When last we saw the Thunderbolts, they were deep down in Shadowland and experiencing some difficulties. Fixer and Songbird were taken out of the equation, leaving the rest of the crew without leadership and open to suggestion. It’s nice to see them continue with the mission and try to wrap things up. There’s little posturing and soliloquizing here, just a pure need for more action.
You have to hand it to this comic, plus the creators and editorial team, there is a stack of fun ninja action and bad ass villain revelry on display. The issue absolutely whizzes along with great set pieces for the characters to showcase their skills. There are also numerous moments where you can laugh out loud and enjoy the absurdity of the whole premise. Parker is doing a glorious job of making this comic feel like comics.
Though a fair amount of time is given to spreading the love across nearly all the team members (except for Man-Thing who mostly just does a solid Gwyneth Paltrow), it is Crossbones who shines through on this one. As one character remembers so eloquently, “you don’t talk much so I forget you’re a crazy racist.” Just because these people get to headline a team book doesn’t mean they’ve completely changed. Crossbones completely proves this rule as some Terrigen mist business from a previous issue comes into play. It is Crossbones’ actions that are truly defined in this issue and that will have great dramatic impact in issues to come.
The Hand ninja goons are treated as substantial cannon fodder. While they should be able to take down at least a few of these sub-rate villains, instead they are mostly just mosquitoes to be swatted. At least this is consistent in most titles, and I assume that for Murdock to fuel such an army he needed to cut corners. This doesn’t mean it’s not fun watching Juggernaut do his thing right through the red robed masses.
It is a shame Shalvey won’t be sticking around on the title. His style is somewhere left of Skottie Young at times, but with a darker, though still more mainstream, bent to it. His character designs make this comic worth reading because you feel you are getting a variation you haven’t seen before. His action is fluid and his faces are fun. He is a superstar on the rise and one worth keeping an eye on, wherever he lands.
This two-parter within the Shadowland story proper should go down as the one with the highest quality. Parker and Shalvey have crafted a short and sharp tale of villains getting in and getting out but plenty of mischief is had in between. This comic is a delight to read and look at, and is worthy of insurmountable praise. I can only hope many tried it for the tie-in value and will now stick around for the show. “Thunderbolts” is the comic you’re probably hearing lots about and you need to now listen; it’s better than it should be.