One of the best parts of a Thunderbolts comic is seeing the team lineup. Creators can get inventive and pull a hero or villain from way back and add them to the team to make them relevant again. In a way Thunderbolts is like the Quentin Tarantino of comics. Like John Travolta, an old hero long forgotten can become cool again. Question is, is it good?
Thunderbolts #1 (2016) (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The official Marvel Comics summary reads:
FROM THE ASHES OF AVENGERS: STANDOFF! They’re a renegade team rampaging across the Marvel Universe under the direction of the Winter Soldier! But are the Thunderbolts heroes or villains—and do even they know for sure?
Why does this book matter?
Aside from the idea of some random heroes joining forces to kick butt, Thunderbolts also offers a team book featuring character heroics that are questionable at best. Typically this team is rogue and sometimes even downright evil. Blurring the line of good and bad always makes for entertaining reading!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Interesting mix of members? Check. A wildcard character that blows your mind by the end of the first issue? Check. Compelling team dynamics? Check. Writer Jim Zub pretty much nails it all right out of the gate with characters that are going with the flow, trying to lead, and are completely crazy. It’s a good mix that allows for some interesting back and forth dialogue, but also a good mix of power sets too. Winter Soldier is the leader, The Fixer gives the team a tech character, Moonstone is the flyer and Atlas is the muscle. Throw in Mach-X for attitude and Kobik as the wildcard and you have yourself a cool group of characters. Wait, Kobik, who’s that?
We open in shadows…with drama afoot!
Kobik is the X-factor of this series and clearly the one character that’s really making this book feel fresh. I don’t want to spoil a thing here, but she adds a chaotic nature to the team, and also gives them cause to band together. Originally created in 2013, the character is a reality-warping energy that’s taken the form of a 4 year old girl. Human 4 year olds are bad enough, but one that can warp reality? That’s far out, and a concept that Zub toys with in this issue which really opens things up for story possibilities. Believe me when I say the cliffhanger on this issue is proof Kobik works.
Zub also gives them something to do and they actually serve a purpose now that Nick Fury is dead. Keeping Kobik safe is one of their goals, but they’re going on missions to clean up what S.H.E.I.L.D. has mucked up over the years too.
The art by Jon Malin is detailed and nice to look at overall. At times it can feel a bit off as far as perspective and proportions of a character, but it delivers a 90s sort of feel to the proceedings. There are a few panels that are downright gorgeous, like one where Moonstone means business and you can easily see just by her stone cold face she’s going to throw down. It’s clear he has a handle on the different looks of the characters as well.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The introduction of the team is solid and most of the characters get some time on the page to yell out who they are on some level too. I did however wish there was more to Mach-X who has to be the best bet for hero to be killed sooner than others. Aside from loving beer we don’t get a read on him just yet, but it is only the first issue so we shall see.
Aside from the relatively minor awkward issues with art I was hoping for more detail in backgrounds. A lot of panels are flat color, which adds emphasis on the characters, but a lot of the blocking seems to be angled to avoid showing the rooms and areas around the characters. This is also rather minor, but it makes it difficult to visualize where the characters are in relation to each other.
The captions read well too.
Is It Good?
This is a great first issue that introduces the team, their purpose, and its identity. If you’re not hooked by the last page, you wouldn’t know a good thing if it ripped your heart out.