Things are looking grim for the residents of Eternia. The unthinkable has happened and their hero has fallen. Newcomers, the Thundercats, have sworn an oath to the king of Eternia to defend the planet in He-Man’s absence. Even the combined might of the Masters of the Universe and the Thundercats might not be enough though, because the evil Skeletor and Mumm-Ra have aligned to attack the kingdom of Eternia while it’s at its weakest. Will the city hold? More importantly, is it good?
He-Man/Thundercats #4 (DC Comics)
The first issue of the limited series set the stage, while issues #2 and #3 let the respective titular heroes both have a go at each others’ arch-nemeses. Issue #4 is beginning to put everything together–emphasis on “beginning.” As Skeletor/Mumm-Ra cackle and shout their evil plans out on a hilltop, Lion-O takes this as his queue to get the hell out of there. Actually, he’s on a desperate mission that I won’t spoil, but it takes up the remainder of the book.
In this month’s issue there’s a climactic fight scene that had to happen, considering the opportunity given by the crossover, but it didn’t quite live up to the much better “He-Man versus every henchmen in the universe” battle of issue #2. Even though the comic isn’t playing within the same constraints as the Hanna Barbara TV show, you kinda know from the first punch how it’s going to end. That took away the tension and perhaps some of my enjoyment of the book in general, since it seems a step back from the “what will they do next?” vibe of the last two issues.
Rob David and Lloyd Goldfine had to spend time setting up the next few conclusive issues and getting all the right players in the right places, so the issue as a whole feels a little like a detour. By no means was the issue bad, but in comparison to the rest, whose pace ran at a gallop and surprised me with how much I enjoyed them, this seemed like a step back in terms of pacing. The direction they took with the more adult and bloody battles, while keeping the characters pretty much the same as they were in their respective shows, breathed new life into the material. This issue felt a little more predictable, closer to what I expected going into the series, with the exception of a great scene where we get to see a familiar sidekick in a brand new form.
The book looks great again, thanks to Freddie E. Williams II’s great eye for the characters. He packs the battle scenes with a lot of energy, letting the larger than life heroes do things they’ve always seemed capable of, but never realized in the cartoon. All the fighting and Herculean shows of strength are drawn so they have a real sense of impact when the blows land. The framing in each panel is perfect, never losing the reader as the action gets hot and heavy. Jeremy Colwell gives the art a lot of its vibe with his coloring. Energy bolts and spells crackle with bright energy and draw your eye to the page. Their work together gives the book a very unique feel that still feels at home with the characters and world they are portraying.
Is It Good?
It’s not my favorite of the mini-series so far; I’d roughly put it on par with the first book. Most of that is because of the high standard the last two issues set in terms of breaking from the confines of the kid-friendly TV show and defying expectations, rather than anything being wrong with this one. If the big confrontation in this issue had landed for me, I would have enjoyed the book more as a whole. Still, the writers and artists are delivering a strong series and set up next issue to really let the sparks fly. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how that book turns out.