"Call To Battle?"
Writers: Fabian Nicieza and Kurt Busiek
Artists: Tom Grummett (p), Gary Erskine (i), Chris Sotomayor (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As Abe and Warbird battle the Fathom Five, the call goes out for the Thunderbolts, but the team isn't exactly in rapid response mode, as half the team spends most of the issue debating whether they should cut short their evening out and risk their lives for no seeming reward. However, the various characters slowly make their way to the battle, and it would appear that the Thunderbolts have saved the day once again until the situation becomes even more dire.
Comments: This issue is far more entertaining than it really should be as the Fathom Five are a rather generic group of villains, and one would think that their ability to provide a highly engaging battle would be quite limited. However, this issue succeeds in spite of its weak villains, thanks to the strength of its cast of heroes, as not only is this a pretty harrowing clash, but it also makes for a very entertaining character study as the various characters make their way to the battle. Plus, the issue surprisingly keeps all its various plot threads active, as it touches on everything from Atlas' worrisome mental state, to Blizzard's reluctance to put his life on the line. There's also a wealth of cool moments that are sure to bring a smile to face of many fans; how can one not love the scene where we discover what Abe's mystery phone call has accomplished, or the scene where the Radioactive Man encounters a pair of police officers who are looking to bring him in? The issue also manages to create the sense that the situation is rapidly escalating beyond the Thunderbolts' ability to handle; one can't help but be impressed by the cliff-hanger moment that's offered up. In fact if this series has done anything it's shown itself to be the exact opposite of the recent trend to stretch out a story over the length of a trade paperback, as there's more story material in a single issue of this title than many recent arcs I've come across. This is pure entertainment, and I can't recommend this book highly enough to readers tired of the decompressed writing style that has swept over the Marvel Universe.
Tom Grummett is a fine artist, and I'm delighted to see he looks to be this title's regular artist as he's proven to be a wonderful team book artist. He's also quite good at delivering the big impact visuals, from the ever so impressive double-page spread that brings readers into the action, to the equally impressive one page shot later in this issue of the Beetle armor back in action. There's also a number of cool visuals from Atlas's exit from the hospital, to his slightly disturbing efforts later in the issue, as he punches through the sea monster. The only quibble I would make about the art is that there's a scene where Abe is trying to get the Radioactive Man to stand down, and his energy gauntlet doesn't show any sign of it building up for an energy pulse, which robbed the scene of a great deal of its visual impact. I did enjoy the return of the Beetle armor though, but the old school fan in me did miss the suction cup fingers.
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