Just a quick programming note: I was too tired to watch the first episode of the V remake yesterday, but I should have a review up Thursday at the earliest, Monday at the latest. (Unless I find I really like it, then it will be up Saturday if I can find it embeddable on Hulu or something. I don’t think you can embed from ABC’s site.) Now back to business.
In the last SMC we took a look at the unrequested, but still rather good, Battle of the Planets/Thundercats crossover comic. I discussed how Top Cow did an excellent job with the series as a whole, and this crossover in particular. I really can’t say the same in either case for Wildstorm and Thundercats. Sometime after Wildstorm parted ways with Image, had a brief fling with Marvel before settling down with DC, they appropriated the license to Rankin/Bass’s hottest non-stop-motion-Christmas-special property. However, the results were less than spectacular.
The first miniseries, simply Thundercats was mostly a reintroduction to the characters, so if it comes off a little “fanboyish”, I can let it slide. Thundercats: The Return, however put the characters in a rather violent situation. Mumm-Ra traps Lion-O in the Book of Omens for X number of years, and when he finally gets out he learns that the three Thundercats introduced later in the series were killed, Panthro was working in a slave pit, Tigra was being forced to work for the Mutants, who by the way were keeping Cheetara in the dungeon for when they felt the urge to rape someone (I wish I was kidding), Wilykat was working for Mumm-Ra who was keeping the (thankfully) grown-up Wilykit as his concubine (I wish THEY were kidding), and Snarf had pretty much gone bananas. The next two went downhill from there, because at least The Return felt like a Thundercats episode, albeit a rather sick one.
Dogs of War was a dark, violent story (yes, worse than the last one) that is “Linkara ought to review this nightmare” bad, and Hammerhand’s Revenge had some good ideas that were poorly executed, and out of all of them treated Snarf the worst as a character. The Heroes & Villains/Villains & Heroes specials were hit and miss anthologies, and the Superman crossover (DC and Wildstorm’s wedding present to each other) was kind of blah. I didn’t even bother to pick up Enemy’s Pride, the thankfully last of the Wildstorm stories. (If you want good Thundercats comics, hunt down the old Star Comics, Marvel’s kiddie/licensing imprint. Marvel themselves couldn’t handle a decent licensed comic not involving Transformers, but the Star and Paramount imprints were pretty good at it.) So I guess you see where I’m going with this crossover.
Thundercats/Battle of the Planets: Portal of Doom
July 2003 (Wildstorm/Top Cow)
STORY/ART: Kaare Andrews
ADDITIONAL ART/COLOR: Jamie Nouguchi, Andrew Hou, & Kevin Yan
LETTERER: Wes Abbott
COVER “A” (shown): J. Scott Campbell (with Avalon Studios)
COVER “B”: Alex Ross
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Kristy Quinn
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
A note about the covers: if you put both the Alex Ross covers together from the two crossovers, you get one picture. However, I keep them separate in my collection, since the first one is in continuity with the regular Battle of the Planets comics Top Cow produced, and I felt the urge to use the cover native to the company. (Have I mentioned enough how much I hate this whole “variant cover” nonsense?) Even if it is rather ugly in comparison. I mean, look at it. Do Mark and Lion-O look evil or what?
Two kids are at home watching their favorite cartoons, Thundercats and Battle of the Planets. (The openings match the show, right down to the “Sight Beyond Sight” and Princess’s pantie shot.–You know what, slag the usual set-up. I really can’t bring myself to keep the synopsis and review separate on this one, and I’m not even going to try. It’s not even as bad as Dogs of War and Hammerhand’s Revenge. But compared with Munier Sharrieff’s story for Top Cow, and the art team for same, this is many steps down. I was also hoping for a sequel to the Top Cow version (Lion-O even tells Panthro that he has a feeling they’ll meet again), but instead Andrews decides to be cute with the “show team-up episode” thing. It ends up not working.
Anyway, we see the kids watching the show, (BOTP on the bottom of the page, and Thundercats on top. It’s not a bad idea, and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.) as both Lion-O and Mark come upon a portal (of doooooooom!!!!!!–sorry, I had to at least once, because I’m corny like that), and Mark is swept into it, crash landing on…I’m going to assume it’s Third Earth. Panthro and Cheetara’s conversation indicates this is early Lion-O, before his maturity matched his age when he popped out of the “Suspension Capsule”, which I can only assume was damaged since the Thunderkittens, who were older than him, are now younger.
Anyway, G-Force sees Lion-O on the monitor and assumes Mark’s been kidnapped. (They’re half right). They want to go after him, but Chief Anderson isn’t willing to risk losing them through the rift as well. Not that “Jason” and “following orders” are ever used in a sentence together without some version of “not” thrown in there. This pretty much is the last good thing that happens in the book, or even feels like the show.
Next we get my first, and biggest from a “fanboy” perspective, issue with this comic. The commercial breaks. Yeah, for some reason we get another look at the kids watching their shows as commercials come up. The commercials themselves are kind of cute, a nice parody of 80’s kids show. (Except that Battle of the Planets came in the late 70’s so already the whole “TV show crossover” thing hits a rock, but this is hardly the worst offense of this page.) First there’s the Thundercats break.
In the actual cartoon, the “commercial bumpers” for Thundercats was simply the logo with a “Thundercats will be back after this…” “Thundercats are back…now!” narration. Here, Snarf is acting more like Orko from the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. I suppose that’s less boring for the comic, but it still breaks the cycle. The openings were the actual openings, so why alter the commercial bumper? Anyway, the only offense here is the mom. “Just chew on some brown sugar lumps”? Yeah, not going for Mother of the Year, are we? (Yes, that probably should be capitalized, “Brown Sugar Lumps”, but where’s the fun in that? It must have tasted like crap, too, and I like my Cream of Wheat with brown maple sugar.)
It’s when we get to the only comic appearance of 7-Zark-7 (except for the old Gold Key comics that came out at the time) that things really fall apart.
On the surface it looks like just how Battle of the Planets came to and from the commercials, with Zark worrying about G-Force. But look at it further, and try not to wince too hard with the rooster and what I consider a slam on G.I. Joe (because this was about the time patriotism wasn’t considered “kewl”). Would Zark really take time out of monitoring G-Force and potential Spectra activities, a job he’s said time and again that he never takes a break from outside of a little maintenance, to go on a date with his long distance girlfriend? (In the show, Susan was a similar model robot who (wo)manned the early warning station on Pluto.) Yeah, the “oil bath for two” is kind of cute, and nicely subtle. Then there’s the intro. “Well, it seems Susan has ran off 1-Rover-1 and left me to check out my own oil levels.” A not so subtle masturbation reference? I think so. Oh, and 1-Rover-1 was Zark’s “sidekick” in these US-produced segments. And, as you can guess from his name…
…is a robot dog. Robo-masturbation, robo-infidelity, and robo-bestiality? Based on the “oil bath for two”, I can safely conclude the first two, but I’m willing to give the writer the benefit of the doubt on the last one and chalk it up to poor research. Either way, this is not in character for either of them, which from this point on becomes par for the course in this comic, but at least Chief Anderson has an excuse, as we’ll soon see.
Oh, and this kids seem to have issues. I don’t remember ever using “your gonna DIE big-time” ever, much less during play, and the other kid seems like a brat to me. Then again, I’m an adult now. Allegedly.
Back to my nightmare, which is now one story. Lion-O and Mark wake up to find themselves prisoners of Spectra, or rather the Mutants in Spectra garb, who are torturing the Ro-Bear Berbils. (Still getting off better than they did in Dogs of War where the “War Dogs”–yes, that what the anthro dog warrior army called themselves–slaughtered the lot of them.) They also have Lion-O’s Sword of Omens and Mark’s wristband. (I’m assuming they DIDN’T know Mark used it to transform, although Mark’s “powers” come from his training, but he doesn’t have his weapons without “transmuting”.
Meanwhile, the other Thundercats pop through the portal (not doing it again) in hopes of finding Lion-O. They go undercover, which means poor knockoffs of G-Force’s attire. Except for Panthro, who decides to dress up like a pimp. Yeah, that…that last part was just stupid. They don’t fool Jason, who instantly recognizes them as cat people–from his car, presumably driving the speed limit, through a crowd. (Seeing them, not him driving through the crowd. Just so we’re sure.) He alerts the other G-Force members, who rush out to battle.
When they leave, we learn that Chief Anderson is really Mumm-Ra in disguise (well, it’s pretty obvious based on what he says and the fact that I doubt the writer would have used any of the other villains the Thundercats have squared off with when we don’t see him until the “big reveal” at the end of the story), who is speaking with the Luminous One. They cooked up this scene to imprison the leaders and leaving their teammates to kill destroy each other. Naturally, Mumm-Ra, everliving source of evil, is planning to betray his “allies”. Yeah, there’s a shocker, kids.
As the hero teams fight (for reasons less convincing that the other crossover), Lion-O and Mark are able to get the Sword and wristband away from S-s-s-slithe. (That’s how they used to spell it.) Mark transforms, and Lion-O uses the “cat signal” to call the Thundercats, with G-Force alongside, through the portal. They kick butt, Zoltar tells Mumm-Ra that they have a bomb that will destroy the “unique explosive core” of Third Earth (or Thundera, depending on how poor Andrews’ research really was), Mumm-Ra tells him that he left it in Zoltar’s desk in the office tower (wait, what?), and Keyop finds the REAL Chief Anderson…someplace. G-Force and the Thundercats still aren’t getting along, except suddenly Jason and Cheetara…
…yeah, I pretty much has the same reaction as the guys do. At least Keyop and Wilykit (who really don’t get along here) kissing in the first crossover made some sense, even if it was forced storywise. This makes no sense whatsoever. (Jason promises to call, Cheetara doesn’t believe him, and I don’t believe this ending one bit.) So…I’ll just spare you Snarf wearing…I’m not sure what…and talking like a bad Snoop Dogg impersonation. Why should you suffer through it?
The comic (thankfully) ends with the kids discussing the “awesome” show the way kids do. Except it doesn’t come off nearly as cute (for me, anyway). Seriously, Kaare Andrews let his (her? Seriously, I’ve never seen that name before on any gender.) inner child die long before writing this comic.
So between the bad art, things happening just to happen, a villain reveal that comes out of everywhere (seriously, we see it coming almost immediately after the “bumper” that turns this into a nightmare) and the ending just to end it, this comic just doesn’t hold a candle to the other crossover. Really, I don’t recommend this to anyone but a completist, which makes this the second bad Scanning My Collection (the first being the review of Transformers: The War Within 2: The Dark Ages). While most of the others I’ll do will be good ones, this won’t be the last bad one. Every now and then a few sneak in. This one wasn’t even worth caption/alt jokes. Still, Dogs of War and Hammmerhand’s Revenge fight for the title of “worst Thundercats comic ever produced, although DoW is certainly ahead on points.
Oh, and one last complaint I have to make:
Just because you “lampshade” the fact that Mumm-Ra and Panthro shouldn’t know Earth words like “dog” (but they know “cat?), “peacock”, and “shoebox” doesn’t change the fact that they know Earth words, does it? Pimp Panthro even uses the term “daddy-o”. That expression died before my parents was born, and I’m 36. Do the math. That’s a fail!
Sorry, I had to get that off of my chest, too. Next time I’ll get back to good comics, or even (finally) a DVD.