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THUNDER Agents 4
"The Deadly Dust!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND April, 1966

Story: Unknown Art: Mike Sekowsky

(Originally Reviewed On 06/12/02)

A madman claiming to be Baron Von Kampf, the Prussian desert pilot of World War II, seeks to conquer the world, using as his weapon... "The Deadly Dust!" On the splash page, Baron Von Kampf stands confidently, his finger poised on a button, which when depressed will mean death to The Thunder Squad, but the newest member of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. seeks to make sure that this does not come to pass! Outside of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. headquarters, a gas-masked trooper looks at his watch, which reads one minute to the attack time! The device is set to go, which will render T.H.U.N.D.E.R. helpless!

Unbeknownst to those in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. headquarters, a cloud of dust begins to enter through the ventilation system, and within moments, all are affected by the strange haze. Particles enter the bloodstream of the personnel through their lungs, and slows both neve and muscle reaction, which are reduced to one tenth of normal speed. Dynamo is barely able to move, while Noman is able to switch his mind to another android body which is off base, but seeks to see what is occuring, even as the troops move at normal speed, thanks to the gas masks. Dynamo sees the men dressed in Nazi uniforms, as they head for the file cabinets, where they'll take all the secret documents they can carry. Noman transfers his mind to another android body...

Even though he can't move as swiftly as normal, he does his best, but Dynamo's punch fails to connect. The soldier taunts him, as Dynamo seeks to keep him busy until Noman arrives, but they leave before he returns with reenforcements. T.H.U.N.D.E.R.'s scientists are to devise an antidote against the dust!

As time passes, other thefts are committed, while in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. labs, research begins, and soon, the members of The Thunder Squad are called in so that they may witness T.H.U.N.D.E.R.'s latest weapon... the speed-inducer beam rifle, which can increase a person's speed several times, but because of a side effect, it may shorten a person's lifespan after continual use. Each of the Thunder Squad volunteer...

They are all subjected to the speed-inducer beam and are given speed which is ten time that of normal, but no more may be given -- unless there is some great emergency! The Thunder Squad become acquainted with their new super-speed, while The Chief tells them about The Dust Bandits attacking locations where vital papers are being held, and he believes that there may be a spy in their organization. In that case, rumor has been spread of important documents being stored at their eastside base, and when Baron Von Kampf's troops attack, the four members of The Thunder Squad will be ready! Things are in position, as a plane sprays the entire eastside base with dust, and from the weird craft come nazi soldiers!

The troops move in, unaware that The Thunder Squad can move at normal speed, thanks to the beam, and they attack! The leader of The Thunder Squad is shot, which distracts the others, who are zapped into unconsciousness. The unconscious agents are taken by the troops in order to learn how they resisted the dust, while their leader is left for dead.

At T.H.U.N.D.E.R. headquarters, the "dead" leader is brought back to life, and he asks what happened to Weed, Dynamite, and Kitten, learning that they've been captured by Von Kampf! The leader wonders what he can do to save them, but The Chief has an answer, and he gives the leader of The Thunder Squad what he needs to beat Von Kampf... a suit! The suit has been constructed with its very own speed inducer system, as well as being designed to withstand speeds which are over 100 times faster than human! A shield will protect his eyes, making the outfit complete. He now has the potential of being the fastest man alive, able to move at unimaginable speeds, but at such speed, the beam will shorten the wearer's life exponentially, and The Chief cannot order him to don the suit, but ask him to volunteer, which he does! The Chief dubs him as T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent Code Name - Lightning!

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. knows where The Baron is hiding but have been told that the squad members will be slain if they interfere, and Lightning is given the location. No sooner is this information imparted, does Lightning vanish... moving at such speed that he is invisible to the nake eye! At The Baron's castle, Lightning makes his entrance through one of the castle's walls! A sentry alerts the troops that they are under attack!

Lightning sees that three guards are at one door, and figures that this must be the entrance to the Baron's room! Even as the sentry orders him to halt, Lightning makes short work of the terrible trio, knocking them aside at blinding speed, then enters to meet The Baron, himself! Von Kampf is poised to press the button which will doom The Thunder Squad to a concentrated dose of The Deadly Dust, who are in the adjacent room... the choice is his! Even as The Baron gloats at Lightning's seeming dilemma of saving his friends or stopping The Baron, The newest T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent makes his move...!

The dust is coming down towards the unconscious agents, but Lightning crashes through the roof, then speeds around in a circle... making a whirlwind, while he sees The Baron escaping in his plane, but there's no time for him to stop the fleeing tyrant, for he has three lives to save! Lightning's speed once again reaches that of nigh-invisibility, and the whirlwind gathers up the deadly dust, sending it upward ,where it will do no harm! Within the castle, the three Thunder Squad members come to, and look up to see Lightning peering down at them. At headquarters, The Dust Bandits are in the bin, with only The Baron on the loose, and The Chief congratulates The Thunder Squad, for the dust is no longer the threat it once was -- for now they have an agent who can counteract it, and Lightning will be ready when The Baron attacks again!

Fugitive Nazi troops are a staple of The Silver Age, fodder for the likes of Nick Fury and His Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Blackhawks, and T.H.U.N.D.E.R.

Since Mike Sekowsky drew this adventure, I can only wonder if he also wrote this, as he was also the artist of the Noman tale ("Noman In Action!") in this issue. I would loved to have seen a JLA/T.H.U.N.D.E.R. meeting by Gardner Fox, Bernard Sachs, and Mike Sekowsky in The Silver Age, and who knows? Perhaps we'll see such an untold tale in the near future!

"The Deadly Dust" was also the name of an episode of The Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man '70s series.

The Red Skull's trademark in addition to Chopin's Funeral March is his Dust of Death!

Even with super-strength and the ability to transfer one's mind between android bodies, it is Lightning who must save the day!

The Chief is a pipe-smoker who would do Doc Magnus proud.

It's funny to see Weed huffin' and puffin' while he has a smoke and runs at super-speed.

Lightning's costume is yellow, with a lightning insignia on his helmet, and emblem on his chest. In this world of T.H.U.N.D.E.R., he is the fastest man alive. I'd love to see him meet The Barry Allen Flash, as well as him learning about the speed force, especially in light of what happened to him later in the title.

Barry Allen met his end during The Crisis on Infinite Earths, while Lightning fell into a foe's trap, and his legs were caught, crippling him.

The Chief is so taken aback by Lightning's speed, that he stops smoking his pipe!

Tom Orzechowski mentioned that Manly Wade Wellman was a writer. Was Wally Wood a writer, as well as artist? Chic Stone, Mike Sekowsky, Reed Crandall, Sal Trapani, Gil Kane also contributed to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Have I overlooked anyone?

This Review Is For Honorary T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Kevin Grady, Chris Juricich, and Bob Hughes

Steve Chung
"The Deadly Review!"