In the world of
Rating: 6 out of 10
Thunderbolts heads towards its 50th issue, the luster is slowly
starting to wear off this once majestic book. When Kurt Busiek and Mark
Bagley launched the book years ago at the height of Heroes Reborn, no one
was expecting it to be anything big.
Promoted as book about a new team of heroes rising up in wake of
the disappearance of Earth’s mightiest super-teams, Thunderbolts was met
with more than a little skepticism. Busiek’s track record was
impressive, but team books outside of The X-Men or Avengers hardly ever
succeeded; look at Heroes for Hire, The Champions or New Warriors. With
the final pages of Thunderbolts #1, however, with these heroes revealed to
be villains in disguise, readers were hooked.
In a time
when preview magazines and interviews gave away entire story-lines let
alone issues, Thundebolts offered readers something that they weren’t
used to anymore: surprises.
shock ending of Thunderbolts #1 provided the necessary hook to bring the
readers back and generate buzz on the book, the characterization of these
villains and the overall theme of redemption were the real keys in the
comic’s success. Would any of the villains get used to playing the role
of ‘good guy’ or would they all go back to their evil ways? How would
the public and other heroes react when the ruse was lifted? These
questions kept readers interested month in and month out. With the end of
the first major story arc, another ex villain turned fan favorite Avenger,
Hawkeye, was brought in to lead the team and try and help the Thunderbolts
gain respectability. This was a rare team book that managed to give each
character their own distinct voice and personality.
left, the writing chores fell into the more than capable hands of Fabian
Nicieza. Nicieza had a tough act to follow. I would have hoped that he
followed Busiek’s lead and developed the moral crisis among the
characters instead of resorting to surprise twists for just shock value.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
‘death’ of T-Bolt member Jolt has ripped a huge piece not only from
the team, but from the book itself. Jolt was the only member of the
Thunderbolts who wasn’t a villain and served as a sort of moral center
to the book, as if she was taking the reader’s place.
‘death’ has swung the book severely off balance and the stories have
resorted to mystery upon mystery upon shock upon shock to force the book
forward when just simple characterization would do
any need to make Mach 1 African American after plastic surgery except for
the simple shock of seeing a Caucasian character change? Scourge, a
popular ‘bad guy’ killer from the 80’s is back and seems to have a
big mad on for Thunderbolts. This would have been fine, but now there are
allusions that his real identity is that of another long thought dead
character Nomad or even Bucky! Let’s not forget he kills Baron Zemo, as
well, one of the truly great evil villains the book could offer.
making up Thunderbolts is filled with wonderful and interesting characters
that aren’t getting to do anything. Each issue seems to propel itself
forward by a guest appearance by an Avenger or the ‘death’ of a
character or another shock that is all done just because it worked so well
back in issue #1.
materials for a good book are in here, and the Nicieza/Bagley team
certainly has the talent to pull off another upset and put this book back
on top where it belongs.
I just hope
that once the mandatory crossovers and (egads) 50th issue
celebration is over, they can get back to telling compelling stories that
made Thunderbolts a hit to begin with.
Available Monthly From Marvel Comics
Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz