Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist(s): Mike Deodato, Jr
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Robbie and Doc Samson have a heart to heart super-power style. No surprise that the new captives in Thunderbolts Mountain are not all they seem. Normie takes his medicine, or, he sure should anyway.
Commentary: After issues of the team in action and plot twists and surprises galore Ellis settles down to a more straight forward story of Leonard Samson’s attempt to ground Robbie and give him perhaps an “only friend” to lean on. This is not a bad thing because even though the older runs of Thunderbolts under Busiek and Nicienza were great reading one of the things they suffered from was too much in the way of cliffhangers, twists and subplots. It can get jarring, contrived and tiring to readers after awhile. Ellis has wisely chosen this issue to slow down the pace a bit and focus for the bulk of the issue on two characters; Doc Samson and Penance. That’s not to say he doesn’t check in with other characters because he does.
Samson uses his super-strength to withstand an outburst of Robbie’s powers just to give Robbie hope that destruction and death are not all he is good for these days. By issues end, by Robbie’s face and posture you can tell at long last he has found some measure of relief from his self-torturing existence. It’s a nice change in that we as the readers were in on the fact that Caprice and Mindwave’s surrenders were simply for the purpose of infiltrating Thunderbolts Mountain. There they meet other detainees and the plot thickens. For all the scheming and underhandedness Norman and Karla have been a part of it would be justice like lightning indeed if this group were to bring Thunderbolts Mountain down on their heads. But then again, it is Ellis writing and he writes sly and sinister like no one else. So, it’s anybody’s game at this point. There is something not too well thought out in this scene as all of the prisoners seem to be in cells right next to each other. I find it hard to believe that Norman would allow this since he suspects fowl play himself.
Melissa and Doctor Chen spend a couple of pages reviewing the current status quo of the team and any real hopes for redemption. There banter and discussion are handled well and the way Ellis make these to the most unlikely of allies and friends is a further testament to his writing chops. Finally, Norman Osborn wins a fight with his desk drawer in an effort to find his stash of pills and what’s revealed once he opens it makes him wish he hadn’t. Will Norman finally sink into the madness that is The Green Goblin once again? Once again, it’s anybody’s guess but the tension abounds.
The art this issue is not the strongest. It seems a bit less defined and sketchier than it has been to date. Maybe they are tired from all the battle scenes they’ve had to draw on this run so far. Ellis has made this book and team his own while giving the art team plenty to draw and do. Kudos to Marvel for not putting a fill in artist yet but maybe after this storyline concludes it’d be a good idea. Give the art team time to rest and regroup and keep bringing their A-Game every month.
Final Word: This issue is slower and yet explosive at the same time. Even while drawing in the focus of the book Ellis and company give us something to chew on until the next exciting installment.
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