Star (Marvel) Comics
ThunderCats Issue #3

From the collection of Chris (He-Fan)

ThunderCats #3
Publication Date: April 1986

Writer: David Micheline
Pencils: Jim Mooney
Inks: Breeding, Morgan & Co.
Letters: Janice Chiang
Colors: Nelson Yomtov
Editor: Mike Carlin
Exec. Editor: Tom DeFalco
Ed. in Chief: Jim Shooter

“Siege in Silver and Stone”
Chanting the magical cry of “Thunder…Thunder…THUNDER…THUNDERCATS – HO!” Lion-O summons the other ThunderCats, who race to his side. Panthro asks Lion-O what the danger is, and Lion-O sheepishly reveals that there isn’t any – the young lord has been cutting thermostone shingles for use as insulation at the Cats Lair and thought he could get them back more quickly if the others helped. Tygra tells Lion-O that the powers of the Eye of Thundera must never be used frivolously. Lion-O apologises, and the other ThunderCats return to Cats Lair, although Snarf stays behind to help Lion-O. He asks WilyKit and WilyKat to assist, but the ThunderKittens cry off, telling Snarf that they need to test drive the new spaceboards that Panthro has built for them. Snarf complains that in his day “kids weren’t so dadburned lazy!”

Back at Cats Lair, the ThunderCats are running low on Thundrillium, the element that powers their Lair and vehicles, and so Panthro heads out to their source quarry to retrieve a fresh supply. Panthro notices that the Thundertank is also running low on fuel, but decides not to drain off power from the Lair and instead refuel at the quarry. On his journey, Panthro is stirred from his thoughts by the screams of a lone Warrior Maiden who is being attacked by a group of Rockmen, angry that the young woman has trespassed on their hallowed realm and declaring that for this she must be sacrificed to their Gods. Frightened, the Warrior Maiden inexplicably begins to remove delicate silver rings from each finger of her hand, but this action is interrupted by the intervention of Panthro, who fights the Rockmen off. Beating a retreat to the Thundertank, the Warrior Maiden asks why Panthro doesn’t use the ‘tank’s weapons to fight off the Rockmen, and Panthro reveals that the Thundertank is almost out of power. Retreating into a cave, Panthro uses the last of the Thundertank’s energy to fire its lasers at the entrance of the cave, causing the entrance ceiling to collapse and thus sealing them inside.

Back at Cats Lair, Snarf has finished carrying another pile of thermostone shingles and, feeling tired, decides to take a nap before returning for another load. However, Snarf’s plans for a rest are thwarted when WilyKit and WilyKat swoop down on their spaceboards and scoop Snarf up in the air, teasing him by saying that in their day, “adults weren’t so dadburned lazy!”

Meanwhile in the cave, the Warrior Maiden reveals to Panthro that her name is Tessa, and that not long ago she had been living happily with her sisters in their treetop village. Tessa reveals that the Warrior Maidens had incurred the wrath of Mumm-Ra, who had sent after them a dreadful creation known as Dagger Mist, which could cut through wood and stone with equal fury, devastating the Warrior Maidens’ village. Defenceless, the Warrior Maidens faced not only death, but the extinction of their race. Vowing that this would not happen, Tessa called on dark magic and forbidden ancient sorceries to fuel herself with fearsome power, becoming a living battery, and defeating the Dagger Mist. Celebrated as a hero, Tessa quickly became feared by her fellow Warrior Maidens when an errant burst of energy from her hands nearly killed Willa, their tribal leader. It was discovered that silver could contain the power, and so Tessa was given a silver ring for each finger – however, the Warrior Maidens were still fearful of her power, lest a ring fall off or the silver become ineffective, and so Tessa left the village and wandered Third Earth, which is where she encountered the Rockman. Tessa reveals that her powers are becoming increasingly erratic, and that she was afraid to unleash her power against the Rockmen in case she couldn’t control it. As she and Panthro talk, the Rockmen begin to break through the seal into the cave…

At the thermostone quarry, the Sword of Omens alerts Lion-O to Panthro’s jeopardy. The young lord prepares to summon the other ThunderCats, but changes his mind, remembering the lecture he received earlier. Deciding to help Panthro alone, Lion-O races into the jungle, but is quickly ensnared by living vines that threaten to pull him apart! Separated from the Sword, there seems no way out.

In the cave, Tessa fears that the Rockmen will soon break through the seal. Panthro has been tinkering with the Thundertank, and has come up with a way to drain off Tessa’s energy power to use as a substitute for Thundrillium, allowing them to escape from the Rockmen and freeing Tessa from the danger of shooting accidental energy blasts. Tessa fears that removing her rings will endanger Panthro’s life, but the ThunderCat persuades her that she has little choice. Tessa does as Panthro asks. Under the command of a tribal leader, the Rockmen look set to break into the cave and attack, when the Thundertank bursts through and launches a barrage of lasers! The Rockmen flee, and Tessa reveals that she is, at last, free of her powers.

Meanwhile, Lion-O is still trapped by vines, but frees himself by plunging his hands deep into the ground and ripping up the vines’ roots. Using Sight Beyond Sight, Lion-O sees that Panthro and Tessa are free from peril. While pleased, Lion-O feels crestfallen that the pair escaped without his aid. At the treetop village of the Warrior Maidens, Tessa is welcomed back to the tribe, and tells Panthro that she owes him everything, kissing him and giving him one of her silver rings to remember her by.

Back at Cats Lair once again, the other ThunderCats unload the latest supply of Thundrillium whilst Lion-O watches on mournfully, thinking to himself that if he had summoned the other ThunderCats they could have freed him from the vines and they could then all have rescued Panthro together. Jaga appears, and tells Lion-O that hindsight can be a useful tool, but only if used to gain foresight. Lion-O tells Jaga he feels he made a fool of himself, but Jaga disagrees, saying that he saw Lion-O learn that calling on his friends for selfish reasons is wrong, but that not calling on them when he truly needs them is much worse. Feeling better, Lion-O tells Jaga that he doesn’t know what he’d do without him…just as Jaga’s spirit form begins to appear stretched, and Jaga cries that he feels as if some invisible force is pulling him away! In a shimmer of sparks, Jaga disappears, leaving behind a shell-shocked and confused Lion-O…

* During Tessa’s flashback, Willa is shown completely off-model from her appearance in the cartoon, with a different hairstyle and outfit. At the end of the story when Tessa returns to the Warrior Maidens’ treetop village, Willa is shown in an outfit and look that much more closely resembles her cartoon appearance (albeit coloured differently). Marvel UK would use Willa’s alternative look extensively in the stories they created “in house” for the UK ThunderCats comic.

* This issue introduces the characters of the Rockmen, who would also be a focal point of the story in #9. Although the characters did occasionally appear in the cartoon show, the comics expand upon the characters much further and give them extensive speaking roles.

At this stage in the series, Marvel were improving with every issue of ThunderCats. This issue is definitely no exception, featuring a story that’s great for so many reasons! Firstly it shows that, whilst Lion-O is growing and developing every issue, he is still getting used to his position as Lord of the ThunderCats and, consequently, still makes mistakes. The scene at the beginning of the story where Lion-O summons the other ThunderCats to aid him with an ordinary job is wonderfully done, not just for Lion-O but with his interaction with the others – Jim Mooney adds a wonderful touch with the knowing smiles on the faces of the other ThunderCats as they walk away.

This issue is also special for Panthro fans as it shines the spotlight firmly on him, showing off his skills as a mechanical genius and as a skilled warrior. I confess to a bit of a bias here, as Panthro has long been a favourite of mine, and so any story that focuses on him stands a good chance of being a hit with me!

The other thing that makes this story special is the believable, well-told story of Tessa, the Warrior Maiden who essentially sells her soul to the Devil in exchange for power. The tragedy of her story is that she didn’t seek the power to better herself, but to save her people from certain doom. You can’t help but feel for her, and the tender scenes between Tessa and Panthro are a highlight of this great issue. It also helps establish Third Earth as a planet filled with untold and unexplored history, a fascinating planet but nonetheless potentially hostile.

In short, this issue is outstanding, one of the best stories from Marvel’s run!