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Thunderbolts #123

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Christos N. Gage
Fernando Blanco, Frank Martin (colours)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Thunderbolts #123 arrives in stores tomorrow, August 27.

For a series that started with a bunch of villains pretending to be heroes, it is a wonderfully ironic that this group of misfits in the current Marvel universe may be the only hope for the salvation of humankind from the Skrull threat.

Of course, we know that eventually the "real heroes" will show up and save the day, but until that time, Norman Osborn and his team is all Washington DC has got. Let me tell you, they do a pretty convincing job of saving the day.

The story starts off slowly, with Osborn chatting with Captain Mar-Vell, who has been revealed to be a Skrull. Unfortunately, the story connected to Mar-Vell goes nowhere fast. Given that we first found out about Mar-Vell in the first issue of Secret Invasion, nothing has happened since that issue with him. What could have been a solid scene has instead fallen flat given that you can feel the reigns yanked away from Gage as he comes up to what could have been a defining moment for both Osborn and Mar-Vell. A missed opportunity, for sure.

This book has a lot fun moments in it for being a comic about carnage and war. It has some excellent moments for Osborn to shine as the twisted mirror of a virtuous leader that he is to the Thunderbolts. As the handler of a bunch of killers and maniacs, he actually manages to do a pretty good job giving them a twisted version of a pep talk. I would never have thought that someone could have written Osborn delivering a General Patton-like speech, but Christos Gage manages to pull it off. The irony makes you grin from ear to ear, and a little terrible part in your heart even has you cheering for the bad guys. I even had a guilty little smile on my face when the reigns were removed from Bullseye and Venom. There is even a nice moment for Penance as he draws from tragedy below him to gain power over the situation.

The rest of the book consists of big fights, and a guessing game as to who might be a Skrull in the midst of the Thunderbolts. Gage plays it pretty close to the chest, and we do not get many clues, if any, as to who might be a Skrull. Personally, I do not think it will be the obvious candidate. It would be too easy.

Blanco does a great job depicting the combat sequences in the book, including the fantastic use of new Super Skrull power sets. There are some gruesome moments as well, but not so much that I would stop reading. Characters are distinctive, and facial expressions convey the sinister motivations of everyone from the Skrulls to Osborn himself.

This is a short and sweet review. I am encouraged to see the Thunderbolts still running along at a breakneck pace. It is one of the best books on the shelves for Marvel, and I would recommend readers to pick up the previous two issues if they want a good side story to the main Secret Invasion story-line.







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