Thunderbolts #20.NOW Review (Spoilers + Look At Venom’s Future On The Team)


.Now CoverRed-Neck Robots, the secret of American cheese (it’s alien), and Johnny Blaze. It’s another insanity filled issue of the Selfish Avengers… err, Thunderbolts.

Thunderbolts #20.NOW: No Mercy Part One

Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Carlos Barberi
Colorist: Isreal Silva (First issue not done by Guru eFX)
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Julian Tedesco
Editor: Jordan White
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

Our Team of Thunderbolts: Thunderbolt Ross (Red Hulk), Frank Castle (The Punisher), Samuel Sterns (The Leader), Wade Wilson (Deadpool), Elektra Natchios (Elektra), Flash Thompson (Venom), And Introducing Johnny Blaze (Former Ghost Rider)

 

 

Barberi's teamLong Story Short: The Thunderbolts move into a new base, decide on whose mission is next (hint, It’s Ross’ turn again), we learn why Frank is still around after his mission, they decide to banish Mercy to Hell where she can feed all she wants and not be a problem, the team recruit Johnny Blaze to help out, and things go “Hell”ishly wrong.

 

The New Base: Five pages into the issue, the Thunderbolts spring into action against Redneck Robots, and I remember just how much I love this book. The Redneck Robots stand guard over an underground facility (hidden behind a Jukebox, which has a three song password so randomized that of course Deadpool gets right on the first try) where the military use to dismantle alien tech and weaponize it for the U S of A. In the ensuing fight scene, we get to see what Barberi brings to the table. And what he ends up bringing is like a five star course, in light of some of the art we’ve already seen. Barberi isn’t exactly the most anatomically correct artist in the biz, but he brings a action packed, glossy look to the series; almost like a refined Humberto Ramos. He also nails the many talking head scenes after the Thunderbolts setup in their new base and his new partner, colorist Isreal Silva works best in the talking scenes, adding a nice level of shadows and shading to these shady dark characters. I’m really glad to have a solid art team like this on the book, given how much stronger the writing has been over the art since Soule’s take over.

 

Deadpool's Hat ReturnsCheck-Up: Let’s delve into the characters, nearly all of whom get some nice scenes here. The big focus post Infinity is on Frank and Sterns. Elektra is used to establish that Frank will be here until everyone gets their mission, since they all helped him. She is easily the weakest character on the team, though as Daredevil #35 pointed out, she is a largely silent character in light of all that has happened to her (PS: Pick up that issue, Chris Samnee draws a beautiful Elektra, not as sexualized as Barberi’s.) Sterns ends up being put in charge of running the gamma generator the new base runs off and we reestablish that his mind is in a really fragile place and Ross hates him. Deadpool is given some nice humorous moments, but Elektra does defend Wade when talking to Frank and she points out he was a hero in Infinity; a nice touch to see her warming up to him. Flash and Ross don’t get much individual screen time here, but they do go on a recruitment drive.

 

Johnny BlazeThe New Guy: Johnny Blaze is a nice breathe of fresh air, as was his introduction scene which was full of color and different from the gloom of the rest of the issue. He also manages to fit in perfectly amongst the team. At one point he asks why him over Strange or the likes, stating, “I’m more of the ass kicker type, not the ‘transport people to Hell’ type” and Ross explains that they too are more of the ass kicking type. Blaze of course has some history with Ross and Flash, from back when Rick Remender was writing the Venom solo title and doing the Circle of Four arc (which was another .something set of issues). But it was interesting catching up with him and Blaze apparently has made some poor life choices that lead to him becoming a C level Hollywood actor. Fame wasn’t what Johnny wanted, at least not that type. We see his attempt to try getting back to being a stunt man (which doesn’t work out so well for him.) Still, it made for a viable reason for Blaze to join the team (desperation for something new) and it flowed nicely. Blaze does warn them that he was rusty before going into things and he ends up relocating the team to Hell on the final page; he’ll fit in perfectly along this cast of ass kicking screw ups.

 

Verdict: The .NOW issue was a solid setup issue, though one of the weaker issues Soule has done. Johnny Blaze is a nice addition to the team and I’m looking forward to the upcoming story arc with the Thunderbolts in Hell. I’m excited to have Carlos Barberi as the series main artist, hope he sticks around for awhile.

Pros:

  • Johnny Blaze a good fit
  • Carlos Barberi
  • Interesting Premise/Interesting Twist

Cons:

  • Not much new established among the team

B- Superior

 

Venom: Following the current arc, Venom’s name will be the next to be drawn. It appears to be a one issue story, where Flash asks the Thunderbolts to deal with his biggest threat, himself. Carlos Barberi will draw Soule’s script, and while it does not state it is a one issue story, the subsequent issues have Paco Diaz Luque taking over as artist.

THUNDERBOLTS #23
CHARLES SOULE (W)
CARLO BARBERI (A)
Cover by JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
• It’s Venom’s turn to set the Thunderbolts’ mission!
• So, why does he have them targeting…himself?
• That’s right – VENOM vs. THE THUNDERBOLTS!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$2.99
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