The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents have a long and distinguished history in comics, much like the Mighty Crusaders. Although they may disappear for a number of years, they will always return.
Originally appearing in the 1960’s, they had a twenty issue run from Tower Comics between ’65 and ’69. They did not reappear until the early Eighties, published by JC Comics, which fell under the Archie Comics Blue Ribbon label. This was my introduction to them, other than British B&W reprints from L Miller & Son.
Not to forget their appearance in Texas Comics’ Justice Machine Annual, also in 1983. Now there is a series I would love to see a revamp of. The Justice Machine, and maybe the Elementals as well while we are at it?
Deluxe Comics then carried the characters for two years in the mid-Eighties, and then they languished until Rob Liefeld claimed to have the rights to the characters, and a free hand; although popular lore is that Dave Cockrum later withdrew the rights, denying Liefeld the ability to create a project for them.
Last seen in the old, er, New, erm, old DC Universe in the build up to the Final Crisis, and much like the Crusaders, their graft into DC didn’t really take, if indeed they were even in the DCU. So like many licenses lying around, IDW has taken the baton and ran with it.
Now this is the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents I remember. A world where people live in the shadowy world of intelligence agencies, thrust into the grey area between doing what is right and doing what is for the best; the latter taking priority.
The spandex is an incidental, defined by an array of gadgets that like the costumes pass through many agents’ hands. Only the now robotic Noman is a constant, alone in his multitude of bodies and becoming less human every day. Everyone else is simply passing through a world in which he is eternally trapped, where mission objectives become more important than the consequences of their outcomes.
Of course, this is laying many years of history upon the one issue released so far by IDW, but all of these themes can be seen as part of the back ground to what could just as easily be the plot of a G.I. Joe story. It is the struggles of each individual agent to live up to the demands of what ever device they are unfortunate enough to be able to wield that makes the difference, and we see the shades of this from the very first pages.
Full marks. This is another IDW series I will be following religiously. (Oh my aching wallet!)
In the meantime IDW, get on with that Justice Machine relaunch please?