Thunderbolts #14: Infinity Tie-In (Spoilers)


TBOLTS2012014-DC11-LRAfter a couple of strong focus issues, we finally get Soule’s first take on the current Selfish Avengers Thunderbolts team, with help from artist Jefte Palo. And I’m just going to say this now…. I have a hundred percent faith in Soule after reading this issue, the man knows what he is doing. 

Thunderbolts: Infinity Part One of Five

Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jefte Palo
Inker: Terry Pallot
Colorist: Guru eFx
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Julian Tedesco
Editors: Jordan White & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

 

 

Never Been Less SurprisedOur Team Of Thunderbolts: The Punisher (Frank Castle), Red Hulk (Thunderbolt Ross), Venom (Flash Thompson), Elektra (Elektra Natchios), Deadpool (Wade Wilson), The Leader (Samuel Sterns)

I Have Literally Never Been Less Surprised In All My Life: After a quick “Help Ross kill a giant gamma monster” mission to open the story with, Ross brings up the premise the team is founded on; you do a mission for me and then we do a mission for each of you that you couldn’t do on your own. They draw names from a hat and Frank comes out on top. His mission is to take down a crime family called the Paguro family, who work behind the scenes putting new crime gangs out as quickly as Frank can take them down. Frank tried to take them down before, but when every criminal in the city owes you a favor, you have a lot of body guards; which Frank sees as a way to not only take out the Paguro family, but every criminal in town in one swell swoop with aid from the Thunderbolts.

When they reach New York, Frank decides to go solo for recon, since the rest of the group would draw attention not only from the Paguro family, but the Avengers. Just before he leaves, Flash informs him that the Avengers are out in space and he reevaluates his decision and brings Wade/Eleketra/Flash with him. The issue ends with Wade thinking what could be so bad that the Avengers had to leave Earth and Frank tells him that is not their concern as Thanos’ ships approach Earth.

We’re The Selfish Avengers: It was well worth the wait to see Soule’s take on the team as a whole. Gone is the dour days of Way’s team, Soule infuses the book with a lot more humor than we got back then. Not everything is fine and dandy and they are still a really dysfunctional team full of homicidal anti-heroes, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

One thing that has surprised me about Soule’s run so far is how much better it has made Way’s run look in comparison. At the end of Way, I had hoped they would just ignore everything that happened thus far and start anew with Infinity, but Soule’s made gold out of crap and constantly references moments like Frank shooting Samuel Sterns in humorous context. There’s a lot going on with this team, a lot of which you don’t see on the surface, and Soule’s focus issues really help solidify the relationships between characters in place.

Ross MomentThe art… I could take it or leave it, but I’m not going to put it in the con pile. Their are moments where Soule’s story and Jefte’s art work perfectly together (see the Ross moment on the right) and I really wish I could grow a beard like Mr. Paguro’s. Jefte Palo does try to bring the same expressions to the characters that Phil Noto did, though he’s not quite as successful. And he does try to play around with the panels, especially during the Punisher’s exposition drop. It does look like things will look better, judging from previews for issue fifteen and the last page of this story; looks like Jefte works better with alien designs.

There’s an addition of an inker to the team and I don’t think Terry Pallot really does the book any favors. Guru eFx is the same as lately; much better without the red palette, but nothing to write home about. And the covers to these issues continue to look grand, thought this one has been one of the blandest ones so far.

Team NameThunderbolts… The Name’s A Little On The Nose, No: I gave this comic to five of my non-comic friends, because I was loving it so much and I wondered if it was just me. The only thing I explained going in was The Punisher fought crime families (shockingly none of them knew who The Punisher was) and then gave it to them. And they all enjoyed the hell out of it, especially Deadpool; one friend said “he’s retarded and I love it”. I explained to them the premise of Infinity because of the ending, but aside from that, they had no questions. This issue explained the premise of the team, it showed them in action, it showed the relationship between characters (like Deadpool’s crush on Elektra), it had good humor and they all liked the Avengers comparison (one friend pointed out that The Punisher felt like a ‘homicidal Captain America… knew his stuff and was able to think fast on his feet’). I asked them about the art, but they all assumed comic book art always looked silly like that. They all expressed an interest to read more, so I’d definitely say this is an optimal jumping on point for anybody new.

Pfft… Venom: Though the others found Deadpool to be their favorite, I think my favorite character this issue was Flash. Not so much for what he did this issue, but because of how the others view him. Flash is definitely the moral compass on this team, which with this team is like being the strongest French man, but we didn’t know how much the team dislikes him until now. Both Wade, Ross and Frank target him, the first offering to cut of his hand, one telling him to fall in line, and the last critizing the fact that he has an alien do all the work for him. It’s a very interesting team dynamic….

And then this week we learned Flash’s solo title is getting cancelled. Just in time for a cross-over with Superior Spider-Man, written by a man who is not that big of a fan of Venom… Soule said in a Newsarama interview that between issues twenty to twenty-three, one member of the team would be gone and replaced… He’s also said he has big plans for Ross, Mercy, The Leader… And his favorite characters to write are Elektra and The Punisher… I’m really hoping it’s not true, but it does look like Flash is on the chopping block (Pure Speculation at this point).

Verdict: Soule has a great handle on this team, though Sterns and Elektra continue to be under written. But with the few lines every character gets, Soule makes this cast of characters come alive under his pen. He works well with his artistic partner Jefte Palo, who tries to make the most out of an issue based largely around talking. The Infinity tie-in sounds promising, especially how Frank Castle will make it work in his attack against the Paguro family. Long Live the Selfish Avengers.

That BeardPros:

  • Grade A Humor
  • Finally a non-Ross lead mission
  • Creative Team works well together
  • Great Team Dynamic
  • Strong Cliffhanger
  • Jumping-On Point

 

Cons:

  • Elektra/Sterns don’t get enough screen time
  • Inker/Colorist bring nothing to the title

 

A – Best

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(3) Comments

  1. Jack

    The symbiote in its current iteration doesn't seem to have a mind or personality. It's just an organic device that Flash can turn on or off. The ASM iteration was a living being that could say "We" and it worked. I've wished that the symbiote would be shown as an angry, abused youth of its species, rather than as a demon, which is the norm characterization. Let Carnage be the alien psycho murder-machine. If the Venom symbiote absorbs characteristics from its hosts like a living sponge, then there ought to be some Peter Parker in there, along with a bit of Eddie Brock's cracked altruism mixed with his self-pity. Just a thoughtless black bag of goo that goes around murdering people isn't interesting to me.

  2. B-Mask

    I think it also comes down to the reaction to the current rendition of Venom. It's a really interesting take and made for a decent run but a lot of buyers and the general public still like Venom as a psychopathic, monstrous version of Spidey. It explains why it hasn't been as marketable as could be expected recently, which is sadly just the cards we're dealt. They could likely be going back to his roots in all titles such as this.

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