This week’s main review is Thundercats #1. Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finals and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below… enjoy!
Writer: Declan Shalvey
Artist: Drew Moss
Colorists: Chiara di Francia and Martino Pignedoli
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
After nearly 20 years away from comics and massive preorder numbers, the Thundercats are on the loose with this week’s Thundercats #1. This issue introduces the titular Thundercats shortly after arriving on Third Earth following the destruction of their home world, Thundera. The focus of the issue centers on the internal dynamics of the team dealing with their new roles all while staving off an attack from their archnemeses- The Mu’tants.
writer Declan Shalvey does a fantastic job of informing the readers of the basics for the Thundercats, but choosing to focus on an element of the original animated series that did matter—albeit not all that much outside of a few episodes—Lion-O’s age. When the Thundercats traveled across the universe to reach Third Earth, they were placed in a stasis-pod. However, Lion-O’s pod was not functioning properly and as a result he aged while he was asleep. This leads to him waking up as an adult but without any of the learned experiences that comes from aging.
By bringing the age issue to the forefront, Shavley provides Thundercats the hook that it needs. It gives Lion-O a different characterization angle beyond being just the stoic leader. He is a kid with a grown body and makes dumb choices. These moments existed in the cartoon but they weren’t as explored. Especially when it comes to interactions with others on the team, chiefly Panthro. Lion-O still sees Panthro as a mentor, but the reality is that Panthro is now his general and that means he has to be tougher on Lion-O.
Updates are important. We readers and fans don’t want retreads of the original plot. We can just revisit the original versions if that was the case. Instead, we desire something novel. A lot of nostalgia-influenced licensed comics often struggle to find something that makes them distinct from their respective source material. Thundercats #1 walks that line of being reminiscent of the original series but unique enough for me to want to read more.
Shalvey’s writing is supported by the fluid and dynamic art of Drew Moss. There is a lot of emotion imbued into the characters that makes them much more expressive than the original 80’s cartoon could allow. The action sequences are explosive and full of energy. The Thundercats’ signature sequence- using the Sword of Omens to summon the Thundercats with the catchphrase “Thundercats, Ho!” –is what I wanted from this comic. The colors by Chiara di Francia and Martino Pignedoli They are bright and vibrant, reminiscent of the look of an after-school toy commercial from the 1980’s. Moss and company perfectly captures the feel of the show but invigorated with the energy that just wasn’t possible given budget constraints.
Additionally, the updates to the Thundercats’ character designs whose credits are not exactly clear. It is stated that Moss provided the designs or if it was done in house by Dynamite, but I am going to assume it was done by Moss. Either way they are well done. They evoke classic designs but with more modern sensibilities. Namely, pants. Every character has a decent pair of pants. It isn’t much but it is an update that doesn’t depart too far from the original designs all while keeping the spirit of the characters. It limits some of the cheesier elements that are often the point of ridicule, but still looks like the Thundercats. Also, Tygra has this wonderful mustache that is on par with US President Chester B. Arthur and I love it. More mustaches. Por favor.
Thundercats #1 is a strong start to the comic series. Fans of the old cartoons will be pleased with the updates, and love the novel divergences from the original source material. New readers will find a solid science fiction based Sword and Sorcery action story that is entertaining and well produced. I was looking forward to this release and still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I even found myself watching the original cartoon on Hulu and that theme song has been playing non-stop in my head for the past few days. Thundercats are on the move and well worth your time.
Wednesday Comics Reviews
- Godzilla Valentine’s Day Special #1 (IDW Publishing): Godzilla Valentine’s Day Special is a story of enemies to lovers that uses the conflicts and appearances of Godzilla over the course of multiple years as a backdrop for the romance here. Through this romance we are given fantastic analyzes of the king of the monsters as a force of nature that responds to current events and an exploration of the ineffectual nature of the EDF in response to that. There’s a good bit here that can be looked at through the lens of current events and that’s why Godzilla just works and writer Zoe Tunnell understands these nuances which only strengthen the romance at the forefront. Artist Sebastian Piriz brings the romance and chaos to life with fantastic character work and a fantastic sense of scale. The leads have such an array of emotion and Godzilla feels massive and imposing, and true to form, aided by the textural quality brought to him that gels with the textures in the environments. Colorist Rebecca Nalty increases the visual cohesion, pushing and pulling the textures and heightening the overall mood of each sequence. Johanna Nattalie provided letters and production for the issue and everything meshes and feels like a natural extension of the art from the effects to the balloons. —Khalid Johnson
- The One Hand #1 (Image Comics): On the one hand, splitting a cat-and-mouse game police procedural between two miniseries seems gimmicky, but on the other– it’s maybe the most thematic way to layout the intertwining POVs with one series taking the plight of the killer and the other, The One Hand, tackling the case with the hardened detective. If you were missing the Brubaker/Phillips tone of Criminal or the Azzarello/Risso mood of 100 Bulletsthrow this series by Ram V (writer) and Laurence Campbell (artist), for a spin. With gridlocked panels keeping the procedural confined to borders and letting the unflinching neon-lit city exist in the gutters, Campbell displays a level of shot selection and lighting control that even the detective would ask: the intention is clear, so what is this for? V composes this production by leaving enough detail out there to get from A to B to C, but not enough to know what you’re spelling or what will come next, and thankfully leaving enough left unstated to allow other departments on the scene to breadcrumb in their particular visual fashion. One key moment in particular hinges on colorist Lee Loughridge’s use and restraint of texture throughout the detective’s night. Noir books are difficult, but pointed when it comes to color, because you’re usually dancing between overly shadowed, gritty backgrounds and a deluge of inner monologue, but Loughridge’s palette casts a futuristic, though distinctively bleak light for our eyes to dart around. This could be all the more confusing without a talent like Aditya Bidikar bringing instinctual instinct organization to the captions such that you shouldn’t get confused about who is speaking when there are two voices in a scene, but none present on the screen! The production team knows the score, and knows mystery noir fans have been missing something to turn that page– turns out, they’ve been missing The One Hand. —Beau Q.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Return #1 (BOOM! Studios): I’ve been looking forward to seeing what the original Pink Ranger herself, Amy Jo Johnsonalong with her writing partner Matt Hotson cook up since this book was first announced. Johnson’s career has often been defined by distancing herself from the franchise, so I was curious to see her take on her. The book centers on the real-life loss of that original cast and Johnson’s script is a thoughtful and emotional reflection on the place the Power Rangers have of her in her life. It’s a stirring story of heroism and sacrifice that speaks to Johnson’s well-rounded abilities as an artist. Nico Leon‘s art looks great and captures the likeness of the original cast while selling their complicated emotions. Leon’s compositions are dramatic, and the brief glimpses of action are exciting. Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinellis colors are cool and somber, elevating Leon’s cartooning into something genuinely moving. There’s a lot of exposition in this first issue, and Ed Dukeshire‘s letters keep it from ever feeling overwhelming. I’ve enjoyed most of Boom’s power Rangers books since they launched, but this one feels special for longtime fans — and even for those who walked away after those early seasons like Johnson herself. —Tim Rooney
The Prog Report
- 2000AD Prog 2368 (Rebellion Publishing): I’m starting to feel repetitive, writing this every week, but it warrants (heh) it — you really ought to be reading Judge Dredd: A Better World which is written by Rob Williams & Arthur Wyatt, drawn by Henry Flint and lettered by Annie Parkhouse. This week’s Prog You have the fifth part of the story, and it’s absolutely excellent. It’s a really thoughtful story that fearlessly goes right at the debate around effective policing. But this week’s chapter is also the most visually kinetic and stunning so far, opening with a 15-panel tier to remind us about the aforementioned debate, before giving us a close perspective of Dredd out in the field. If you’ve been hearing the buzz, I’m hear to confirm it — this storyline is one of the true must-read comics right now. As always, you can nab a digital copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance
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