NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for "He-Man/ThunderCats" #1 & 2
It's a crossover three decades in the making: one, a superpowered prince from a far away paradise at the center of the universe, the other a young leader of the survivors of a proud warrior race. But while children may have spent days, months, years debating what could bring them together, DC Comics has finally done it with their new crossover, He-Man/ThunderCats. The best news? DC and Mattel actually found a way to merge these two properties that won't just satisfy fans - it just might delight them.
With two issues now released in the six-issue limited series, Lloyd Goldfine, Rob David and Freddie E. Williams have cast their hooks and set them. If you're a fan of either property - and for children of the 1980s, it's hard not to be - the time has come to drop those assumptions that this crossover is a stunt, gimmick, or immature daydream. Sure, it may seem like a premise spawned by energetic friends while smashing action figures together in a treehouse... but all the best superhero stories are, right?
When Worlds Collide - Literally
To really appreciate the story being told in the crossover (including those with no devoted knowledge of the leads), a refresher in the two heroes' mythology would be helpful. They may be two similarly-muscled leaders bearing magical swords, but their villains, teams, and overall purposes are different. For He-Man, the story is set on the distant planet of Eternia, a world inhabited by a fantastic blend of ancient warriors and a society torn from the pages of a fairy tale.
The star of the story, Prince Adam, is chosen by a powerful sorceress to protect a blade known as the Sword of Power - a mystical sword capable of channeling the energies of Castle Grayskull into its wielder, transforming Adam into the superpowered He-Man. A mission of protection and safeguarding the forces of the universe at work follow, but over the years, Prince Adam has become a little complacent (a result of defeating every threat his enemies have thrown at him).
That is, until the events of "He-Man/ThunderCats" #1, when a strange new world suddenly appears in the skies of Eternia, unleashing disasters upon the peaceful planet.
The planet in question hasn't appeared willingly, and it's soon shown to be no random world at all: it is Third Earth, the current homeworld of the ThunderCats. Having escaped the doom of their people on the planet Thundera, the ThunderCats are all that remain - led by Lion-O, their rightful ruler. Aged from a boy to a man while in space-travel-suspension, he relies on his fellow ThunderCats and his mentor, Jaga, to defeat threats of his own.
Those threats typically come from one famous villain, out to capture the Sword of Omens entrusted to Lion-O, a magical blade possessed of incredible power (see a theme developing?). It's usually the Eye of Thundera, the magical jewel embedded in the sword that his villains are after, but this new threat of planetary destruction arrives without warning, and without a nemesis claiming responsibility.
At least, not until the villain makes his play for the sword, as per usual... but it's not Lion-O's he's after this time.
The Villains Are Pulling The Strings
That's right, the attack merging two worlds in one corner of space is the brainchild of Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living, the classic foe of the ThunderCats. As the embodiment of all evil, pain, and torture, the arrival of the Thunderians on his native Third Earth was an answer to his prayers. Seeing the Eye of Thundera as the key to spreading his evil on a scale never before possible, Mumm-Ra made a habit of growing into a massive, musclebound monster to take on Lion-O and his friends... a battle that (predictably) went to the heroes.
But Mumm-Ra, as his name suggests, was never truly defeated in battle, possessing immortality so long as evil existed somewhere. He gained his powers from the aptly-named Ancient Spirits of Evil, sentient, supernatural forces that communicated with him in the form of stone statues representing their animal forms. The Spirits were stuck with Mumm-Ra as their champion, meaning attack after attack on Lion-O was thwarted, with no signs of them ever stopping. In this crossover comic, though, his plotting has escalated substantially.
The new plan, as delivered by the Ancient Spirits of Evil, is to instead seek out a weapon just as powerful as Lion-O's Sword of Omens - the Sword of Power currently in the possession of He-Man on Eternia. Using their mystical energies to crack the walls between one world and the next, Mumm-Ra travels in disguise to Eternia, preventing Prince Adam from calling on the Power of Grayskull and taking the sword for himself... before plunging it squarely into Adam's chest (don't worry, he's not out of the fight yet).
But even Mumm-Ra isn't aware of the Ancient Spirits' true plan.
Who else but Skeletor, the iconic villain of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe could be pulling the strings of this massive crossover clash? The motivations or schemes have yet to be completely revealed, but it's Skeletor who has given a pitch to the Ancient Spirits of Evil, promising to do what Mumm-Ra never could. Presumably, by using the element of surprise and the Ancient Spirits' gifts to attain the Sword of Power, Skeletor's new mission is to use the weapon to become the Master of the Universe, stealing those powers from Prince Adam. Once done, it's Lion-O and the ThunderCats who rest in his crosshairs.
Issue #2 delivers an even more thrilling twist on the plot, as Skeletor finds a way to consume Mumm-Ra's immortal energy, allowing himself to become as powerful as Prince Adam, allowing him to channel the Power of Grayskull. Somehow, we find it hard to believe that Skeletor intends to honor the deal with Third Earth's Ancient Spirits now that he's stronger than ever before.
Luckily, the second issue also concludes with Lion-O and the ThunderCats embracing the challenge of this new disaster, and coming to the aid of Prince Adam and his Masters. Even the Sword of Omens' Sight Beyond Sight can't tell what the future holds, or what other characters from the two franchises may emerge to thicken the plot. The good news? Children of the 1980s who regularly debated Lion-O's odds in battle against Skeletor may finally be able to settle a few bets, once and for all.
"He-Man/ThunderCats" #1 & 2 are available now.