Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Cool Comics: Happy Returns

Our cool comics this week revive a couple of iconic highlights from my childhood.  One was a classic comic book, the other a much-loved toy robot line.

First up we have “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents,” DC Comics’ revival of the classic 1960s mash-up of superheroes and secret agents. Two issues into the revival, writer Nick Spencer is still laying the groundwork for the team.  New characters are being introduced, the back-story is being unveiled and Spencer is doing this while maintaining a high level of action.   He’s got a winning mix.  This early in the story he’s managed to keep enough of the original flavor of the series to please longtime fans, but he’s updated it with contemporary storytelling and plot twists.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agetns for a new era

The art, by Cafu, is gorgeous. with sleek lines and very effective layouts.  Cafu is a worthy successor to the master artists like Wally Wood and Gil Kane, who worked on the series in the 1960s.  The inking by Bit, and the coloring by Santiago Arcas serve the story very well.

The story is that the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a super-powered enforcement team operating under the auspices of The United Nations.  Most members of the team derive their powers from their suits or weapons, which each have severe limitations or drawbacks. For instance, Lightning, the super-speedster, gets his power from his suit, but every time he uses it, it shortens his life. A new twist in this series is that while he’s using it, his mind is filled with different visions of his own death.

You may remember I wrote about an aborted T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents revival that I worked on with my brother, Frank, a few weeks ago. I have to say, it’s more fun reading this new series than it is to contemplate publishing our own, even if this new series doesn’t have a tribute to Captain Beefheart in it.

You can't imagine how cool this is for me

Our other happy return is Zeroids, a comic-book revival of the fondly-remember Ideal toy robots from the late 1960s.  Moonstone Publishing has gotten behind this revival, spearheaded by Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn of Captain Action Enterprises.

Unencumbered by much in the way of established continuity, writer Aaron Shaps, has been given free rein to come up with an extremely fun story that incorporates and establishes just exactly who and what The Zeroids are.

In this case, he’s come up with a story that includes alien invaders, sorority girls, zombies, the war in Afghanistan and really cool robots.

If that doesn’t immediately hook you, then you must be reading the wrong blog.

The artwork by Roberto Castro and Sami Kivela is solid, serving the story well, and keeping the various elements of lovely young women, cool spaceships, retro-looking robots and a guy wearing a cool Rocketman-like outfit consistent and well-delineated.

“Zeroids: The Return” is a solid sci-fi action series, sure to put a smile on the face of any old-timer who remembers the toys.  It’s bound to attract a whole new following for “The Original Robots From Outer Space.”

Both of these comics should be easily ordered from any comic books shop. When they are collected into graphic novel form, I’ll update you in this space.

So long, Captain. Our Beefheart tribute, drawn by Frank Panucci

On a sad non-comics-related note, we end this week with a tip of the hat to Don Van Vliet, better-known as Captain Beefheart, who passed away earlier this week.  This revolutionary musician and painter was a major underground influence on many creators around the globe.  We thought enough of him to base one of the characters from our stillborn “T.H.U.N.D.E.R.Struck” book on him.

Farewell, Cap.

1 Comment

  1. Ed Catto

    Great article, Rudy!

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