Monday, February 4, 2013

365 Comics...35: Hall of Fame Featuring the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 (1983)

I get on these weird comic collecting fixations from time to time where I decide it's time for me to have everything I can get of a certain title, or publisher, or character, or writer, or artist.  My current collecting fixations are Red Circle/Blue Ribbon/Archie Comics Group Superhero titles from the early 80's--  which were resuscitating semi-forgotten Golden Age superheroes-- and the THUNDER Agents, which at the same time in the '80's these equally forgotten Silver Age heroes were being resuscitated.  I frankly didn't know of the Agents until the recent revival at DC (which, coincidentally, coincided with DC's attempt at reviving the Archie heroes once more) but I became fascinated with them, especially the idea that across a half dozen different publishers over a 45+ Year span one continuous universe was being maintained.

I'm going back, picking up as much THUNDER as I can find (for cheap).  The '60's stuff isn't all that thrifty but there's also not that much of it.  This book in question is a reprint book from the short-lived John C Productions.  They basically pumped out, I believe, three reprint books and two issues of original THUNDER Agents material before they folded.   I need to cheek out Back Issue Magazine to see if they have any articles or interviews on what exactly happened (or perhaps I could save myself some hunting time and money and just Bing it). [Update: TwoMorrows, publisher of Back Issue, created an entire THUNDER Agents Companion book]

It's evident John Carbonaro was a huge fan of the Agents and a lot of love went into this reprint including an all-new coloring job (which today still looks gloriously old).  The stories are vintage sixties, high concept, low character. THUNDER Agents was a superhero riff on Bond and Man From UNCLE but taking advantage of the medium to push the limits of action and fantasy.
There's always a lot of focus on Wally Wood's contribution to pop art here -- and deservedly so -- but for me Reed Crandall's ink-heavy, dark and dramatic work on Noman dazzles my eyes even more.  The actual written narrative may be corny as hell, but Wood and Crandall are amazing visual storytellers.  I'm looking forward to finding ratty copies of the actual back issues.

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