Agent Dynamo is in the field for the first time as a powered agent, and he still has much to learn. Thankfully, for Dynamo and for T.H.U.N.D.E.R., he’s not alone out there… Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Nicely drawn and paced.
Interesting take on Silver Age characters.
A bit too much lampshade hanging.
A VERY shopworn plot point.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #3
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Colorist: Rom Fajardo
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves is a secret worldwide agency, defending the world against any and all threats to freedom. You may compare it to G.I. Joe, or SHIELD, but be advised: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. came first. (At least, compared to the TV version. The Silver Age incarnation of SHIELD and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. were nearly simultaneous. Anyway, last issue, Dynamo was parachuting into a trouble spot to save NoMan, when he foolishly activated his Thunderbelt, increasing his density one-hundred-fold, and sending him plummeting to the ground. and eventually into the clutches of the Iron Maiden’s coterie. Can he escape?
HE’LL GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS.
As the issue opens, we get a truly inspired segment, during which two of the Maiden’s thugs are guarding NoMan’s decapitated body. NoMan’s consciousness, though, is housed in a tiny insectoid body, which allows him to sneak in, interface with his android form and reanimate it in very Frankenstein fashion. Dynamo teams up with Lightning (another captured T.H.U.N.D.E.R. super-agent), while one of Iron Maiden’s goons is revealed to be ‘Dynamite’ Adkins of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Squad, who uses his own brand of resourcefulness to take out a large portion of the Maiden’s guards. DeVito’s art is lovely throughout the issue, giving everyone identifiable and unique facial features and expressions, and is especially good when dealing with T.H.U.N.D.E.R.’s ramrod, Kitten Kane, who gets a flashback explaining a chunk of her backstory. It is, sadly, one of the most shopworn tropes in the comic book (or soap opera) writer’s tool-chest, and while it casts a new and kind of interesting light on Kitten and the Iron Maiden as leaders of their respective armies, it sticks in my craw a bit, and harms my enjoyment of the issue.
THERE’S SOME SOAP OPERA IN HERE…
Dynamo, NoMan, Lightning and Dynamite (who remarks that the new kid’s name might be a bone of contention, too close to his own nom de guerre) hightail it out of Iron Maiden’s compound, only to butt heads with the lady herself, and the issue ends with a big reveal the once again underlines the balance between good and evil as represented by the female lead and villain. The best parts of this issue come in the subversion of our expectations about T.H.U.N.D.E.R., to my mind, and I appreciate the use of Kitten in her new role, as well as Iron Maiden being positioned as a major threat. Dynamo’s new kid status is interesting as well, and the story gets its point across as an adventure tale with a mystery at the center, something that the last iteration of the title never managed to do. (I think it’s the Nick Spencer effect, mysteries upon mysteries without a lot of unraveling.) As a long-term fan of the team, the vamp-boot-launch makes sense without tromping over what made me love the book in previous incarnations…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD ISSUE WITH SOME WOBBLY BITS…
Honestly, the stumbles, while pretty egregious (go grab the issue and see if I’m lying) don’t quite drag things down below the base level of enjoyment, and there’s a lot of cool stuff to be had here, from NoMan’s insectoid drone to Dynamite’s bravado to Kitten being a strong female character in control of the whole Defense Enforcement Reserves. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #3 isn’t a perfect book, but it’s a better-than-average one with some lovely art, managing to overcome its flaws and entertain me enough to justify the $3.99 price tag, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’ll be reading on to see if they can keep up this kind of good work (and also waiting for Raven.)