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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New York Comic Con 2012 Sketchbook: Venom by Declan Shalvey

Venom by Delcan Shalvey

More fun from my New York Comic Con 2012 sketchbook! I got this awesome sketch of Venom from Declan Shelvey! The Irish artist is super awesome and I had a discussion with him about the city of Philadelphia, the setting of his Venom series! You can check out more fun stuff from Declan at his blog.

New York Comic Con 2012 Sketchbook: Cable by Reilly Brown

Cable by Reilly Brown

I’m on vacation this week so we’ll be posting some quick stuff, mostly sketches I picked up at New York Comic Con 2012 starting with this one of Cable by Reilly Brown.

Reilly is an awesome artist and I really loved his work on the Cable and Deadpool series. That said, getting a sketch of Cable from him made me super excited. You can catch up on his current projects on his Tumblr. You should also check out his own project Power Play which I highly recommend.

 

Thunderbolts #6

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Thunderbolts #6 pretty much serves as a book end for the first story arc, tying up the first five issues and setting up what comes next. It turns out that the real reason there was so much interest in Kata Jaya was that the American government had been secretly running a gamma base there for quite some time. Knowing that, everything else finally starts to make sense.

The Leader had uploaded his brain all over the internet and now knows nothing of his past. His brother, Mad Man knew that and teamed up with the Kata Jayan government. If they could create a living network of computers–in this case, people plugged into a computer network–only then could they begin to relearn what the Leader had once known. And in this case, it was gamma powered weaponry.

That ghost like figure from the last issue was Mercy who reminds Red Hulk that he can’t just kill the Leader. Mad Man also tries one last time to stop the Thunderbolts, but meets a gruesome demise when they plug him into the human server network and he literally dies of information overload. His head explodes.

Everyone comes to the realization that even though Mad Man has been taken out, whatever he was working on is no longer on the island. There’s a lot of mistrust amongst the team, especially since Red Hulk has been so secretive about the nature of the mission and the fact that they have to pretty much babysit a brain-dead Leader. Punisher and Elektra seem to be happy with their friends with benefits, which makes Deadpool insanely jealous. Doesn’t he know that he’s disgusting.

One of the things I’ve noticed through these last six issues is how much Venom is the moral compass of this book, something the Eddie Brock version of the character could never be. Flash Thompson has made a fine addition to that character’s host-ship.

Thunderbolts #5

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The crimson-clad murder squad is back and just like this image suggests, love is in the air! The Thunderbolts are still on the island of Kata Jaya. There’s a lot of stuff happening in this issue that is set up to conclude this first story arc.

Red Hulk has hulked out back to his human/General Ross form and is carrying around the Leader, who he was able to revive. We’re not sure if it’s the two of them hallucinating, but it appears that they are talking to the former Hulk villain Mercy, who is floating around and talking to them like she’s an angel. Apparently the Leader knows nothing of his

Remember how they thought that they took out Mad Man in the previous issue? Turns out they really didn’t and Venom has to finish him off. Eventually Venom does, and finds a room filled with people plugged into a computer mainframe like something out of the Matrix.

As this is going on, Deadpool surprisingly has become the most noble of the characters, telling the Kata Jayan rebels that they just can’t kill Mad Man. He has to be tried for his crimes, as it makes them as awful as he was. walking away he finds Punisher and Elektra–who spent a good part of the issue fighting/maiming/killing people–making out.

Thunderbolts #4

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One of the big criticisms with Thunderbolts is that everyone is written out of character. While I kind of agree with that, I seem to be part of the minority of people who do indeed like this book.

Everyone other than Red Hulk is still not sure of exactly what is going on, and he seems more interested in reviving the Leader, who received what looked like mortal shot to the head in the last issue. There is a lot of flashbacks in this about the history of Kata Jaya. It turns out it’s dictator, General Awa, has been propped up by the United States government for a long time, unbeknownst to everyone at this point.

In the meantime, Punisher and Deadpool go out on their own to find the gamma powered Mad Man. Punisher finds a ridiculous way to take out the much more powerful Mad Man by strapping a landmine to his chest. Yup, you read that right.

On the other side of the island, Venom is storming General Awa’s fortress to rescue Elektra. Unfortunately by the time he rescues her, Awa gets executed by the rebels and that’s not part of the plan. Oh well.

Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution

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Rob Liefeld wasn’t the artist for this series, but he did contribute artwork for a variant cover for Uncanny X-Force #1.

I really enjoyed the set concept of X-Force being a more forceful, covert branch of the X-Family. So the continued adventures of Wolverine and Archangel’s secret task force in Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña’s Uncanny X-Force was a bit of a must read for me.

The previous volume ended with the team being seemingly disbanded by Cyclops. Wolverine and Archangel didn’t. I mean, who takes Cyclops seriously? Especially at this point in the characters’s existence. The group is based out of Cavern-X, which is basically Archangel’s version of the Batcave. It’s even decorated with X-Memorabilia. The new roster of this team adds Fantomex, Psylocke (who makes sense since she’s been the on again, off again love interest of Archangel) and Deadpool.

The purpose of this team has been to track the movements of the Apocalypse-worshipping Clan Akkaba across the globe. It turns out the group has reincarnated Apocalypse, now in the form of a young child. Knowing that he will eventually grow up into a tyrant that will eventually destroy both mankind and mutantkind, X-Force has the gruesome task of killing him. It’s the only way to be certain that he won’t be a threat to the planet. So it’s off to the moon to find him and fight the latest version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The battle sequences are what you would expect, but there is a lot of foreshadowing seen through the interactions of the members of X-Force. Fantomex is pretty much sexually harassing Psylocke the whole time, much to her and her boyfriend Archangel’s disdain. Speaking of the guy with the big metal wings, he is having his own problems dealing with a darker split personality trying to overtake him. With all this drama going on, Wolverine is put in a position where he has to be the peacemaker and that is a role is foreign to him. Aside from the intentionally bad jokes that Remender wrote for his dialogue, Deadpool is the straight man in this book. Go figure. 

The book ends with X-Force having dispatched the Four Horsemen and finding Kid Apocalypse. There is only one problem…no one seems willing to kill him, other than Archangel. There’s a lot of pleading from Wolverine and Psylocke to not do it, and the team reaches a consensus to take him back with them. If he has the chance to be properly educated and integrated into society, he won’t be a threat.

And then Fantomex kills him.

So much for that. 

I like the way Uncanny X-Force is heading. There is a lot of foreshadowing, not only with the repercussions of killing Apocalypse but with the strained relations among the members of the group themselves. Opeña’s art is a little different, but it reminds of Leinil Yu. I can’t wait to check out the next volume.

It Came From San Diego Comic Con 2013: Deadpool Corps Set

deadpool-sdcc-2013bIt’s no secret that Deadpool loves tacos and has found kindred spirits around the multiverse in the Deadpool Corps. To celebrate the Mexican delicacy and the friendship that has been found across the multiverse, Hasbro has put together a Deadpool Corps exclusive set for San Diego Comic Con this summer.

This set of three Marvel Universe-style action figures (and three non poseable sidekicks) are packaged in taco shaped blister cards housed in a taco truck box.

So who do you get in this package?

deadpool-sdcc-2013-aFrom left to right: Kidpool, Championpool, Squirrelpool, Deadpool, Lady Deadpool and Dogpool. Sadly, Headpool (the talking and disembodied head of Deadpool from the Marvel Zombies Universe) is not included.

The exclusive set is priced at $49.95 and will be available at SDCC. If there are any leftovers, Hasbro usually sells them at their online toy store.

 

 

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!

New Thunderbolts with Red Hulk, Punisher, Deadpool and Elektra! Count Me In!

Marvel has just made an announcement that I can’t wait for:  the new Thunderbolts series. Traditionally, the team has been about a team of villains or other nefarious types having to put aside their own scheming for the greater good–whether they’ve decided to do this on their own or have been forced. This new version takes the concept in a different decision.

In an interview over on Newsarama with new writer Daniel Way, the team basically operates under the direction of Red Hulk (who before he became gamma powered was the long time military leader/Hulk hunter General “Thunderbolt” Ross of the US Army) to work off the grid. Way put it this way in that interview:

This team of Thunderbolts exists to cut out that infection, wherever it is found. They do not recognize boundaries or borders, be they moral, political or geographical. They can and will strike anyone, at any time, without warning. They are the consequence of evil deeds, pure and simple.

So this team basically operates on their own. I’ve been a super fan of Red Hulk as a character, as well as the current incarnation of Venom. The only character I’m not too hot on is Deadpool due to him being kind of overexposed the last five years or so. But that is counteracted by having Punisher and Elektra on board, and both of them have kind of being pushed to the back of Marvel’s hierarchy in this period.

And to top it all off long time Garth Ennis Preacher/Punisher penciller Steve Dillon handling the art on this book, this is going to be nothing but awesome. I guess this will be added to my pull list.

DIY Deadpool (and 101 Dalmatians) Birthday Party

101 Dalmatians and Deadpool CakeSo yesterday was my brother’s birthday. There are two things in the world that he is very passionate about–Deadpool and 101 Dalmatians. So how do you combine the two into a themed birthday party?

Well it can be a little tricky, since there isn’t any 101 Dalmatians party supplies to be found. And forget Deadpool.

So with a little bit of work and some use of Google, I came up with a plan. This plan would make Martha Stewart cringe, but I’m no Martha Stewart.

So what to do? I followed the advice of all-around awesome person Amy Sedaris, author of Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.  I did it myself.Step 1: Make A Card

I went back and forth on whether I would theme everything with the puppies or Deadpool, but wound up going with the mercenary with the mouth. First part was to make a birthday card. I remembered that the cover of Deadpool #23 had him jumping out of a cake, so that would be the cover. A high quality print on glossy cardstock makes the perfect card!
Step 2: Personalize the Card

But we need to personalize it a little more on the inside. Write a message that is appropriate with the image on the cover. Party animal? Deadpool jumping out of a cake? Works for me. Also, add a little sketch or doodle or something to personalize it; definitely a fun little way to liven it up.

Step 4.5: The Gifts

For you nosy-nellies, little brother got some old-time X-Men and 101 Dalmatians comics, as well as the Marvel Legends Deadpool action figure. All of which were purchased at the Baltimore Comic-Con the other weekend.

Step 3: Make Wrapping PaperNow to make some wrapping paper. I found some pics of good ol’ deadpool with a white background. They were pasted into a blank Microsoft Publisher document and resized/arranged. Print out a whole bunch of these to wrap everything.

I chose to not fully print the paper to save some money. But wait a minute, you say. Can you see through the paper? Well the answer is yes. And that’s where some ingenuity came in handy.

Step 4: Pre WrappingI prewrapped everything in a sheet of newspaper. That was just enough to make sure you couldn’t see what was inside. You could probably use tissue paper too, but again my concern was to do this as inexpensive and quick as possible.

Step 5: Post Wrapping

See how awesome that looks? You can’t even see what’s inside.

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And voila, the final project! Happy Deadpool Birthday!

101 Dalmatians and Deadpool Cake

Now for the cake, which is always important. It was a triple-layer cake vanilla cake, wich chocolate frosting in the inside and vanilla on the outside. Decorations come from a Marvel Universe Deadpool action figure and a Christmas ornament with Lucky and Rolly watching their favorite television show, Thunderbolt.

Eat your heart out Cake Boss.

30 Things I Like About Comics–#24 Rob Liefeld

I’ve always enjoyed Rob Liefeld. Rob Liefeld's Uncanny X-Force

His art, with its over muscled and hyper exaggerated movement, is certainly a style that works in his projects. When you look back at the titles that Liefeld worked on, none of them fall into the serious “comics-as-art” case studies. Instead, his books were always the over-the-top super hero adventures with lots of explosions. His men are drawn with more muscle striation than you could find in a He-Man action figure. On the other side, his ladies had hotter and more unnatural proportions than Barbie.

Liefeld works best when he is teamed up with a strong writer. Case in point, look at his run on Hawk & Dove in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Written by Barbara and Karl Kesel, they created a damn fine series that still holds up to this day. Karl’s inking certainly Rob Liefeld's Hawk and Doveworks well with Liefeld’s art, maintaining the kineticism, but keeping it focused.

His work with Louise Simonson and Fabian Nicieza on New Mutants and X-Force respectively is solid. It also brought us Cable and Deadpool, both of which are cornerstones in the X-franchise. Youngblood was certainly a big deal when it came out, as were his Heroes Reborn takes on Captain America and the Avengers.

His fan reception is certainly polarizing. As successful as he is, there is also a vocal number of people who have an immense dislike of him, finding criticisms of his artistic skill and his storytelling.

I’ve never been one of the cynical fan types, but one thing I have noticed is that everyone is looking for the next Watchmen. Instead of enjoying a book for just being an escapist action/adventure fantasy, they unleash their frustrations on it for not being the next big groundbreaking work or for it not advancing the art form.

I think that Liefeld would find Michael Bay to be a kindred spirits of sorts. They both have a similar storytelling mantra, with big action and bigger effects, and not focusing on the more serious or realistic side. Because of that, they have a lot of vocal detractors.

But ultimately, they have dedicated and loyal fanbases, not to mention the ability to create ‘event’ stories that capture outsiders attention. Bay has grossed over $3 billion worldwide. Granted, Liefeld hasn’t generated money to that level but he’s certainly sold some funny books over the years.

Regardless what you think of him, you have to accept that Liefeld loves comics. Whenever you read any of his interviews or listen to him talk at a convention, you cannot argue that he isn’t a fan. He loves this industry. And not only that, he’s always super friendly to his fans.

And besides, how many comic creators have had television commercials?

Check out Lifeld’s blog for all kinds of arty goodness.