T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents # 1
By Koppy McFad
November 20, 2010 - 00:35
Writer(s): Nick Spencer
Penciller(s): CAFU, Bit
Cover Artist(s): Frank Quitley / Darwyn Cooke
$3.99 US 40 pages
A new crop of THUNDER Agents are inducted, even though they know that their powers will eventually kill them.
This revival of the beloved 1960s superhero-agents is quite unlike its predecessors. Although it does not discard the old continuity, it also features almost none of the original characters. In fact, the story barely even mentions the new THUNDER Agents. Instead, we get a look at the bureaucracy behind The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves (THUNDER).
To those who came in late, the THUNDER Agents are super soldiers from some top-secret James Bond-like outfit. They get their powers from scientific devices. But all these devices have a bad side. In this new version, it is made quite clear that the devices will eventually kill their users so these agents are literally sacrificing their lives each time they go into action.
The first issue however focuses more on how THUNDER works, the bizarre enemy it is facing, the way it recruits its agents and how it uses them (up). Some familiar names are used-- Dynamo, Lightning, Raven-- but we see mostly new faces, in this case, a handler, a red-headed looker named Colleen and a recruiter or "salesman", a spikey-haired jerk named Toby. We learn about how they get people to join up and what kind of threat they will be facing.
It is clear this series is targetted at new readers who know little about the original THUNDER Agents. If anything, the series seems more targetted towards a TV-watching audience. You could call it "24" combined with "the Unit" and "Heroes."
But the creative team behind this book rely too much on talk and character bits to attract the reader at the expense of the action and suspense aspects. So while the story is intriguing, it is not exciting or enthralling. And fails to grip the reader. The fact that we see so little of the actual Agents and so much of the pencil-pushers behind the scenes just taints the first issue of what could be a promising series. This Colleen woman is pretty but isn't that interesting and the salesman, Toby, looks and acts like he couldn't sell a used car, much less talk someone into sacrificing his life.
The art is crisp and detailed but like the story, is unexciting and fails to really grab the reader. Of course, it is hard to make a story exciting when it consists mostly of people sitting around tables and talking.
Interestingly, this series credits TV and movie producer Michael Uslan of initiating the THUNDER Agents project. Perhaps this series is intended as a draft for a potential TV show.
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