Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thunderbolts: Fear Itself TPB

Goodness, do I love Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts.

I accidentally missed this trade, and I actually ran out to the comic store to pick it up, that’s how excited I was to see how the T’bolts got time lost!

Fear Itself was a bit unfocused. The core title had a bunch of weird themes and villains that never fit quite right together. But by keeping the focus on the T’bolts and their world, Parker doesn’t have that problem. The book opens with the Fear Hammer crashing into the Raft, the super-max prison the Thunderbolts call home. Juggernaut goes crazy and starts smashing stuff, and the walls come tumbling down. That leaves the large Thunderbolts cast dispersed all over the prison, trying to decide how they’ll handle this chance at freedom.

The Alpha team all do their jobs. Songbird, Fixer, Mach V, Ghost, Moonstone, and US Agent all immediately set to returning the prisoners to their cells. Some may be reluctant (Moonstone and Ghost), but they try to do the right thing. Former Alpha Crossbones gets to make it back into the world, too.

The Beta team is a bit craftier. Centurious, Satana, Shocker, Boomerang, Troll and Mr. Hyde take a lot more pleasure in beating the crap out of the inmates. Centurious is smart enough to take advantage of the chaos too.

The rest of the book involves the combined teams taking on the Juggernaut and some of Sin’s other monsters on the shores of Chicago. When things get too tough, the Betas decide they have had enough…

I absolutely love Parker’s characterization with these guys. Boomerang and Shocker are particular faves, as low-level thugs who know their place. They follow along in the wake of their betters and don’t seem to bummed at the role. Satana is a great addition; she serves as a powerhouse team member and a great plot-device to keep the story spinning.

I never dreamed I’d enjoy Kev Walker’s art this much. When I saw his original sketches, I was very concerned for this book. But he’s made this book his own and I love his take on Juggernaut, Songbird, and Mach V. Declan Shalvey keeps the tone consistent, and the handoff between the two artists is flawless. Who would have guessed that punk-rock Songbird could be this cool?


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