Star (Marvel) Comics
ThunderCats Issue #5

From the collection of Chris (He-Fan)

ThunderCats #5
Publication Date: August 1986

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

“To Plunder Castle Plun-Darr!”
Lion-O and Lynxana emerge from the undergrowth surrounding Castle Plun-Darr, where the other ThunderCats are being held captive. Lion-O vows to set them free or die trying, but Lynxana berates him for his attitude, questioning the need to take such a dangerous path when they can walk on through the front door. Lynxana reminds Lion-O that the Mutants hired her skills as a bounty hunter to capture the ThunderCats, and that Lion-O was to be her final trophy – therefore, the Mutants may be tricked into believing that Lion-O is her prisoner. Lynxana tells Lion-O to give her the Sword of Omens – Lion-O is suspicious, as Lynxana had previously betrayed the ThunderCats, but is persuaded that it would look suspicious for Lynxana to walk in with an armed prisoner. Reluctantly, Lion-O hands over the Sword, and prepares to get started towards Castle Plun-Darr – just as Lynxana uses a stunbolt to render the young lord unconscious!

Inside Castle Plun-Darr, Lynxana presents her prisoner to S-S-Slithe and the other Mutant leaders, and is paid by Jackalman. S-S-Slithe is smitten with the Sword of Omens, and pledges to find a way to turn its power to evil once he disposes of the ThunderCats. S-S-Slithe invites Lynxana to stay for the ThunderCats’ execution ceremonies, which are to be held at dawn, and Lynxana readily accepts. Once the bounty hunter has been escorted to her room, Jackalman voices concern about her to S-S-Slithe. The Reptillian reveals that his sole reason for inviting her to stay is not just for her to witness the executions, but share the ThunderCats’ fate!

Once night has fallen, in the dungeon of Castle Plun-Darr, Lion-O hangs unconscious and suspended in an electron cage. The door to the dungeon pushes open to reveal Lynxana, who picks up the Sword of Omens, which is placed next to Lion-O. The bounty hunter reflects on the Sword’s power, thinking that its power would have been hers to share had Lion-O’s father Claud-Us not exiled her from Thundera. Lynxana thinks of her years spent wandering the galaxy, years of loneliness and struggle, and how that taught her many things, such as hatred for the ThunderCats, blind nobility and for the son of Claud-Us. Her face contorting, Lynxana raises the Sword of Omens and stabs it downwards…smashing the controls of the electron cage that holds Lion-O. Lynxana thinks to herself that perhaps it’s time to let her anger fade, just as the young lord begins to come round. Lion-O questions why Lynxana stunned him, and the bounty hunter states that it was necessary to make their trick look authentic. Lynxana hands Lion-O the Sword, and they set out to locate the other ThunderCats.

The pair discover Tygra, who, in preparation for his execution, has been shackled to the barrel of an ion cannon, and is guarded by two Reptillians. Lynxana boldly marches up to them, stating that she wishes to check on the prisoners, and chastises one of the guards for his untied shoelaces. The Reptillian is confused, as his boots don’t have laces, and Lynxana uses the confusion to club him unconscious and fires a stunbolt to immobilise his companion. Lion-O and Lynxana release Tygra, and the three of them soon find Panthro in the Castle’s hangar area, where he’s been shackled to two Skycutters, the Mutants clearly planning to tear him apart! Tygra uses his recovered bolo whip to become invisible, and knocks out Panthro’s two Monkian guards. Panthro is relieved to be freed, but curious to know who Lion-O’s female companion is. Before explanations can be given, the group are spotted by Jackalmen coming to take over the Monkians’ shift, and they sound the alarm. Panthro tells Lion-O and Lynxana to split up, and that he and Tygra will keep the oncoming Mutant hordes busy. Tygra and Panthro mow through the Mutant forces, and Panthro decides to split them up by commandeering a Skycutter. As Panthro planned, upon his exit from Castle Plun-Darr he is pursued by several Skycutters and a Nosediver.

Back inside the Castle, Lion-O and Lynxana find Cheetara shackled in front of a giant lens placed in front of a window, which would fry her when the sun came up! Lion-O destroys the device generating Cheetara’s electronic bonds, whilst Lynxana uses stunbolts to knock out the guards. In another room, the two Reptillians guarding WilyKit, WilyKat and Snarf hear the sounds of battle, and are quickly knocked out as Cheetara bursts into the room and ploughs through them.

Still battling in the air, Panthro deftly manoeuvres his Skycutter, causing the Mutants to first shoot down their own Nosediver, and then causing the remaining Skycutters to crash into the outside walls of Castle Plun-Darr. Meanwhile, Tygra begins to tire against the onslaught of Mutants, when from behind him stunbolts are fired, and Tygra turns to see the other ThunderCats rallying behind him! Leading the army of Mutants, S-S-Slithe orders his troops to attack, but the ThunderCats repel them. Using shatterdarts to quell a collection of Mutants, Lynxana is shocked to see Lion-O loom up in front of her, appearing to knock her down…when the young lord strikes down a Reptillian who was sneaking up behind her! Lynxana thanks Lion-O, and he tells her to consider it part of a debt repaid. Just then, the Thundertank bursts through the castle walls with Panthro at the controls – Panthro tells the group that he had found where the Mutants had stored the mighty vehicle. The others leap aboard, and beat a retreat from Castle Plun-Darr, leaving behind a dejected S-S-Slithe who vows to never again trust a ThunderCat.

Once free from the castle, Lion-O informs the other ThunderCats that Mumm-Ra is holding the spirit form of Jaga prisoner. The ThunderCats race for the Thundertank, but Lynxana hangs back, stating that although she helped free the ThunderCats, she is reluctant to fight alongside them. Lion-O’s protests are interrupted, a booming voice rings out – the ThunderCats turn to see a gigantic, spectral form of Mumm-Ra, as big as a mountain! Mumm-Ra tells them that Jaga’s powers now belong to him, and that those combined with his own might have made him invincible, telling the ThunderCats that a move against him will result in their complete destruction. By way of demonstration, the devil priest launches a bolt of energy at Castle Plun-Darr, and the castle is utterly destroyed, reduced to a smoking ruin by a wave of Mumm-Ra’s hand! Lion-O states that they have to help Jaga, but despairs of how the ThunderCats can fight such power. Lynxana states that maybe this time, they can’t…

* This issue shows the ThunderCats fighting off hordes of Reptillians, Jackalmen and Monkians – interestingly, we also get brief glimpses of the unusual generic-looking Mutants seen attacking the ThunderCats in droves in #2. These Mutants are shown more as slaves in this issue, carrying Lion-O before the Mutant leaders for Lynxana, and this goes along with their portryal in #2 where they are seen building Castle Plun-Darr under the whip of Jackalman. One can only speculate as to why these Mutant slaves were the Mutants’ primary attack force in #2.

* In the letters page of this issue, Marvel reveal that the first several ThunderCats issues were prepared before the TV show first aired, using early reference material provided by the producers of the cartoon. This was in response to letters complaining about ThunderCat characters having been coloured incorrectly, as well as the Thundertank cockpit having been illustrated incorrectly in #2.

* This story features a giant Mumm-Ra waging destruction, some while before the cartoon episode “The Last Day!” At least in this issue he is shown to destroy Castle Plun-Darr rather than Cats Lair and the Tower of Omens!

It’s hard to overstate how good this story is. This is simply one of the most brilliantly crafted, cleverly written, engaging, exciting issues to come out of Marvel’s ThunderCats run! Whilst this might sounds like a bit of an overstatement, for my money every word is true, for this issue is full of twists and turns that keep you guessing.

Guessing, that is, as to the true allegiance of the rogue ThunderCat-turned-bounty-hunter Lynxana! Although I’ve tried hard to describe them as best as I can, it’s hard to put into words the perfect match between the dialogue of this story and the visuals that accompany it – when Lynxana stuns Lion-O outside Castle Plun-Darr and tells him he “shouldn’t be so trusting”, and then seeing her interact with the Mutants, it’s hard to think anything but that her team-up with Lion-O was a plot to add him to her collection of captured ThunderCats. And, when Lion-O is shackled in Castle Plun-Darr’s dungeon and Lynxana contemplates her years in exile, we see her face contort in perfect harmony to her thoughts, as if enraged, and she stabs the Sword of Omens downwards as she speaks of her hatred “for the son of Claud-Us!” It’s not until we turn over the page that we see her use this blow to smash the machine restraining Lion-O. These panels alone make this issue a classic!

There are many other strong elements to this issue, not least of all the sight of a gigantic, spectral Mumm-Ra destroying Castle Plun-Darr in yet another startling plot twist! However, the real star of this story is Lynxana, who shows such depth of character, the pure heart of a ThunderCat tainted by anger and resentment, as to make this issue riveting reading from start to finish. Simply sensational.