Or – “You’ve Been… T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Struck!”
Even back in the 1960s, Tower Comics wasn’t a huge player in terms of units sold or market share, but what they did have was amazing artists out the wazoo. Wally Wood, Gil Kane and cohorts made the adventures of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents visually stunning from the very first issue, and even 45 years later, that work still echoes. Now, a new generation of super-agents is ready to debut, but are they ready to deal with the repercussions of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agency? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
An interesting take on the hero/spies.
De Vito’s art is pretty impressive.
One too many parallels to S.H.I.E.L.D.
I want more already.
Previously in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves started in the midst of the Cold War, thanks the work of genius scientists Professor Jennings and Doctor Anthony Dunn. Their inventions, such as the Thunder Belt, the Menthor helmet, NoMan’s android bodies and invisibility cape allowed T.H.U.N.D.E.R. to creat a super-powered response to the enemies of freedom and liberty around the globe. The downside, however, was the weapons tendency to shorten the lifespan of their wearers by their very usage. Can the new generation of agents live up to the legend of their predecessors?
…OR ARE THERE ANY PREDECESSORS?
I admit it: I assumed I knew what was going on in this issue. Things open with iconic T.A. villain the Iron Maiden holding aloft the severed head of NoMan, declaring that “The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are dead!” This turns out to be footage from the security cameras at a secret hidden T.H.U.N.D.E.R. base, footage being watched by T.H.U.N.D.E.R. head honcho Kitten Kane, an Agent Marshall (who reminds me a bit too much of the Samuel L. Jackson movie version of Nick Fury) and… NoMan! The unique state of the android agent has allowed him to escape, but left his cloak of invisibility in the hands of the enemy. Worse still, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. could send in their other super-agents, but they can’t find anyone in their ranks who can withstand the punishment that wearing the equipment entails. Enter: Len Brown. Unlike the original incarnation of the character, this Len Brown is a Philadelphia thug and leg-breaker in the employ of a crime lord named Demo (another callback to the original series. It seems that Hester and company are giving us a brand-new take on the agents of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. in a new continuity, something which I probably should have expected…
DON’T CALL IT A LAUNCH-BOOT-VAMP.
That said, I don’t hate the new take on T.H.U.N.D.E.R., save for the resemblance of the regular rank-and-file guys to the agents of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., which is probably intentional, given the success of the Avengers movie. The rest of the issue is the beginning of the first mission of Dynamo (named for Len’s favorite sports team) and NoMan as they set out to retrieve NoMan’s missing body and cape. The art is pretty impressive, especially the little touches (like Dynamo’s lighting-bolt gloves), and everyone has a specific, expressive and interesting face. With a greater focus on the dangers inherent in T.H.U.N.D.E.R.’s mission and the use of the powers, this issue sets up an interesting take on characters that have had a LOT of false starts since 1967, and seems like it will be a little less obscure than DC’s Nick Spencer-written take a couple of years ago. I’m kind of saddened that we’re losing the cool sixties ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ history, but if it means a chance for more T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents tales, I think I can live with it.
THE BOTTOM LINE: AN INTERESTING NEW TAKE…
All in all, this book holds a lot of potential, and the promise of new and interesting takes on the agent of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Given that this issue features new, more impressive roles for Kitten Kane and Weed Wylie, while maintaining respect for the source material, I hope that we’ll get to see Raven and the rest of the gang make their bows. (Lightning makes a brief cameo at the beginning of this issue, so he’s already in play, but there are several other agents as yet unaccounted for.) T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 is good stuff, but doesn’t require encyclopedic knowledge of the characters or dwell entire in nostalgia, earning an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall.
(And, if you’re interested in finding out more about those original tales, you can always check out our T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Hero Histories. Collect ’em all!)