I haven’t read the first issue of the new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series, but when I read that issue #2 was going to feature the origin of their speedster, Lightning, I decided to take a look. The concept: An international team of covert operatives use suits that give them super-powers…knowing that the powers will kill them.
Despite being the middle of a bigger story, the issue reads quite well. It’s structured with a framing sequence in which the team is on its first mission. It’s not entirely clear what they’re doing, except they need Lightning to get inside the perimeter. To do so, he’ll need to run faster than he has ever run in training…and he’ll learn the true cost of super-speed.
This is wrapped around the story of Kenyan athlete Henry Cosgei, two-time Olympic winner and three-time world champion, a man who loves life, but most of all loves running…and the brutal way in which T.H.U.N.D.E.R. manipulates him into joining the team. By the end of the issue, he sees all too well what he’s given up in order to regain what he’d previously lost.
There’s good character work, not only with Lightning himself, but with the two handlers. There’s some depth here beyond the mindless slugfests, continuity strip-mining, and roster shuffling (though there is a bit of the latter here, since it’s an origin story) that seems to make up so much of the super-hero landscape these days.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2: “Live Fast, Die Young”
Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciller (main sequence): Cafu
Inker (main sequence): Bit
Artist (Lightning sequence): ChrisCross