Thunderbolts #9-11

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These issues make more sense when read as clump. There is a lot going on in Thunderbolts to conclude this story arc. There are explosions, gamma powered Crimson Dynamos and more bad one-liners from Deadpool: everything that you would want from this series. But writer Daniel Way delivers much more.

It turns out that the Crimson Dynamos are owned and operated by Elektra’s brother Orestez, as somehow he has gotten himself involved in the black market weapons trade. Ultimately, it’s up to the Thundebrolts to destroy these weapons and stop Orestez. There’s a bit of a twist, as he is on to their plan and is somehow attempting to set up a broadcast of this, hoping that he will be killed and wind up as a martyr. Way never really explains this, and it feels a bit out-of-place. Issue #11 ends with the above scene, with Elektra killing her brother off panel in private and not giving him the brutal public display that would influence future terrorists, which he seemed to have wanted. There’s an earlier seen with her being shocked that the Punisher would so easily kill Orestez, and I wonder if that was done to set up future relationship problems between the world’s deadliest trouble.

The rest of the team is pretty static through this. Red Hulk is, well, Red Hulk. Venom and Deadpool are still very uneasy about everything that is going on but seem to get along with each other for the most part. The Leader is turning out to be an asset to the group, as it turns out that he’s gained the ability to speak with electronics the way that the Drummer does in Planetary. This skill comes to use in the groups final battle with Orestez. The issue ends with Leader speaking to a vision of Mercy, with her telling him that he has much more potential than he knows.

This was Way’s last issue in the series, and I would say that he did a decent job for the most part. Even though there were some odd parts of the story that didn’t come across well (like Orestez’s attempt at martyrdom), Thunderbolts has worked for me because of the way he built the team’s shaky group dynamic. It’s like he’s trying to get the point across that the Thunderbolts’ biggest threat is themselves. And that he clearly was able to get across.

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Thunderbolts #7

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Thunderbolts #7 starts out a bit different from the previous issues, with Phil Noto taking over from Steve Dillon on the penciling duties. Daniel Way has the team dealing with the fallout from their first mission while travelling in a submarine.

There is growing tension on the submarine, as Punisher and Elektra’s somewhat secret relationship has come to life, and Deadpool is quite the jealous merc with a mouth.

The issue ends with all of the Thunderbolts attempting to overthrow the Red Hulk, as they’re still not exactly sure of what’s going on.

Because he’s, you know, gamma powered and everything, Red Hulk quickly dispatches the attempted coup. He finally starts to explain more of their mission and how he has assembled this group to stop enemies of the state that have acquired gamma weaponry. There was a large gamma weapon that was taken during the first story arc and they have to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.

The last pages of the story pretty much reveal that; whoever got a hold of the gamma weapon has used it to put together a battalion of gamma-powered Crimson Dynamo battle armored soldiers.

I’m liking where this is heading and by this point you can see that Way is hitting his stride. Phil Noto’s art is pretty sweet as well. I still don’t get why everyone is so harsh on this series.

Thunderbolts #2

thunderbolts-2.jpgNow this is more like it. Thunderbolts #2 is much more in line with what I want to read in this series. Red Hulk and the group are off to the small southeast Asian country of Kata Jaya to put a stop to an oppressive regime.

The nation’s military has been testing gamma weapons on its own people; one bomb took out over 600 civilians–intentionally. They also have acquired gamma powered ammunition as well. To aid the civilians, Red Hulk has promised to support the insurgency. That part I can understand, but I’m still a little confused as to why the rest of the group is getting involved. Daniel Way wrote a scene that connects Flash Thompson to this, as he’s thrilled to fight alongside General Ross. They also have another similarity, being that they’re both America-first military types who have been turned into monsters to protect their country. But the rest, I’m still not sold on. To help unify the look of the group, they’ve also explained that the group has been outfitted with red gamma powered armor (to help from gamma poisoning of the Kata Jayan weaponry) and creating a black/red color palate for their wardrobe.

Now in Kata Jaya, they’ve sent Elektra and Deadpool to infiltrate the government’s forces, only for them to be captured. The big cliffhanger is Red Hulk revealing that he has an unconscious Leader (the literally big brained Hulk villain) on some sort of life support system.

This issue has a lot more going on that the previous, so I assume this will be more like the regular pacing of the series. Steve Dillon draws really cool, if not fairly bloody, fight scenes so I’m very happy with the direction the series is taking.

Thunderbolts #1

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Thunderbolts is the book I’ve been waiting to read for quite some time.

As soon as I saw the teaser image, Thunderbolts completely got my attention. Any book that features some of the more modern characters that I’ve been into (Red Hulk and Flash Thompson-Venom) and puts them aside longtime favorites Punisher and Elektra pretty much guarantees a purchase. Not

The first issue of the series sets up the direction of the team. General Ross is putting together a group of some of the more “extreme” heroes of the Marvel universe to take matters into their own hands, mainly focusing on Ross recruiting an imprisoned Punisher to join him. And really, he doesn’t have much choice because he’s tied up in a warehouse with hundreds of angry mobsters getting ready to bust the door down. As this story is unfolding, they cut to scenes of Ross recruiting the rest of the team around the world.

It’s pretty much what you would expect from a first issue. I don’t know if Daniel Way usually writes in this decompressed style, but I do hope the action picks up in the future. I don wonder how this book would read if it was written by Garth Ennis, especially since the first arc is drawn by his regular collaborator Steve Dillon.

So final verdict: Thunderbolts has a lot of potential to be awesome. It’s got a really interesting characters, most of which have never been in a book with a team dynamic. And I think for those scenes, Way is going to do a great job writing. I can’t wait for him to  pick up the action in future issues; I want to see some crazy Dillon fight scenes!