Thunderbolts #13: Mercy
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Colors: Guru eFx
Letters: Joe Sabino
Cover: Julian Tedesco
Editors: Jordan White & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Our Team of Thunderbolts: Venom (Flash Thompson), Red Hulk (Thunderbolt Ross), and Mercy.
Who Is She: Flash Thompson discovers that the woman he has been hunting is aboard the submarine headquarters of the Thunderbolts. He confronts her and she explains she was interested in him after the loss of his legs, when he wanted to die, but he’s found solace in the symbiote so she no longer has any interest in him.
After this encounter, Flash corners Ross and demands answers. Ross finally opens up to Flash and explains how Mercy is probably his biggest regret from his past and the Thunderbolts exist to fix his past mistakes.
When Ross was in the military, he began hunting down the military’s little secrets and tried to get his hands on them to defeat Bruce Banner/The Hulk. He discovered Mercy locked away in a withered husk and one of the men he had serving with him had just lost his family and wanted to die. Mercy feed off this desire, killing the man and restoring herself to life. She escaped after that and Ross spent years trying to track her down, but didn’t know how to find her since her means of method could be passed off as suicide. After becoming the Red Hulk, he heard rumors about a temple in India where people go to die and decides to investigate it. Ross discovers that she is posing Am Kali, their goddess of death. She has been feeding off their desire to die and when Ross attacks her, she easily overpowers him. Faced no other option, he offers her the chance to join a team he is putting together, with the promise of as much death as she could ever want; she accepts.
Back in the present, he reveals to Flash that she is neigh unstoppable and doesn’t follow his orders; he admits they’re lucky she hasn’t realized she can run things. The issue ends with Ross and Flash trying to think up ways to stop Mercy.
I’m Open To Suggestions: Wow, congratulations Charles Soule, you just made Way’s run a little bit better. Looking back at the run with the context of what Mercy is, it makes the end of Thunderbolts #11 better, where she realizes she can take charge and starts setting up her puppet (The Leader) for leadership of the team. Under his leadership and her control, I can’t imagine how bloody the team’s escapades could get, since she seems solely focused on death… or as she calls it ‘Mercy’. I’m excited to see where this plot line is going to go. I’m also excited to see someone with Mercy’s power go up against the forces attacking earth in Infinity, since she easily handles the Red Hulk when they fight. We also continue the dysfunctional team dynamic as now Flash and Ross have set aside their differences (somewhat) to figure out the solution to the Mercy problem. This book is coming to a boiling point already, after only two issues under the pen of Charles Soule and now we’ll see soon if it’s going to be a slow boil or if it will explode during an earth-shattering event like Infinity.
I’m a little off-put by how Soule wrote Flash and Ross this issue though. We’ve had twelve issues of those two gunning for each other, largely because of the fact Ross won’t share a damn detail with the rest of the team, and in this issue Ross spills the beans without really being pushed. It doesn’t bother me that much because we see Ross is kind of struggling with what to do with Mercy and we really needed some new dimension to their relationship, but it’s worth noting if it continues. Flash seems largely out of control and while I’m not reading his solo book (not a big Cullen Bunn fan), I would think by this point Flash has more control of his symbiote than what is shown here. Again, not a huge problem, but I hope it doesn’t persist.
And then we have Phil Noto, don’t got much to say new here; I don’t like his symbiote tendrils but I like a lot of what he does, especially facial expressions. Guru eFx was great here though, the color palette was very vibrant this time around but he got to play around with light and darkness as well. Considering we started off with a very red-infused palette on this book, the growth is nice and noticeable if you’re looking at it.
Quick Notes: Man, Charles Soule makes this issue quotable like he did with the last issue involving the Punisher. The exchange between Flash and Ross was gold; “I want to talk about the monster on this ship” “Well Flash, there’s two monsters in this room”, “You know those television shows about those people… hoarders, who ruin their lives because they can’t throw away a pile of junk mail? That’s the American Military”, and “I heard a rumor about something in India, but there is always something going on in India”. Ross also has a great speech about getting over despair and finding the will to live. This issue under Way’s pen could have gotten pretty racist when they went to India, but Soule uses it to set-up a battle between ‘gods’.
Verdict: Considering Deadpool and The Leader were Way’s favorite characters, I’m glad we got to sit down with the others in very personal settings and get a look at how these characters work. Soule has a great handle on Mercy and Punisher, decent on Flash and Ross, and while I wasn’t fan of his Elektra, we didn’t see very much of her either. All in all, this team looks a helluva better than it did under Way’s pen and we’ll see our first team outing next issue. Bring it on.
We finally learned why Mercy is around
Mercy is a great new antagonist for the team, as well as a team member
New Development for the Flash/Ross relationship
Soule makes Way’s run a little bit better with Mercy hindsight
Made me care for Ross and he has a nice little speech about living
Flash/Ross came off as weaker characters
The Art was nothing new, sad final outing for Phil Noto