Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats… Ho!

The Prometheon in one of the Superman episodes I reviewed yesterday reminds me of a character from a Thundercats episode I like, so I thought I’d review that and two other episodes I like too.

The Rock Giant (by Peter Lawrence)

Mumm-Ra brings a rock giant back to life to go after the Thundercats. Great atmosphere in this one, with heavy rainfall and thunder and lightning, which Thundercats always did well. Wily Kit and Kat are both out in the open, allowing the writers to shoehorn a PSA in about not standing under trees in a lightning storm!

Jackalman makes a quick cameo so that the Thunderkittens get to steal a Skycutter off him. The rock giant gets to pursue the Thundercats back to Cats Lair, at which point Jaga appears to Lion-O to give him advice on how to defeat him, seeing as he’s breathing fire at them and even gets to have a bit of a standoff with the big cat head on Cats Lair, seeing as they’re looking each other in the eye equally.

Generally when episodes get a villain or monster that can’t talk or doesn’t have much of a personality beyond being a wrecking machine it’s not great, but this one is a good episode, mostly thanks to the unrelenting pursuit and the use of pathetic fallacy.

Jackalman’s Rebellion (by Bruce Smith)

Jackalman, always the most ineffectual (but my favourite) member of the Mutants, strikes out on his own, stealing Vultureman’s flying machine and recruiting Driller and Molemaster into his new “army”, appointing himself “General Jackalman”. We’ve got the Thundercats and the other Mutants trying to bring him down a few pegs.

Seeing as he was my favourite Mutant, I was definitely engaged in this episode, although it runs out of ideas halfway through. Jackalman forms his army, then they get defeated in combat and disband, leaving him to scurry back to his compatriots by the end of the episode. Some good attention to detail, as he’s rewarded himself with a star badge and some new boots, which S-S-Slithe and the others yank off his feet during the close of the episode. Not a full-on classic by any means, but it keeps busy with battles before finishing.

Turmagar the Tuska (by C.H. Trengove)

This was actually the first episode of Thundercats I ever watched, some time in 1987 when I became aware of the show and the toys. It’s actually an unusual episode to start with, because after the standard intro, Mumm-Ra and the Mutants are not in it at all. The purpose of the episode is to feature the Tuskas, represented here by pilot Turmagar, who flies a cross between a dragon and a biplane called a Gomplin, although in the toyline we just got a generic Tuska Warrior, who turn up here too.

The Tuskas are about to be attacked by the giant Technopede, which is like a gigantic, six-legged, robotic beaver, so Turmagar has come for help. The episode then has to see us on the way to Tuskania by sea, meaning encounters with the weird Black Widow Shark (a massive shark with spider legs) and the Vampire Mermaid, the latter of whom seduces Tygra with her siren song before almost killing him. Past that, they arrive at their destination at the same time as the Technopede, meaning battle.

Brilliant animation in this episode. Facially, the characters like Cheetara look a little thinner in the face than normal, but all lots of explosions as her bo staff and the weapons of Tygra and the others manage to grow to unbelievable lengths to entangle and destroy the Technopede, eventually toppling it. The Technopede doesn’t go down without a fight either, with about two dozen different laser cannons along its back and over its carapace. Just an unbelievable episode to look at, topping the colourful battle and explosions with Spidera in the episode Queen of 8 Legs.

Conclusion: The first season of Thundercats was nine times out of ten great to watch, and this smattering are all up to the usual quality. We’ll look back in tomorrow with three episodes of MASK!