Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, November 9, 2019


One of the most revered comic books of the mid-Sixties was Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from Tower Comics.  Take one part superhero, one part The Man from U.N.C.L.E, and one part James Bond, mix in some science fiction and you have The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves -- T.H.U.N.D.E.R. 

We open with U.N. agents landing at a remote mountain laboratory, too late to stop an attack by the forces of the mysterious Warlord, an unknown enemy who has forces around the world.  Dead is Professor Jennings, the genius scientist who was developing a number of top secret projects.  Gone are irreplaceable laboratory records and experiment notes, but in the rubble are three objects, each with a specific purpose:  a belt that could give the wearer's body the consistency of steel, an invisibility cloak, and what seems to be a helmet that can intensify a person's brain power many times over.   These objects will soon be worn by agents to be known as Dynamo, Menthor, and NoMan.

Dynamo is Leonard Brown, who wears the belt that can his body the consistency of steel, making him super-strong and invulnerable -- but only for thirty minutes, then the stress from the belt could kill him.

Menthor is John Janus, who wears the mental amplifying helmet.  Janus is aptly named because he is a double agent working for the Warlord, but when Janus wears the helmet he becomes a force for good.  (Janus is killed several issues in, but the helmet goes on with new Menthors.)

NoMan is just that.  Anthony Dunn is a dying scientist who transfers his mind into the bodies of android that he has built.  He can use the invisibility cloak for ten minutes only before it drains the batteries of his android  body.

Issue #1 covers the origin story of each of the three superheroes.  The comic book's introduction and the origin story of Dynamo were written by Len Brown and drawn by Wally Wood.  NoMan's origin was written by Larry Ivie and drawn by Reed Crandall.  Lou Silverstone wrote Menthor's origin story, which was drawn by Gil Kane and George Tuska.

The two-page text story in issue #1 was written by Larry Ivie and featured NoMan.

But that's no all!  There is also a ten-page story that introduces the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Squad, other members of the elite U.N. agency:  Guy Gilbert, weapons man Dynamite Daniel Adkins, Kathryn "Kitten" Kane, "Weed" Wylie, and "Egghead" Andor.  (Andor will be killed off in the next issue.  **sigh**)

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents lasted for 20 glorious issues before Tower Comics went belly-up in 1969.   since then, ownership of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents has changed several times and various companies have licensed the characters, most recently DC Comics and IDW Publications.

To my mind, the original series -- as well as the short-lived spin-offs Dynamo and NoMan -- was one of highlights of m y comic book reading in the mid- to late-Sixties.

This is where it all started:

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