Monday, August 9, 2010

Oh my...

This has me pumped:

This could be mistaken for a Thor advertisement, but fans in the know recognize these elements. That's not Mjolnir lying in the ground, it's Thunderstrike, the enchanted mace brandished by the 1990s hero of the same name. "The World Still Needs Heroes" was the inscription on his mace. The original Thunderstrike, Eric Masterson, died at the end of his series, but left his son Kevin behind. That's probably Kevin in the shadows there, hopefully preparing to claim his father's power.

Why is this so exciting? Based on the comments I've seen online, few people willing to comment on Thunderstrike actually read the comic. Based on Eric's appearance - leather jacket, ponytail, earring - they assumed he was a hip, grim & gritty 90s version of Thor. In reality, Thunderstrike was a reaction against the trend in 90s comics. Eric was a decent, average man with phenomenal powers he frequently failed to use correctly, trying to make sense of how to help other people. He was like Spider-Man with the powers of Thor.

And he was immensely popular, which is the other thing people today don't understand. His creators Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz had a plan for Eric from the day they introduced him as a supporting cast member in Thor, gradually bringing his own field of friends into Thor's world and then having him take up as Thor's temporary replacement. But because Eric was so successful as the replacement Thor, his story ran a little longer than DeFalco & Frenz intended; they spun him into his own series as Thunderstrike while giving Thor his title back.

DeFalco & Frenz's Thunderstrike was a victim of its own success; Eric continued to have a huge fanbase, so much so that his title outsold Thor. Therefore, (according to DeFalco) someone thought that the solution to Thor's lagging sales was to cancel Thunderstrike. DeFalco & Frenz brought the story to its conclusion, with Eric laying down his life to save others. The next month Thor brought in a new creative team headed by up-and-comer Warren Ellis and...yeah, I don't think the type of person who read a DeFalco/Frenz super hero comic was in the market for an Ellis super hero comic.

But DeFalco & Frenz revisited the concept again when they launched the "MC2" comics, including Spider-Girl, J2 & A-Next, young heroes of an alternate future in stories designed for first-time comic book readers. The cast of A-Next included a grown-up Kevin Masterson inheriting his father's powers as the new Thunderstrike. Hm.

I've faithfully followed DeFalco & Frenz through the many years of Spider-Girl and I'm thrilled that their next project will be a Thunderstrike book. Here's hoping lightning strikes twice!

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