Star (Marvel) Comics
ThunderCats Issue #7

From the collection of Chris (He-Fan)

ThunderCats #7
Publication Date: December 1986

Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inks: DeMulder & Barras
Letters: Janice Chiang
Colors: Petra Scotese
Editor: Don Daley
Exec. Editor: Tom DeFalco
Ed. in Chief: Jim Shooter

“Back to Thundera”
A storm is plaguing Third Earth, and the ThunderCats battle against it, feverishly erecting a dam to prevent the river from overflowing and thus washing away the Berbil Village. WilyKit complains that it never rained this heavily on Thundera, and Lion-O agrees. Suddenly, a burst of red lightning lances down, setting alight a Berbil hut. Racing to their aid, Lion-O calls upon the power of the Sword of Omens, and attempts to use the Sword as a lightning rod, deflecting the lightning away from the Berbils’ huts. However, the lightning proves too much for Lion-O, and the young lord is stunned. Tygra is shocked to see that the red lightning acts like a creature alive, and, as if to prove his point, the lightning recoils from the Sword of Omens, arcing away from the Berbil Village and striking a range of mountains to the east. An eerie glow springs from where the lightning strikes, a glow which burns brightly and does not fade…

Back at the Berbil Village, Lion-O is sore but unharmed. The young lord unhappily states that he wishes the ThunderCats had never left Thundera, and feels that they don’t belong on Third Earth. Panthro asks Tygra and Cheetara what’s wrong with Lion-O, and they tell him that he’s homesick. Tygra says that they all miss Thundera, but that Third Earth is their home now, reminding them all that Thundera no longer exists. Jaga appears before a brooding Lion-O, and tells him that he must set an example for the others, that he should live in the present, not the past. Lion-O tells Jaga that, as a spirit, he can’t know what he’s feeling, but Jaga tells him that all a spirit has are dreams and memories, a poor substitute for friends and a future. Lion-O is despondent, but Panthro decides that what will cheer the young lord is having a mystery to solve. Panthro tells Lion-O of the strange glow due east where the lightning struck, and suggests they investigate. Lion-O agrees, and the ThunderCats retire so they can tackle this refreshed in the morning. Snarf states that he has a bad feeling about this plan – not realising that they are being watched by Mumm-Ra from his pyramid! The devil priest reveals that it was he who cast the spell creating the storm, and that when the ThunderCats investigate Mount Dark (the location of the strange glow) it will spell their doom.

The next morning, the ThunderCats set out to investigate the strange glow. The others are unhappy about the expedition, and feel as though they are being watched. Cheetara asks Lion-O why it is so important they investigate the glow in the mountain peak, and Lion-O tells her that last night he had a dream about the storm in which someone was calling to him from inside the lightning. Lion-O’s explanation is interrupted by an ear-splitting hum which deafens himself and Cheetara – the young lord is compelled to learn where the sound emanates from, and the two make their way up the mountain, oblivious to a landslide behind them that separates them from the other ThunderCats. The others fear that Lion-O and Cheetara were caught in it, but Tygra reveals that he saw them get through safely. Suddenly, the ThunderCats are confronted by a strange race of insect people known as the Insectoids, lead by their queen Sectra. Sectra reveals that she has been alerted to a possible ThunderCat invasion of her domain by Mumm-Ra, and she orders her Insectoid children to kill the intruders. The ThunderCats reason that the storm and lightning must have been a trap, and fight their way through to a side canyon, Panthro wondering where Lion-O can be…

At the crest of Mount Dark, Lion-O and Cheetara discover the source of both the glow and the deafening hum, as they discover a rip in space leading to – Thundera! Impetuously, Lion-O races through the portal, and Cheetara follows him. The two stand transfixed as they stare upon the beauty of their home planet, but they are jarred from their thoughts by the appearance of a creature Cheetara identifies as a Hoparoo. Cheetara is surprised, revealing that these creatures have been extinct for 100,000 years, and reasons that they must be in Thundera’s remote past, the rip in space acting as a doorway through time. Again their thoughts are broken when they hear a cry for help, and the twosome race to action, not noticing the tear in space slowly growing smaller behind them. Lion-O and Cheetara discover their ancestors, a race of primitive Cave-Cats, fighting for their lives against an elephantine creature called a Mamroth. Lion-O uses the Eye of Thundera to unbalance the creature, and it falls down a chasm. The ThunderCats are thanked by the Cave-Cats’ tribal leader, who names himself as Rath, and a female named Kindra takes a shine to Lion-O, to the apparent disapproval of Rath. Nonetheless, the leader invites the ThunderCats to return with them to their caves.

Back on Third Earth, several hours later, the ThunderCats are boxed into a canyon. Not for the first time, the Insectoids attack, and the ThunderCats once again repel the onslaught, although one Insectoid slashes at Panthro’s leg, causing it to bleed. The ThunderCats all wonder where Lion-O could be…

Back on ancient Thundera, Lion-O regales the Cave-Cat tribe with tales of the ThunderCats’ exploits on Third Earth. Rath is clearly jealous of the young lord’s popularity, and so Cheetara attempts to placate him. She tells the tribal leader of the longing the ThunderCats all feel to return home, and how she dreams of Thundera every night. Rath asks if she and Lion-O are the only two survivors of their kind, which spurs Cheetara to remember the other ThunderCats! Displaying the Sword of Omens to the tribe, the Eye of Thundera begins to glow – calling on Sight Beyond Sight, Lion-O sees the others in peril, and he and Cheetara race to the location of the space rip. The pair are shocked to see the rip shrinking, and realise that if they go through it, the rip will close behind them and they shall never be able to return to Thundera. Kindra pleads with Lion-O not to leave, but the crestfallen young lord states that, were he to stay, he would always wonder if he had let his friends down. He tells Kindra that, sadly, some things were not meant to be, and he and Cheetara leap through the space rip. A tearful Kindra watches as the rip closes, forever sealing Thundera from Third Earth.

Back on Mount Dark, the ThunderCats are suspicious that the Insectoids have not made an attack on them in hours. The reason is revealed to be that the Insectoids are planning to pour boiling lava down a chute onto the trapped ThunderCats! However, just as they are about to implement their plan, the Sword of Omens shoots through the air, destroying the chute. The ThunderCats are overjoyed to see the majestic silhouette of Lion-O, and rally to his side. Lead by Lion-O, together the ThunderCats fend off the Insectoids. Watching from his pyramid, Mumm-Ra rues the failure of his plan, and vows to destroy the ThunderCats next time. Victorious, the ThunderCats gaze from the mountaintop at the sunlit Third Earth. Cheetara tells Lion-O that coming back from Thundera was the right decision, and Lion-O agrees, quoting a Berbil saying – “Home is where your heart beats”. Lion-O says that his heart is with his friends.

* This issue provides a fascinating and unique look at a “prehistoric” Thundera, complete with Thunderian cave-people, as well as introducing us to two ancient species of Thunderian animals, the Hoparoo (which, as you might expect, bears a striking resemblance to a kangaroo!) and a Mamroth (the elephantine creature depicted on the front cover).

* Marvel continue to expand their own ThunderCats universe in this issue by introducing a new race, the Insectoids, a race of insect characters never seen in the cartoon.

This issue is actually a classic example of Marvel doing what they did best with ThunderCats – taking the concept and running with it! In this issue, they explore the ever-present theme of the ThunderCats’ homesickness for their home planet Thundera. Whilst obviously Lion-O’s longing for his home planet is a theme touched upon and explored in many stories (not least of all the cartoon episodes “The Time Capsule” and “Return to Thundera”), this story goes farther than ever before by showing a prehistoric version of Thundera, and by providing Lion-O with a potential love interest. When Cheetara thinks and speaks of her longing for Thundera, you really feel that she is voicing unspoken feelings that lie in the heart of all the ThunderCats.

The dilemma that Lion-O faces (to stay on Thundera as he dreams, or return to Third Earth to save his friends) is a very real and poignant one, although you never feel in any doubt as to which path he’ll choose. The peril faced by the ThunderCats left behind on Third Earth also feels very convincing, although like Lion-O and Cheetara it’s easy to forget about them during the scenes spent on Thundera.

Many of Marvel’s stories really take the ThunderCats concept to new levels of credible drama and emotion (proving that you don’t need to make a story “adult” to make it “mature”!), and this issue is no exception. It is, in short, a beautiful story, perhaps one of the best ThunderCats stories ever told.