Robot 6

Chain Reactions | T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents

This week saw the return of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from DC Comics in a new miniseries by writer Nick Spencer, who wrote the previous, pre-New 52 edition of the book. This time he’s joined by artist Wes Craig, who picks up where CAFU and several guest artists, like Mike Grell, Nick Dragotta, Dan McDaid and Dan Panosian, left off.

The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves have had a long, tumultuous publishing history. Before DC Comics announced they were bringing the concept back last year, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents had been published by at least seven different publishers since the 1960s. It started with a 20-issue run by Tower Comics, the longest run the title would enjoy in its history. One thing the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents have always enjoyed over the years is association with some of the industry’s best talent, with the likes of George Perez, Dave Cockrum, Keith Giffen, Steve Ditko, Jerry Ordway, Paul Gulacy, Terry Austin and of course Wally Wood working on the characters.

So what do folks think about the title’s latest return? Here’s a sample of reviews of the first issue:

Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “The new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 has managed to keep its previous continuity – a privilege shared mostly by Things Geoff Johns Writes and Batman – but Spencer has lightened up the proceedings significantly, injecting a bit more fun into this first issue. It’s a bit thick with exposition this time around, but while in other cases it might seem turgid, as a reader of the previous series, it feels rather welcome. This iteration is a bit more straight-forward, and there’s much less of the feeling that everything sucks and will suck forever for everybody involved. In fact, the two people who wound up killing their own family members go out on a date in this issue – the no-bullshit Colleen Franklin, who killed her supervillain mother The Iron Maiden, and the much-bullshit Toby Henston, aka Menthor, who put a special mind-control helmet on and found his skullduggerously planned betrayal to his brother’s terrorist organization Spider rewritten into a triplecross. Henston even goes so far as to say ‘We could all use a little sunshine in our lives.’ That attitude sure helps to dissipate that hesitation about picking up the series.”

Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: “In this new DCU, there are more superhero teams than ever, one of them even having backing from the United Nations which presumably also sponsor our heroes here. Spencer sets them apart, however, by giving them a much more overt political agenda and making them more attached to the governmental body which employs them. Even against their best judgment, their movements in the field are determined by white-collar men sitting on swivel chairs in a control room.”

Greg Burgas, Comics Should Be Good!: “[Spencer is] helped by Craig, who is more cartoony and organic than CAFU – I like CAFU’s art, but occasionally his thin line makes characters (especially Colleen) look like porcelain dolls. Craig does a nice job with every aspect of the book – the weirdness of the Subterranean celebration, the action scenes, the flashback when Colleen talks about the helmet, and the way Toby and Colleen flirt with each other. I honestly don’t remember if I’ve ever seen Craig’s art before, but it’s very good in this issue. I assume he’ll be the artist for the entire mini-series, which will be nice, because the previous series did suffer a bit from too many artists, even if they were all talented.”

Michael “Skitch” Maillaro, Comics Nexus: “One of the biggest problems I had with this issue was that unless you read the first THUNDER Agents run, it makes just about no sense. They never really explain who the THUNDER Agents are, or why you should care. What’s the point of starting over with a new number 1 if you aren’t going to make it accessible. There isn’t even anything about the cover of this comic that would suggest to a potential new reader that it’s Season Two or Volume Two. I could see this as alienating readers. This is just poor presentation on DC’s part. First issues need to be accessible to all readers.”

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Chris Beveridge, The Fandom Post: “I went into this book expecting a jumping on point as it was billed as such, but the series feels like it has the weight of many years behind it. There is an appeal to that since it means there’s a lot of material to work with for storylines, but it’s a very inaccessible book in a big way, unlike most others that I’ve read that try to go this route since it’s not as firmly entrenched in the familiar.”

Matthew Meylikhov, Multiversity Comics: “This isn’t to say the issue is bad, however. It’s not the strongest showing of the fantastic idea behind the title, but it still holds a lot of the previously affable qualities. The action sequences are top-notch, and Wes Craig makes a wonderful addition to the book with wonderfully emotive figures and a unique eye for action. Craig adds an interesting layer to the book when he begins to slant not just the panels but the pages themselves, as a literal representation of the story going rather off-kilter in the beginning. The colors provided by Hi-Fi additionally provide great contrast between the dark underworld inhabited by the Subterraneans and the above ground portion of the book. If the book had spent more time on the brewing Subterranean war than the talking head pieces, I can only imagine how dynamite Craig and Hi-Fi could have pulled it off, as the few brief spurts that they get are quite vibrant and stylish.”

Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 might have been slightly better received if it was T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #11, but as a new #1 I’m not convinced it hits the mark. For those who have read the previous volume of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents published earlier this year, though, it’s like seeing an old friend again. Hopefully later issues will be a little more new-reader friendly. Provided, of course, that new readers give it one more shot.”



I love love loved Wes Craig’s art in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1, but I thought the story was pretty confusing for a new reader like myself. The book provided captions introducing each main character, but little else. Still, it was just intriguing enough for me to want to look up the history of the franchise and see what I was missing. I also have to give Spencer credit for not taking it easy on new readers. I still don’t have that strong a handle on the book, but I might pick up #2 anyway.

Mallaro, please. I had no experience with the premise and was able to piece things together. Not all of us neef everything spelled out for us. Save us the first-issue intro boredom.

This was easily one of the best titles DC has put out since September. It’s definitely an improvement on the previous series as well.

I enjoyed the issue, having read the previous volume. I can appreciate the feeling of weight behind these characters, but to be honest–it is nice to live in a time of the Internet as I can fill-in the character histories easily.

Judge Fred MANSON

December 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I am eager to have it in my hands!! I just have ordered the missing issues from the vol. 1 and they are… wow!!!!

I hope that this title will become a true ongoing or a 2 mini-series a year because, it is well worth the price!!!!

And for those who are thinking “Supes again… It sucks!!”, when a Thunder Agent dies, he is really dead!!! No resurrection!!!! No tricks!!!!! And to protect our world, they all pay the price…

What is it with this whole “jumping on point” obsession that’s been going on lately? I understand that comics should be accessible to new readers but not at the expense of being redundant to regular readers. The DCU reboot has kicked started this mad dash to appeal to the fabled “new readers” (who IMO are either lapsed readers or readers of other companies/titles). In this day and age, if you’re too lazy to do the leg work on a title yourself than that’s on you. Since my return to reading comics in a monthly format in 2008 I’ve discovered that you indeed get out of this hobby what you’re willing to put in. I jumped onto Secret Six (a book with a lot of history between the characters) with #31. All I did was quick wiki search of the events that lead up to that point and I didn’t feel the least bit overwhelmed. I read all the way to the finale of the series and by that point it had already become one of my favorite ongoing (and now most missed) preboot titles at dc. And going back myself and collecting Villains United, Six Degrees of Devastation, etc. was a rich and rewarding reading experience. I had the same experience with titles like Hellblazer, Secret Warriors, F4/FF. The history and back continuity didn’t intimidate me, quite the opposite that’s what made these title alluring for me.

All that being said, I know the solicits talked about a jumping on point, but it also made it clear that this was the next chapter of an ongoing story. Reading through this issue as a supporter of Spencer’s first volume I thought it was a great read. And looking at it (as best I can) through a new readers eyes I think we get a good bit about what we need to know going forward in this series. Issue one was great and I’m very happy that Wes Craig will be the regular penciler for the mini. My only knock on the last volume was the very, very out of place art of Panosian/McDaid during the final arc.

The 1965-69 Tower Comics series was entitled simply “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” (20 issues)
That series featured art by Silver Age greats including Wally Wood, Reed Crandall, Steve Ditko, and Gil Kane, among others.
The 1984-85 Deluxe Comics direct sequel series was titled “Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” (5 issues) and featured art by the artists you listed above, except Paul Gulacy and Terry Austin, who worked on later, unrelated, TH.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series.

I loved this issue so much. I hope this mini is less Colleen-centric. I want to see the superpowered THUNDER in action.

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