I’m not quite sure how this book got an extra lease on life, but I’ll take what I can get. Especially since Jeff Parker spends this last Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers trade frantically setting up the team to be used in other Marvel books going forward.
The core concept is pretty good; the Tbolts are trapped in an alternate reality created by AIM. This world’s twist? Earth’s greatest heroes have all turned to the wrong side. Iron Man has an army of iron slaves. Dr. Strange is a bloodthirsty horn dog shacked up with Clea and Tigra. The Thing has left his humanity behind and is the new Mole Man. Only Reed Richards (and to a lesser extent, Hank Pym) have retained their old moral compasses. In this stew of good guys turned bad, the Thunderbolts are ALMOST heroes.
The real problem is that I don’t really care for most of the team. Until this trade, Parker was spending equal time with his quirkier leads, Moonstone, Mr. Hyde, Boomerang, and the rest. Those guys are gone now, except for Moonstone. Instead, the leads are Skaar, Toxic Doxie, Trickshot, and the rest of the “Dark Avengers.” The only member of the team I truly like (other than Moonstone) is John Walker, US Agent. US Agent is the high point of the trade; Parker has addressed his missing limbs and put him in a place where he can easily be used in the future. No need to even mention the complicated way Walker “recovered.”
Moonstone and Toxic Doxie have the best voices in the collection. They are witty, courageous, and totally overconfident. It is hard not to like the ladies who are so certain that they can turn every situation to their advantage. Skaar still bores me. Trickshot has a few moments, but he’s no Hawkeye.
The art is a very pleasant surprise. I’m certain I’ve seen Neil Edwards’ art before, but it never looked this good. The character designs are strong, the action is clear, and the facial expressions are very well drawn. There are moments in here where I thought it was Georges Jeanty’s well-drawn faces and not Edwards’!
In summary, let’s see some more of US Agent and Moonstone! They shouldn’t go into limbo after this GOOD comic!