Another issue of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, another issue with a ton of dialogue that readers have to pay constant close attention to. Is this enjoyable? Not really. But the concept is interesting. It’s the progression of events and dialogue that are the real headache inducing mess at times.Our protagonist Peter Cannon, based on the silver-age character by creator Pete Morisi, wants to stop humanity from destroying itself. He took up the moniker of Thunderbolt and stopped a giant dragon from destroying New York to instill doubt in the governments trust in using nuclear arms. Now, Cannon continues his quest to help publicize how atomic weaponry needs to help. Unfortunately, now that everyone knows his publically revealed secret identity, Cannon picks the wrong business trip… and flashes back to an even more life-altering one. The second issue of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt opens by regurgitating Peter Cannon’s exact origin seen in the first issue’s second ashcan. This regurgitation is redundant and makes the ashcan moot – or vice-versa, depending on how you look at it. If you want a silver-age-laced story with lots of exclamation points and a more detailed origin, rather than the quickly transcribed one at the beginning and hinted at in other parts of this issue, enjoy the ashcan from issue one. If not, the opening serves the completely pointless purpose of giving you the character’s origin too if the ashcan wasn’t for you. But really, it wasn’t necessary.
This origin makes a terrible segway into Peter announcing he is going to Japan… and then taking a flashback to his trip to Tibet. There is a very indirect narration from Peter explaining this but I needed to go back and reread it to understand. A simple text box saying “several years ago” was all that was needed, but instead I was confused for half an issue’s worth of pages, which really took me out of the story of this issue my first read-through and made a second a must. But, reading through and understanding what time period I was in, Thunderbolt’s past was written pretty well. All of the dialogue and narration is written well. However that doesn’t always make it enjoyable. Cannon’s dialogue just sounds so… normal. After living in a monastery for most of his life, tucked safely away from society, I’m surprised at how callously they make him talk. I would expect him to be spouting wise proverbs like the men in Tibet. His other flaws, like him wallowing in self-pity and admitting it, make his character unique and interesting. But his dialogue is too casual based on his origins, which were stressed in the opening of this issue. His friend Tabu is given more dialogue than in the first, but he still only has a bare-boned characterization. He will risk his life for Peter, and has been with him since he left the temple. They mention why he came with Peter in one snippet of narration, and after all the trouble going through Peter Cannon’s origin, having no mention of Tabu was a noticeable misstep. I would have liked to see Tabu included in Peter’s origin. But, that would have been one more plot thread added on top of many others.The story of Peter Cannon continues to be a very convoluted one with so much going on at once that it is the number one reason why you need to pay attention to every piece of dialogue. There’s Peter Cannon’s origin story retold, a flashback to his trip to Tibet, his present day trip to Japan, and his friend who has gotten a rare mummified find stolen. His friend’s story still doesn’t seem to fit at all with the rest of the events in this issue, but that plot point does have a solid twist that leaves more mystery for the next issue to uncover. But squeezing that in with everything else makes this issue feel very suffocating with plot points closing in on your mind at every panel. The origin and flashback were what took the focus away from present day and hinders the pacing of the story. We already knew the origin story from the first issue and the flashback reveals more of Cannon’s already apparent ideals based on the dragon. But the flashback did have some enjoyable and intense moments and showed the first appearance of the dragon, so it would have been necessary – but maybe in a different issue with more focus put on it, possibly dedicating the entire issue to it, like each different event that goes on in this issue deserves.
The artwork by Jonathan Lau is over-sketched. Faces often look awkward or decaying because of how dark the inappropriate etchings are in their faces. Characters eyes are also extremely small in most panels, making it look like they barely have pupils. When the backgrounds are given attention, they are quite beautiful, like the opening origin scenes with a group of snow-topped mountains. But some backgrounds are not given much detail and colorist Vinicius Andrade simply gives them a color that takes the place of detail. One background is a dreary-looking, dull green color that is just that: dull to look at, as well as most of the other colors and artwork. But then there are other scenes, like towards the end, where Peter Cannon stands in uniform under a beautiful blue-darkened sky that can actually be admired since it isn’t clustered with text boxes. But because most of the artwork is overtaken by text boxes, readers may not even bother examining the art with more than just a glance. We were spoiled with issue one. We got an ashcan issue by the original creator of Peter Cannon, Pete Morisi, never before seen in print. We got an interesting forward by Mark Waid that detailed Morisi’s exciting life story. Then we got almost a “love letter” like message from writer Steve Darnall about how much he loved reading and writing Peter Cannon. They should not have given us so many perks, because now this issue leaves me feeling cold, that it is the same $4 price tag as the previous, extra-filled premiere issue. If you like Before Watchmen: Ozymandias, this is a similar concept in a much more confusing package. Peter Cannon is like Ozymandias. Both were “enlightened” with a journey involving ancient knowledge and were awakened to the problems the world refuses to stop. So they both take it into their own hands, with the public being none the wiser. But Cannon’s journey is a much more convoluted one going back and forth between the present and past, making the pacing of the present very slow. So, if you’re ready to wrap your head around several plot threads, read Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #2.
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.