Saturday, November 2, 2013

What I Spied!

A couple of utterly fantastic collections have hit the markets, or at least my markets in the last few months.

In support of their new THUNDER Agents series (which sadly is pretty tepid) IDW is putting out THUNDER Agents Classics which are gathering up the vintage Tower comics. The first volume contains the first four issues of the original THUNDER Agents run where we get to meet Dynamo, Menthor, Lightning and my favorite Agent Noman. There is death, destruction, and intrigue galore.

To be honest the Agents are a flawed masterpiece in the beginning. Wally Wood's stories are sleek and the tone is uptown for sure. But alongside that are stories drawn by veterans Gil Kane and Mike Sekowsky and George Tuska which are much more classic action yarns. Some of the characters are not drawn to model which must've been unclear for the varied assignments at the time. But as the series continues things tighten up nicely. That first issue though almost feels at times like there were two separate Agents projects which just got jammed into the one issue.

I love Dynamo, he's such a goofball, and I completely adore the whole concept of Noman, one of the great comic book heroes. But I've never been a big Menthor fan, until this reading gave me a new appreciation of the arc he goes through. I always forget too, that Lightning is a later addition like Raven to the team. 

It was cool though to read those stories again after all these years. I put together a collection of these epics many years ago, but these days I love to read trades and this gives me the chance to comfortably read some classic tales.

Also available for the first time in one volume are Jim Steranko's SHIELD stories. Originally available in two trades, the stuff has been blended together to make one pretty handsome package.

You lose the glorious four-page spread which makes the earlier Strange Tales SHIELD stories trade an unabashed gem, but it's neat to have to stories in one handy book with printing which to my eye seems just a shade better, especially on the stories which appeared in the early issues of  the self-titled SHIELD comic itself. They were decidedly muddy in the earlier collection.

The TV series has been underwhelming, but the comics remain awesome.

I haven't read these Steranko classics again yet, but soon...soon.

These are both great blasts from the past when spies were the coolest guys on the planet.

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  1. I note they didn't color-correct the numerous mistakes on the four-page spread.
    For example, the brown floor panel the wounded/dead Hydra agent is lying on in panel 1 continues into panel 2, but is grey in 2!
    These are easy Photoshop fixes, but Marvel tends to take the lazy way out these days...

    1. To be fair to Marvel, the spread pictured above is the original. The four-page spread is fixed in the Strange Tales collection so that it can be unfolded and enjoyed in all its glory, but it is a bit dark.The new collection is re-colored and is a bit lighter but you can't see it all at once.

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  2. My bad.
    The Yellow Claw apparently uses the same uniform maker as Hydra (or at least the same designer...)

    1. There must be an evil mastermind box store somewhere so that they can get discounts on their henchmen uniforms. Do you think they have a service? Hmm.

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