WildStorm Comics indulge in their perverted side.
The early 2000's were quite an exciting time for a young lad such as myself. I would've been, what?... 16, upwards then?
It was an exciting period because enough time had worn on from between my childhood years to then, that most of my favourite things from my childhood finally became retro. In laymen's terms, it became cool to actually share with people that I still had an unhealthy obsession with Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja (Hero?) Turtles that never left, even after I had passed the age of 11. If I admitted it to Joe Public, old Joe would have been like “oh, Transformers? Like, the tape player that turned into a robot, right? Cool.” That was a much more positive, esteem building response than “Transformers? Pfft, grow up!”
Transformers was probably one of the first 80's franchises to come back in a big way. With a new comic line, the old toys being re-released, and even the old cartoon coming back out on DVD, it kicked down the wall, grabbing the world by the throat to announce “we're all products from the 1980's, and we're back- bitch.”
With Transformers breaking down that wall, many franchises from my youth followed. I was ecstatic. I welcomed home not only Transformers, but other things like the Turtles, The Real Ghostbusters, Rainbow and even G.I. Joe. All kinds of things that had to be locked away and confined to the back of Marty's little mind, because he was deemed to be too old to think and openly talk about them. To say that my black and white teenage years returned to the technicolour of my young childhood is perhaps the understatement of the day- I say that because understatement of the year might be a tad dramatic. With all these great things from my past returning in any and every piece of merchandising you can imagine, you can also imagine my elation when I learned Thundercats was making it return to the world.
You've all heard of the Thundercats, right? I certainly hope so, because that's all we're going to be talking about for the time it takes you to get finished reading this. However, for those of you who might not know about the Thundercats because you were either a boring adult by the time it came out, or you were living in the Soviet Union at the time, here's a bit of a back story for you. Pay attention.
Thundercats is the story based on the trials and tribulations of a team of overly muscular and half naked heroes from the planet Thundera. The show's called Thundercats, because funnily enough, those overly muscular, half naked heroes are in fact, walking, talking cats with humanoid features (these are known in some circles on furries). The group of Thundercats who are followed in the show are some of the last survivors to escape their planet, Thundera, after it explodes. Nobody knows why this happened, but I venture a guess the planet finally rejected being used one big litter box for all those years. But, with their planet destroyed, the remaining Thundercats put themselves into suspension capsules (think of the thing Ripley puts herself in at the end of Aliens), to make a long voyage to a planet that they could live out the rest of their lives. They crash land on the planet, and immediately find that their enemies, those whacky mutants from the planet Plun-Darr (Plundarr?) joined them for the wild ride to an unknown planet. Like many cartoon shows of that era, rather than perhaps settle their differences at a U.N. Conference, or something like that, they settled it the old fashioned way- fighting with awesome weapons, to brilliant flashing, seizure inducing effects, all while campy rock music played in the background. Let's face it, talking over the table as to why Plundarr couldn't have a turn with the Sword of Omens- the mystical sword that was the source of the Thundercats power- wouldn't have sold many toys.
There was a wild card in this little story, though; a wild card that makes itself known within the first couple of episodes of the show. This wild card is known as Mumm-Ra (Ra...Ra...Ra...) ← Even typing his name creates an echo.
Again, for those who don't know, Mumm-Ra is a devil priest, whose hobbies involve kicking about in in his pad known as the black pyramid; petting his dog, and spying on the world through his magical cauldron, like it's some kind of 24/7 peep show. Oh, that, and like any other diabolical villain, he wants absolute power. Now, despite being sheltered in the evil, vile, black pyramid for so many years, Mumm-Ra is pretty good at keeping up on current events. He knows that the Sword of Omens is just the golden ticket he needs to have absolute power, and he wants it. So, within the first couple of episodes, Mumm-Ra enters into a pact with the evil mutants to claim the Sword of Omens from the Thundercats, specifically, the heir to the Thundercats thrown, Lion-O. It's not like the mutants had a choice in the matter, though- Mumm-Ra used some of his voodoo magic to have the ship they traveled to the pyramid sucked into the sands of the desert. They were stranded, so Mumm-Ra had them over a barrel. Not only that, but thanks to being a devil priest, Mumm-Ra was able to conjure up the power of those known as The Ancient Spirits of Evil, to transform his decaying, mummy form into Mumm-Ra, The Ever Living!
Basically, if this were real life, the mummy form of Mumm-Ra would have placed a needle in his ass, injected, and hoped that the stuff he just used wasn't, in fact horse tranquilizer.
So, for the next four seasons, the Thundercats fight with Mumm-Ra and the mutants. They fight, and they fight, and they fight, and they fight some more. Sometimes, the Thundercats thought they had Mumm-Ra destroyed, but then Mumm-Ra would return like that itch in the middle of your back that just won't ever fully go away. But, finally, after the cartoon's executives finally decided they squeezed the cartoon cow's udders dry, the Thundercats finally defeated the evil Mumm-Ra in the episode known as The Book of Omens.
The world bid Lion-O adieu, and figured he would live his life lavishly, and luxuriously in ways that only Garfield, and King Henry VIII could only dream of (I mention Henry, since Lion-O became King by this time). I figured life would be pretty sweet for Lion-O, yessir. I figured he'd kick his feet up, relax, have as many wives as Henry VIII did (but only all at the same time), and never give Mumm-Ra a second thought, ever again.
But, then, about 13 years later, the comic book publisher Wildstorm Comics had other ideas for the Thundercats' happily ever after ending, and this brings us to a comic mini-series known as Thundercats: The Return.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, “wow! The Thundercats are back!” That's exactly what I thought, circa 2002. I liked what I saw from that cover, too, by the way. Just check it out. There's a dark, stormy sky for a sense of evil being afoot, and Lion-O has his game face on. Obviously, stuff's about to go down, and Lion-O's ready to throw down and sock it to Mumm-Ra. Wanna know what happens? Read on.
In a nutshell, at some point during the peaceful year, following Mumm-Ra's defeat, Lion-O decided it would be as good of a time as any to go on a training binge. To do that, he entered the mystical Book of Omens, which is like the gateway to another dimension, I guess. Time works differently there, something like a day was a year, or something. But, here's the catch. As Lion-O said his goodbyes and went into the book, Mumm-Ra did what he did best- he put some heeby jeeby curse on the Book of Omens, locking it up so that no Thundercat could open it up, nor could Lion-O get out of the book. With Lion-O, as well as the Sword of Omens out of the picture, Mumm-Ra slipped off the kid gloves he always used when he got into it with Lion-O. With those gloves off, he rumbled into New Thundera announcing, “okay, Cats, this is a bad day. You know why? The gloves are off...”
With that, Mumm-Ra, and his legions from the mutant army he somehow pulled out his ass run roughshod over New Thundera. The Thundercats were soon defeated, and Mumm-Ra decided that now he ran the show, he was going to Pimp Their Planet.
With a renovation that would make even X-Zibit envious, Mumm-Ra did away with the cat theme, deciding to go with a more “retro, antique-but-chic” Egyptian theme. You've got to admire it, for Mumm-Ra truly went for something that had a certain panache. Obviously though, Lion-O isn't going to take this lying down. It's like if you came home, and found that some Mummy decided to just redecorate your living room. You wouldn't like it; in fact, you'd probably be pretty steamed, so you can imagine how Lion-O must have felt.
At this point now, getting towards the end of issue #1, you're thinking, “holy hell, oh no he didn't! Mumm-Ra's gone done it now. He got that cat's dander up. Fur's gonna fly!”
I was thinking the same thing, too, and I thought it was going to be a rollercoaster ride from here on out- filled with many twists and turns along the way. But then, as I read on, the final page on this rollercoaster contained such a loop-de-loop, that it bitch smacked me in a way I wasn't prepared for.
For those of you who might not have yet clicked the x of your browser out of discomfort of seeing a pair of half naked humanoid cats, let's carry on. For those who don't know, the two Thundercats pictured above are Wily-Kat, and Wily-Kit. They're twins, and during the cartoon show's hey-day, they were the kids of the group. I dunno how old they were, but they were young enough. Young enough that you were never going to have sexual fantasies about them... Okay, let me rephrase that, they were young enough that I never had sexual fantasies about them. Needless to say, seeing them grown up, in chains and pretty much stark naked left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. But hey, you've got to give it a chance, right? I mean, it's obvious Mumm-Ra's got them as slaves. It's probably just for shock value, right? There's nothing perverse going on here. I mean, he's an old, evil Mummy, right? Mummy's don't have a sexual interest in humanoid cats... Right?