There are two types of first issues. There’s the type that are very explosive and grabs you from the beginning, and the type where it’s less explosive but takes its time in setting up the plot. Thunderbolts #1 was the latter. It was a setup for the team, in it we saw Thunderbolt Ross (Red Hulk) go all over the place, recruiting Venom, Punisher, Electra, and Deadpool. The primary reason why this series was getting hype was its crazy cast. Deadpool and Venom? Even Electra? I knew I had to pick this book up. While Issue #1 was slightly disappointing, I understood what it was trying to do. So, it was up to the second issue to ‘wow’ me with its excellent cast. Sadly, this issue was lacking…something. We have a story and purpose, the characters have some nice dialogie, but it just wasn’t as great as it should have been.
Here’s the official description from Marvel:
Red Hulk, Venom, Elektra, Deadpool, the Punisher. Forget the courts, the jails, the system — this team of Thunderbolts fights fire with fire, targeting the most dangerous and lethal players in the Marvel Universe with extreme prejudice. Led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross, AKA the Red Hulk, this hand-picked team of like-minded operatives is going to make the world a better place…by all means necessary.
It starts four months ago in Madripoor, with Ross at a bar. Later we see him in his Red Hulk form discussing matters over at Kata Jaya. Today, he puts his Thunderbolts team to work. That’s the best description I can give it, even the official description couldn’t really talk about the story, because not really much happens. The characters never get to ‘first meet.’ That’s skipped to the point where they already work well as a team. That a bad thing? Not necessarily. But again, the primary selling point of this book is the cast, so the reader wants to see these guys first meet together as a team. Instead it’s skipped. There are some admittedly funny/cool moments, which is mainly when Deadpool and Electra appear together. I haven’t read too many Deadpool comics, but here he’s basically just a meaner Spider-Man. Flash Thompson (Venom) does get a pretty cool splash page scene when he attacks some of the enemies. Punisher gets adequate page-time, and it goes without saying Ross gets the most out of the comic. There is some tension between him and Venom later in the issue, a cool scene, but maybe a small fight between the two would have brought the term lacking from the issue: excitement.
The art I’m a little mixed on. It’s not bad, it’s good, it’s just lacking something. The facial expressions look rather too simple and the action isn’t that exciting. I do like how cool Venom’s new suit look is, making the team have some red on their costumes was a good move. The main cover mirrors a scene within the comic. While Red Hulk and Venom don’t exactly come to blows like the cover would have you believe, it’s still fantastic, such detail especially Venom’s face. The variant is less dynamic, but still cool for fans of the Punisher. (The red skull emblem is a very nice touch.)
Overall, a disappointing followup to the average first issue. The story is generally unexciting, after I had put down the comic, I had to remember just what the heck happened. I like a good story, but the main reason why I’m reading this series is for the characters. I want to see them interact with each other, we don’t even see what their first reactions are when they found out who they were working with. Thunderbolts so far has been a disappointing series. (Which is surprising since I quite like some of Daniel Way’s work.) Sadly the wonderful cast is being underutilized, I can only hope it starts to improve, otherwise I don’t see it lasting after the 10th issue.