Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Classics - Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

I'm not sure why the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents didn't succeed when it first appeared in the '60s. It had great artwork (spearheaded by Wally Wood), fun stories, loads of action - I loved the series.

I suspect the 25-cent price tag was the deciding factor, but for whatever reason, the line folded after four years. A revival was attempted in 1983 by JC Comics, but it wrapped after just a few issues.

No doubt one of the reasons the series struggled was because of the legal wrangling over who (if anyone) owned the rights to the characters.

In 1984, Deluxe Comics decided the series was in public domain and released a new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. title. It was a short run - five issues, I think - and then another lawsuit determined that the rights to the characters belonged to John Carbonaro, and Deluxe shut down.

But what a run it was! Editor David Singer assembled some of the industry's top talent, and their enthusiasm and love for the characters shines through.

Among the creators involved were: George Perez, Dave Cockrum, Keith Giffen and Steve Englehart, with pinups by Steve Ditko, Jerry Ordway, Stan Drake and Leonard Starr.

The stories included the Raven, the android NoMan, Lightning, Menthor and (of course) Dynamo.

It was outstanding work all around - it's just a shame it couldn't last. Of all the attempts at bringing back this series, this one did the best job of recapturing the energy of the original series.

Which is not intended as a slam against the modern comic - it's moving the story in a different direction. But there's a good reason why this series was titled "Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" - and while he might not approve the legal standing, I have to think he would have enjoyed the top-notch work printed on those pages.

Grade: A



-> Ray said...

The art was great in the Deluxe run, but I think JC Comics captured the spirit of the characters better in their stories.

Chuck said...

I have to admit that I've only seen one of those issues, and it's been a long time since I read it. I'll have to track it down - thanks!

-> Ray said...

They did a B&W magazine one-shot ("JCP Presents"... avoid this), then two issues of new stories, with the planned third issue being published by Archie in their "Blue Ribbon Comics." There was also a crossover in "Justice Machine Annual," which is also worth finding.

Chuck said...

I think I have that B&W magazine, and the Justice Machine crossover - but I missed those others. Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Issue #3 of this run was my first comic book ever! I still remember it fondly and to this day I read T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents! I think Spencer's doing an amazing job and I'm glad that he'll continue to keep these characters alive (even if it's only for a few more issues) after the September Reboot.