Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Norman does the big cover up and cleanup after last issue's debacle. Karla and Norman discuss Robbieís fate. Robbie raises hell and Hellrazor. A Thunderbolts target gives up without a fight and a potential target wants to be caught.
Commentary: The lightning blasts continue to strike in Thunderbolts. Ellisís characterizations, revelations and twists continue to strike like lightning. We barely know whatís coming and when, and when it does show up, itís a bright blast of creativity. Thunderbolts is one of the most enjoyable reads to come out of Civil War, and Iím so glad "The Initiative" is not plastered on the cover. Thunderbolts stands on its own rights. Ellis has taken what was set up by Kurt Busiek all those years ago and continued by Fabian Nicieza and weaves the idea of villains seeking redemption or legitimacy or hiding in plain sight masterfully into current Marvel storylines. Even the opening recap page is enjoyable as we are treated to three visuals that give us a more than sufficient recap of last issue's shockers and set the issue up to move forward. Ellis and Deodatoís run hasnít missed a beat since it started and just keeps pumping along in devilish fashion.
We are given some plot twists I doubt anyone really saw coming once again. With Moonstone out of commission, Songbird is made field leader temporarily. Considering her consignment as second tier on the new team, this is a surprise. Last we saw, Karla was scheming to get Normanís job, and now we see her as Norman's advisor and confidant. Normanís such a weasel himself Iím sure he knows Karlaís intentions, but they are fiendishly two of a kind. Then again, Normanís own madness may be clouding his judgement. Thatís the thing about Ellisís story. You just never know whatís going to happen next. Itís revealed this issue that Penance has Hulk-like potential, and Karla and Norman are more than eager to harness that potential while trying to keep it leashed. Talk about a tense situation. Thatís another aspect of Ellisís writing which he does so well. He keeps the tension ratcheted up.
All of the targets the T-Bolts have gone after have all fought back, but this issue someone gladly gives up without a fight. You have to wonder, whatís up with this? Additionally, a new player comes on the scene at the end of the issue and sets himself up as an out of control, aggressive non-registrant and practically begs for the T-bolts to come and take him in. Something up here. You know these two have to be connected somehow, and someone is plotting against the T-Bolts. The beauty of it is that we just donít know what or who! This is an every issue occurrence for this team. I enjoyed the exchange between MacGargan and Melissa this issue with Mac trying to convince himself heís not the monster he so publicly displayed himself last issue or controlled by a monster heís bonded with. Melissa statements about how sheíll use Macís horrorshow status as Venom to intimidate their marks is priceless. Melissaís a great character because sheís lived on both sides of the tracks and understands both heroes and villains yet thereís nothing iffy about her personal repentance like the others. We know sheís on the side of the angels, but here she shows she can be just as manipulative to further her own ends, albeit for right if need be.
Deodatoís art continues to impress. He looks best when inking his own stuff. He's yet another great storyteller in Marvelís stable of artists. Iím so glad the trend seems to be away from splash pages and poses these days. Deodato does it all. Dark monolithic hideouts and claustrophobic cells, big city action scenes, moments of tense conversation and blow Ďem up action. His women are beautiful yet not out of proportion, and his men are strong and sinister. He can do monsters and common men just as well. I donít look forward to any fill in artists on this book, so hereís hoping the need does not arise.
Final Word: Ellis and Deodato Jr. keep the tension high and the surprises coming. This is a consistently great read for comics fans.
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