Why was I not informed of this story? I have adored Jeff Parker’s run on Thunderbolts for quite some time, so imagine my surprise that his run was actually concluded in a satisfactory manner, just in a different title. That’s what I get for only following trades for a few years. It is awfully easy to just miss some.
The new Dark Avengers grace the cover of this collection, and they do get some stuff to do in the collection, but largely, the re-titling is a bait-and-switch. Fortunately, it is one that leaves me happy; this book still stars the time-lost Thunderbolts more than anyone else.
It is interesting seeing how Parker humanized so many of the villains on his team. Even Mr. Hyde has a brief moment of humanity when he saves Troll from becoming a monster like himself. It is also delightful seeing Boomerang as the smart-aleck of the group, since he plays that part to the hilt in Superior Foes of Spider-Man.
Parker knows how to balance his leads. The Thunderbolts get most of the pages, but he adds in the new Avengers nicely. He puts them under the command of Luke Cage, who is backed up by Songbird, Mach V, and Hank Pym. So for folks who want to keep up with the more “classic” T-bolts, this book has you covered there too.
I love when writers use pet characters, so I was pleased that Parker found another use for his Sultan Magus character from Red Hulk. He’s a good foil for the team, almost Graviton level if I had to place him on a power chart.
As if this wasn’t enough, the Thunderbolts end up tossed into a Judge Dredd-style future where Boss Cage leads a new faction of heroes and villains into the story. This does get a tad complicated!
The book does suffer a tad from a glut of pencilers, but at least they are all pretty good. Declan Shalvey, Kev Walker, Neil Edwards, and Gabriel Hernandez Walta split the pages up between them. It is telling that Shalvey and Walker have both moved on to prestigious titles since this came out; they are pretty darn good. I love the way Walker draws Satanna…
This is a GOOD comic that does feel like a product of its time and place. But for Thunderbolts fans, it is definitely worth checking out.