HERO HISTORY: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent NoMan

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Or – “Hero Of Many Roles:  Scientist…  Superspy…  Android…  Island…”

The history of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents began with a scientist murdered in his lab, but Emil Jenkins wasn’t alone in his development of super-weapons for the United Nations Defense Enforcement arm.  Other men worked tirelessly to create weapons of democracy for use in the brave new world of terrorist cells and metahuman threats to liberty, including today’s history entrant.  The eldest and wisest of the Agents, his nature is unique among not only T.H.U.N.D.E.R. but among heroes in general.  It is fitting that the man who was so key in the beginnings of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. be our final look at the team.  The agent whose super-weapon makes him most suited to spycraft, he is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, downloaded into the body of Commander Data.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Doctor Anthony Dunn of The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves…  T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent NoMan!

As with Dynamo and Menthor, NoMan’s origin starts somewhere in the mountains of a far-off land, in the hidden laboratory of Professor Emil Jennings.  A brilliant scientist, Jennings had moved his operations to this remote location to continue his research into mechanical super-devices.  Unfortunately, the cabal of evil known as the Warlords have discovered his hideout…

 

Even as the Warlords’ footsoldiers are thwarted, the field agents of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. discover that they’ve arrived just a bit too late…

 

Even though the man has been killed, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. recovers several devices from the lab, each of which is years ahead of current technology, and each of which can give a single person the power of an army…

 

We’ve seen the power of the Thunderbelt and the Menthor helm in action, but that mysterious cloak has remained unexplained.  But before we get to that, we need to join Jenning’s fellow scientist, Anthony Dunn.  After 70+ years of work for a better tomorrow, Dr. Dunn’s body is simply worn out.  Wheelchair-bound, Dunn has worked for decades to perfect the world’s first workable android body, as well as an apparatus that would allow a human being to download their mind into the mechanical forms…  Ironically, Dunn has unwittingly created the means that will save his life.

 

After a short time, Dunn’s body slumps in the chair, and his life is changed forever…

 

With Jenning’s cloak of invisibility and his tireless robot form, Anthony Dunn has become the ultimate espionage agent, able to infiltrate any stronghold, with the advantage of 7 decades of experience behind him.  In his first mission, NoMan infiltrates the headquarters of one of the Warlord’s minibosses, a geneticist named Demo…

 

The battle with Demo is a short one, and NoMan’s shakedown cruise is an unmitigated success.  T.H.U.N.D.E.R. immediately sets out to create more bodies, allowing the Immortal Agent to switch back and forth at will, and giving him great versatility in the field.  Dr. Dunn quickly becomes adept at moving his consciouness from body to body, almost as fast as he can think…

T.H.U.N.D.E.R.’s utilization of a perfect human simulacrum doesn’t go unnoticed, and the Warlord himself sets his sights on stealing one of the NoMan androids (to reverse enginneer and steal the technology.)  Warlord’s spies manage to steal the secret frequency on which the mind transfer takes place, and tries to take over NoMan’s active body radiophonically…

 

Warlord trumphantly leaps into a waiting rocket sled, proud to have stolen both the NoMan body and the invisibility cloak, but is quickly overtaken by the real NoMan who gives him an offer he can’t refuse…

 

No matter how impressive the technologies involved, though, it’s the mind within that makes all the difference.  In a return bout with Demo, NoMan is forced to abandon a body wearing his cloak of invisibility, leaving the villain in possession of his main super-power.  Demo proves unable to overcome an invisible adversary, but when the shoe is on the other foot, NoMan proves himself to the the better not-quite-a-man.

 

The doc even finds a way to travel among the humans, creating a realistic rubberized mask (a breakthrough that he obviously sold to U.N.C.L.E., S.H.I.E.L.D., and Batman, among others) that would allow him to take his blue, faceless forms out in public…

 

Having spent so many years in research and development, Dr. Dunn is joyful at the prospect of a new field of endeavor, and throws himself headlong into the physical side of life as a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent, becoming as adept in unarmed combat as he is in the lab…

 

Indeed, he becomes so engaged in the life of a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent that he begins taking risks wildly, using his bodies in more and  more dangerous ways.  As his career continues, NoMan falls into a very human sort of funk about his newfound “inhuman” status.

 

NoMan finds himself with a bit of ennui over a pretty young lady, but when his career interferes, he threatens to quit T.H.U.N.D.E.R.  When his shrink turns out to be a little bit TOO engaged in making sure that NoMan retires from service.  NoMan discovers that his own psychoanalyst has been spying on him and reporting his activities.  NoMan takes him down, and decides that his android nature makes him too important a resource to waste on silly things like romance…

 

Still, even an old man relishes in the silly physical things in life.  When NoMan’s mind is transferred inadvertantly through a lightning strike into a human body, he momentarily loses his perspective and decides to keep the body for himself…

 

Of course, if you were transferred into the body of a young Ted Kennedy, you too might consider staying, if only for the beer.  Returning to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and to action, NoMan sets his mind to the problem of his powers and how simply stealing his cloak could leave him powerless.  It’s a situation that he doesn’t intend to find himself in again, as shown when the evil Locust King comes gunning for his cape…

 

NoMan even has the cojones to face down a giant T-Rex in mortal combat (and unlike Dynamo, who did it first, NoMan isn’t fang-proof…)

 

It is NoMan who first discovers that a cabal of aliens is hiding on the dark side of the moon, watching Earth and waiting for the optimum time to strike.  One of his bodies is rocketed to the moon to investigate, and he quickly finds that these BEM’s have evil intentions…

 

NoMan and Dynamo together engage the creatures, and their combined power is enough to wave off the threat of invasion, but at the cost of one of NoMan’s spare bodies.  Upon returning to Earth, Dynamo and NoMan can’t believe what they’ve witnessed, wondering if any of it was truly real…

 

As clever as Dr. Dunn is, even he is surprised when, during what should have been just a random battle, someone manages to jam the frequency that allows him to transfer his mind.  NoMan’s mind is trapped in a non-functional body, but he manages to escape seconds before utter destruction…

 

Returning to T.H.U.N.D.E.R., NoMan is uncharacteristically concerned, swearing that whatever it is that they’re facing, it’s not just the standard Warlord/S.P.I.D.E.R./Communist agent nonsense.  This, he maintains, is something much sinister, and MUCH more powerful…

 

The nature of the threat becomes more and more obtuse as giant mutated insects begin attacking humans around the globe, but especially in the vicinity of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. operations.  NoMan enters the field again, only to find that the mysterious interference has returned…

 

NoMan once again barely escapes, thanks to his intestinal fortitude and strength of will.  The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agents rally their forces together to fight off a full invasion of the giant monster bugs, and finally discovering that the truth lies on the moon.  The Agents return to space to find that the “alien invasion” has been masterminded by someone relatively close to home…

 

The Agents overcome the threat, and NoMan himself takes down his errant “child.”  Still, even in the life of a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent, there come lulls, times when there is no threat to be fought, no enemy to be defeated.  In these times, the mind of Anthony Dunn is forced to consider the metaphysical ramifications of his artificial status…

 

Still, no matter how existential his quandaries, NoMan is first and foremost a professional.  Returning to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. headquarters, he sounds the general alarm, but he still has enough empathy in him to try and help his fellow agent Lightning (whose superspeed powers are causing him to age at a phenomenal rate…)

 

And for all his protestations of inhuman nature, NoMan finds himself still prey to human emotions.  When a minor beaurocrat decides that T.H.U.N.D.E.R.’s budget needs cutting, he finds himself on the end of some very normal anger when he tries to interfere with NoMan’s livelihood.

 

As the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents activities continue, the team is forced to deal with new political realities, and a much more violent field of operations.  As the playing field changes, though, NoMan learns more than a few new tricks…

 

He even embraces the benefits of his body’s non-human natures, such as creating fascinating new ways to infilitrate enemy encampments…

 

NoMan’s response to a more deadly brand of spycraft and espionage work is the same as his response to the transition from Pierre Curie to James Bond:  adapt to the new reality.  After all, as Alan Moore so aptly pointed out, invisibility is really only useful if you want to hurt someone…

 

Indeed, NoMan knows the value of a good piece of machinery (being one himself.)  And as a scientist, he understands the law of conservation of big-@$$ cannons.

 

Indeed, NoMan of all the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents emblemizes what T.H.U.N.D.E.R. is all about, and is considered to be one of the team’s most credible threats in combat.  When enemies of liberty gather, their primary concern tends to be how to neutralize the Immortal Agent.

 

Indeed, in the not-so-distant future, some say that even after T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and the United Nations are gone, that NoMan will be the last remnant of the lost days of heroism.  In that potential future, the world is on the brink of the inevitable apocalypse, and the years of solitude have left Anthony Dunn’s mind a few turns off plumb…

 

When a young woman named Lyn Brown ends up taking refuge in an abandoned T.H.U.N.D.E.R. base (trying to escape some sort of punk-rock zombies or something) she encounters the last body of NoMan, whose programs aren’t quite functioning correctly.  Mistaking “Lyn Brown” for “Len Brown” (aka his long-lost compatriot Dynamo) NoMan takes the first steps towards a return of liberty and justice in a world gone mad…

 

That story (indeed, many of these stories) have never been fully told, but NoMan’s lasting legacy has been seen in the years since.  In many ways, his ability to take immense amounts of damage and return to action could be seen as a precursor to that endlessly regenerating Canadian fellow.  His strength, combined with his stealth, combined with the genius intellect of Anthony Dunn made him a triple-threat hero, a polymath in a world of specialists.  Through all his protestations of inhumanity, it’s clear that there is a heart in the tin man, as well as that remarkable mind, and it is always clear that NoMan’s bravery comes from the heart of the man, and not the invulnerability of the machinery.  Of all the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Dr. Dunn most quickly embraced his new life and proved more than ready for the challenges ahead of him, proving in many ways to be the most heroic of them all.

**If you’ve enjoyed this Hero History, you might want to ‘Read All About It’ at your Local Major Spoilers! You can just click “Hero History” in the “What We Are Writing About” section on the main page, or click the handy link below for more T.H.U.N.D.E.R. goodness.

Dossier: T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agent Dynamo
Dossier: T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agent Lightning
Dossier: T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agent Menthor
Dossier: T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agent Raven
Dossier: The T.H.U.N.D.E.R Squad
Dossier: U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. Agent

The adventures of NoMan can be found at your friendly local comic book store (T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents has been published by Tower Publications, by JC Comics and by Blue Ribbon Comics, as well as several other one-shot companies) and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents original appearances have been reprinted in a hardcover archive series as well. They come highly recommended with the Matthew seal of approval.

Next up:  Otter Disaster’s fave-rave may get his place in the sun.  You can check out the Hero History thread in the Forums for more information, and as always…

Watch.

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Skies.