"Does Anyone Remember the Squadron Sinister?"
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Rick Leonardi(p), Cam Smith(i), Sotocolor's A. Street(c)
I haven't seen Rick Leonardi's artwork for a long time--Spider-Man 2099 to be precise--and it still holds up I'm happy to say on the New Thunderbolts. Leonardi especially shines when he's asked to direct the battle of Nighthawk against Joystick and choreograph the latter's stripping courtesy of Speed Demon. That said. There's a lot to be desired from this issue of Thunderbolts that's not really met.
Nicieza's an uncommonly solid writer, but here his set up for long-ranging plot threads tends to lull the reader asleep. The dialogue lacks the spark that I'm used to seeing, and the story takes twelve pages to switch into a higher gear. He also might have just stuck to merely one subplot instead of trying to juggle three. They don't confuse, but they do dump quite a bit of exposition in the dialogue. Some restraint would have gone a long way.
Joystick's appearance presents a problem. Last issue, Spider-Woman beat the snot out of her. She ended up broken, bloody and bruised. Jessica Drew possesses super-strength. So even if Joystick had a boost in healing ability, she should still show some signs that she suffered in battle. In this issue she does not bear a single crosshatched scuff mark. Leonardi's not the regular artist, but Nicieza should have informed him that Joystick had been pulverized last issue.
The main plot is a good one. Nicieza reminds fans that yes, Virginia there was a Nighthawk before Michael J. Straczynski and Marvel Max. This classic Kyle Richmond version along with his former colleagues in Squadron Sinister--two of which are now Thunderbolts--make for a fun-filled read with a neat little hook involving Dr. Spectrum and the Power Prism. It's just ponderous getting to the point at which the story proper begins.
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