Hold on to your cowls, Thunderbolts, things are about to get weird. As this comic pulls itself from the snake’s coil of Fear Itself, there are a few things on the cover that deserve immediate mention. First, the “Justice, Like Lighting” tagline makes it return, an off-and-on motto of our favorite team of half-assed bad guys. Also, there is a proud statement of this being “1ST ISSUE OF A NEW ERA“, an odd declaration considering this book is not offering a new creative team, roster or philosophical direction. Probably the most notable thing on the front of this week’s Thunderbolts is the indication that Captain America and Namor are now part the new team in some capacity.
After the events in Chicago the once cohesive operation is now fractured. Luke Cage and charter members Songbird and Mach V convene and try to piece together the messy mutiny that has their operation in shambles and their base missing. Elsewhere, the defiant contingent of Thunderbolts — which includes Fixer, Moonstone and Satana — find themselves fighting off Nazis (and enjoying the hell out of it), until they are assisted by a duo of Invaders to provide the most unlikely of team-ups. I’m in the personal opinion that the Reich is the most uninspired, convenient villain in all of fiction, but in order to make these misfits look like heroes I guess you need to go there.
These new developments are an exciting and representative of what has become typical in Jeff Parker’s stint on Thunderbolts. The plot is always moving, always transitioning, always evolving to keeping the roster and relationships fresh. We spend a bulk of this story with characters that have entered the picture only recently. There is well-known literary device called “Chekov’s gun” which basically states that if you introduce a gun in the first half of a story it’d better fire in the second half. Parker is proficient in presenting us with these guns, and shooting them off before the reader expects. The story is flowing and quickly told, and that’s probably to distract us from the fact that we’re reading comics about characters named Troll, Ghost and Boomerang.
The steady art foundation is maintained with the return of Kev Walker. It’s in my opinion Walker is one of the best talents working for Marvel right now. His paneling and storytelling is upper-tier and his consistency is phenomenal. Despite his record, this is not the most remarkable work I’ve seen from him. Overall the pencils and inks are very good, but I can’t help but notice some cloudiness in smaller panels and background images.
As Moonstone points out, Thunderbolts has changed a lot since the start. It will surely change again. However, the issue-to-issue quality of this series is outstanding with this creative team behind the wheel. Maybe the cover was right — even with #163.1 due later in the month, this issue might be the best time jump onboard.
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.