Last issue, we saw that Nick Spencer seemed to be going about the business of making his book about a team of international super-hero head cases a bit more straightforward than his first miniseries was. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2 continues that trend, by giving us the origin of the Higher United Nations for which these agents work – and building a legitimately scary threat out of a mysterious man named Demo.
For the record, in my head, I'm pronouncing it as if it's 'demon' with the 'n' knocked off, rather than as 'demonstration' with the 'nstration' knocked off. Your mileage may vary. You may, in fact, be tempted to pronounce it like Demolition with the 'lition' knocked off. You would not be faulted for this, since their theme song would make the character of Demo even more badass than he already is.
While I know nothing about the prior incarnations of Demo in the long history of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents dating back several decades, you don't even need to. New 52, baby. Here, he was at the forefront of an age-old secret war between the Subterranean Ax'tweptl tribes and the surface world, and the green goblins from beneath the earth had every right to be pissed at underground nuclear bomb testing going on. Demo was their psychotic William Wallace, uniting the clans into a powerful fighting force – but his true goal was to capture the work of Emil Jennings, the brilliant inventor who gave the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents their faulty prototype super-suits and who was killed by the Subterraneans before he could perfect them. Demo's brilliant enough to do just that, and insane enough to start wars to get them. Now, he's kidnapped Dynamo and Lightning, and has NoMan's special cloak. He's getting the job done, and has caught T.H.U.N.D.E.R. with its pants down.
Again, this issue is big on exposition, but it's helpful, and it's just a really cool story full of intrigue. Then, Spencer ratchets things up towards the end, interspersing some playful 'this'll be fun' dialog from the clueless rookie Raven and the self-centered bullshit artist Menthor with the fiery, furious and darkly ominous rallying speech from Demo to the Ax'tweptl people, which leads up to what's happening in the cover image to this article. It's a powerful bit of storytelling through which Spencer tells us that he might be making things a bit more accessible, he's still not pulling any punches. Wes Craig's art feels a bit more settled here, too, as he's able to shift between classic style and modern looks, and Demo cuts an impressive figure. I just want to punch his Menthor, and that might be intentional.
Of the two books about covert operatives dealing with international incidents often resulting in the deaths of team members, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents has it in spades over Adam Glass' Suicide Squad, which feels like a big batch of 'look at me! I'm cool!' It makes me sad, because I'm a big fan of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad and Gail Simone's Secret Six, and Deadshot in particular, and I would love to be loving that book. But it ain't lovable.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents ain't that lovable, either, but it's a damn sight better. Too bad it's only a 6-issue limited series.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8.3/10