The Thunderbolts are back, but are they better than ever? Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse team up for a new miniseries spinning out of the events of Dark Reign. Can newly minted mayor Luke Cage get the Thunderbolts on track after Kingpin sets up another villainous version of the team? We’ll find out if Hawkeye still has those leadership chops he used on the Avengers West Coast.
Thunderbolts #1 is fun. As far as superhero comics go, Zub does a great job keeping your interest in the narrative by using a crosscutting approach between a scene with the team in action and a scene with Hawkeye being asked to lead the team. It’s a clever way to show Hawkeye’s reluctance and nerves about starting a Thunderbolts with the team in action. This crosscutting leads right up until the last page, giving the book a well-crafted approach from beginning to end.
The various heroes in this narrative are also well-picked with both new and familiar faces. In one scene, we see how the team was picked, which reads like a funny meta joke, as if Zub and Izaakse were patting themselves on the back. The crosscutting also helps introduce these characters, allowing opportune times for them to pop up, face off against a different villain, and generally have their own moments.
Speaking of the villains, this issue has the team rushing in to stop a group of supervillains like Taskmaster and Abomination, who have teamed up to rob a bank. Sometimes with superhero team-up books, the enemy can feel overpowered, but with an electric crew of baddies at the creators’ disposal, they take their shots and get taken down in logically earned ways.
Art by Izaakse is without a blemish, with good detail and extra emphasis on backdrops that add energy and zip. Speed lines are used a lot here, for instance, with broken glass and sound effects popping into panels to amp up the energy of the scenes. Though the issue is limited to full-page splashes, it seems every character gets a splashy entrance, be it half-page-sized panels or epic reveals, as they enter the book. The energy is excellent in the narrative, never slowing down and clearly being as action-frenzied as possible. Java Tartaglia colors the issue giving it a less bright palette grounding the action a bit.
My only gripe with this issue might be the rush in the final few pages to show not all is well with a bunch of these Thunderbolts. Given the excellent pacing and crosscutting in most of this book, it’s surprising how quickly the book rushes to get these details in. You get just enough to be interested in what is going on with specific team members, but the rush to get these details articulated feels tacked on.
Thunderbolts #1 is an explosive super-fun start to a series with historically good runs. Not only is it well-paced and exciting from cover to cover, but it offers a solid reason to exist in an era of superhero books that can be rote and uninteresting.
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