Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thunderbolts: Like Lightning TPB

As an original Thunderbolt fan, I'm absolutely tickled by this cover. It was my desktop wallpaper for months. We live in a great era of comics, where long-time pros like Mark Bagley can come back and do a modern cover for a book he made famous 20 years ago. (Is it actually 20 years? It's gotta be close, I have my Tbolt theories written out in the border of my old college notebooks!)

Jeff Parker has been spinning yarns about the Tbolts for years now, and he's been telling a fairly simple time travel story for awhile. The team of villains featured on the cover (Fixer, Ghost, Centurius, Moonstone, Mr. Hyde, Satanna, Troll and Boomerang) have been forced to travel back in time after escaping from the Raft in the present. This trade opens with them in medieval times facing down the original Black Knight and King Arthur's court.

It's a great conflict, not just because of Kev Walker's imposing Black Knight. I love seeing characters like Troll and Boomerang be so dangerous and effective when they are not facing ultra-powerful opponents. As a Black Knight (Dane Whitman) fan, I'm OK with the original going down easily to Boomer, I just don't want to see the modern version punked out so easily. I also really enjoy seeing Satanna try and face down Merlin. Merlin's characterization in comics is wildly inconsistent, but Parker's version is a wise mage trying to stave off the fall of Camelot. I like that most of the Tbolts want it to hold up too, but of course, they mess up everything they touch.

The second half (after a nice little Songbird character piece) deals with the cover. Merlin has sent the team in the right direction, into the early 90's when the Thunderbolts first formed. Of the original team, only Fixer and Moonstone are still around, which limits the neat contrasts a bit. Parker gets to do the two best, though. The Techno-era Fixer is disgusted at his law-abiding, boring future self, while Meteorite is delighted when she meets the future Moonstone. She is unchanged and unrepentant; not all the Thunderbolts have learned something!

Fixer makes some bad choices that sets off some no-no's of time travel, leading to some cosmic and undefined threats. But these chapters aren't about the cosmic correction of time, instead it is about seeing the characters face each other and deal with the situation.Background characters like Mr. Hyde, Troll and Centurious come dangerously close to stealing the show, and that's not a complaint.

Declan Shalvey doesn't really have a Bagley-ish style, so instead of the current team adjusting to look like a retro comic, the original T-bolts all look bulky and modern. That's OK, the cover is enough to scratch my nostalgia itch.

I think the book re-titles to Dark Avengers after this. I'm still on board, but man, I'm going to miss the Thunderbolts.


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