"A Shock to the System"
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: RS & Comicraft's Albert Descesne
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN
After seeing the team's inexperience nearly leads to an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Batroc's Brigade, we see Speed Demon takes a closer look at a recent job offer that was made by the Shocker. While the Blizzard takes steps to keep him from returning to his criminal ways, we see Speed Demon is able to successful pull off the job, but we see him turn over the ill-gotten gains of this job to Abe which helps to top up the cash-starved team coffers.
This issue was a little disappointing in that it didn't really do much beyond reinforce the basic premise of the series, as the main plot of this issue involves a couple members of the Thunderbolt embarking on a less than heroic endeavour, but when push comes to shove the issue decides to offer up some serious backpedalling when it establishes that the victim of this crime is also criminal, so rather than an interesting moral debate/crisis of conscience, it becomes a simple Robin Hood style adventure, where the readers are able to give the criminal actions a free pass. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the issue lost a great deal of its dramatic punch when it decided to have it's cake and eat it to, as we see the characters are allowed to pull off the job but when the dust settles their place within the team isn't endangered, as the target of the crime is also a criminal. Now Abe's willingness to look the other way when it comes to the source of the money is rather interesting as it's nicely in keeping with the pattern of his willingness to accept money from dubious sources in order to continue to fight the good fight, as one has to imagine this behaviour is likely to bring him into conflict with heroes who are less willing to look the other way, as we've already seen the impact that this attitude has made on his relationship with Songbird. The issue also manages to offer up an interesting development in that we see the Thunderbolts are far from being a polished fighting machine, as we see a single mistake dominoes into a near disaster for the team, and if not for the safety net that Captain Marvel provides, than this newly formed team would've suffered a very embarrassing defeat. I also have to give the issue credit for knowing how to go out on an impressive note, as how can one not be impressed by this cliff-hanger moment, and next issue looks like it's going to be one heck of a show.
There are moments in this issue where I'm starting to wonder if Tom Grummett is stretching himself a little too thin, as I see his name gracing a number of credit boxes recently, and his work on this series does seem to be getting a little less detailed. I mean his work is still quite impressive but truth be told there are panels where the art seems to lack that extra effort as the backgrounds are reduced to box-like structures that resemble buildings, and there are also a few too many panels where the background drops out completely. However, the art remains quite strong when it comes to the objects that are the central focus of the panels, as the story is quite easy to follow, and how can one not love the Abe's body language after he accepts the money. The final page of this issue also has a considerable visual impact to carry us into the next issue. I also enjoyed the return appearance of Speed Demon's original costume, as frankly I've always been a fan of its overall design. The cover image is also quite impressive, even if it is selling something that never plays out inside.
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