Originally published in the 60's, T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents Classics #1 is the most recent in the IDW 100 Penny Press project. The story was written by Larry Ivie and Len Brown, with art by Wally Wood and Reed Crandall.
The T.H.U.N.D.E.R (The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves) Agents are born in this origin story. We are introduced to T.H.U.N.D.E.R's nemesis Warlord and the three inventions that will transform three people into superheroes! Dynamo and NoMan make their first appearance as members of the team and we get to see them in action.
Ivie and Brown got together and made a story that gives something with United Nations in its title a bit of a cool factor. Maybe back in the 60's the U.N was cool? The World Food Programme was created by the U.N in the 60's so that's their inspiration, right?? Probably not. More likely is the fact that the U.N are immune to the laws of any of the countries they operate in, which comes in handy if you have a group of superheroes working for you combating evil!
It's hard to review this without the bias I have towards modern day comics. To be honest, it's probably because of this bias that I enjoyed this issue as much as I did. The three superpower inducing inventions that Ivie and Brown created don't seem so bad. I could easily imagine a belt that gives you super-strength for five minutes at a time being used in a comic book today, or a helmet that grants mental powers, or an invisibility cloak.....ok maybe not the invisibility cloak, but my point remains. These ideas are still, in my opinion, good ideas today.
NoMan is by far the most interesting in terms of character development potential. If you ignore his name, he's actually fairly unique. His ability to switch consciousness with other android bodies allows him to stay immortal. He does this as an experiment. An old man close to dying, wants to live forever, creates an experiment that will allow him to do so....how selfish is that?! Although he becomes a superhero, there's plenty of personal conflict that Ivie and Brown can create for him.
The art by Wood and Crandall seems the standard of the time and only evoked a nostalgic feeling. I won't touch on the dialogue, as it was simply indicative of that era in comics, but there was no transition between the introduction of T.H.U.N.D.E.R , Dynamo, and NoMan. It was so abrupt that it felt like you missed a few pages in between connecting everything together.
This comic met my main criteria when reviewing a story this old. That criteria is 'do I want to know what happens next?'. It's quite easy to get bored when the dialogue and story just doesn't translate well or fit amongst the standard of comic book we read today. Yes, it does have its cheesy moments, and yes, it contained villain clichés, BUT it was fun to read! T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents Classics is out in TPB form and IDW have an ongoing series titled T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, currently on issue #2.