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 #8

thunderbolts-8This cover is a bit of a swerve; Deadpool doesn’t attack the Punisher at any point in Thunderbolts #8.

While the main team is on various stake out missions against Middle Eastern terrorists and weapons dealers trying to get a lead on the gamma powered weaponry, writer Daniel Way is still building up the tension among the team’s members, specifically as a result of the Punisher/Elektra/Deadpool love triangle. I also love the way that the Leader is portrayed as being somewhat incompetent and not realizing the full potential of what he can or cannot do.

There is a lot of foreshadowing going on, as Orestez Natchios is giving an author lecture about his newest book on terrorism. I’m sure as the story unfolds he is going to have something to do with the gamma Crimson Dynamos from the last issue.

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 #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 #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.