Redemption Song: Nicieza talks "New Thunderbolts"

Wed, June 22nd, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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"New Thunderbolts" #10
The Thunderbolts catch phrase is "Justice Like Lightning." Abe Jenkins is hoping that justice behaves the opposite of lightning and strikes the same place twice. Jenkins, AKA M.A.C.H. IV, is a former member of the old Thunderbolts team and the founder and leader of the "New Thunderbolts." Like the old team, the team in "New Thunderbolts," by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Tom Grummett, is composed of former super villains trying really hard to be super heroes. CBR news spoke to Nicieza about the book and what lies ahead for the cast of one of Marvel's most interesting books.

New readers don't need to know much to pick up and enjoy "New Thunderbolts." They just need to be aware of the concept of the book. "They're schmuck former villains trying to get their lives together and be 'good guys,'" Nicieza told CBR News. "Sometimes, they even get it right."

Because of the unique composition of the team, Nicieza feels that the Thunderbolts have a special role and relationship with the other superheroes of the Marvel Universe. "I think they should play the devil and the angel on the conscience of every MU hero. All of them should want that the TBolts as a concept and as a reality to succeed, because it would mean less super-villains running amok. On the other hand, the devil whispers, 'Don't trust them.' Of course, none of that matters if other MU titles don't ever feature any TBolt characters in them."

"New Thunderbolts" #10, Pages 8 & 9
The latest issue of "New Thunderbolts," issue 9, demonstrated how lethal, aggressive and tortured team member Radioactive Man is. The issue had team members travelling to Atlantis to cure a rampant radioactive plague that Radioactive Man created as a weapon against Atlantean terrorists. The group won't have time to come to grips with the revelations about their teammate. "Because of the unfolding events in the 'Purple Reign' story, the TBolts don't have much time to worry about little things like morality, taking justice into their own hands and a big green glowing teammate who is willing to kill hundreds of Atlantean terrorists."

The "Purple Reign" story line begins with issue #10 and has the Thunderbolts finally confronting the Purple Man, a villain that appears to have been manipulating the team since the book began. "The story has been building since issue #1 when Purple Man appeared as a shadowy figure who may (or may not) have precipitated the savage beating of Captain Marvel by Atlas," Nicieza said. "He has expressed a real distaste for everything the TBolts stand for, since they 'screw up' his vision of how the 'story' of superheroes and super-villains should be told."

The "Purple Reign" story will answer and address a number of the books ongoing mysteries. "Lots of subplots will be addressed, including the Atlas smackdown, Photon's [formerly known as Captain Marvel] memory and power problems, M.A.C.H. IV's less-than-sterling leadership and Songbird's recent resignation from the team because she thought they sucked," Nicieza stated.

"New Thunderbolts" #10, Page 10
However readers won't find the answer to "New Thunderbolts" biggest mystery in the "Purple Reign" arc. "I had planned to reveal the Swordsman's identity, but I decided that it wasn't working within the context of the story flow, so I'm holding off on that for just a few more issues," Nicieza explained. "Swordsman does play a rather dramatic part in the first part of the story, though."

Issue #11 of "New Thunderbolts" is a tie in with Marvel's big summer crossover "House of M." "Issue #11 is not only a crossover with the big 'House of M story,' it is also Part 2 of our Purple Reign story line. How can one modest writer do this? With flair and skill, I must say," Nicieza joked. "The issue focuses on Major Erik (Atlas) Josten and Private Genis-Vell (Photon) of the Kree Exploratory Armada. Many of the threads that have been percolating with both of these in the 'regular' Marvel Universe carry over very nicely into 'House of M' and allow us to explore the characters by seeing them through new eyes.

"The story will have lasting repercussions for the team in that Genis will remember what happened to him and this will affect him in surprising ways a few months down the road..." Nicieza continued.

"New Thunderbolts" #10, Page 11
In the old "Thunderbolts" title the T-bolts often battled and occasionally teamed up with the Avengers. Nicieza plans on continuing this tradition. "You see, there is a team of superhumans that the government is a little wary of. How can you trust a team whose roster is made up of renegades, outlaws and psychopaths with little to no national or international checks and balances in their method of operating? Yes, the government has good reason not to trust the New Avengers and they have an available team of very powerful characters who can easily be manipulated to send the Avengers a very pointed message." Nicieza explained. "And perhaps that message will be sent in New TBolts #13-14."

Nicieza has lots more surprises planned for "New Thunderbolts" after issues #13-14. "I can tell you we'll see a new Dr. Spectrum that will lead into a story line involving the original Squadron Sinister (of which Speed Demon had been a member). We'll also see some old friends popping up in a unexpected fashion," Nicieza stated. "Don't forget, our 100th anniversary issue is coming up with New TBolts #19 and what big anniversary is complete without two teams kicking the crap out of each other?"

One villain that readers might not expect to see again is former Hydra Leader Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. Strucker vowed revenge after the Thunderbolts foiled his plot to detonate nuclear weapons in New York City. Strucker appeared to have met his demise in issue #25 of "Wolverine" which was part of "The Enemy of the State" story line. "You mean that skinny guy in the suit and tie who was p-whipped by some 600 year old lady? Yeah, the big burly Nazi guy with the monocle and Satan's Claw got a good chuckle out of that one," Nicieza said. "Or in other words, the story is not over yet -- and we'll follow-up on it in TBolts fairly soon... "

"New Thunderbolts" #10, Page 13
There will also be appearances by a few more reoccurring characters in upcoming issues. "Dallas Riordan will become more of a recurring character soon," Nicieza said. "Carol Danvers will appear more often than Warbird does. And old friend Henry Peter Gyrich will be poppin' up again soon, too."

"New Thunderbolts" has been set primarily in New York City, but that might change soon. "They have been primarily NYC based because they were trying to fill the void left when the Avengers Disassembled. That's not as much a priority now, and upcoming events might very well see the team leaving NYC," Nicieza explained. "Speed Demon votes for Tahiti."

Writing about the complex and diverse cast of characters is a pleasure for Nicieza who does not have a favorite team member. "I honestly like them all for different reasons," he explained. "I came into the series needing to discover aspects of Radioactive Man, Speed Demon, Blizzard and Joystick that I would enjoy mucking with. So far, each of the new members have brought something different to the table."

Nicieza recommends "New Thunderbolts" to a very specific group of people "Anyone who reads," he said "Actually, you don't even have to read. Just look at the pretty pictures by Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine."

 
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