Thunderbolts #55

Posted: Thursday, August 23
By: Jason Cornwell
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Writer: Fabian Nicieza with Michael Barreiro
Artists: Patrick Zircher (p), Al Vey (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

With Humus Sapien freed and out in the world, we discover that this character draws his power from the life-force of others, as all around the globe, people are dropping to the ground lifeless. As the Redeemers pull themselves out of the rubble that was their headquarters we see that Ogre fills them in on the details of how Humus Sapien came to be the resident inside the third pod. It turns out the Factor Three (a trio of mutant super-villains that fought the early X-Men), grabbed Humus Sapien when his mutant power first appeared, in the hopes of adding his power to their ranks. However their tampering made Humus Sapien too dangerous to control, so they sealed him in a status pod, which Ogre has been safeguarding ever since. However we see Humus Sapien has remembered his power kills others, including his own family when they first manifested, and he's just as eager as the Redeemers to get him off-planet. As a tesseract portal is opened the threat of Humus Sapien is ended. However, the Redeemers quickly find themselves facing a new threat.

Now Fabian Nicieza manages to develop Humus Sapien into a fairly exciting threat, and I was all ready to see how the Redeemers would fair in their first battle with a truly powerful adversary. Now having been set up as a threat, and having him open the issue by Humus Sapien acting like his solution was to wipe every human off the face of the planet, I found it rather disappointing when Fabian Nicieza suddenly decides to switch gears in midstream and have Humus Sapien suddenly develop a sense of guilt, that later turns him into an ally in the Redeemers struggle to get him off planet. I mean yes I can understand why he would be affected by the memory of his family's death, but I've always been of the mind that if you set up the idea in the reader's mind to expect a battle, you run the risk of leaving them dissatisfied when you don't deliver one. Then again the final page helped me quickly overcome my disappointment.

While the main plot failed to deliver, the side-plots are certainly holding my attention. The back-story of how the Ogre became involved with Humus Sapien gave the character a nice motivation to do what he does during the climax. The complete destruction of the Mount Charteris base is a good move, as one of the more appealing elements of the Thunderbolts was their lack of resources to draw on, and with their return to a fugitive status coming up, it's good to see this problem will also be returning. As for Hawkeye's impending escape from prison, I find my interest is at its highest during these brief interludes, though his being my favorite character in the book might play a role in this. I'm also pleased to see Fabian Nicieza continuing to draw upon his "Alpha Flight" run, as Headlok was one of his more interesting creations. The Graviton plot also looks to have moved into the spotlight, where it looks like it'll be one to remember.

Patrick Zircher is more than proving to be an ideal replacement for the departed Mark Bagley, as my concerns about him not being able to match the intensity during the battle sequences was nicely squashed by this issue's pair of double-page spreads that first show the gathered Redeemers after facing one threat, and then a similar look at the team as they are confronted by another. Sure these two scenes don't show us how well he delivers the action, but they act as a fine indicator of how he delivers the two moments that all battles must have, namely the beginning & the end. The rest of this issue is surprisingly enough mostly talking heads, and if nothing else Patrick Zircher manages to keep the material visually engaging, as there's a good deal in every panel to capture your eye. His work is highly detailed, which is always a big plus, as is his strong grasp on figure work & facial expressions. Patrick Zircher is earning his new monthly artist status, and I hope his run is just as long, if not longer than Mark Bagley's 50 issues.

Final Word:
An issue that never achieves lift off, mainly due to a switch in direction by Fabian Nicieza in midstream that cheats us out of the expected, and much anticipated on my part, climax. One is left with the sense that Fabian Nicieza was trying to build excitement for this Humus Sapien fellow, but he couldn't quite make the move to turn him into an outright villain, so instead the character becomes a tortured hero, which is something that is not exactly is short demand in the Marvel Universe. In the end, it's my interest in the secondary plots that had me enjoying this issue, and the cliffhanger is more than enough to have me counting the days until the next issue. There's also some fairly exciting repercussions to this story, with the chief one being the destruction of their headquarters.

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