I was never a huge fan of Thunderstrike, a Marvel Comics’ character closely connected to Thor and with a similar power set. He primarily operated during the 90’s after Eric Masterson, temporary host of Thor, was granted his own enchanted mace. He spent time as an Avenger and become a hero in his own right. However, I personally was never a fan though. He was just one of the many substitute/ alternate costume heroes running around at the time and he never stood out to me. Despite this, when I found out that Tom DeFalco was starting a new Thunderstrike series, I was strangely curious and decided to check it out. But am I still as indifferent as I used to be?
Somewhat surprisingly, the answer is no. This is by no means a fantastic comic, but it is amusing enough to make me come back for at least another month. The first issue is, unsurprisingly, mostly setup. It follows Eric Masterson’s now-teenage son, Kevin. Kevin has some anger issues that have built up and is a particularly rebellious teenager living with his mother and stepfather in New York City. To his surprise, he gets called in by Steve Rogers to be given a certain gift left behind by his father (I’m sure you can guess what it is) and soon the Rhino gets involved thanks to your typical comic book-style coincidence. The issue also comes with a backup feature, also written by DeFalco, that gives a brief history of Thunderstrike’s life and some more setup for later issues. Some might consider it a little too brief as it really only covers the most broad parts of Eric’s life, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
This kind of story is nothing original. If you’ve been reading comics for any amount of time at all, I guarantee that you will be able to predict almost everything that happens throughout the story like this relies almost entirely on strong characterization. Unfortunately, Thunderstrike doesn’t quite pull that off either. Kevin initially comes off as one of the most annoying teenage comic book characters that I have read in a while. Obviously, he is meant to be like this so that he can grow into a hero and the reader can follow the process. Characters arcs like Kevin’s are not uncommon, but it is important to still make him likeable and he unfortunately is not. It’s so bad that when it becomes time for Kevin to finally act heroic, I was almost surprised that he actually did. It was too sudden a shift for what was laid out in the first half of the issue. Most other characters fair better, however. Steve Rogers is handled particularly well and walks a nice line between his typically polite self and his top-cop role that he currently has. The only downside was when Thunderstrike finally shows up and Steve is completely dumbfounded by it; like Sharon Carters says, he of all people should have expected it, especially given the pages right before it. I was also pleasantly surprised with how Kevin’s parents were handled, especially his stepfather. These kind of stories always seem to have mean or aggressive step-parents, but this one genuinely seems to care for his stepson and it was a refreshing change.
The art is also kind of a mixed bag. Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema do an admirable job of imitating the Marvel Comics of the 1960’s, but clash somewhat with the modern panel layout and colors of the issue. For the most part, it looks good, especially if you’re a fan of this old school style but the are the occasional odd panels strange faces and particularly odd-looking Rhino. As good as it can look at times, I think Todd Nauck’s art from the back-up story might have been a better suit for this series, but Marvel certainly could have done much worse.
There is very little in Thunderstrike that you have never seen before. Combining this with my old indifference for the character and I was amazed at just how much I did enjoy this issue. I’m honestly not exactly sure what appealed to me in it though. It might just be that I really enjoyed a modern Marvel Comic written in the old Might Marvel Manner, but if you were ever a fan of Thunderstrike, then you should absolutely check it out. If you were on the fence, however, then you’ll probably not miss much if you pass up. More of a Thunderslap than a Thunderstrike.