Xombi 12 (May 1995)

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Rozum brings in David’s fiancée here—though only on the phone—but he doesn’t really need her. The issue, written from David’s perspective (which is good as it was the last time), is more about introducing David’s friends.

His regular friends… who don’t notice he looks twenty years younger.

Birch now draws David like a punk teenager (punk as in punk rock). It’s either an interesting choice or Birch is just rushing. I’m think it’s a little more the latter.

The regular friends are not particularly interesting characters; neither of the two who know David’s condition are impressed. There’s some shock and awe in the dialogue, but it’s muted. It’s like this kind of thing happens all the time.

Finally, David decides he’s going to have to be a freak and hang out with the freaks.

It reads like it should’ve been the second issue.

At least Rozum’s tone’s good.

CREDITS

Consultations; writer, John Rozum; artist, J.J. Birch; colorist, Noelle C. Giddings; letterer, Agnes Pinaha; editor, Dwayne McDuffie; publisher, Milestone.

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THUNDER Agents 6 (June 2011)

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Um. I don’t know if Spencer could have written an issue with less content. I mean… this thing is paced worse than one of those Ultimate Spider-Man’s where Peter just stares at a something for twenty pages.

The mission is over. Nothing is resolved with the twist from the last issue. In fact, Spencer just avoids it. The supporting cast all get two pages of useless story; none of them are active in those pages, which makes very little sense.

The female protagonist, Colleen, sort of takes over the book but for almost no reason. Whatever importance she has beyond being in charge, Spencer’s going to reveal later—he hints at it a little (there’s no backup artist this time, which doesn’t exactly hurt, but doesn’t help).

It’s like the whole issue exists on the presumption the reader will give it a pass for the previous ones being excellent.

CREDITS

Scared Little Girls; writer, Nick Spencer; penciller, Cafu; inker, Bit; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Wil Moss; publisher, DC Comics.

THUNDER Agents 5 (May 2011)

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Yeah, I definitely think the longer first two issues spoiled me. Or maybe it’s just the position Spencer puts the reader in. After totally changing the status quo with the last cliffhanger, he changes it again this issue. Or at least he implies he didn’t totally change it like he suggested.

Maybe I’m just upset about the lack of fleshed out flashback sequences. The second issue spoiled me there. Here, it’s just a few pages of Ryan Sook and then no more….

It’s slick, computer colored Sook, but still Sook.

Spencer also introduces some of philosophy behind the villains–it’s kind of amusing, very hip and all, but it’s unclear how important it’s going to be.

The element of absurd humor is something new to the book; it’s still earnest and serious, but there’s now a knowing wink to Spencer’s writing.

He practically seems British (he’s not), commenting on American expectations.

CREDITS

Never the Whole Truth; writer, Nick Spencer; pencillers, Cafu and Ryan Sook; inkers, Bit and Sook; colorists, Santiago Arcas and Sook; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, David M. Matthews and Wil Moss; publisher, DC Comics.

THUNDER Agents 4 (April 2011)

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Now there’s a big surprise. Spencer was pretty cute the way he diverted attention from it; it works. Unfortunately, the issue is the first weak one in the series. Not because of the twist, but because backup artist George Perez apparently wasn’t hired to draw anything important.

Instead, Perez draws the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. orientation tour. It has nothing to do with the story itself. Maybe Spencer wanted to use it to distract the reader, but it’s not s good move. It’s suspicious. Like they wanted to have the Perez art whenever they could use it as a fill in.

Also, the twist leaves the series on somewhat unsteady ground. If Spencer’s messing with the reader about something so integral to the story so far… what’s next? There’s no point getting invested if anything goes.

It once again feels like an espionage thriller and not one set in the DC universe either

CREDITS

Get What You Pay For; writer, Nick Spencer; pencillers, George Perez and Cafu; inkers, Perez, Scott Koblish and Bit; colorists, Blond and Santiago Arcas; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, David M. Matthews and Wil Moss; publisher, DC Comics.

THUNDER Agents 3 (March 2011)

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Ah, here we go… Spencer has to deal with a regular length issue. He does well–the soft cliffhanger all of a sudden makes a lot of sense with the pacing. He’s going through the team’s first mission. Even though the issues focus on an agent, the handlers provide the continuity.

But this issue introduces an original agent (no idea if he was actually in the original series), one who resembles Dr. Manhattan in a lot of ways–and not just the blue skin. Also, is T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents out of regular DC continuity? Spencer’s writing suggests it isn’t set in a world of superheroes.

The flashback art by Howard Chaykin is some of his best work in years. It might be the colorist’s fault, but it all has this incredible sense of foreboding. It’s great–as is the present day, mainstream stuff.

Spencer does just fine with less pages; the issue works fine.

CREDITS

The Man Who Wasn’t There…; writer, Nick Spencer; pencillers, Cafu and Howard Chaykin; inkers, Bit and Chaykin; colorists, Santiago Arcas and Jesus Aburtov; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, David M. Matthews and Wil Moss; publisher, DC Comics.

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