Thursday, July 06, 2006


The success that DC and Marvel had with the great superhero revival of the 1960s did not go unnoticed. As discussed, ACG, which had resisted the siren call of the superhero for 20 years jumped in, as did Dell (with a notably lame effort).

A new publisher also tested the waters. Tower Comics was created by Tower Publishing. Their flagship comic was THUNDER Agents. THUNDER stood for The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves. THUNDER, while trying and failing to rescue Professor Jennings from assassins, recovered several devices he'd created.

The first was a belt, which could give its wearer a body as hard and strong as steel. Second was an invisibility cloak. And last was a cybernetic helmet which could multiply one's brainpower many times over. After some testing and deliberation, three candidates were chosen to wear the devices.

Leonard Brown wore the belt to become Dynamo because of his great personal stamina. However, the belt is not without its drawbacks--Brown cannot use it for more than a few minutes at a time for it drains his strength.

Dr Dunn, an elderly scientist near death, decides to transfer his brainwaves into an android body. He can transfer to any of several bodies automatically, meaning that he will be difficult to kill, especially with the invisibility cloak that makes him Noman.

Menthor is perhaps the most interesting character. Janus (no other name is given) is a mental and physical marvel, easily qualifying as a THUNDER Agent with the highest score ever on the entrance exam. But he's secretly a double agent, working for the Warlord. However, when he dons the helmet, he becomes a force for good, helping the THUNDER agents. Unfortunately the effect wears off when he removes the headgear, which he must do regularly, for it weakens him eventually.

Later issues would introduce other characters, like Lightning (a Flash rip) and Raven (Hawkman).

The agents of THUNDER are opposed by a mysterious figure called the Warlord and his henchmen and women. In the latter group is the Iron Maiden, a sultry charmer:

THUNDER Agents was an anthology comic, unlike, say, Fantastic Four or Justice League of America where the heroes teamed up as a band. For the most part the heroes went on separate adventures, as did the THUNDER Squad, a non-superpowered team, although brief crossovers were not uncommon within the individual stories. In addition, it was an oversized comic, with 68 pages (counting covers) for 25 cents. THUNDER Agents survived for 20 issues, or over 3 years. Unfortunately for Tower, the spinoffs of Dynamo and Noman were less successful, each lasting only a few issues.

Other links:

THUNDER Agents at Don Markstein's Toonapedia.

THUNDER Agents Homepage.

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