Throughout Marvel’s new NOW initiative, each book has been more or less hitting out of the park, except for one…Thunderbolts.
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Originally created by Kurt Busiek & Mark Bagely, Thunderbolts was a comic about a group of villains formed by Baron Zemo to destroy the Avengers, their plan qucikly changed in the aftermath of Onslaught’s attack (where both the Avengers & Fantastic Four were “killed”) wherein they took advantage of the power vaccum and became heroes. The original roster of the team consisted of Baron Zemo (Going by the alias of “Citizen V” a British hero he killed, classy), Songbird (formerly Screaming Mimi), Fixer, Mach I (formerly Beetle), Atlas (formerly Goliath), & Moonstone.
The team had a rotating roster every so often (with Archer Avenger Hawkeye even leading the team for a bit) and the book steadily grew in popularity. In the wake of Marvel’s Civil War, the book was retooled and the team became more of a government strike force (similar to DC’s Suicide Squad). Zemo left (being the only one who was still villainous) and everyone’s favorite psycopath, Norman Osborn, assumed control of the team. Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato were the creative team (which in my opinion was the book’s best run) mixing more character drama (both personal and team) action, and really pushing the redemption angle for some of the team. In addition they added Venom (now the former Scorpion Mac Gargan), Swordsman, Bullseye, & Penance (former hero Speedball) to the teams line-up.
The team would continue on the path of “shadow ops” going through new members (including mercenaries Ghost & Paladin, the 3rd Ant-Man Eric O’Grady, & the second Black Widow; who was really the 1st one posing as her) until it’s most recent run before the reboot wherein Luke Cage began running it and the team consisted of: Moonstone, Songbird, Man-Thing, Crossbones, & Juggernaut.
All that history aside, the team once again got a reboot in the Marvel NOW stable; this time being headed by Red Hulk, the team now consists of the Punisher, Venom (now Flash Thompson), Elektra, & Deadpool. While sporting an ok storyline, the ultimate downfall in the newest run is the art. Artist Steve Dillon drags the book down with his weird facial expressions and almost everyone looking the same. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
Starting in issue 7, Phil Noto (who has worked on numerous titles, including Uncanny X-Force, & one of my favs X-23) takes over for Dillon in what I’m sure will be a less jarring read for fans.