Review: Thunderbolts #1
Like all Marvel titles of late, everything is evolving. There are a lot of titles getting a new #1 issue that just don’t make sense – they could have simply continued on from where they left off. One of those where it does make sense, though, is Thunderbolts. Having been re-branded as Dark Avengers about a half-year ago which kept the continuity number, it would be impossible to relaunch the title effectively without starting over. And what a way to start over – let’s change the team and the concept but keep the spirit.
Every member of this team has had to do basically what needs to be done in the past. They may feel regret (well, some of them) but they know it’s for the greater good. They know that a line sometimes needs to be crossed… and they have crossed it before and will again, where necessary. Writer Daniel Way has assembled a team of anti-heroes who just need to get the job done, this team of 6 will fight the fight that needs to be fought (say that 5 times fast), but with the action and grit needed for the job. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the team.
The leader of the team is General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, where the team presumably gets their name. You know him better as the Red Hulk. As a military leader, he knows who he wants to get the job done. Surprisingly, he admits to the first member we discover in the book that he made his battle against the Hulk personal and that’s why he failed at it. He needs to look at things from a militaristic view, and that puts a whole new spin on the character. Perhaps his time as a member of the Avengers changed him, but unlike Luke Cage’s team of Thunderbolts there is probably no going back for General Ross after this endeavor.
Frank Castle is better known as the Punisher, and he’s never been much of a team player. He’s approached by Ross for his ability to get the job done and to take down whomever needs to be taken down, without compromise. This makes him perfect for the team that Ross is putting together. Now many may not see Frank as a team player, but he’s been one from the beginning. He’s an ex-soldier who, although was still somewhat of a loner, always looked out for the team. And from the end of this issue, he knows that Ross has his back.
Deadpool is a wild card and not someone you would expect in this book… or would you? He has routinely crossed the line… Usually back to the side that follows the law and lives on the opposite side. Historically dubbed the “Merc with a Mouth”, Wade Wilson has generally worked for the highest bidder but of late has been part of the Uncanny X-Force team and has grown into being a team player… so long as the team gets their hands dirty.
Elektra Natchios is another assassin who makes sense to join the team. She has the training from the Hand ninja clan and has risen from the grave a few times (more than Aunt May, less than Jean Grey). She is a trained martial artist and does not balk at getting blood on her hands, or her sais as the case may be.
Flash Thompson and his alien symbiote, Venom, make up the final known member of the team. Being crippled means nothing to Flash who still fights the good fight and, with the help of the symbiote, regains mobility by the symbiote providing legs for the injured veteran. It’s unclear as to how this will clash with his membership in the Secret Avengers (or if he will still be a part after the relaunch of that title), but it’s just as clear that the outcome of Minimum Carnage has given him a few new things to think about.
Now, I did say there were 6 members of the team and that’s only 5. The final member is an unknown, although there is some speculation. All we know is she has purple hair, has fought the Hulk, and seems to be joining the team perhaps not of her own free will. I’m sure more on her will be revealed soon, but her face is caught in shadow in every image in the book so there has to be some recognition there. My guess: Diamondback.
Daniel Way has a lot of experience in writing Deadpool so I am glad he is on this book (especially after the lackluster reviews of the main Deadpool series currently launched under Marvel NOW!). He has the mercenary-style work down, but now the question is whether he can capture the personalities of the rest of the team. They all have a long history within Marvel (except for maybe Purple Girl – we don’t know yet) so we’ll have to see if he does them justice.
To be honest, though, the main thing that had me pick up this book in the first place was the art by Steve Dillon. I loved his work on the Punisher MAX title, and absolutely thought he was perfect for Vertigo’s Preacher. Seeing him take on other characters who can get down and dirty will be great, and I really look forward to his take on Venom, especially when Flash loses control of the symbiote. (Although the variant cover by Skottie Young didn’t hurt.)
Even though this issue was more of a “team-coming-together-but-never-meeting” kind of intro, it is needed to set the tone for the series. Ross’ words show his regret in his actions well and where he wants to go to begin to make up for his years of disappointment. I’m looking forward to what else this book can bring to the table. It’s definitely going to be a tad darker than previous Thunderbolts, but I’m kind of hoping the old and the new meet up at some point. What a clash that will be.