REVIEW: Thunderbolts #144

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As is often the case, KevinMLD and I got into a discussion earlier in the week about comics. This time around it was the Heroic Age rebranding of Marvel‘s Thunderbolts, a book I wouldn’t have expected us to talk about under any circumstances…

KevinMLD: Did you read Thunderbolts?

PTB: No, you?

KevinMLD: Yeah, I thought it was kind of great for starring a bunch of characters I don’t know. It had a pretty great ending that I think you might have liked. The book might not be what it was billed as at all.

PTB: That sounds interesting…

KevinMLD: Do you want me to spoil it?

PTB: Spoil away, unless you think it’s something I have to read.

KevinMLD: I don’t know how to evaluate that. I know you WERE a fan of Thunderbolts, but I don’t know the significance of these characters and whether it’s something you’d feel you have to read.

The way it ends could send the book in a lot of interesting directions. It just depends how bold Marvel is.

PTB: Hmmm. Intriguing. I stopped after Ellis’ run when they became the Dark Avengers. I know Songbird returned and I really like her, but the book was a financial casualty for me.

Given the success of Dark Reign (and not knowing exactly what is happening in the book) I’d say Marvel might be willing to take it in a crazy direction to hang on to some of that storyline.

KevinMLD: It seems to be more tied to the original concept sort of…as far as I can tell.

PTB: I’ll read it you’ve got me interested. What issue number?

KevinMLD: 144

After some reading…spoilers followed.

PTB: Wow, I did not see that coming. You weren’t kidding when you said it was tied to the original, but I was thinking in terms of concept not line up.

Zemo had taken a more heroic path when the original team left and Ellis took over, but I know you’re reading Captain America and that seemed to be trying to reestablish him as a major villain. I can’t help but think there’s more to this than meets the eye though. Thunderbolts has always had a twist, so maybe someone is not who they claim to be.

KevinMLD: The Zemo/Cap stuff starts this week, so I’m not sure if it will all tie together or not.

PTB: The appearance of Fixer, Mach V, and Songbird (I hate her new look, although I’m not sure how new it is) also bring it back to the originals, but we’ll see how things are organized going forward.

The inclusion of the Juggernaut (and the cameo by Xavier) really intrigued me. Juggernaut had made a previous turn as a hero during Chuck Austen’s run on X-Men and I really liked the idea. Writers since then have bounced him back to being a villain, but as alluded to in the issue it’s unclear how much of that is his choice.

Jeff Parker is pretty great, so I trust him to do good things here and it seems that Marvel has faith in him too. Don’t know how long I’ll stay on board for, but this a surprise gem in the new Heroic Age.

KevinMLD: I love the inclusion of Man-Thing. I always loved the idea that Marvel had their own version of Swamp Thing who likes to burn people’s faces off.

So I can see this all going in many different directions. First, maybe Marvel has been lying in their solicitations and Baron Zemo will lead these new Thunderbolts. That would be fantastic, but I don’t see it coming.

I could also see the team being split in two with an additional “Dark” Thunderbolts led by Zemo.

Mostly, I expect this to end with Cage leading a team of Thunderbolts. I think I heard Iron Fist would be joining the team soon. What could Marvel possibly do cooler than a team featuring Powerman, Iron Fist, and Man-Thing?

As for Parker, this book was surprisingly strong after reading his work on World War Hulks which was mostly terrible. Though did he write that Hulked-out Heroes series? Because that was kind of great. But otherwise everything tied to World War Hulks not written by Pak was unreadable.

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