Plot: The team begins to unravel, threatening that the very mountain itself will come down on the Thunderbolts.
Commentary: The new Thunderbolts under Ellis and Deodato have become one of the most well realized and executed comics concepts to come out of the House of Ideas for years. When the team first debuted under Busiek and Bagley it was a fresh concept with killer art and action and all of the twist and intrigue it promised. Ellis and Deodato continue that tradition. You still just never know what’s coming in the next issue of Thunderbolts. We expected the new prisoners Caprice, Mindwave, Mirage and Bluestreak were up to no good and had a plan to bring the Thunderbolts down, but the beginnings of the execution of that plan exceed expectations here. They are not just controlling the Thunderbolts minds to force them to do things they normally would not. They seem to be taking advantage of our casts’ villainous natures and turning their powerful strengths into devastating weaknesses. In the execution we come to realize that these characters are their own worst enemies and their pride and sheer ruthlessness will be their undoing. The psychics are just bringing out what is normally there and only surpressed ever so slightly under the veneer of hero.
Ellis does what he does best. Thunderbolts is a concept almost tailor made for his sinister and dark leanings. Judging by the cover I expected to see a boring knock-down drag out confrontation between Robbie and Doc Samson. I’m glad to say I was disappointed!
We get the continuation of Norman being tormented by visions of his alter ego, the Green Goblin while his aid calmly asks, “Can I find some stronger medication for you?” Here’s something else Ellis has a masterful handle on; dark humor. As he injects twist and turns into the lives of these fictional characters he gleefully turns the knife on their pain, laughing all the way. Next up, Mack Gargan the former Scorpion, is tormented by Venom and forced into submission. Venom is a fully lethal force now and wastes no time rampaging through the mountain. If you thought that Venom eating Steel Spider’s arm a few issues ago was the farthest Marvel and Ellis were willing to go with this guy then you were dead wrong! I know I was.
Andreas Strucker gives in to his ancestral, Machiavellian tendencies declaring himself the new Baron Von Strucker commandeering his own private army from the ranks of the mountain guards, pulling strings and making things go boom along the way. There’s an ultimate face off between Strucker and the Goblin down the road I’m sure and Deodato’s visuals along with Ellis’s dialogue are sure to make it a treat. I enjoyed the way Deodato experimented a bit with the art here, bookending the Venom and Swordsman segments with images of the characters themselves in a sort of split screen effect. Pick up the book and check it out for yourself - I’m sure you will agree with me. Songbird, Radioactive Man, Penance and Doc Samson round out the third contingent of forces that will inevitably clash inside the confines of Thunderbolts’ mountain and Ellis has set up some impossibly formidable adversaries against them. That begs the question; where was Moonstone this issue? It’s chilling to think what she’s been up to. Oh my, things are just getting too dangerous and deadly for all. Ellis doesn’t pull punches, he delivers on his promises. People will pay and there will be blood.
Final Word: We’re never quite sure just who is pulling strings or where we’ll go next with the Thunderbolts, but one things for sure - we’ll have grand adventure getting there.
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