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.

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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.

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!

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.

Avenging Spider-Man #1

What makes up a “must have” book for me? Any combination of Spider-Man, Red Hulk, Wolverine and Spider Woman works. Or anything with Joe Madureira art. Better yet, combine all of that together and you have Avenging Spider-Man #1.

I’m also giving Zeb Wells some credit, as the script was awesome, too. This new Spidey team up series has our favorite wall crawler teaming up with the Red Hulk. The New York Marathon has been stopped by an invasion of the Moloids, and its up to them to stop the subterranean little people.

This uprising is a little bit different then the other times the Moloids have attacked the surface world; they have a new leader.

There’s a great scene with the Moloids taking New York’s mayor J. Jonah Jameson below the surface to find out that Mole Man isn’t running the show any more; a large Warcraft Orc looking creature rules the literal underworld. While this is going on Rulk and Spidey are fighting a monster that Jack Kirby would approve of. The art in this book is phenomenal; Madureira is just so dynamic and uses some awesome splash panels and two page spreads very well.

Sadly, Wolverine and Spider-Man didn’t appear to much in the issue, save for the opening scene with Spidey and Rulk having to go back to New York and no one really  wanting to spend time with them. What made this book so awesome was Wells’ well placed humor, making it a fun read accompanying the explosively cartoony art. This issue was a visual masterpiece and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

And to all my techie readers out there, I actually read this on an iPod touch and I have to say that it looked really awesome, especially the zoom feature which shows how detailed the original artwork is.

Fear Itself: Red Hulk

I read through another of the Fear Itself collections, this time featuring the adventures of the crimson Avenger none other than the Red Hulk. This is the first I’ve picked up of this series since the reveal of his secret identity, so I was a bit fuzzy on some of the particulars.

The first half of the story has Rulk battling it out against the fear-powered Thing. While this is going on, writer Jeff Parker has the story cut back to M.O.D.O.K. and Zero/One (a villain to this point I wasn’t introduced to but a hybrid human/robot that blames Rulk for her current state) debating whether this would be the time to kill Rulk. Instead, they realize that the Serpent, his herald Skadi and her Nazi legions would most likely take over, if not destroy, the planet. And with them in power, that would put a damper on their own evil plans so M.O.D.O.K. decides to fight the good fight.

I love in comic book stories have the villains switching sides, partially for their own needs but for the greater good. Redemption scenes/stories always warm my heart. And maybe I’m being a little too altruistic, since M.O.D.O.K. tried to kill Rulk. These things happen…

Anyway, Rulk winds up resurfacing at his parents’ old farm in Vermont with his Life Model Decoy sidekick/confidante Annie. This trip down memory lane was interrupted by the alien killing machine Omegex who has a simple mission: ending Rulk’s life.

Good thing Rulk is a master strategist; he turns back into General Ross which is too much for Omegex to comprehend, effectively resolving Omegex’s mission because Rulk was gone.

Where Parker excelled in this second act was visiting Ross’ past. You see that loss of life is something he continually had to deal with, whether it being his father dying in front of him as a child, or his wife’s death. That explains why he’s been so obscenely protective of his daughter over the years. It also give reason for why he’s such a great soldier; he’s detached himself from most of his humanity. With this emotional rebirth, it’s interesting to see what direction they will take with the character.

New York Comic Con 2011 Sketch Book: Superboy and Red Hulk by Frano Aureliani

Superboy and Red Hulk by Franco

What would happen if the Red Hulk met Superboy? Tiny Titans co-mastermind Franco Aureliani assumes it would go something like this.

Superboy would wind up annoying Rulk. Lets face it; poor Red Hulk isn’t necessarily the life of the party and wouldn’t take to kindly to Superboy flyring around and annoying him like a gnat.

Check out Franco’s website to keep up with his projects.