In an interview with CBR recently, Nick Spencer discussed how the story arc beginning in “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” #7 is different from the first arc and, boy, was he right. Unfortunately, the first issue of the new story is different in that it barely gets going before it ends, spending a large amount of the issue on a scene that doesn’t necessarily add a lot to the comic. It’s the sort of issue that you hit the end of and wonder where the comic went because you only started it around a minute and a half ago.
Ostensibly introducing the “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” villain Iron Maiden, this issue shows how she and the former Dynamo gave up their lives as a hero and villain and married, settling down in Australia. Nothing of their lives is shown except for a brief preamable with what appears to be baby Colleen. The rest of the story shows agents of the High United Nations capturing and arresting the couple. It’s an expansive scene that would be right at home at the beginning of a graphic novel or trade, but, as a single issue, there’s not enough substance. It feels like a teaser of the real beginning of the story, not a proper beginning in and of itself.
Regular “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” art team CAFU and Bit only provide two pages framing the flashback, while Mike Grell comes aboard to draw the early 1980s sequence. The title’s use of different artists for non-present sequences has been one of its assets and, here, it’s no different. Grell’s art has an ’80s feel to it and a slickness that matches the character of the Iron Maiden as she confidently takes on HUN agents. He’s good at depicting the subtle emotional changes demanded as well.
Each issue of this arc will also features a five-page Silver Age story featuring Dynamo and the Iron Maiden drawn by Nick Dragotta. This issue’s installment almost redeems the comic, delivering the substance that the main feature sorely lacks. The Iron Maiden has Dynamo captured, and they both show their feelings for one another as the HUN looks to destroy her hideout. It captures that ‘Silver Age feel’ without going over the top in the wackiness. Dragotta’s art is more than appropriate for the story. It has a classic look without going too far. I can’t help but wonder how this issue would have worked if it was incorporated into the main story in a similar manner to the flashbacks in the first arc. Standing apart like this, it feels less essential and makes for a strange pacing for the whole comic.
“T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” #7 tries to deliver an intriguing beginning to the new arc focusing on Colleen and her mother, the former villain Iron Maiden, but it devotes so much space to Iron Maiden and Dynamo being captured in the ’80s that there’s no real substance to the issue. Even the Silver Age ‘back-up’ feels out of place set apart when Spencer demonstrated in the first arc that he can interweave flashbacks so effortlessly and cleanly into the main story. The art is gorgeous and carries the day, something that this title hasn’t needed yet with Spencer’s strong writing.