This comic certainly does exist, doesn’t it?
SPOILERS (probably…I haven’t written the review yet so maybe not, but there usually are, so it’s safe to assume there will be this time)
So far, my biggest problem with Phil Hester and Andrea Di Vito’s take on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is that it’s about as generic as a superhero or spy comicbook can get. Certainly that’s not as big a complaint as I’ve lobbed at innumerable other series, but it’s hardly praise. The characters are cardboard, too thin and insubstantial for me to care about. And there are a lot of them, too many, perhaps, in too small a space, not giving anyone enough room to blossom. Our POV character is Dynamo, who got the most development last issue, but now that he’s in the field, his primary function is to whine about how little he knows, which is annoying for two reasons. Number one, incessant complaining is always obnoxious no mater who does it, even if it’s valid and/or in-character. But worse than that, when the guy who is meant to be the audience’s gateway to the rest of the story keeps pointing out holes in his knowledge and understanding of said story, it both reminds the reader how little we’ve seen and disconnects us from the character we’re supposed to be attached to. Because when you commit to reading something you haven’t read before, the implication is that you are comfortable going in without knowing anything, and that you are willing to learn at whatever pace the authors choose to teach you. Otherwise you wouldn’t bother picking up the issue in the first place. So to have a protagonist regularly resist the flow of the very narrative in which he stars isn’t doing anyone any favors, in-story or out.
There are other things that irk me about this comic. Like Director Kane’s outfit, which seems to have been designed specifically to make her breasts as uncomfortable as possible while also calling unneeded attention to them. Or the fact that there are two scenes in twenty pages where an apparent villain points a gun at the good guys only to be immediately identified (by the same character) as undercover T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. It feels lazy, and so does the final page, which seems to want to be a shocking reveal but was already basically spoiled by a flashback scene early in the issue. And there are at least three places where it looks like Di Vito traces all or part of one panel in order to reuse the image in another. I know that’s not exactly uncommon, but it doesn’t do anything to lessen the feeling of unenthusiastic comicbook creation that exists throughout this issue.
Di Vito’s not a bad artist, though, not at all. His images are clear, his characters are distinct, and his storytelling leaves nothing to be desired. The plot advances smoothly from one point to the next, so the art is getting the job done. Again, this is better than plenty of titles, but without any images that truly stand out as memorable or energetic or particularly original, it’s worse than lots of other books, too.
As for Hester’s script, it comes across as something he was assigned to do, as opposed to be a story he was itching to tell. The bad guys are after some vague secret power, the good guys want to stop them because that’s how it works, and everybody goes through the motions as expected. Nothing surprises me in this story, nor even excites me. The dialogue is mostly used to get information out, and the few conversational flourishes that are present don’t feel like they belong to a specific character or personality. Anyone could say them and they’d carry the same weight, because I don’t know who these people really are, and most of what they reveal of themselves is bland or worse.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #2 never pissed me off or offended my intellect, but neither did it thrill me or stimulate my mind. I got through it, and it was fine, but I don’t know how eager I am for any more helpings of this specific dish.