When we last left the Thunderbolts, the team was on the verge of ripping itself apart while dealing with the fact that gamma powered mech-suits are kicking around on the black market. We`ll see the fallout of one of those two problems in this issue. Also check out the C2E2 news about the book down at the bottom.
Thunderbolts #8: Heavy Recon
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), Deadpool (Wade Wilson), Punisher (Frank Castle), Elektra (Elektra Nachios), Venom (Flash Thompson), and The Leader (Samuel Sterns).
Here for Intel, not a Body Count: The issue opens with Red Hulk talking to a former American soldier turned terrorist. Rulk learns that the deal involving the Gamma-Suits is going down in three days and that it is not an exchange of goods for money. After that, he has the Thunderbolts kill the traitor and they head out to the deal location.
We jump to England, where an unknown speaker is giving a lecture on what the true definition of a “Terrorist” is. He argues that the governments of the world have twisted the word and says if the leaders of the world ever want to learn the true meaning, they have only to look in the mirror.
Jumping back to the Thunderbolts three days later, we see them scouting the location of the Gamma Deal. Rulk issues a no kill order if necessary and tells Deadpool to take care of Punisher if he breaks orders. Deadpool takes this as his chance to eliminate Punisher, but Rulk expected this; he has Elektra assassinate Deadpool and put him out of commission for the mission. On the inside of the complex, Venom has used his suit to disguise himself as a woman in a burqa and listens on the conversation. Rulk has The Leader knock out the communications around them and then they go in hot, killing all the ‘terrorists’ save for the dealer. The dealer reveals that he never had the Gamma-suits, that he was supposed to call when the Thunderbolts show up. The issue ends when the building Samuel Sterns is watching from gets blown up.
Plot: This issue was a mess. Although it opened strong with the Thunderbolts assassinating a terrorist group and that scene transitioning into the one about what is the true definition of a terrorist, it wasn’t given enough time with the latter scene. What could have be an interesting conversation was rushed through quickly in one and a half pages and was pretty much there to blatantly set-up our big bad.
And when we get to the actual mission, it gets pretty damn stupid. Rulk issues a no-kill order and then moments later has them go in and kill everyone for no real reason. And it might just be that he made the no-kill order to see if Deadpool would go after Punisher, but he had Venom on the inside. Venom’s cover was never blown and he was privy to everything that was being said about the Gamma Deal. So to just go in guns blazing seemed a little on the daft side and was pretty much a means to an end (to reveal our Big Bad expected it).
And I was genuinely excited to see the team struggle and strain against each other, but they rushed right through the most prominent group tension; Deadpool/Punisher. I didn’t want them to drag it out forever and it might not be over, but to eliminate one of your teammates before going into a mission seems daft as well. Also, Elektra shooting Deadpool is what alerted the terrorists to their presence on the complex, so why would Rulk set-up a scenario that would reveal them?
Art: Phil Noto steps up in this issue and tries his best to lift it out of the muck. His visuals make the mission pretty to look at it, even if it hurts to think about it. He makes Venom quite the beast this issue, although I wish his tendrils still looked a little more threatening. The little facial ticks he gives his characters helps make the talking scenes work too, such as watching Punisher get increasing frustrated talking to Deadpool or a nervous school girl swooning over the Speaker.
I was also really impressed with the lighting in this issue, especially the opening scene in the desert. Having the sun illuminate Rulk’s back and cast his front in shadows, or reflect off the bullets as the Thunderbolts mow down terrorists were nice little touches.
Character: There is really not much of the way in character work here. Just disappointing calls by Rulk, who should know better.
Quick Notes: Venom got hit on by a mobster while in his burqa disguise, the mech-suits are confirmed as Gamma-Powered Crimson Dynamo suits, you really could have cut out like the three Samuel Sterns panels in this issue, let the damn terrorist finish his sentence Rulk (I couldn’t tell if they were set-up or not, it just seemed that way), and I really hope I’m wrong about Speaker being the Big Bad.
- The art team was strong once again.
- It tried to add a bigger theme to the story.
- Confusing plot.
- Jumping away from the team was either useless or a blatant set-up of the Big Bad.
- Ran through the “What does it mean to be a terrorist” too fast.
- Stupid decisions from the characters.
- Rushed through the Deadpool/Punisher tension.
D- Below Inferior
- Writer Daniel Way will be replaced by new series main-stay Charles Soule on Issue 12 (Soule is getting good hype on Swamp Thing over at DC).
- The book is building towards Infinity, starting with a crime mystery that leads into the bigger story of Infinity.
- Soule said the Thunderbolts will be affected personaly by Infinity, otherwise they wouldn’t be involved.
- Soule also said they would be the ones to do the diabolical things the heroes can’t bring themselves to do.
- Soule’s run starts with one-shots focused on Punisher and Mercy.
- These were originally his only issues, but Editor Jordan White was so impressed he kept him on.
- One of the core members will be replaced during the Infinity arc.
- Jefte Paolo will handle art for the Infinity story (Paolo did the Taskmaster mini with Van Lente).