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First look: Black Panther's Brian Stelfreeze, Doug Wagner crowdfund superspy comic 'Thomas River'

By Jeff Spry
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Torn from the pages of today's explorations of race through political turbulence, a bold new superspy series from Black Panther artist Brian Stelfreeze and the pen of writer Doug Wagner (Plastic, Ride) titled Thomas River is getting the deluxe Kickstarter treatment starting today — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of the debut issue to unveil.

Joined by colorist Michelle Poust and letterer Ed Dukeshire, the creative team has molded Thomas River into a crafty thrillride centering around the titular character, a world-renowned construction engineer who also serves as the United States' top spy operative for the Central Intelligence Agency.

As the narrative unspools, Thomas River's past and present depict a man equipped with brutal efficiency and relentless drive, navigating despicable acts of destruction as the unstable foundations of his truth slowly disintegrate. 

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"It all started with the fragment of an idea I had," Stelfreeze tells SYFY WIRE. "It eventually became the presidential speech in the first issue. That’s how Doug and I tend to operate. We’ll sometimes throw pieces together for years until it takes on a life of its own. It often feels like the idea is just using us to build itself and then it demands our undivided attention."

The Eisner Award-nominated Stelfreeze believes the importance of a mainstream black superspy all lies in perception.

"It’s the amalgam of our experiences that build who we are and how we perceive the world," he adds. "Thomas River’s life experience will have an impact on his choices. Doug and I wanted to explore those choices. Of course we’ll have explosions and high intensity action but we will also examine how different people might see the world."

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"This is a creative team and a ship of friends," Stelfreeze explains. "We’ve all worked together before on different projects so this is like bringing the band together again. No one here considers themselves the 'director' of this project. We are all just adding our ideas and superpowers to the work. That’s the most fun about this. It’s a crazy jam session and you can’t wait to see what the next person throws in. Telling stories and creative synergy, that’s the best part about doing comics."

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Now plunge into the superspy action in our four-page peek at 12-Gauge Comics' Thomas River #1, including a mysterious variant cover by Frank Quitely, in the gallery below and check out the creators' official Kickstarter page here for more details.