THUNDERBOLTS #7: Direct Action
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Phil Noto
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Joe Sabino
Cover: Julian Tedesco
Editors: Jordan White & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Our Thunderbolts line-up is: Red Hulk (Thunderbolt Ross), Venom (Flash Thompson), Deadpool (Wade Wilson), Elektra (Elektra Natchios), The Punisher (Frank Castle) and The Leader (Samuel Sterns).
The One That Got Away: Turns out after the events of the first arc, Awa and Madman managed to get something Gamma powered and deadly away from their fortress and into the hands of the enemy. Ross has taken his merry group of misfits under the sea in a submarine, in pursuit of this escaped Gamma weapon but refuses to tell them everything (again). Getting tired of his shtick, the group decide to throw a mutiny and take down Ross, believing that Ross won’t risk turning into the Rulk within a Gamma powered submarine. Their plan fails horribly and Ross realizes he’ll have to let them in on what’s going on. Ross explains that he believes the weapon to be a host of Gamma bombs and explains that because he’s been a part of so many black market trades, he knows the identity of the three people who will be the middle men in the trade of Gamma bombs to dictators. The next day though, Sterns realizes they aren’t actually bombs but Gamma powered batteries.
Elsewhere, the three men who Ross believes to be the middle men are gathered by an unknown enemy and told they can offer Dictators one of two options; Submission or Death. He then reveals an armada of Gamma Powered mech suits.
Plot: The time jumps this time around are limited to the present, that morning, and last night which is a step up from the confused mess of the first arc. Still, it is needlessly distorted having the story start the day after the mutiny attempt that occurs in the middle of the book. The story also stays largely focused on the Thunderbolts in the submarine, only venturing away from them for a couple of scenes. However, while one of the detours was a good set-up for what is to come the other is just confusing. It involves a group of government officials trying to get the Avengers to help out with an incident we don’t know the details of at this point in time, they I believe we’re lead to believe it was the work of the Gamma-Mechs.
Art: Gone are the rigid figures of Steve Dillon and we are gifted with the most fluid figures of Phil Noto. Noto also manages to retain the great emotional features that Dillon’s characters had, thought the violence becomes more tamed it seems. Still it is nice having Elektra make tea in the background of her scene with Deadpool rather than doing something violent.
Noto also seems to bring a brighter palette with him, most noticeably that the flesh of most characters seems to glow more than it did under Dillon’s art (which seems weird because the colorist didn’t change). The color palette for the Thunderbolts sections still seem plenty dark and dull, but the few times we do leave the submarine, the pages become much more colorful. Also, the shadow effects here seemed much better than the first arc, especially in the Frank/Elektra duel.
Characters: This issue was much more character driven than plot driven and I think it worked to the issue’s advantage. We get to learn where our core cast stand in their feelings about “the mission”. Flash seems the most displeased with Ross’s leadership, which is a nice development from the “You’re a legend” belief he had of Ross in issue one. Frank seems increasingly worried about Wade’s anger towards him, especially after learning from Ross that Wade has run over three hundred simulations in which he kills Frank. Elektra seems to care neither for Wade or Frank’s feelings towards her and seems rather amused by playing the two against each other. And Ross finally opens up to his team, though only after opening a can of whoop-ass on them first. He also chooses to remain in Rulk form after the attempted mutiny, which I thought was a nice touch.
The highlight of the issue was Wade and Samuel Sterns. Samuel Sterns remains the most sympathetic character in the book and seems to be suffering from the experiment Ross did on him to restore his memory, from not being able to recall what things like mutiny means to having nose bleeds every time he thinks too hard. And in his own special way, Wade seems to be the only one concerned by what the after-math of the experiment is doing to Sterns, crudely telling him to just stop thinking to try and fix things. The mutiny setup/attempt was quite hilarious (enough so that it makes up for messing out on the attack) and Wade’s plan was his little moment of brilliance this issue.
Quick Notes: It seems they’re teasing that a battle with the Uncanny Avengers is on the horizon, Ross is a boxer-briefs kind of guy, the mechs seem to be Crimson Dynamo suits, and being exposed to the Venom symbiote for multiple days can not be good for Flash, can it?
Review: As a set-up, it works rather well and I was surprised by how many times this comic made me laugh and care for the core cast. Some (currently) pointless detours aside, this was quite enjoyable and I look forward to a hopefully bad ass fight scene next issue and the team tearing itself apart.
- Phil Noto on Art
- The Mutiny Attempt
- What’s going on with The Leader?
- Good Set-Up
- Pointless Detour
- Sterns seems a little too stupid