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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Thunderbolts #4

Whenever a bunch of new comics start, there is always at least one that people consider the worst.  The runt of the litter, if you will.  People will try to give this comic a chance, but, for whatever assortment of reasons, will decide it is not worth their time.  Since we live in a time where nerd culture festers on the Internet, these people not only abandon these comics, but now they continue to ridicule them though they may not even be reading them anymore.  Such is the case with Thunderbolts.

Yep, lots and lots of people have flung a lot of dirt at Thunderbolts.  While I am not going to attempt to defend the comic for those people, I will go ahead and say that I actually love Thunderbolts.  The first three issues were fantastic, and it is easily one of my favorite Marvel NOW titles.  With all of this out of the way, I'd like to share with you my thoughts on the fourth issue of this awesome series.

In Thunderbolts #4 we get a clearer picture of just the type of people this team has been dispatched to take care of, with much of the issue delving into the back story of both Philip Sterns and General Awa.  On the outside of this narrative: Punisher, Deadpool, and Venom put into action a plan to rescue Elektra.

What makes a book like Thunderbolts so great is the way that the team is able to interact.  The banter between such opposite members as Deadpool and The Punisher makes for not only great humor, but even more engaging action.  In fact, this interaction among teammates is one of the things that made the previous issue my favorite of the run thus far.  I was not a Deadpool fan by any means going in, but this book has made me love him.  Any book that makes me love Deadpool is something worth making note of.  In an issue that is so filled with back story, it is still the small moments of teamwork between the fledgling Thunderbolts that makes it a good read.  If anything is going to be said for this comic, it is that Daniel Way does well with a group dynamic.

When it comes to these long moments of back story, the issue slows down quite a bit.  I cannot say I really cared for most of these moments, but I understand their importance.  General Awa's reasons for joining with Philip Sterns makes sense, but I honestly did not care because I just wanted to see more fun with Deadpool and Punisher.  There is a pervading sense that this issue will seem a bit better when coupled with the finale of the first arc in issue 6, but it doesn't work for me as well right now.

In thinking about the overall story of Thunderbolts thus far, there are still a lot of questions which Daniel Way will have to answer, and he may want to answer them soon.  One of the more essential questions for me is what motivation will this team have to stay together once the mission of this first arc is over?  Sure, I love reading these people talk to each other a lot, but they all hate each other.  Even more so they are all united in their distrust of the Red Hulk.  While such problems would not be good for any other superhero team book, I think this could make for some interesting storytelling.  As Thunderbolts has always been a book with villains/anti-heroes on the team, rough starts are to be expected.  That being said, I hope the second arc (or the ending of the first one) gives us a clear reason why this team should continue to work with one another....aside from my desire to read more of their banter.

The only aspect of Thunderbolts that has been a huge adjustment for me is Steve Dillon's art.  Thunderbolts has had some beautiful covers, but Dillon's art stands in stark contrast.  His art has a cartoonish nature to it that can make the more funny moments stronger, but it makes the more serious moments a bit odd.  In fact, I would be willing to bet that the artwork is mostly to blame for why so many comic readers have abandoned Thunderbolts.  All of the best stories in the world cannot be saved when the art isn't good too.  That being said, I have been able to adjust to Dillon's artwork.  He is not my favorite artists in comics by any stretch of the imagination, but I have come to tolerate his work.  Thunderbolts is ultimately a book with a lot of action, and his art tends to deliver on that front so I can't say I have too much to complain about.

Overall, Thunderbolts #4 was not as strong as the first three issues.  The pace of the story slowed down significantly, but I still had fun reading the issue.  Why, you ask?  Because I really care about this team and I desperately want to see more from them.  That, coupled with just a few moments of teamwork, helped me to see past a more flat issue.

Rating: B+

Summary: While Thunderbolts #4 is not as strong as the previous issues, it still keeps me entertained and waiting for what happens next.
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