Nick Spencer and CAFU’s THUNDER (T.H.U.N.D.E.R.) Agents has been getting a lot of love from Comic Booked of late. If you were fortunate enough to read through my favorite comics of 2010, you would see the first issue nestled comfortably amongst some similarly stellar works of sequential art. Following that, it scooped the prestige of being Comic Booked’s Best New Series of 2010 only two issues in. And now with its third issue, it still shows no signs of letting up – if you’re looking for signs of ambition, THUNDER Agents #3 is where it’s at, as Spencer explicitly ties the happenings of the current series to that of the original one – issues of which were cannily republished by DC in last week’s THUNDER Agents 100 Page Spectacular. Whilst picking up that special certainly enriched the story present in this issue, it’s not necessary to enjoy what happened here.
Following the template eastablished in the first two issues of spotlighting one member of the team at a time, this issue devotes itself to Noman, a dying scientist and an original member of the THUNDER Agents from back in 1967 who uploaded his consciousness into a series of humanoid robots, damning himself to eternal life and the loss of all emotional connection with his fellow man and – in one particularly grim instance – wife. As in the last issue, the operation to rescue captured agent Raven (which in itself is a flashback, lest we forget – keep up!) is ably illustrated by main series artist CAFU while flashbacks to our featured character’s pre-THUNDER life are sourced out to a guest artist – this issue featuring the work of American Flagg legend Howard Chaykin. Chaykin turns in his usual distinct and solid work, which is always a treat to see, and word has it that the next two issues will feature guest art from fellow legend George Perez and the similarly brilliant Ryan Sook. The ‘guest artist’ aspect is a neat way of making the reader feel that they’re getting more bang for their buck by showcasing two top artists an issue, and by sharing the workload between two artists will hopefully ensure the title continues apace without delays – fingers crossed on this, because THUNDER Agents is swiftly becoming my drug (read ‘comic’) of choice.
This issue also marks the start of DC’s ‘Holding the line at $2.99‘ ethos, reducing the price of the book at the cost of two pages – not a problem though, as Spencer continues to weave a compellingly fascinating and issue-on-issue successively deeper mythos, with the kind of twists, turns and mysteries that you would expect from the finest espionage thrillers. This comes combined with a suitable emotional weight – last month it was the mysteriously quick fall from grace of Henry, the Kenyan runner who now fills Lightning’s shoes, and the horrific ramifications of using his powers; this month it’s the eroding of Professor Dunn’s ability to feel emotion as he becomes Noman and the expedient four panel disintegration of his marriage, which is given another layer of tragedy as you read further into the issue. Make no mistake, the THUNDER Agents are easily the most messed-up superheroes around at the moment – sorry, Doom Patrol!
It was a week of ups and downs for me at the LCS this week – there was jubilation and celebration as New Comic Thursday became New Comic Wednesday here in the UK, but that swiftly became Very Few New Comics Wednesdaydue to a little thing called ‘the weather’, so those looking for some views on Character of the Month Daredevil in Daredevil Reborn will have to wait a week for me to get my little Scottish hands on it. Even if I had managed to pick it up though, I strongly doubt it would’ve topped what was my pick for comic of the week. To date I have never closed an issue of THUNDER Agents feeling anything less than satisfied and eager to find out what happens next. This month’s cliffhanger gives a nod to the 60s series, and promises a revealing spotlight on group powerhouse Dynamo when issue four rolls around next month, where it will be top of my reading pile. I humbly suggest you start doing the same and ensuring that it’s on the top of yours as well.