After the events of last month’s jam-packed anniversary issue, where will the former (and future?) villains of the Thunderbolts land? You won’t find out in Thunderbolts #11, because this issue is all about Bucky in the past! And I do mean “Bucky.” Is it good?
Thunderbolts #11 (Marvel Comics)
A boy in the foxhole, but with his future brain! It’s a chance to save Steve and to save himself! But that’s not the chance he’s given. Someone wants James Buchanan Barnes to make a different kind of decision, and she’s got two words for him.
And that’s not all that’s changed. Heinrich Zemo is dead, but his baby boy will do his dirty work, along with his best bud. Oh yes, big man Bucky inhabiting his adolescent frame isn’t the only thing that’s changed in this reworked World War II. If you’ve been reading Captain America: Steve Rogers, you can imagine how this will go.
Is It Good?
Thunderbolts has always circled the periphery of Nick Spencer’s greater Captain America story, perhaps by necessity due to the team’s leader, but in issue #11, with Secret Empire nigh upon us, it dives right in with both feet and no extraneous characters. Namely, the guys in the book’s name. Jim Zub writes a good way to reveal Steve’s truth to Bucky, hastening their inevitable collision course, but when all the book’s other players are completely absent after just receiving their most development of the series, it’s a bit of a momentum-killer.
Jon Malin’s pencils take a serious step backward in Thunderbolts #11. His facial expressions communicated genuine emotion and conflict in the previous issue; here they’re not quite capable of differentiating confusion from hunger. It’s just about the worst time for this misstep, as the art could help us better understand what Steve is feeling when he explains his actions to his shocked sidekick. Oh well, guess we all have to go get Secret Empire #0 and behold the wizardry of Daniel Acuña for that.
Colorist Matt Yackey does a fine job with what he’s given. It’s not easy to believably contrast the bright colors of Captain America’s costume with our drab memories of the 1940s, but he pulls it off. The purples used to depict dark during the night scenes succeed in their purpose and don’t distract from the drama.
Thunderbolts #11 accomplishes what it sets out to do, but doesn’t set the world on fire doing so. The coming Barnes/Rogers conflict will feel richer to those who read this issue, but it’s a shame it had to distract from the main story. There’s a lot to be mined in the overall team learning what’s up, so here’s hoping the two threads begin to intersect.