REVIEW: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #6 (of 6)

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Or – “Man, I Don’t Have ROOM For All These Last Issues Of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents!”

Occasionally, I get all maudlin and pouty about the fact that some of my favorite comic series can’t keep a regular monthly title.  I know that it’s a combination of factors, but I still want a monthly Agents of Atlas series, a monthly Secret Six, even a successful revamp of Archie’s Crusaders.  (Fingers are still crossed on that one.)  Still, even the succes of The Defenders doesn’t entire make up for having to once again bid farewell to the agents of The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves…

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #6
Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciler(s): Wes Craig/CAFU
Inker(s): Wes Craig/Bit
Cover Artist: Cafu & Val Staples
Colorist(s): Hi-Fi/Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents:  The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents returned to the Subterranean’s world to find that Demo, their greatest threat, had somehow survived.  The more frightening revelation came when NoMan realized that Demo’s collaborator was none other than his old friend Emil Jennings, the man who created most of the technology that makes the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents possible.  This issue flashes forward to the end of the conflict, and it seems we’re about to discover the final fates of Dynamo, NoMan, Menthor, Lightning and Raven…

A CODA MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE…

The irony of this latest T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (Yes, I DO have to spell it that way, thank you) iteration is that the stories haven’t really been about the super-agents, but about espionage itself.  Our central character, Colleen, is the daughter of original super-agent Dynamo and the Iron Maiden, and it is she who has been the major mover of the series.  We open this issue with Colleen meeting with an adjunct of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. about her recent actions.  We see the final fates of Lightning (touching), Dynamo (interesting), NoMan (tragic), and Raven (much-deserved), while Colleen claims that all the super-agents died in the battle for Subterranea.  Nick Spencer’s best work is all about alienation and the interactions of characters who don’t all know the same information, and this issue is no exception.  I somewhat saddened to see things wrapped up, but I am quite entertained that there is a bit of dialogue that explains the difference in Colleen’s hair between the previous artists and returning artist Cafu, who launched the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents new series a couple of years ago.

A LAST MINUTE DEBUT…

Just as with the Red Circle heroes around the time of Infinite Crisis, this last issue makes it clear that there were additional plans for the heroes had things panned out, the most depressing of which is the first mission of the new Undersea Agent, a man whose body has been partially transformed into water, leaving him a (rather disturbing looking) skeletal figure surrounded by a bubble of H20.  Ending this issue with his FIRST mission, as good as it is, leaves a sour taste in my mouth, made even more bitter by the appearance of original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Squad member “Weed” Wylie as Undersea Agent’s handler.  Still, they were finally able to explain what I’ve long thought about Weed’s nickname (he doesn’t really remember, but it has something to do with a Bob Dylan concert), answering at least one of the questions that the original Tower Comics T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents books didn’t (or, to be more likely, couldn’t, what with the barely veiled reference to certain substances.)  There has been no real announcement about the future of the property at DC, but I believe that DC did not actually PURCHASE T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, which means that we’re probably in for another long, NoMan-free stretch of comic book history…

THE VERDICT:  A GOOD STORY, A SAD GOODBYE…

This issue features some very strong writing (especially Menthor’s last words, which old-school T.H.U.N.D.E.R. fans will tell you, tend to have that effect) and leaves things open for more Agents action in the near-future, but I’m disappointed that this book didn’t catch fire the way I hoped it would.  While certainly not standard superhero fare, Nick Spencer’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents gave lots of food for thought, and was one of the more successful spy-type stories of recent years.  This issue wraps everything up nicely, but I’m still disappointed to see it go.  T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #6 is well-done, and closes out this latest chapter of the weird and wacky history of T.H.U.N.D.E.R., earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  If only Professor Jennings had created a Wolverine helmet, or a nice Deadpool harness, or maybe a finger-worn color-based energy device…  But, you can’t spend your time longing for what might have been, can you?

Rating: ★★★★☆