My heart really isn’t in this one. Sorry guys.
Thunderbolts: Red Scare Conclusion
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Phil Noto
Colors: Guru fX
Letters: Joe Sabino
Editors: Jordan White & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Our Team: Red Hulk (Thunderbolt Ross), Deadpool (Wade Wilson), Punisher (Frank Castle), Elektra (Elektra Natchios), Venom (Flash Thompson), and The Leader (Samuel Sterns)
Summary: The Thunderbolts call our big bad, Orestez Natchios and arrange a meeting. Most of the team is set to go confront Orestez, save for Venom and Deadpool who are suppose to track down Richard Vanko, who just so happens to be Orestez’s partner in crime. However, since Vanko contributed all he could to Orestez’s cause (The Gamma Powered Crimson Dynamo suits [GPCD], made famous by Richard’s brother Ivan Vanko), Orestez kills him.
Cut to the two teams chasing their leads. Deadpool calls up Blind Al (from his own title) who overheard that Vanko “killed himself” on the television. Venom listens to the weird conversation with Blind Al and asks Deadpool if he ever met a crazy woman who can fly and incinerate people (We know this person is Mercy). Meanwhile the other half of the team is trying to meet up with an old contact of Rulk’s when everyone starts stalking them, being instructed to do so by texts on their cell phones. When Rulk finally answers one of the phones, it turns out The Leader is on the other line and wishes to speak to the version of himself with Ross at the moment. (End of Issue 10)
Picking off from the cliffhanger at last issue, The Leader explains that he uploaded part of his brain online and that since he’s been working with the Thunderbolts, it’s been acting on his behalf to hunt down information they need, but it can only communicate with him through technology. And it seems his brain discovered Orestez as he was giving a press conference on terrorism.
The press conference was of course a trap meant to draw the Thunderbolts to him and frame them as terrorists. Ross goes all Rulk on the GPCDs while Elektra tries to talk Frank out of killing Orestez. The team gets broken up in the end: Venom and Deadpool show up to rescue Ross (though they plan to “take care” of him now that he’s isolated from the others), Elektra escapes with her brother but Frank finds her alone later covered in Orestez’s blood, and the issue ends with Mercy confronting Samuel Sterns and explaining to him that his destiny is to lead the Thunderbolts.
He Did It His “Way”: See what I did there with that title? Honestly, I rewrote this multiple times because I kept trying to find a nice way to say this but there really isn’t. This run of Thunderbolts was complete and total ass. It had a great concept, about what living in the shadow of super-powered siblings can do to people, but Way failed to deliver any meaning in these 11 issues and I can say without a doubt that I think his last issue was his worst. He tried so hard to make it have any kind of meaning, but it’s just a complete pile of convoluted garbage. Let’s look at issue ten first though.
Issue Ten was by and large, a set-up issue (in the middle of an arc, weird place to do it, but okay). We had Flash on the hunt for Mercy after his bizarre dream, we had The Leader reaching out to himself, which meant we might be getting time travel? Or something else cool you could write off as “comic book” logic? And we had the Thunderbolts going after Orestez while wondering if it was really him (Elektra seemed convinced he was dead, but we never learn why she thought that). And it wasn’t bad, far from great or even good for that matter, but if it lead into a great finale then I was cool with it.
Issue Eleven opens with Flash abandoning his pursuit of Mercy to team up with Deadpool to try and eliminate Ross, yet again. I remember liking that Ross and Venom didn’t see eye to eye at first, especially since Flash was a fan of his before working with him, but neither developed past that point. We once again don’t get to see an important phone call in this series, this one being the one between Leader and Leader (we also missed Ross and Orestez’s phone call between issues nine and ten), though I do like where they might take The Leader in the future. And Elektra goes from fighting Frank to save her brother to killing him (off screen and for no real reason). And honestly, just kill Mercy now, because the way she is used in this series is infuriating.
Oh and you best believe the racist dialogue is back, this time for Brits. This was just awful writing all around, so I can honestly say I won’t miss Daniel Way on the book.
Art: What really hurts is how bad the art is in the final issue. Rulk was literally squashing metallic suits into pools of jelly between his hands. That is such total crap considering the size of Rulk’s hands in comparison to the GPCDs. And not like one guy at a time either, no he does it to like six of them in one clap. Who the hell thought this would look cool?
The colors were awful, I doubt it is that hard to make blood look like blood rather than jelly. And the discarded GPCDs on the floor look like melted plastic not actual metal suits. And Venom’s tendrils went back to looking like something you’d shoot out of a silly string can. And Phil Noto recycled plenty of expressions in this book, often in the same panel. This is easily the worst art I’ve seen all year because I know Phil Noto can do much better than this crap.
Verdict: Dear God, I hope Charles can bring some “Soule” to this book. This run pretty much broke me, this is bad comics at its worse. And while a broken team and The Leader’s new powers might be fun to see with a talented writer, I hope Charles largely ignores what has happened so far. I know I will moving forward.
- I am seriously blanking after reading that final issue
- Everything in Issue Eleven, even the cover sucked
- Most of Issue Ten