T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is probably the best indie super-hero/covert ops title being produced right now. Except that there's just one catch: it's not actually an indie comic.
Towards the end of 2010, before going Marvel-exclusive, Nick Spencer started the reboot of a somewhat obscure superhero team from DC's archives: The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. What sets these guys apart from the Justice League or the Avengers, though? Why, the certainty of their death, of course.
These aren't fortunate alien orphans from another world or folks born with a mutated gene that grants them superpowers. No, they are ordinary people who just happen to each wield a mysterious invention whose prolonged use will lead to their death. Combating threats that the rest of the world ignores or is unaware of ensures that each agent will end up as a tick-mark on a casualties list at best and completely disavowed at worst.
It's the motives of each character that prove interesting; not everyone does it for the heroism: some escape prison sentences, others get piles of cash for their family and sometimes it's a way to end life on a high note for the terminally ill.
Whatever their motivation for trading their lifespan for super-gadgets, one thing is sure: it makes for some damn good stories.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #3 dropped last week and Spencer, Craig, and Simonson are firing on all cylinders. The issue alternates between the agents on a rescue mission for their missing team members, dropped into a war underneath the world, and the origin of the stoic NoMan.
Toby, formerly holding simply an administrative role with the Agents, now aids the team with the mysterious powers of the Menthor helmet, his control growing and life shortening with each issue.
NoMan's origin appears to be narrated by the creator of all of the gadgets, who eventually discovered the burden of creating living, breathing weapons of mass destruction.
I'm enjoying Wes Craig on art (with guest appearance by Walt Simonson this issue!), and I think the only reason I'm not loving the art is because Cafu was just that great on the first volume.
There's really not much more to say, other than that T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents continues to impress me every month. It's not amazing, but it's certainly more enjoyable and fun than the bulk of comics that come out every week.
David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books, and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.