Star (Marvel) Comics
ThunderCats Issue #1

From the collection of Chris (He-Fan)

ThunderCats #1
Publication Date: December 1985

Writer: David Micheline
Pencils: Jim Mooney
Inks: Brett Breeding
Letters: Janice Chiang
Colors: Petra Scotese
Editor: Mike Carlin
Exec. Editor: Tom DeFalco
Ed. in Chief: Jim Shooter

Original Teleplay by Leonard Starr

“Survival Run!”
The story opens with the ThunderCats and the Thunderian fleet fleeing their dying home planet, Thundera.  On the flight deck of the flagship, the ThunderCat nobles gather to watch the destruction of their planet, and Jaga requests that Lion-O, revealed as the hereditary Lord of the ThunderCats, join them.  Roused from his slumber at the objection of Lion-O’s nursemaid, Snarf, Lion-O joins the others in time to witness the destruction of his home world.  Distraught by these events, Lion-O is told by Jaga that it will be his duty to rule over the ThunderCats in their new home, and to carry the code of Thundera – “Justice, Truth, Honor, Loyalty” – within his heart.

Jaga leads Lion-O to a special chamber on the flagship, the chamber of the mystic Sword of Omens, and reveals that the Sword contains the source of the ThunderCats’ power, the Eye of Thundera!  Lion-O tries to lift the Sword, but lacks the strength.  Assuring Lion-O that it will not be long before the Sword feels natural in his hand, Jaga reveals protective clothing and weaponry for all the other ThunderCats, clothing them with a wave of his hand.  No sooner has this taken place then the flagship rocks violently, and the ThunderCats race to the flight deck whilst Lion-O and Snarf remain behind.  The ThunderCats’ attackers are revealed to be the evil Mutants of the planet Plun-Darr, who systematically destroy all the Thunderian ships except the flagship.  Jaga reveals that the Mutants will be seeking the Eye of Thundera and will not risk its destruction.  Breaching the ThunderCats’ ship, the Mutants attack but are repelled by the ThunderCats’ fighting skills and new weaponry.  S-S-Slithe, Jackalman and Monkian find their way to the Sword Chamber and confront Lion-O.  When all looks lost, the hilt of the Sword of Omens begins to grow, a beam of light shoots from the Eye of Thundera, and Lion-O appears to whirl the Sword around – when in actual fact, the Sword is whirling itself around!  Frightened, the Mutants retreat.

Panthro reveals that the ship is badly damaged, and that the ThunderCats will now have to journey to a different galaxy than originally intended, to a planet called Third Earth.  Jaga states that, given that the planet is light years away, the other ThunderCats must use their suspension capsules whilst he pilots the ship for as long as possible.  The ThunderCats reluctantly agree.  Jaga pilots the ship for many long years, until as Third Earth draws in sight age gets the better of him and, setting the robot pilot, he dies, his body vanishing.  The flagship’s landing rays fail, and it crashes on Third Earth.  Snarf emerges from his capsule, and awakens Lion-O…only to discover that the young Lord has grown to adult size!

Snarf spies the oncoming Mutant flagship, and he and Lion-O hide in the bushes.  The Mutants discover the ThunderCats’ suspension capsules and prepare to slay them.  Enraged, Lion-O leaps out and attacks the Mutants, but is caught by S-S-Slithe and thrown to the ground, where Lion-O discovers Snarf, carrying the Sword of Omens.  The spirit form of Jaga appears, and reminds Lion-O of the power of the Eye of Thundera.  Chanting “Thunder…Thunder…THUNDER…THUNDERCATS – HO!” Lion-O awakens the other ThunderCats, and they fight the Mutants off.  Lion-O declares that the ThunderCats will survive and make Third Earth their home.

Seemingly undaunted by their defeat, the Mutants skim over Third Earth and discover a pyramid in the middle of a desert.  The spires surrounding the pyramid glow brightly and ensnare the Mutants’ craft with beams of light, causing it to crash.  Entering the pyramid to learn who did this, the Mutants meet Mumm-Ra, who tells the Mutants that he knows of their desire to destroy the ThunderCats, and that he also wishes to see them destroyed.  Mumm-Ra proposes an alliance between himself and the Mutants, which S-S-Slithe agrees to, whilst secretly planning to make use of Mumm-Ra as long as it proves profitable.  Mumm-Ra also schemes to himself that he shall use the Mutants as pawns, and in so doing make Third Earth his once again.

* Of all the ThunderCats TV episodes to be adapted by Marvel for this comic series, this is the only instance of them completely renaming their adaptation – the episode on which this story is based is, of course, “Exodus”.

* Marvel clearly adapted this story from the “movie” version of “Exodus” that was released on home video, rather than the stand-alone TV episode.  Several pieces of dialogue that were cut from the TV episode, but used in the “movie”, are adapted here, notably the ThunderCats’ surprise at learning that the Reptilians, Jackalmen and Monkians were all working together.

* In this story, we learn that “Doofle” is the name Marvel gave the toy reminiscent of a teddy bear that Snarf brings Lion-O in the episode “Exodus”!  “Doofle” also makes an appearance in the next issue.

For comic fans, this is the issue that started it all – the very first ThunderCats comic book!  It’s understandable that the first story created should be an adaptation of the episode “Exodus”, and (unlike some of their later adaptations of ThunderCats episodes) Marvel stick very closely here to the original storyline, changing only minor details and making small modifications to the dialogue.  Probably the most notable change in dialogue is an attempt to make the Mutants appear slightly more vicious, two examples being Jackalman eagerly suggesting that they “slay” the ThunderCats in their suspension capsules, and Monkian seeing Mumm-Ra for the first time and crying “Kill him!”  (To which S-S-Slithe responds “No!  First we listen – then we kill him!”)

Strangely, given that this is a straight adaptation of the first episode, some of the character development and story here to me feels a little rushed, at least when compared to the TV episode.  I can only think that the difference is the absence of the voice acting and music score, perhaps along with some of the dialogue that in places is cut down from the episode.  My other major criticism would be that the epilogue where the Mutants first meet Mumm-Ra happens much too quickly and without the underlying mistrust between the two parties that characterises much of “The Unholy Alliance” (the episode where the Mutants first meet Mumm-Ra).  However, I suppose Marvel felt that this was necessary to avoid making the second issue another episode adaptation.

These criticisms aside, this is a great start to a great comic series, and, with its great creative team, sets the tone nicely for what’s to come.