ThunderCats #1 is written by Declan Shalvey and published by Dynamite Entertainment. Artwork is by Drew Moss and colours by Chiara Di Francia & Martina Pignedoli. Letters are by Jeff Eckleberry. Main cover art (left) is by David Nakayama.
ThunderCats #1 is available now, in print and on digital platforms where all good comic books are sold.
Fleeing through space to escape their dying home world, the ThunderCats were attacked en route by their mortal enemies, the Mutants of Plun-Darr. After diverting their damaged flagship to a planet called Third Earth, the surviving ThunderCats now strive to rebuild their society in harmony with the new world’s natives. But the Mutants, determined to possess the ThunderCats’ mystical gem, the Eye of Thundera, have tracked them down — and they’ve also forged an alliance with Mumm-Ra, the devil-priest of Third Earth!
Now the ThunderCats, led by an inexperienced Lion-O, must band together as never before to protect their legacy from this combined enemy. But will they be able to withstand the onslaught of Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living, once he sets his eyes upon them?
It’s difficult to think of a more hotly anticipated comic book debut than Dynamite Entertainment’s brand new ThunderCats. The publisher has reportedly received over 170,000 pre-orders for this week’s debut from writer Declan Shalvey (Immortal Hulk: Flatline).
The question from many fans has been which path Shalvey’s ThunderCats would take. Would it follow the classic cartoon series? Or carve a path of its own? The answer, based on this compelling and tightly-packed first issue is a little of both. Shalvey takes cues from the series’ 1985 debut but also forges its own path with some key changes and updates to the franchise.
The series kicks off in familiar territory. Lion-O narrative the story of the destruction of Thundera, the ThunderCats war with the Mu’Tants and how it led them to Third Earth. We learn that Lion-O was just a cub when the ship left Thundera. But after a malfunction in his pod he arrived on Third Earth a young adult. With the loss of Jaga, Lion-O has become the leader of the ThunderCats just as he did in the cartoon.
Here is where Shalvey begins to put his stamp on the series. This version of Lion-O feels more contemporary and more impulsive. Where his animated counterpart could often come across as flawed, Shalvey’s Lion-O suffers more from the naiveté of youth. The story instantly benefits from this change as it feels like there’s an arc for him to travel as he accepts his place as leader. Instantly there’s a sense that character development will be an important part of Shalvey’s story.
We’re quickly introduced to the rest of the cast. Most of whom have had costume tweaks to move on from the 1980’s wrestling outfits we all remember from our childhood. All our favourites are here from Cheetara through to Tygra. Artist Drew Moss has done a brilliant job of evoking those feelings of nostalgia well all love but without compromising on giving ThunderCats a more contemporary edge.
Of course we all know that the ThunderCats aren’t the only new arrivals on Third Earth. The Mu’Tants aren’t far behind and so the relative peace of exploring their new home is quickly shattered. For a debut issue, Shalvey has the perfect balance of character intro, exposition and action to make it a compelling read. Of course the turning point comes with Lion-O reciting the classic “Thunder. Thunder! Thunder! ThunderCats hooooooo!” catchphrase we’ve all repeated many times on the playground. It’s a fist pumping moment which is sure to hook even the most skeptical reader.
The action set pieces give Moss a chance to show what he’s capable on. The artwork during the action is incredibly fluid and dynamic. Aided by Chiara Di Francia & Martina Pignedoli’s bright colours it feels not a million miles away from the cartoon. Particularly with its own anime-influenced style. Moss incorporates that but never strives to solely recreate what was done before making this a solid opening gambit for the series.
I’m impressed. I had high hopes for what Dynamite could do with the ThunderCats license and issue #1 doesn’t disappoint. Shalvey does an incredible job taking the story from familiar territory to something original.