No no, I know. “Marc!” you’re saying… “You already reviewed the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents”. Well, kiddo? You’re right and you’re wrong. I did review them back on my very first Snarky Synopsis. But that was when the book was under the lock and key of a then-pulp-obsessed DC Comics. Now it’s two and a half years later, and IDW is presenting these silver aged super heroes to the waiting public. Suffice to say? IDW must stand for I Don’t Worry (if it’s any good). Color me mostly unimpressed.
And for the sake of my auto-correct, I’m just going to call them Thunder Agents. Mmmm-kay? Good.
So, this new iteration shares basically everything of it’s recent DC brethren. The pitch remains the same: The United Nations creates a police force to handle all the crazy-wonky-ne’er-do-wells around the world. The end. Nick Spencer and Cafu’s take on the tale though seemed to have a hook that IDW’s opts not to run with. Spcencer’s Thunder Agents were all given roughly a year to enjoy their superpowers before kicking the bucket. Not to say the new version here—penned by veteran of word and panel Phil Hester—isn’t going to use it too. Issue #1 takes off rather slowly, and Hester simply hasn’t tipped his hand yet as to whether Spencer’s hook was just a “modern take” or something inherent to the brand itself. For what it’s worth? Without the looming threat of death over the superered Agents, I left the book feeling much the way I so after a meal at Panera Bread… satisfied if a bit bored.
Phil Hester’s script is so by-the-book, it’s hard to imagine him penning it—so much as he found another issue one from his backlog of projects, replaced some names, and called it a day. I’m not saying he phoned it in… but maybe someone should check his Verizon bill. Thunder Agents #1 jumps right into the thick of some global evil. The Iron Maiden has killed(ish) NoMan, and has captured some other Agent. I don’t remember which one. That probably means something, right? So, we quick pan back to HQ where a new agent must be activated to go in and save the day. Cue the rough-houser with a heart of gold! Yup, the new ‘Dynamo’ (named this time not for his nifty belt, but his favorite hockey team) is recruited, given a shiny super belt, and is air-dropped into the fracas. And that’s the issue folks. See you next time.
The big concern I have here is that the aforementioned synopsis hides no depth between the pulp and paper. Everything is on the sleeve. Characters are simplistic, the story isn’t cut into interesting segments, and nothing leaves me with much of an impression. Maybe I’ve grown jaded due to writers like Mark Waid, who has channelled similarly ‘silver-age’ inspired tales into satisfying modern yarns. Here, Hester peppers in no wink, nod, or glance at anything that would pass as post-modern. Simply put? Thunder Agents here delivers a story buried in, and presented as something that would be relevant long before today.
Art chores are delivered by Andrea Di Vito. The thick lines, and poppy color (by Rom Fajardo) are perhaps the only modern twist to the tale. Di Vito’s panels jump around the environments with ease. One quick gripe though… Andrea must have been watching a few too many episodes of Batman from the 60′s. The camera pans and skews enough to give me vertigo more than a few times in the early scenes of the book. The art style is certainly a bit of a nod to the silver-age roots of the series, but with a few photoshopped color tricks to make you realize you’re still in 2013. Ultimately, things look good. Never great. Never bad. Just as-it-should-be, I suppose. Or perhaps not. The book visually seems to scream “run it through the mill” more than “put this in your portfolio”. Maybe I’m in the wrong here, but as I’ve made clear enough: there’s little meat on the bones writing wise, so the accompanying art does little to improve upon it.
To be frank (instead of marc, perhaps?), the pulp revival movement seems to sputter and die out as quickly as it comes back to life. DC’s attempt was novel, but then collapsed under the weight of it’s own ideology. If I’m making an educated guess, the target market for these books isn’t walking back into the comic shops any time soon, nor are they lighting up an iPad for a crack at these new-fangled digital downloads. And newer audiences won’t find enough of a hook in the generic “good vs. bad” plotting this initial issue is offering. Where Spencer and Cafu tried to add an edge to the concept, IDW’s take is considerably more akin to its origin. Simply put? It’s too simple for me to put on my pull list.