Saturday, August 21, 2010

Super-Powered Comics: More on DC's THUNDER Agents

I mentioned my excitement about DC’s upcoming THUNDER Agents a few weeks back. I think the creative team of Nick Spencer and CAFU are potentially a very, very good combination. I do fear for an early death for the untested product, but I am hoping that continued coverage can maybe help the title grow a decent fanbase before it hits its debut in November. I am a huge fan of the Agents as a concept and a comic. I believe they have sat for far too long. I can think of few characters from the sixties that could play as well as they could in modern comics.

Despite only being a few weeks away, DC has remained surprisingly quiet about the project, but this week they gave us a first look at CAFU’s full design for the new THUNDER Agents. I personally think they come off great. Take a look (click on them to see larger versions):
The scruffy Dynamo is a little removed from the original clean cut Len Brown version, but with the one last chance premise that accompanies the new version of the characters I think he could work out very well. I think the more modern pants design with the classic top and slightly modified belt really do a great job of updating the classic Wally Wood design.

Lightning and Menthor both get more serious updates in the new version.

Menthor drops a rather generic red and blue costume. Instead he now sports a very simple man in a suit look, but with the addition of a helmet. Though metal instead of cloth, it looks very similar to the original Menthor mask, though it now covers the user’s full head. It actually reminds me more of the Justice Machine member Talisman who ironically met the THUNDER Agents in their first annual. Still I think it is a solid remake of the classic character costume that really seems to fit a telepath character.

Lightning is easily the most radical redesign as he went from a very simple yellow and orange design (heavily influenced if not out-and-out created by the character’s regular artist Steve Ditko) to a more modern running suit look. The orange is gone completely, replaced by black molded elements. I refuse to comment on the fact that the team’s African American member comes from a heavy sports background. I will just say of all the new characters he seems to be the weakest overall and the poorest of the four redesigns. I will withhold judgment for now as we see how Guy Gilbert’s replacement grows over the first several issues. Lightning was the most tragic character of the original team without a shadow of a doubt. The new book seems to expand the whole “my powers are killing me” back story of Lightning, so we will see how much the new Lightning plays to that bit with this new incarnation.

Finally we come to NoMan. DC played his redesign off best of all, by simply not redesigning him. Well, his cloak is a little heavier now as is the soiled clothing. Otherwise his costume and look are almost perfect clones of the original designs. The human scientist living in an android body will apparently continue to struggle with his lost humanity, a fate made worse by the decades past since his original transformation. The original NoMan seemed to be a clear inspiration for Marvel’s Vision, a character I always very much liked. When I learned of the existence of NoMan a few years later, I realized how much cooler Vision could really be. If Spencer and CAFU can play NoMan right, he will come off as the enigmatic, almost ninja-like figure Wally Wood and company originally created.

So there you have it, DC’s new THUNDER Agents. For more on these designs, check out the original DC Source blog post. And I hope you will join me in ordering the first issue of THUNDER Agents coming this November!

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