It’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. time (again)

In our on-going effort to keep you all up-to date on the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents new adventures (here), (here), (here), and (here) we want to let you all know that there is a new DC Comics issue out and it has been reviewed (by yours truly), here.

There is also an eighth issue out by now, but we haven’t seen it yet. As soon as we locate and secure a copy, we’ll share that review with you as well, promise.

The Perfessor

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. once again!

Truthfully, I wasn’t ever sure that I would live long enough to actually see this day. No, seriously. This week a brand-new issue of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents hit the stands for the first time in like 15 years. (The last original occurrence of the Agents appeared in OMNI Comics #3 (1995). Prior to this single story (the first in a new, authorized line) there were two other unauthorized occurrences of the Agents (Deluxe Comics, ’84 & Solson Publications ’87). Other than the Omni appearance the previous authorized appearances were in Texas Comics, the JC Comics line, and Archie Comics’ Red Circle Comics line (all ’83).

I had all but given up hope. Then,after my friend John Carbonaro (legal owner of Wally Wood’s legacy), passed away a year or so back, I was approached by the executor of John’s estate to consult with him on the disposition of the property (to the point, he wanted to know who had expressed interest over the years, and who might offer him the best options for licensing the property; a service I was happy to perform). I had written extensively on the characters, and even contributed to The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents web page. Well, as you all know by now, the characters wound up at DC, and, well, now that I’ve read the first issue, I have to say two things.

1) So far, I really like what I see

2) John would have hated it.

Please be assured, this is no reflection on the quality of the comic (which is a good as any superhero book I’ve ever read), but simply because John had a very specific vision of who these characters are (were) and, well, this wasn’t it. John saw his role in the Agents story as a caretaker for the legacy of Wally Wood. He never wanted to re-imagine them (even though virtually everybody who wanted to license them wante to remake the Agents; not so much as Wood left them, but as they (the new creators) envisioned them.

No, this isn’t what John wanted. For years I argued with him against this stance, now that he is gone, I trully understand what he was trying to say all along. Again, this is not to reflect poorly on what Nick Spenser has delivered, this is just “different” from what John wanted, based on his perception of who the Agents were as originally perceived by Wood.

Still, to the issue at hand.

DC’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. The original team is long since gone (dead, one presumes), and well, by the end of the first issue, so too is the current team (sorry this might be something of a spoiler, but as it is something of the core precept of this new incarnation, there really is no way around revealing it. You see, as we always knew, the items that endow the Agents with their super powers are slowly killing them (which is what made the Agents truly unique in the first place), this new incarnation takes that aspect and amps it up to the max.

Let me just let that settle in for a moment. Everyone is expendable. As a fan of the original series, I’m not quite sure I like that, but as a fan of the series, I think it is truly a wicked-cool idea. Think of it as the cast of the original Law and Order TV series, only in spandex and with a life-expectancy. Over the 20-year run of the series, every character was replaced at least once, and some, several times (with one or two returning in the same roles). This way, the writer can play around with the ever-fluctuating dynamics of the group.

From a creative point of view, the book will (or should) never get stale. If one character becomes boring, or plays out his or her story, simply write them out of the series and replace them with someone else. Cast becoming too squeaky clean? Mix it up with some bad boy/girl characters. Alter the diversity or gender ratio of the group. Want to really shake thing up? Kill off the most popular character.

If this sounds callous, perhaps it is, but work with me for a minute here,, why not? One one biggest grips with a series is that nothing can ever really change. Joe Quesada thinks that Peter Parker should not just NOT be married, but Never have been married, because to him, Spidey should remain, if not a teenager in high school, as close to that has possible. Sure sure, Superman, Captain America and other heroes died, but since they still need their respective comicbook companies still need the characters to license T-Shirts, toys and the like, we all know that they are coming back (witness the recent resurrection of numerous Marvel & DC characters over the past couple of years).

On TV, we all know that nothing really bad will ever happen to the title character in a series because they need to be there next week. With shows like Law & Order, that isn’t so true any more. Now, with this same approach in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, the same can be said. Is there a down side? Absolutely, but this reviewer (and friend of John Carbs), thinks that it is a good thing, and while I’m totally sure that John would hate it. I honestly feel that the best way to honor his legacy (to keep the Agents relevant), this is the way to go.

Personally, (and based solely on this initial issue, as well as this approach) I give the new series my full approval. Now (hopefully), Nick Spencer will live up to not only my high hopes, but John’s stubborn endurance, as well as the enduring legacy of Wally Wood himself.

The Perfessor

The Great Carbonaro’s Ghost’s revenge

Some folks just deserve to be Gibbs-Smacked. This post is about one such jerkwad. No, I won’t name him, he knows who he is.

(c) Hal Jones
Several years ago, my good friend John Carbonaro purchased the legendary comicbook characters, Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents. He attempted a couple of re-launches, and then somehow, hooked up with this particularly smarmy asshat. It was this guy that not only wormed his way into John’s business, but then (quite literally) all but stole his business and (legally-owned) characters away. This disreputable slug, then launched a misinformation campaign to disseminate bogus information that John’s legally-owned characters existed in the public domain.

John took him to court, and (eventually) won. Beat the pants off this ganif in fact.

Well, some people don’t know how to take a legal drumming like a man, and back in 2005, this dirt-bag was up to his old bag of tricks, attempting to retcon the truth by still claiming that the Agents were in the PD (they are not, and never were). Well, Carbs may be dead, but he still owns the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

Anyway the thread ended like this:

Let’s just say that John may no longer be with us, but let there be no doubt that his lawyer can still beat up your lawyer. Especially when it comes to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Count on it.

We still miss you John, but that really is some wicked-ass superpower you have, and I hope that, wherever you are, you are watching, and got a real good chuckle out of this.

You friend.

The Perfessor

Great Carbonaro’s Ghost!

Yep, that’s right effendis, it is San Diego’s big cultural event, the International Comic Con, and well, that of course means that DC Comics has an announcement about the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

According to Comic Book Resources, the team of Nick Spencer and CAFU will re-launch the Agents into the 21st Century.

In this relaunch, a new batch of recruits has been asked to take on the mantle of the original Agent’s and while the team faces some difficult choices of their own, Dynamo, Lightning and NoMan are forced to re-visit members of the classic team’s troubled past…and some of its deadliest threats.

CBR News spoke with Spencer about the new series and the writer told us that T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents will operate like no other superhero team currently within the DCU, and that the very concept of heroes vs. villains will not only be explored but tested to the limits in every issue.

According to Spencer, this team will be essentially all-new members sporting the same names (powers and drawbacks) of the original teams. “Everything that happened in the original story is honored and is a part of the story, but this happens some years down the road.” Spencer went on to say that this new vision of the classic team has been influenced by titles like Planetary, The Authority, Secret Warriors and Checkmate. “It’s not a standard superhero book by any means. I think when people check it out, they’ll see that this is really a world apart from anything else that’s out there currently.”

Personally as someone who not only read the original stories, but personally knew John Carbonaro (the man who purchased the characters in the ’80s, and then lived through his 20+ year process of trying time and time again to re-launch the characters, I’m not entirely sure what to think of this, except to say that I hope it does well, as I’ve seen it when it goes badly.

I’ll certainly follow the new Agents for the relaunch. I’ll try to keep an open mind about it all. More than that, I can’t say for now, although it does sound like Spencer does (seem to) have a good handle on it all.

The Perfessor

Only the good die young

Last year, two of my friends died, a few months apart. The were both in the comicbook field, and both died of health-related illnesses. They were both in my general age group (one slightly older and other slightly younger). I was not prepared for either and am (still) not over either. I’ve spoken about both at length John Carbonaro, who died a year ago, February, and Rusty Haller, who went towards the end of last year.

One of the places that I eulogized Carbs was in Jim Main‘s Comic Fan (#5), as it turns out, issue #6 is where I eulogize Rusty. While I wish Jim continued good will in his publishing “empire” I’m kind of hoping that he never publishes another issue of Comic Fan again.

I don’t have that many friends.

***** This just in! I just learned that this issue of Comic Fan also contains three reviews I wrote of some most-excellent indie comics! *****

The Perfessor

Another John Carbonaro Post

Comic-Fan_webYou see, the thing about john, is that he won’t let us forget him. I just received this comic mag that carried one of the eulogies that I wrote about him.

As of this writing, John’s legacy (the T.H.N.D.E.R. Agents) are safely in the hands of his heirs, and are being prepped for a new licensing deal courtesy of BatFilms (the folks who gave us all of the Batman films of the past several years), as well as DC Comics.

I’m looking forward to the next incarnation of these beloved, Iconic characters.

The Perfessor