Review by From the Booth‘s own Ken
The T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents were a superhero team that first ran for 20 issues during the 1960s. Reprinted and re-conceived several times since then, in 2011 Nick Spencer launched the latest iteration. Spencer’s at his best with his own material (see Morning Glories!) and even though T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents was not his creation, he seems to have been given enough leeway here to make this a memorable series.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents are a special ops team under the jurisdiction of the United Nations.
The agents use experimental suits to give themselves super powers but with one catch, each time an agent uses his powers he takes years off of his life. When the entire team is wiped out attempting to rescue one of their own, the support staff asks Daniel (a supercomputer filled with all of the world’s knowledge) who should take up the mantle of the fallen heroes.
We first meet Toby who is new to the organization and tasked with recruiting the new team and Colleen who acts as the team’s handler. Surprisingly, these two are the center of the story with the superhero team acting mostly as a background for their interactions. The story also jumps to the previous teams who wore the suits and how the past of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents affects its present. The flashback and back-up stories are homages to the Golden Age storytelling and, occasionally, art that this book is based on.
The art in the book is great with the exception of the final issue drawn by McDaid where it becomes a sketchy, exaggerated mess. The first nine issues have a clean and detailed look not unlike Spencer’s other work, Morning Glories, although the artists are not the same.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents leaves you wanting more, which is a compliment to the book but also an actual criticism. Because the book was canceled after only 10 issues, a lot of the plot points remain unresolved. Traitors are hinted at but some are never revealed, the story jumps to Colleen speaking to what appears to be a reporter in a later time line but this subplot is eventually dropped without resolution or explanation. Even most of the heroes and villains are not well developed before the series dies off. While terribly disappointing, there is nothing wrong with the stories as written and I got the same feeling after reading the 10th issue that I got when I watched the last episode of Firefly: appreciation for what I had and a feeling of loss for what might have been.