Thunderbolts #12: Red Scare Epilogue
Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Steve Dillon
Colors: Guru eFx
Cover: Jordan Tedesco
Letters: Joe Sabino
Editors: Jordan White & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Our Team of Thunderbolts: The Punisher (Frank Castle) and Elektra (Elektra Natchios)
You’ve Got To Beat Me Every-Time: The issue follows Frank Castle as he hunts down Orestez Natchios, whom he suspects to be alive after Elektra hesitates about talking about the body (post-coitus of course). Frank’s hunch turns out to be right and he makes his way through the ranks of Orestez’s men before cornering him in a panic room. Orestez tries to call for help, but word that the Punisher is after him keeps everyone away and in a last ditch attempt, he tries to trick Frank; it doesn’t work out.
Later that night, Frank turns down Elektra and as he’s walking away, he reveals that he intends to kill her for letting scum like Orestez walk away.
I Just Have To Kill You Once: This issue was solid; good not great, but a huge step up from Way’s run. It probably helped that Soule narrowed his focus to Frank Castle, with Elektra showing up for a grand total of two pages. The others are just referred to as “Some Super Powered Psychos” he worked with and don’t show up past images on the credit page. And Soule, who revealed himself to be a huge Punisher fan in his interviews, has a great handle on the voice of Frank Castle. The book is filled with thought boxes that are so focused they portray Frank as this almost tragic character, who is unable to let his war go as we saw with his decision to kill Elektra at some point. He also portrayed Frank Castle in all his killing machine glory, as he systematically shoots his way through Orestez’s ranks so that he would have no back-up left (or at least none that are willing to go head to head with the Punisher).
His relationship with Elektra is the only real progression of the plot here, since Soule largely worked at wrapping up Way’s run this issue. He does not portray her as well as Frank. She’s in the book to only sleep with Frank and the narration casts her in a weak light for letting her brother go. Still, we now have almost the entire team gunning for a different member of the team; Frank wants to axe Elektra, Wade wants to axe Frank, Flash wants to axe both Ross and Mercy, and it seems like Ross is ready to lodge a bullet in Samuel’s head at the slightest sign of trouble. Let’s hope Soule can do better with the murderous team dynamic than Way could.
Steve Dillon returns for this issue and was actually a perfect fit. Dillon has drawn some of the best Punisher stories and while this isn’t his best, it’s really damn good. Soule was excited to work with him and it seems like he largely wrote the issue to Dillon’s strength; violence and shady characters (both literally and figuratively). I’m not asking Dillon to stick around for the rest of the series, but he did a helluva job with this issue. I don’t really have much to say about the letters or colors, they’re the same as they’ve always been and they were neither a pro nor con here.
Quick Notes: Frank turned his radioactive shirt inside out to go incognito, so how did no-one see that radiating red skull and wouldn’t that hurt like hell pressing the gamma skull against your chest, Frank and Elektra meet at Thunderbolts HQ so I guess the team is still a go, great line: “I think the minute Elektra was born, your parents looked at each other and said, ‘Thank God we did better than that little piece of shit Orestez'”, we don’t see the Punisher kill Orestez (just start choking him out) so he might still be alive (slim chance though).
Verdict: This was a good first step to making this book good, though the same thing that makes it good makes it also not worthy of the team name, since it’s an issue of The Punisher. Still, I’m looking forward to the next issue that focuses on Mercy and wrapping up what’s going on with her and Samuel Sterns that Way started. After that, it’s new territory for Soule and that’s an exciting prospect.
- Soule’s tragic take on Frank Castle
- Did a better job with Way’s work than Way did
- Steve Dillon + The Punisher= Great Art
- Adds to the dysfunctional team status
- Poor portrayal of Elektra
- Was largely the Frank Castle Show, not the Thunderbolts
- Very little advancement of the plot