Daniel Way and Steve Dillon usher in a new era of violence and vitriol in the pages of "Thunderbolts" #1. Following Brian Michael Bendis' model for team construction, Way reaches out to recruit Venom, Elektra, Punisher, Deadpool and a somewhat mysterious (yes, there is plenty of speculation on the internet) woman to join General Thunderbolt Ross in battle. Who they're battling or will battle isn't very clear yet, but the all-star team of über-violent antiheroes contains an interesting enough mixture of fan favorites to at least get hands to pick this book up for a quick look.
General Ross is also the Red Hulk. Sure, he's mostly Ross throughout "Thunderbolts" #1, but the team isn't quite a team in this first issue, so there is plenty to look forward to as Way presses the advantage of pooling together some of Marvel's most violent properties. This book is unabashedly violent, although it mostly features General Ross going on the comic book superhero team equivalent of college football recruiting visits. Way's Ross is cool, calm and collected. A man who uses his knowledge and experience to influence rather than sweet-talking or coercing others to join his cause, Way makes Ross a brilliant recruiter on par with Nick Saban or Jim Tressel. Of course, that cause needs a little more definition before any one of these characters signs on, but this is merely the first twenty pages in a much longer tale.
The art on "Thunderbolts" #1 is colorful and expressive, filled with furrowed eyebrows and sideways glances. Guru eFX throws five-o'clock shadows on Punisher and Ross, adds texture to the concrete walls and heat to the explosions. While I like Dillon's open, detailed style (and have since way back on his days drawing "Animal Man") and expressive characters, some of his characters' faces share structure too similar to be anything but related. For the most part, those characters are largely dismissible and the only other grievous offense Dillon perpetrates is to pepper "Thunderbolts" #1 with tomatoey explosions of terminal wounds.
Another good offering from the Marvel NOW! collection, "Thunderbolts" #1 is most likely to find an audience in fans of Punisher, Deadpool or "Uncanny X-Force." The collection of characters is not my usual band of favorites, but I'm interested enough to see what motivation Way feeds this team through Ross in order to get them to cooperate. The combination of mystery and good art in a book that brings together characters I wouldn't regularly pay to read about in their solo adventures has me intrigued. The fact that Marvel has elected to make "Thunderbolts" one of their more affordable Marvel NOW! titles is enough to encourage me to come back for the second issue at the very least. Bang for the buck right there. It's also worth pointing out that "Thunderbolts" shares the moniker of the team's apparent leader, a gimmick that's every bit as fun as it is silly.