Fear Itself, Flashpoint, and Requiem for a Thundersword

Does the name Thundersword ring any bells for anybody?

Thundersword!I’ve finally, finally had a few minutes in the last couple of weeks to dive into my digital Stack, the DVD-ROMs full of complete series that Marvel was putting out back when iPads and Graphics.ly were distant flying-car twinkles in a futurist’s eye. I’ve amassed a ton of these blessed things, and I should be using them to dive straight into the classic runs (what’s so great about John Byrne’s FF? What do the Skrulls have against the Kree, anyway? What, exactly, is a Korvac?) but instead I have been playing Issue Roulette: I open a folder at random, say, “Ooh, looks like something interesting’s happening on the thumbnail of that cover,” and read whatever it happens to be. It’s the kind of thing you do when you have 4,000 comics on your hard drive instead of impulse control, and it’s how I became reacquainted with Thundersword this weekend.

Thundersword was a frustrated cartoon writer in the Marvel universe with a high opinion of himself and a pretty low one of the perceived mediocrity all around him. (I’ve read that this pretentious loser was meant to be based on Steve Gerber, which sort of pisses me off twenty-five years late, but for now let’s set that aside with a “citation needed” and move on.) This frustrated writer had the dubious fortune to run into a gentleman by the name of the Beyonder, who was trying to understand humanity and decided to make him a super-being as an experiment. In a flash, the “Shazam Award” on his desk became a blade of lightning, and he became the gold-clad clod you see on the right, complete with a winged steed which he then rode around enacting petty vengeance on everyone who ever fired him. Stopping him took half the heroes in New York and most of an issue of Secret Wars II that cost good, hardworking children money they earned mowing strangers’ lawns in the unrelenting, punishing Midwestern sun.

That was Thundersword’s first appearance. I caught up with him this weekend in his final appearance, also known as his second appearance. Like every book in the line that year, Iron Man #197 was a federally mandated Secret Wars II tie-in, and it featured ol’ Shell-Head chasing Thundersword down after his capture proved to be less permanent than everyone had hoped. It had taken three dozen people to stop him the first time, but thanks to some nuclear energy (the Popeye-spinach of the Reagan era) Iron Man was able to beat him by face-punching him straight into the ocean, where his body sank, never to be recovered.

“We never found a body!” they said. “We haven’t seen the last of him.”

He was never seen again.

So, in the face of the available evidence, Iron Man murdered this poor doof. At least he didn’t live to see the Howard the Duck movie.

My point—and, Shyamalan twist!, I’ve had one this whole time!—is this:

How many Thunderswords do you think we’re going to meet this summer?

A lot of lessons have been learned about crossovers since Secret Wars II. Some of them have been learned eight or nine times, but a lesson is a lesson. Say what you want about the modern Event, but these days you have a key advantage the Beyonder’s audience didn’t have: you have most likely been through this a dozen goddamned times by now. You bought every House of M tie-in, only to have it all go back to normal after #8. You were in on the ground floor of whatever Zero Hour was and still ended up asking, “So, after Blackest Night, Batman is where? And I care why?” By now, you have enough experience to predict when, “oh! All of this is going to amount to nothing. Carry on, then.”

You’re about to confront another round of all this. Flashpoint and Fear Itself are upon us and in full hype mode. How much do you care? How many new guys are going to be created, face-punched and never seen again in that tie-in you’re buying in spite of yourself?

This time, I have had my hype inoculation. Unlike the last several Marvel crossovers, none of the books have been building to Fear Itself for years and years. This is less Secret Invasion and more Atlantis Attacks. As such, I’m going in as a blank slate with no expectations, spoilers, or PR, which actually has me more excited about the event than I’ve been in ages. And Flashpoint… well, I have no idea what the hell all that is about. I only know that I like The Flash as Geoff Johns writes it and that I will buy anything entitled The Canterbury Cricket. I just hope he has a second appearance when the Event is over.

I’m not one of those people who only wants to read things that “count.” I just want to have the sense that what I’m reading mattered to the person who wrote it. I think that’s true in 2011 in a way it probably wasn’t mid-Secret Wars II, but you never know. Spend your tie-in dollar wisely this summer; there are only so many lawns.


Jim Mroczkowski will see you at C2E2 if the clock doesn't kill him. That isn't keeping him away from Twitter, which is probably part of the problem.


  1. Nice article!

    I personally won’t be buying any tie-ins at all for the upcoming events except for those I’m already buying as monthlies. I’ve learned my lesson from Blackest Night and Siege. And fortunately it was my first lesson, and hopefully last.

    Comic buyers who have lots of money to burn are better off buying indie books or classic/acclaimed stories they’ve never read before if they don’t want to feel “cheated” out of their money. Because more often than not, these tie-in books sucks like The Sentry: Fallen Sun. 

  2. “I’m not one of those people who only wants to read things that “count.” I just want to have the sense that what I’m reading mattered to the person who wrote it.”

    What an excellent way to put it.

  3. I’ve never spent wisely before, and I don’t plan on starting now.

    @ohcaroline  Seconded.  I couldn’t have said it better. 

  4. @Xeno  I would not equate all tie-in books with The Sentry:Fallen Sun. That’s an outlier if there ever was one.

  5. Comment deleted. You need to be able to express your opinions without resorting to juvenile insults about creators/editors you disgree with.

  6. @conor 

    Perhaps not all of Marvel’s tie-in books are as bad or useless as Fallen Sun, but depending on the event in question, you gotta admit a good 50-75% are…especially in this day & age.

  7. Note to self… use Thundersword as a villian next time I run a Marvel Super-Heroes Role Playing Game session…

  8. @conor 

    How was my comment juvenile exactly,Conor? You could have just edited what you thought was inappropiate. Most of my post was in response to Jim’s article. I agree I shouldn’t have made withthe namecalling.

  9. @conor I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. I meant most tie-ins suck, not all of them. But yeah, I may have also gotten overboard with that simile, because The Sentry: Fallen Sun stinks like the crap of a crap. What I should have said is that “Most tie-ins are not good, fortunately not everyone of them is as bad as The Sentry:Fallen Sun”. Now I think that’s better.

  10. @Jig  We can’t edit the posts, only delete them. And you answered your own question.

  11. The DC equivalent of Thundersword has to be just about anyone who debuted during the Bloodlines crossover of 1993 annuals. Hitman was the only one of the 26 new characters to come out of this event to make an actual impact in comics. Some had a few spin-off miniseries but several (Joe Public, Terrorsmith, and Cardinal Sin for instance) were never seen again after their first issue.

    Fun fact: Cardinal Sin? He really was a priest who traded in his collar for this little outfit.

  12. I’m actually thoroughly uninterested in Fear Itself. Nothing about it sounds interesting, none of the teaser images do anything for me and I find myself slightly resenting the fact that the event will be infecting my books. However, I’m going to grab the Book of the Skull and if that grabs me, I’ll think about picking up the event.

  13. Thundersword is my new favorite character.

    Other then the Frankenstein mini coming out for Flashpoint, I am not buying anything event related this summer. I’ve been burned out from all the Marvel events (they get worse and worse each time) and Blackest Night left a bad taste in my mouth. Plus nothing about these two events, nor the mini-event with War of the Lanterns hold any interest for me.

    I’m only getting that Frankenstein mini for the creators because lets face it: It’s a fucking awesome line up. 

  14. Bring back Thundersword!

  15. I totally remember Thundersword.

    I mean, I didn’t until Jim posted that Pic, and then it all came rushing back…

    Damn you, Jimski!

    @JeffR  – Jeff, great note about the Bloodlines characters. I think you can say the most about many of the Cross-overs in that era. James Robinson’s Starman was the gem out of all the Zero Hour launches. Then there were the “international heroes” that were introduced in a series of annuals. Seems to me 90% of those characters end up as fodder for whatever cross-over comes a few years later and needs body count.

    That said, I just try to appreciate the Jack Knights and Hitmans… they DO come along every once in a while.

  16. @MutantSentry  Your comment made me cackle like a madman, because I’ve only played one RPG in my life and it was Secret Wars II. I’m almost positive, now that you mention it, that the only reason I even remember who Thundersword is is because of that game.

    (My interest lasted maybe a month, because I only knew one other person that wanted to play, and RPGs are not exactly two-player games.)

  17. I’ll read any of them that seem entertaining…

  18. (Nice article, Jim. I have lots to say, but no time to say it. So for now I will just give you a little  praise.)

  19. Conor I am not sure what to think of your comments it seems to me you think you are gods gift to comics. Everytime I see you on here you are attacking something some one said or correcting people according to what you think is right. Well you got one thing right this is set up for everyones opinion and lots of rumors and maybe some news from the comic world which is awesome. I think you guys have a great sight and thank you all for your hard work but just remeber; Opinions are only opinions. I hope you are not upset I just figued you should know how you come off if you care.
      I know I am not much better with my babbling and bad spelling however; I will leave it at that.

  20. @Flash923: You must be new. Nothing about Conor’s comments here (or anywhere for that matter) suggest that he fancies himself “God’s gift to comics”. He’s simply monitoring and maintaining a site which he and the others are responsible for. It’s his job. The close eye they keep on ignorant trolls is one of the things that makes this site such a joy to visit. If you want a place where any old moron can sign up and insult creators or fellow posters because they can’t come up with any real points, there’s always IGN. Keep this “constructive criticism” nonsense to yourself. We already have a KickAss.