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Atomic Thunderbolt #1: Throwback Throwdown!

Written by Writrzblok on Monday, October 17 2016 and posted in Reviews

Atomic Thunderbolt #1: Throwback Throwdown!

From out of the mists of obscurity, comes a unique perspective on an old classic.

Source: TJ Comics

Written by Kevin Powers

Art by Matt Gaudio

Colors by Donna Gregory

America: 1946. Reports are coming in from around New York City that a strange and mysterious figure is showing up, thwarting crimes, saving falling airplanes and even rescuing cats from trees. One other such incident involves a giant raven, oddly enough. The OSS is on the case and searches for answers on the identity of this powerful stranger, fearing enemy agencies might be interested in recruiting him against the good ol' U.S.of A. Once they find out the name of one Willy "The Wharfrat" Burns, the OSS seek to get his attention through rather unusual means.

Resurrecting a long dead intellectual property from the graveyard of irrelevance is no easy task. With IDW bringing back such nostalgic characters as Rom: Spaceknight and M.A.S.K. as well as Dynamite reinventing the King Features comic strip heroes (Flash Gordon, Phantom, Mandrake) for new audiences in their King line, it's a time where, now more than ever, it's good to be a fan of obscure, mainly forgotten public domain heroes. I might have to track down Jeff Rovin's Encylopedia of Super-Heroes or do a quick google search to try and anticipate the next blast from the past. At MegaCon 2016, I ran into the creative team behind the rebirth of John Aman, Amazing-Man. What a time to be alive.

Atomic Thunderbolt #1 takes a rather non-traditional approach to the usual origin story a first issue puts forth. Eschewing the actual event that shows the hero gaining his powers, we see him in silhouette, or his hands lifting or zapping something. We never see his face until well into the issue's final pages. It's an interesting mode of getting out exposition as well as showing a different perspective of this costumed do-gooder righting wrongs and performing feats of derring-do. We see it from the viewpoint of the government who would, no doubt, want to have a man with superpowers on the side of America fighting the Nazis or at the very least, not letting him fall into enemy hands.

Credit to the writer Kevin Powers for taking something that, to modern audiences, might seem a little silly and giving it some depth and dignity. It reads like a 1940's comic, but with modern sensibilities and understanding of structure and pacing. It reminds me of Kurt Busiek's Marvels in how it takes the viewpoint of the common man doing the legwork of investigating and tracking down leads, while in the skies, men with powers beyond those of mortal men exist on another level entirely. It never goes into cynical territory with such concepts, though, which is a decent counter to the now tired notion of "We hate you, oddly-dressed-nice people-who-save-us-from-oddly-dressed-psychos!"

The artwork from Matt Guido is very expressive when it comes to facial movements and body posture and language. The action sequences flow nicely and it's clear where everyone is and what everyone's doing. It's well put together and crafted artwork and it services the story very well, especially when it comes to finally showing Thunderbolt's face by him floating above cops, the sun at his back and a small lens flare behind him as bullets bounce off of him.

Perhaps my one small gripe is that while the artwork is good and the plot well executed, it didn't quite grab me or engage me. I'd be willing to read further to see if that changes, but this wasn't the "blow me away" kind of first issue that hooks in readers. There's enough to garner some interest from the curious, but it seems very plain, despite its unique perspective shift addressed above.

Atomic Thunderbolt #1 is a well-crafted throwback to a bygone time with a forgotten hero which hopefully will bring much more life and energy in future issues.


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About the Author - Writrzblok

Jeff Gwinnup/Writrzblok is a comic book-loving, movie-watching, mac-and-cheese devouring Florida-born nerd who would like to write for a living one day. That is, if the inanities and stress of modern living don't kill him first. He's been reviewing/critiquing in either print or video form for almost seven years and shows no signs of stop- Wait, why is he writing in the third person? Who's typing this? WHO IS THIS?! GET AWAY FROM THAT KEYBOARD!
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