Spencer on the Improbable Return of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS

The Return of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is returning to DC Comics for a six-issue miniseries starting in November, and from the sounds of it, writer Nick Spencer was as surprised as anyone.

"This book has just always had things going against it," Spencer said in a Skype chat with Newsarama in September. "It's been a book that has somehow survived so much. It survived me signing with Marvel. It survived the DC relaunch. It's incredible that this book is still going."


Agents Vol. 2 #1

cover by Andy


Spencer’s run on the series started in November of last year, reviving a concept originated at the long-defunct Tower Comics in 1965. The rights floated to several different publishers over the years, ending up at DC in the early 2000s — first as a series of hardcover reprints, and eventually a new series written by Spencer.

DC’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents plays off the book’s long history, with the wrinkle that the devices that give the cast their powers will also eventually kill them. In March 2011, Spencer was announced as being signed to an exclusive contract with Marvel, putting the future of the series temporarily in doubt. After 10 issues, the book took a two-month hiatus during the start of DC’s "The New 52" relaunch, and will wrap up with a six issues miniseries, complete with a new T.H.U.N.DE.R. Agents #1 scheduled for release on Nov. 30.

"That alone is a miracle," Spencer said. "A lot of credit goes to [Marvel Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Talent Management] David Bogart and everybody at Marvel for being very kind and allowing me to see this through, and understanding that this is something that I'm very passionate about. It’s obviously time I could spend writing other things. I'm enormously grateful to Marvel for giving me this chance."

The miniseries will replicate the structure of the first T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents arc, with a main artist illustrating present-day sequences and a noted veteran providing five or six pages of flashback segments. The initial volume, scheduled for release as a trade paperback collection on Nov. 16, boasted appearances by Howard Chaykin, George Perez and Mike Grell. Spencer told Newsarama that he couldn’t yet comment on guest artists scheduled for the new series, but Jerry Ordway, whose impressive list of credits include inking Crisis on Infinite Earths,  is listed in the solicitation for December’s issue #2.


Agents Vol. 2 #2

cover by Frazer


 "The guest artists that are coming up — wow," Spencer said. "These are top 10 of all time guys. These are guys that I have been a fan of my entire life. Like Chaykin and Perez, these guys are giants."

Wes Craig, who’s worked previously on Wildstorm Revelations and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, is the artist for the book’s contemporary scenes. After inconsistency with the art teams on the first volume — an experience Spencer characterizes as "very frustrating and heartbreaking" — the writer feels confident about Craig.

"[He’s] a fantastic artist, and he's so excited and committed to the book," Spencer said of Craig. "I've seen his stuff, and it's really beautiful work, and a really great fit for the book."

Spencer is clearly excited about the direction the new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents miniseries is taking, and the chance to finish the story properly rather than abruptly — something never guaranteed in any form of media.

"I'm really excited about the story," Spencer said, crediting the passion of series editor Wil Moss. "I feel very good about where it's going. I feel like it really will wrap everything up the way it should be, and tell the story that we set out to tell from day one."

For a writer who made his name on creator-owned books like Image’s Morning Glories and Existence 2.0, Spencer feels a similar sense of pride in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, despite it being a work-for-hire series.

"I have this sense of ownership of the characters now that's probably unhealthy, since I don't," Spencer said with a laugh. "I've always been emotionally connected to it in a way that I sometimes find kind of hard to explain. I feel that when it's done, it's going to be something that can sit on the shelf for a very long time, and I think it's going to be something that I'm always going to be really proud of." 

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