Jeff Parker makes event tie-ins look good. After rocking it when the Thunderbolts participated in the Shadowland saga, the Fear Itself issues have provided some excellent connections to the event while still doing justice to the characters and themes of the previous 30 issues. Still, I’m kind of glad this one was regular-sized and not five dollars like the last issue. Skipping meals gets old after breakfast.
Per usual, Parker works with two storylines and this time it operates in two linear acts. We open with the plenty-busy Luke Cage demanding the capture of the hammer-carrying Juggernaut, and then flip to the Underbolts continuing their discussion on how to execute their future subterfuge. The second part deals with the battle with Juggy, which ends up being an amazing demonstration of Declan Shalvey’s talents.
Visually, the issue as a whole is very strong. Shalvey draws some of my favorite characters superbly. His range reveals itself in a four page sequence where Ghost, Satana, Mach-5 and Moonstone enter the soul of Cain Marko to coax their friend from Kuurth, Breaker of Promises. The abstract, almost mosaic style added zest to what could have been a very basic “find and fight” plot. A nod to Parker for adding the scene and applause to the art team for executing it.
This is standard fare for Parker and co. The title features some of the best castoffs the Marvel Universe has to offer and figures out ways to tell cool team stories that flow effortlessly into each other. References to ongoing subplots and seeds for futures ones pepper the story which give it layers many mainstream team books lack. Even characters like Fixer, who seems to be almost meta in his acceptance as a third-tier member of the team, are featured in plot-efficient ways.
If you can squeeze another book onto your pile you should consider what’s happening over in Thunderbolts. Quality team synergy, smart dialogue, a flawless balance of big names and underutilized gems and always an above art effort equals good superhero comics at it core.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.