This will be my final review of Thunderbolts. After I read and reviewed #3, I told BD that I was going to give this book until #6 and if it didn’t improve dramatically by then I would have to drop it and he’d need to find a new reviewer. As soon as I was done reading this issue, however, I told BD he needed to go ahead and find a new reviewer earlier than I’d expected. Read on if you dare to find out why.
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Steve Dillon
Colors: Guru eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Julian Totino Tedesco
Variant Cover: Billy Tan
Editor: Jordan D. White
Senior Editor: Nick Lowe
THE STORY: Punisher finds out the Kata Jayans have hired a mercenary before, and takes Deadpool with him to go confront Madman. Numerous flashbacks reveal very little of consequence except that General Awa used to be a CIA puppet. Elektra forgets that she’s not a moron. General Awa kills himself. The Punisher blows up a landmine on his own chest. Venom finds Elektra. Red Hulk dumps a pipe full of gamma radiation onto Samuel Sterns, the former Leader.
MY THOUGHTS: I guess page 1 panel 1 is as good a place as any to start with everything that went wrong in this issue. On the first panel of the first page we see the Punisher on the ground with blood trickling from his nose as the Red Hulk stands over him in a fighting pose with red heat trails steaming off of his body, screaming. So, in essence, we’re to believe that a guy that has punched out The Watcher just punched a normal human being in the face in a fit of hulked-out rage, which resulted in…a bloody nose. Consider the tone for this issue set, folks.
In the very next panel we see that Flash Thompson is pissed. “Explain THIS” he insists. And what bug is up his ass? That Red Hulk brought the powerless Leader with him. The same thing he was upset about at the end of last issue. He has managed to ignore the Punisher shooting the unarmed man in the head and KILLING HIM TO DEATH and also that the Punisher apparently now has the powers of Superman to take that blow from the Red Hulk the way he did. No no, let’s forget all of that just happened two seconds ago and blindly focus on making angry Red Hulk explain why he would dare bring this man who has since been SHOT DEAD. Were this the usual portrayal of Flash Thompson, someone would have nicknamed him “horse blinders” by now.
UP NEXT! …more stereotyped broken English! I’ve already complained enough on that subject in previous reviews, I just wanted to let you know it’s still here. Apparently that’s a staple of this arc. God-willing it’s JUST this arc and not the whole series.
AND THEN! Madman comes out of his palace for no apparent reason when Punisher and Deadpool walk up hoping to confront him. How lucky for them! He then proceeds to say “Raaaarrr!”
FLASHBACK! Madman, who has been colored in these issues as a black man, turns out to have been a smaller blonde white guy as little as a year ago. And even though Samuel Sterns was a stuttering mess who couldn’t remember anything at this time, he DID manage to remember a code he had as a child, which just so happens to be exactly what Madman wanted – and he didn’t even have to ask for it! Fortuitous!
ANOTHER FLASHBACK! General Awa was a fat kid who didn’t like school. So the CIA came and gave him a lot of exposition about his own life and then offered to make him a puppet of the evil Americans who clearly are responsible for all the bad in the world, even when it’s in Asia. Oh, America! You suck!
EVEN MORE FLASHBACKS! General Awa’s not a nice dude. In case you had missed that in the last three and a half issues. No really, he’s a jerk.
BUT WAIT! When General Awa tells Elektra her friends are making a ruckus outside, Elektra is polite enough to inform him that if her friends are being noisy outside, it’s only because her other friends are sneaking into the building. Ya know, in secret. The kind of secret that probably isn’t helped by outright telling the bad guy to his face. But it’s totally cool because then he gives some exposition about how America sucks and kills himself! So yay!
EXPLOSIONS! So Frank Castle straps a landmine on his chest, bear hugs madman, and then pushes off so it explodes. But it’s ok, because it was pointed toward Madman, and Frank is wearing that new gamma “impregnated” shirt. Don’t worry guys, there’s no way shrapnel from a landmine exploding on your chest could ever make it up to your totally unprotected face! That’s just silliness! Plus, as the first panel of this issue already clearly established, the Punisher is Superman now. This is just further reinforcement. Hot Topic had better get its orders in for the Superman capes with Punisher skull symbols on them while supplies last!
FINALLY! We end on a full page spread of Red Hulk gripping a big pipe he ripped out of the ground and directing its randomly huge gamma flow onto the Leader, who, I kid you not, has a hand over his crotch and is making what I can only describe as an offbeat O-face. For the lulz!
Ok, so obviously I decided to take a mostly lighthearted approach to this review, because quite honestly I couldn’t find a way to take any part of Thunderbolts #4 seriously. In only 4 issues, this series has gone so far off the rails of logic and good storytelling that I legitimately debated whether or not it was worth reading to the end or if I should just tell BD he needed a new reviewer to start with THIS issue. Every problem I’ve brought up in my past reviews is not only still there – they’re getting worse and worse. As I said at the top, I was planning to give the series until issue 6, completing the first arc, but I no longer think it is possible for this ship to be righted. And to put it bluntly, as much as I love reviewing comics for you guys, life is just to short to pay for and spend my time reading a comic I dislike this much. I hope the next reviewer can find something I was missing here, and I look forward to reading those reviews if they do.
GRADE: 0 out of 5. I debated whether I should really give out a zero, but I just couldn’t come up with ANYTHING that would save it from that.