Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Reads You Review: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #2


WRITER:  Phil Hester
ARTIST: Andrea Di Vito
COLORS: Rom Fajardo
LETTERS: Shawn Lee
COVER: Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur with David Baron
COVER RIA: The Sharp Brothers
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (September 2013)

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was a team of superheroes that appeared in comic books originally published by Tower Comics from 1965 to 1969.  The original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents were an arm of the United Nations.  Their name, T.H.U.N.D.E.R., is an acronym for “The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves.”

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents the comic book series ran for 20 issues.  Two of the most popular T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Dynamo and NoMan, had short lived series.  After the demise of Tower Comics, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents characters did not appear in new comic book stories until 1983.  For the next four or five years, five different entities published T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comics.  Except for a brief appearance in the 1990s, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents did not appear in new stories until DC Comics published a short-lived ongoing series and a miniseries beginning in 2010.

Now, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are at IDW Publishing.  The creative team of the 2013-launched T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic book series is writer Phil Hester (Godzilla, Wonder Woman) and artist Andrea Di Vito (Dungeons & Dragons).

The first issue of IDW’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents had sold out by the time I made it to a comic book shop.  From the information I’ve gathered from the Web, IDW’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is a reinvention of the concept and characters, to one extent or another.  I have grown weary of the term, “re-imagination,” because pop culture concepts and franchises that are re-imagined often seem as if they are not really the result of imagination.  It is as if the people behind some of these new versions just make arbitrary changes and tweek some things for the sake of “modernization.”

Thus, far I can’t really tell how much T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents has been changed.  Apparently the new series begins like this:  The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are dead, or will soon be.  It is up to new recruit Dynamo to master the incredible but lethal power of the Thunderbelt (which gives him his power) in time to rescue his teammates from the mysterious Iron Maiden, a classic T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents adversary.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2 (The Judgment Tower, Part Two: “Embrace of the Iron Maiden”) opens as Dynamo makes his landing in “the disputed territory of Kashmir” (a sort of barren, rocky landscape that resembles parts of Pakistan or Afghanistan).  He must rescue Agents NoMan and Lightning from a secret T.H.U.N.D.E.R. station that is now under the control of the Iron Maiden.  Dynamo immediately meets someone who is supposed to be an ally, but seems too suspicious to trust.

There are only 20 pages of story in this 28-page comic book.  Dynamo lands in Kashmir, meets someone, penetrates his target, and gets captured.  Plus, some people talk and scheme.  What it took writer Phil Hester fifteen pages to do with Dynamo, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko would have done in three pages – tops, and with more imagination.

This comic book is not awful; it is just a story stretched too far.  It is a short story padded to be graphic novel-like.  It is boring.  T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is supposed to be a superhero action comic book, but this is stiff and phony.  Andrea Di Vito’s art is rigid, awkward, and clunky.  I must admit, however, that I do like the art Phil Hester drew for the cover.  In fact, Di Vito should go away.  Hester should become at least the pencil artist and give up the writing to someone else.

I think I may try another issue of this series.  I hope that IDW does not turn this T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic book into a B.L.U.N.D.E.R.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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