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One Book, Two Book, Red Book, Blue Book: Thunderbolts #166 vs. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

Written by Veggieleezy on Thursday, December 08 2011 and posted in Reviews

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Thunderbolts #166

ARE THE THUNDERBOLTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GRISLIEST MURDERS IN HISTORY? Great Britain, 1888:  London is gripped in fear, afraid to go out at night as Jack the Ripper's body count goes higher. But one witness claims she saw an enormous man by a murder scene a man named HYDE! The Bolts' chase through time continues as Declan Shalvey returns!

Story by Jeff Parker
Art by Declan Shalvey
Cover by Michael del Mundo & Paul Renaud 

T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1

The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves are back in action this week, with the death-defying T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS making their debut this Wednesday. Written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Wes Craig (and with a first issue cover by Andy Kubert), the six-issue miniseries will pit agents old and new against the Subterraneans – and a mysterious and powerful figure from their past.

Story: Nick Spencer
Art: Wes Craig


It's Thunderdome here on the Outhousers, with Thunderbolts vs. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents! Who will take the Thundercrown?

Red Book: Thunderbolts #166 (Jeff Parker Declan Shalvey, Michael del Mundo, Paul Renaud)



The team is trapped in 1888 London on the trail of Jack the Ripper, as well as two of their own members. Can they catch up in time?



The concept for this arc is something I really like. The Jack the Ripper story is ripe material for historical fiction and it's interesting to see it mixed with superheroes. The time travel element of the story is also nicely incorporated. The motivations of the team as well as our "antagonists" are also clearly stated, always something to appreciate.


The art style is a steampunk fan's wet dream. Foggy London Town looks dark and ominous, and the designs for the heroes are fitting for the era. Hyde looks like a big ol' monster, which is pretty cool. The second setting, somewhere in Scandinavia, is bright and colorful in a nice contrast to the darkness of London.



There are a few bad jokes in here and the dialogue at times seems a bit trying. A more personal gripe is the lack of consistency with accents. Having characters with different accents is hard to convey in print, I understand that. However, for me it reads like Boomerang's accent is closer to the Cockney style than a minor character whose accent is supposed to be Cockney. And the line "You do sound like Yanks" is confusing in print because there's nothing separating the Thunderbolts' voices from the English voices. Also, aside from the Ripper killings, almost nothing actually happens.


While the art style is cool, I personally am not a big fan of steampunk. For me, this book is way too dark and blandly colored. The bright spot (no pun intended) was seeing a different setting if only for a little while. I get that we're in Foggy London Town, but geez, does it have to be so depressing?

Blue Book: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 (Nick Spencer, Wes Craig, Andy Kubert)



There's unrest in Subterranea! Who can save the day? The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, of course!



The sense of humor reads nicely in this issue. There's a nice "Mulder & Scully" dynamic with two of our main characters that will likely play well for the rest of the run. It also uses both settings of the story very well, making both interesting to the reader. The situation in Subterranea provides cool action scenes while the training facility gives more character-based conflict.


The first thing I noticed about this art style was that it's very unique. It reminded me slightly of V for Vendetta, but tweaked for science fiction as opposed to dystopian nightmare. The character designs are cool and the settings look very nice. I'm interested to see what the rest of the series will look like.



There are times when this issue comes across as pretentious. The scene where two characters discuss the movie Breathless seems almost unnecessary other than to prove that Nick Spencer watches arthouse movies. Following this scene, elements of the story are introduced very suddenly and awkwardly. It's a little confusing and probably requires the reader to have read the first batch of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents books. This issue also focuses primarily on two "hero handler" characters when I personally want to know more about the superheroes in the battle scenes.


The art looks a little wonky at times, especially with the characters' faces. I'm not sure causes this, but some panels make it look like faces are sliding around on their heads. It's a little weird. Beyond that, though, I don't really have much to criticize, except that maybe some of the color choices aren't what I would have done.

Winner of the Week: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1!

Closing thoughts- T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, despite its pretensions, wins this round. It feels much less labored, has a good balance of action and story and for me was much more fun. That said if you're a fan of dark and grim books by all means pick up Thunderbolts. Both have their appeal aspects and fit their genres well. The Thunderbolts are a team of former villains trying to redeem themselves, so a trip to Dickensian England seems appropriate, somehow. The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a science-y team of mysterious heroes, so a bizarre subterranean setting and conflict is also fitting. I wouldn't turn you away from either book. It's just that T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents fits me better than Thunderbolts. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some AC/DC to play. THUNDERSTRUCK!

Review by: Veggieleezy

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