Joss Whedon’s The Avengers will surely be a blockbuster hit this summer and most teenagers are familiar with the Justice League from the cartoons, but today we focus on the best superhero team you’ve never heard of, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.
Named after 60s spy thriller The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves operates outside the boundaries of national interest, working to achieve world peace. The late artist Wally Wood and writer Len Brown created the first series, and now rising star Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, Iron Man 2.0) leads the team to the future.
Dynamo, NoMan, Menthor, Raven and Lightning fight the organization S.P.I.D.E.R. (Secret People’s International Directorate for Extralegal Revenue) and also a Subterranean society.
Are these men and women heroes? Not quite. This just may be their last chance to redeem themselves before the suits they are wearing kill them.
|22 Panels That Always Work – Wally Wood|
Co-creator Wally Wood was a tortured genius. He was the first to draw Marvel’s Daredevil in his red suit, and his ’22 Panels that Always Work’ is the template for a successful comic page. Suffering from alcoholism, his last days were spent in an anonymous apartment in Los Angeles. Wood committed suicide in 1981 by gunshot wound to the head.
Nick Spencer populates the current version of the Agents with redemption, secrets and mystery. Nods to Wood’s life show up in the android NoMan. While most of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents are recuited to take over the suit of their deceased predecessor, NoMan remains constant. He exists with the brain signature of his creator, but lacks soul and any human connections.
With his cloak, copies of NoMan can disappear and become invisible. What chronically depressed individual wouldn’t give anything to just disappear for a while?
The story in Volume 1 of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is set in modern times. I appreciate the Watchmen trope wherein present day stories reference the Silver Age in real time. The Higher United Nations recruit a new strongman Dynamo as well as a new speedster Lightning to rescue the original Raven from the clutches of the evil S.P.I.D.E.R. organization. The artist Cafu is joined by masters Howard Chaykin, George Pérez, Mike Grell and more for the flashback sequences that texture the book with a reverence for the past. Female supervillian Iron Maiden is revealed in the third act for a cross-generational conflict to make your head spin.
|NoMan page by Walter Simonson|
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents exist in the DC Universe, but a dark corner that is unaffected by the reboot. Volume 2 is being released as a limited series currently. Issue #4 of 6 ships at the end of this month. Wes Craig is on the present day artwork, sharing the flashbacks with modern masters Jerry Ordway, Walt Simonson and more. In the current run, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are facing a long-standing enemy, the Subterraneans. Subterranean warlord Demo resurfaces to capture Dynamo on a peacekeeping mission. Menthor and the Agents are compelled to rescue him, but what will this cost the team?
Concrete creator Paul Chadwick has created a very different canvas for stories of underground adventures, The World Below.
Only eight stories are collected so far of the adventures of the Hoy exploration team. Fifteen years ago, a giant robot flies out of a sinkhole. Charles Hoy (technologist/entrepreneur) sends an away team of six to explore and exploit the underground landscape. The team has a Hummer, guns, cycles and rations as their above ground resources to combat the strange and wonderful iridescent creatures and harvest more robots.
Will the team be attacked and harmed by underground brain control zombies? Which member of the team now has an extra appendage to lend a hand? Does one simply eat a meal offered to you by mole-men?
Travel on this sci-fi adventure to find out!