In the wake of Marvel Comics’ “Secret Invasion,” the villainous Norman Osborn suddenly became one of the most powerful people in the Marvel Universe. Much of Osborn’s current power stems from his position in the U.S. government as head of the organization known as H.A.M.M.E.R. It's a position that gives him almost total control over matters relating to the government and superpowered individuals. Since being put in charge, Osborn has co-opted and corrupted the heroic legacy of the Avengers, and the former Green Goblin has even assembled his own team of X-Men. The Avengers and the X-Men aren’t the first teams to fall under Osborn’s influence though. Before his "Dark Reign" began Osborn was given control of the Thunderbolts, a team that once was comprised of villains trying to be heroic.
Under Osborn’s control the Thunderbolts became a team of villains that were turned loose on fugitive heroes but now with the Marvel Universe in the grip of his Dark Reign, the T-Bolts are Osborn’s clandestine team of assassins. Writer Andy Diggle, ushered in this new era for the team with stories that involved subterfuge, double crosses, and heaping helpings of paranoia. This November, “Agents of Atlas” writer Jeff Parker continues that tradition when he takes over for Diggle as the new regular writer of “Thunderbolts”. CBR News spoke with Parker and editor Bill Rosemann about what readers can expect from their run, which was announced Saturday at the Mondo Marvel panel the Wizard World Chicago convention.
Parker was drawn to “Thunderbolts” because of his experiences writing the recent “Dark Reign: The Hood” mini-series for Rosemann. “That got me enjoying giving voice to villains,” the writer told CBR News. “After that was rolling along well, Bill invited me to step on after Andy Diggle's time was up. It's almost as if he planned that...”
It was Parker’s work on “The Hood” mini-series as well as his work on the ongoing “Agents of Atlas” series, which made Rosemann offer “Thunderbolts” to Parker, “I've admired how Jeff balances humor (often dark), action (often over the top), twisty plots (often jaw-dropping), and villains (often actually heroes in disguise) -- all of which are key components to a good ‘Thunderbolts’ story,” the editor said.
Parker’s tenure on “Thunderbolts” will come after three huge eventful months for the series as current writer Andy Diggle brings his run on the book to an end. “In the months ahead you’ll get: Shocking revelations, painful betrayals, pedal to the metal action and continued craziness. But don't take my word for it--run out there and read issues #134 - #137 before all the cool kids!” Rosemann exclaimed. “Andy's stunning run ends with issue #136, then guest writer Rick Remender delivers that one-shot punch to the gut in issue #137, then Jeff steps up to the plate in issue #138 with a story that not only continues elements from what has gone before but also sets off on all new territory.”
When Parker takes over “Thunderbolts” he’ll continue to tell stories about two very different groups of T-Bolts; Osborn’s current team of violent killers as well as some members from the team’s original line-up who’ve gathered together to try and wrestle the legacy of their former team from Osborn’s depraved clutches. “We're definitely not done with the original Thunderbolts,” Parker stated. “And we're going to examine how the team works when weighted heavily towards psychos like it is now. It has the paranoid Ghost, the hyperviolent Mr. X, the buckwild Headsman, and is led by Scourge, whose true face will be revealed soon. Just not the most stable bunch in the world.”
They may be volatile and violent but when Parker’s run on “Thunderbolts” begin the team is still a significant weapon in Osborn’s arsenal. Of course that may change if one team member has his way. “My first story has Ghost taking a bigger hand in how things go down,” Parker explained. “He's always seemed to have his own agenda, and he begins acting on it in a larger way in 138.”
To achieve their agendas Ghost and the other T-Bolts will need to overcome a number of obstacles and adversaries, including one group of enemies who could be seen as the team’s mirror image. “I kind of can't resist slamming them up against another team I'm known for,” Parker hinted. “A team who have a directly inverse setup to the Thunderbolts.”
Parker’s stories in “Thunderbolts” will include both done-in-one style tales as well as multi-part arcs. The writer hinted that all of those stories are building towards something larger for the book, which will happen in 2010.
While “Thunderbolts” may be getting a new writer, the look of the book will remain exactly the same. “Miguel Sepulveda [who is currently working with Andy Diggle] is our oh-so talented ongoing penciler,” Bill Rosemann revealed. “As each issue of Thunderbolts hits, more and more readers are adding him to their lists of the industry's rising stars.”
Compared to some of Marvel’s other super team books “Thunderbolts” has been around for a relatively short time, but in that time span several writers have had highly acclaimed runs on the book. Rosemann thinks Parker’s run on the book could be best described as a cocktail of elements from the runs of those writers as well as Parker’s own unique style. “Take the best of the Fabian Nicieza, Warren Ellis, Christos Gage and Andy Diggle runs -- then blend them on high and serve over ice!” Rosemann exclaimed. “Crazy action, stunning cliffhangers, piercing character examination--Jeff is hitting on all cylinders!”