THUNDER Agents 1
Martin Skidmore — 26-Nov-10
Do we really need another terribly complicated and secret government agency who prove to be pretty nasty? I’d ask if the DC universe needs it, but it’s not completely clear that this is set therein, though I think it is – it does reference the existence of other superheroes. Anyway, no, we and they don’t. The basic idea of this one was done far better in the Shaggy Man episode of Grant Morrison’s JLA, but it’s come along elsewhere too, including an even closer version of this in the Justice League Unlimited animated series, wherein a shady organisation was creating heroes with no concern for the fact that the powers would kill them.
The difference in the cartoon was that we were given a chance to get to know those heroes a bit, so we gave a damn. The couple who die here don’t get so much as a line of dialogue, so why would I give a fuck? They just run around hitting robots for several pages, then die. Yes, the cartoon gave us far more human depth and emotion than this comic.
It’s all very complicated, with a character proving to be a double double agent, but since we only met him a couple of panels back, we don’t care about that, and it takes pages of conversation later on to explain what has happened. The ideas here aren’t necessarily bad, but they are so recycled that they might as well have stuck with the original conceptions of the characters; and the big problem is the lame execution. We don’t care about a betrayal if we don’t know who the characters are or understand what is happening. We don’t care about deaths if they are just figures hitting other figures for a few pages. We don’t care about the massive ultimate omniscient supercomputer if the first we know of it is to see it fucking up spectacularly – admittedly this may turn out to be part of some even more unbearably complex plan, but I won’t be here to find out.
The art doesn’t help in all respects – it’s clear enough at showing us what is happening, which in a mess like this is crucial, but the ineptness at drawing faces makes it even harder to be drawn towards the only character who shows any signs of substance, a woman whose job is er, something to do with watching what is happening at a distance and moaning about how it is all screwed up, or some such.
I suppose this all may be part of some clever big plot that, over six issues, makes perfect sense and establishes some good characters. I doubt it, but even so, that doesn’t excuse as lousy and unwelcoming a first issue as this. It strikes me as the perfect example of the worst of faux-clever post-Watchmen comics, not least because it’s another rethinking of a gang of old characters that DC bought in. And perhaps they will only last for one short series too…
I should add that I am perfectly willing to completely reconsider and rewrite this review if given evidence that the Cafu pencilling this is the magnificent ex-Brazil full-back, who I totally loved as a player.