T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2 (of 6)A comic review article by: Shawn Hill
This comic is as grim as the intense cover by Frazier Irving (promising "The execution of Dynamo!"); but it's also a lot of fun. Spencer has altered the formula somewhat from the last run, which gave us times past (or somewhere, it was kind of vague sometimes) back-up stories to inform and contextualize the action in the main tales.
Now the flashbacks are fully integrated into the main story. Last issue gave us an infodump of all we needed to know about the Menthor helmet; this issue it's the Subterranean army that gets explained, as we learn there's a quite literal meaning to the nomenclature of the "Higher" United Nations. They were formed to combat the riled up Subterraneans, who were quite reasonably a bit displeased by underground nuclear testing back in the day.
This race of little green men weren't created by the nuclear testing, they were already there but unknown to the surface world, and several thousand died because of it. So you could see the need for a special operative team to deal with this panic-inducing threat, one powered by the dangerous technology used by the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. It all makes a whole lot of sense, even the sketchier nature of the explanation of Demo, who is a mad scientist to rival Emil Jennings, working for the opposition and back from his presumed death.
The transition from Subterranea to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Tower is effected by Noman, who reboots one of his remote bodies when the one he is using on-site is destroyed. The explanatory sequence is beautifully depicted by Ordway in homage to Wally Wood's best, but Craig does equally fine work with the more charged emotions of the present predicament. We learn that not everyone in charge agrees about what action to take, except that Noman must lead a rescue effort with the newest untested members as soon as possible.
Toby is very wary of returning to battle, while other players are either hardened soldiers or excitable neophytes. It's interesting to see both perspectives as tension mounts, while tension is already past tolerance for the current Dynamo as Demo gloats about his impending fate. Things went from bad to worse in the first issue, and there's no relief coming in this one, though there are new developments in subplots left over from the first run pertaining to Colleen.
If it all seems like a lot to mix up in one issue, Spencer's pacing and Craig's creatively jagged and dynamic layouts (either the panels are skewed, or the perspective inside them is, in dramatic variations from page to page) keep it all quite clear. This book has a long history, but Spencer is using it to tell new and thrilling stories.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.