myself describing it as “awful” is because I truthfully cannot thank of a worse match-up between artist and concept than Francisco Herrera drawing ThunderCats, because the resulting artwork is very disproportionate and “cartoon-looking”. Whilst this might seem like a strange statement, given that the ThunderCats comic series is based on a cartoon, for me the artwork in this comic would be better suited to a property like Loony Tunes rather than an action-adventure property like ThunderCats – chins and other facial points are bulging and heavily exaggerated, and characters’ expressions are also very cartoon-like.
The only positive comment I have to make about this artwork is that it does seem to suit the issue’s main villains, the Lunataks, who incidentally make their very first proper comic appearance in this issue! Herrera’s exaggerated style looks perfect for the peculiar features of the Lunatak villains, particularly Luna and Amok, and I even find myself wondering whether this was how Herrera came to be working on this issue. Overall, the art for this issue is something of an oddity, if you consider that all four of the other Reclaiming Thundera issues were (at least partially) pencilled by Ed McGuinness.
Story-wise, whilst the writing on this issue is several notches above the artwork, it begins to feel slightly as though Ford Lytle Gilmore is just going through the motions, as this issue follows an almost identical format to #2 – i.e., main villain team (the Mutants in #2, the Lunataks in this issue) return from exile and attack the ThunderCats and their guest character (Hachiman in #2, Mandora the Evil Chaser in this issue), whilst Mumm-Ra plots from afar and the ThunderCats speak about repopulating Thundera. However, as with previous issues, something that does rescue this issue for fans of the cartoons is the feeling of reading a sequel to an episode of the TV series – this issue is a direct continuation of the episode “Sideswipe”, and also “The Exile Isle” and “Cracker’s Revenge”, also making references to “The Book of Omens” and “The Telepathy Beam”, and these great little touches really enhance the credibility of the storyline. Another nice detail is when Luna tells Mandora “I am the law now!”, which is an obvious variation on a line uttered by Luna to Mandora in the episode “Sideswipe”. Unfortunately one touch that backfires is when the ThunderCats discuss the mining of Thundrillium and the potentially harmful effects of exposure to a large quantity – as any fan of the cartoon will tell you, Thundrillium (the ThunderCats’ power source) is harmless to ThunderCats in any quantity, it is Thundrainium which weakens ThunderCats and can cause them harm!
In short, this issue is not without its redeeming features, but is almost certainly the weakest issue of the five-part Reclaiming Thundera mini-series.