The Unstoppable Thunderbolts is My Sweet Christmas in February!

February 10th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , ,

CBR posted a little announcement and interview today dealing with the next chapter in Thunderbolts. With Osborn on the outs, what’s going to happen to the team? Who’s going to be the leader and who will he be commanding?

Get a load of this:

I’m starting to believe that Jeff Parker is God’s gift to me. I’m especially pumped. As an aside, looking at that cover, whoever unloaded on Cage should be thankful that he didn’t hit a nipple. That’ll set him off.

In addition to Luke Cage, the initial line up of Thunderbolts has been revealed to include Juggernaut, Crossbones, Ghost, Moonstone, and Man-Thing. Is there anything you can say about these characters motivations for being on the Thunderbolts?

I think everyone’s prime motivation is: I do not want to rot in this cell. I would rather have Luke Cage screaming at me as I run into the probability of certain death than rot in this cell. Except for the Man-Thing, of course – no one can ever tell what he’s thinking. And no one asked him anyway.

How would you describe the initial dynamic between these characters? Is there anybody Luke can trust on this team?

That’s what Luke would like to know! Moonstone is in and out of the program. She shows promise and then, bam – she lets you down. Ghost also seems promising, but then there’s quirks, like him trying to kill Iron Man. Juggernaut, some people think he’s a hero too.

This shows a ton of promise. Let’s look at the line-up, one by one.

Luke Cage is a great idea for leader here. For one, he too used to be a criminal. It’s been a long while since he’s needed to redeem himself for that, but what he does need to redeem himself for is his poor leadership. The dude practically ran the New Avengers into the ground and helped bring forth the Secret Invasion, only Tony Stark’s high profile steals all the blame. Now the man who led heroes while being called outlaws can lead outlaws under the guise of heroes.

Maybe this time he’ll do a better job picking out any betrayers in the group.

I’m going to admit that my experiences with Ghost have only come from his post-Secret Invasion appearances. I never read any of his old Iron Man stories. As it is right now, he’s the best part of the team. He’s what Rorschach would be like on Earth-3 and that in itself is a great character concept. Wow, was that last sentence nerdy enough for you?

If it’s anyone from the current roster to stick around, I’m glad it’s him. Ant-Man’s presence has felt like a letdown, mostly. Paladin has never done anything for me. Nuke is interesting, but I feel that the second best crazy Frank from Vietnam would be better used elsewhere. Mr. X doesn’t work as a protagonist, since the writers have to come up with more and more loopholes against his powers, hindering him as a badass. Then there’s Headsman, who’s dead. He’d make a terrible inclusion to the team.

Ghost keeps things interesting, especially now that he’s gone from being a threat to Osborn (Yay!) to being a threat to Cage (Boo!).

If anyone in the Dark Avengers is in any way redeemable, it would be Moonstone due to process of elimination. She may be a master manipulator and something of a succubus, but at least she isn’t a demonic cannibal monster, a highly-paid mass murderer or an unrepentant date-rapist with a bad haircut. If Moonstone gives anything to this team, it’s someone to play off of Ghost. He plays angles; she plays angles. He can phase and become untouchable; she might have the ability to hit him in a fight by doing the same.

I think I may have just made a Love Connection.

Man-Thing seems to be all over the place these days. He’s kicking undead ass in Marvel Zombies 4, getting chopped apart in Dark Avengers and takes part in some Fastball Special action with Frankencastle in Punisher. I’ve never really cared about Man-Thing either way, but I’ll hold my interest in this because Jeff Parker’s writing. Writing an enigmatic mute powerhouse? He’s been doing a delightful job on that in Agents of Atlas.

I was going to comment on how strange it is to have him on the team, but then I realize that he’s a monster that doesn’t talk and everyone he touches gets burned alive if they know fear. That shit will get you arrested.

What an odd choice. Crossbones is just as evil as Bullseye, but at least when Bullseye was a member of the team, he was kept out of the public eye and stayed in the shadows so nobody could criticize. Maybe it will be the same with him? I figure he’s just there until he finds the means to attack the rest of the team, but we’ll see. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Now THIS is what I’m talking about! Everyone knows I’m a big fan of Juggernaut as a good guy and hate how they turned him. After about ten years of slow burn, they toss it away during World War Hulk. And for what? Since then he’s been beaten up by Hulk’s son and mentally fucked by Xavier when he isn’t wearing his helmet. Remember Grant Morrison’s lesson about repetition and “same old shit” in New X-Men that led to him attempting to kill off Magneto for longer than a weekend? Marvel is falling into that trap here too.

Juggernaut’s struggle to do better is what made him interesting, even during what is widely considered one of the worst X-Men comic runs in the past 40-something years. Now we get to see SOMETHING done with it. You just know he’s going to run through Man-Thing so hard that Man-Thing will explode and then reform. Or maybe he’ll run right through a phased Ghost and/or Moonstone.

It also asks the question of how Luke Cage can keep Juggernaut in line. Juggernaut out-Cages Cage. He’s bulletproof too, but he doesn’t gets welts from it. He’s super-strong, but far surpasses Cage’s power level.

At the very least, maybe this will lead to their double shockwave team-up attack from Ultimate Alliance 2.

Jeff Parker has a top-notch track record for me, so I have faith in these turn of events. In the end, I’m just glad Ed Brubaker isn’t doing Thunderbolts, based on this interview about his upcoming Baron Zemo arc in Captain America:

But Zemo is a full-fledged villain in this, right?

Definitely. One of the things that I think is nice about the Heroic Age is that we have this idea of hero and villain. Because over the years we’ve taken a lot of the cooler villains and, because people like them so much, they sort of make them into good guys. Like, for a while, it looked like Sabretooth was maybe going to be a good guy. And I was like, “No! Not Sabretooth!” But Juggernaut was one of the coolest villains of all time, and for a while he was a good guy! I mean, seriously? Juggernaut’s going to be a good guy?

“I mean, seriously? Steve Rogers isn’t going to be Captain America?” Or maybe, “I mean, seriously? Catwoman is going to be a good guy?” Come on, Brubaker. I thought you were cool.

And that line about Sabretooth maybe being a good guy only works if he’s talking about that brief period in the 90’s that I’ve only heard about third-hand. His recent X-Men stint was never suggested to be anything of the sort.

If Marvel wants a big, red dude to play the role of invincible villain of the month, why don’t you go use that Red Hulk that your company has such a boner for instead?

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18 comments to “The Unstoppable Thunderbolts is My Sweet Christmas in February!”

  1. ign and newsarama got interviews too, basically the same but Parker/Rosemann spill a bit more.

    In any case, 100% agree. Love that the redemption part of the Thunderbolts is back (just kind of feels right with Dark Reign over and Heroic Age beginning), and I REALLY love Cage being in charge.

    Definitely getting

  2. Luke Cage is one of my favorite characters. Glad he’s getting highlighted as a leader again.

  3. The Sabertooth thing amounted to him being forcibly recruited to help out during Phalanx Covenant. He was forced to wear a muzzle & safety gloves the entire time, and White Queen kept threatening to make him retarded if he stepped out of line.

    Hey, White Queen used to be a villain too, why not piss on ten years of character growth and have her try to kill the X-Men again.

  4. Man, the whole Baron Zemo thing makes me just incredibly sad. He had a great characterization in the Thunderbolts. He moved PAST Cap. Why go back to it?

  5. In Brubaker’s defense, Nicieza certainly hinted at a serious fucking heel turn at the end of Born Better.

  6. Umm, is it bad to say that I really don’t care. I never read Thunderbolts but love Brubaker’s Cap series and enjoyed Zemo as an Avengers villain. So go Brubaker!

    New Thunderbolts looks good though.

  7. Born Better ended with Zemo accepting his father and a good chunk of his family were a bunch of psychopaths and deciding to strive against being one himself.

    And now we have Zemo back trying to get revenge for his father apparently.

    So…great to see Brubaker’s paying attention to continuity. Yeah.

    This T-Bolts line-up doesn’t really appeal to me at all. Diggle was setting the original T-Bolts back up for a reunion, but I guess that’s gotten kiboshed.

    Geez, just make Songbird an Avenger already. She’s earned it ten times over.

  8. I hate to correct you, but Luke wasn’t really a criminal. He was a convict, sure, but he didn’t do it. He didn’t have to redeem himself for anything. Rather, he had to clear his name. Egg foo yong Chinese, Mr. Smirak. Korean different!

  9. He wasn’t guilty of what he was convicted of, but before that he was still breaking the law on a regular basis.

  10. Correct me if I’m wrong but Juggs is bad again cause the gem makes him evil and addicted to power.

    It’d be kinda cool to see him overcome the influence of the gem and master it.

  11. Hasn’t Juggernaut been in control of the gem for years? He, Gomurr, and Tar basically killed Cytorrak during Onslaught, giving him his powers back after he’d been seperated from/trapped in the jewel. Although it also said that if he took the power back, he’d eventually get to the point where he was permanently roid-raging and kill everything on Earth. I stopped reading the X-books around when he came on (the fish kid annoyed the hell out of me), but I did like where they were going with him. Too bad.

    Sabretooth was also on the restraining-collar leash as a member of X-Factor for a year or two, then did exactly what he did escaping the X-mansion: Sucked it up, worked through the pain, ripped the collar off and gutted most of the team.

    The line-up sounds good, but considering that Crossbones helped “kill” Cap and Moonstone is clearly seen helping beat Thor senseless, how are these people getting vetted for this team? Although if Steve is the new head of HAMMER/SHIELD/whatever, he could appoint Cage to the team with free reign over membership, I guess.

  12. @Lou: I don’t know the backstory of it all.

    Basically in WWH when he went after Xavier, Cain wanted to fight but he no longer used the gem, and had to give into it and become Juggs again.

    Afterwards he’s just been a bad guy and says he has to continue being wicked or lose the power. So like I said, it’d be neat if he were to find a way to be good and keep the power

  13. Other than the WWH tie-in, they’ve never made any mention that Juggernaut needs to be evil to stay powerful. They’ve just decided to keep him evil because.

    Actually, here’s the timeline:

    – There’s a non-Claremont arc in New Excalibur that involves Juggernaut losing his powers and going to find Cyttorak. We discover that Xavier was meant to be Juggernaut and that part of Cain’s original initiation process was to kill the previous Juggernaut and kill an entire village (which the previous Juggernaut refused to do). The other members of the team tell Juggernaut that he doesn’t need the Gem to be awesome, but he secretly steals it anyway in the end.

    – World War Hulk happens. Juggernaut’s barely the man he used to be now, so Hulk kicks his ass. Cyttorak tells him that he’s never cared about Xavier, so why is he trying to save him? It’s more about being the strongest. Cain gives in to the power and becomes Hulk-level again. Afterwards, he tells Xavier that he’s leaving and needs to figure some stuff out on his own. He doesn’t want to be followed.

    – Meanwhile in New Excalibur, Claremont didn’t realize that that ending had taken place, so he writes Juggernaut as simply leaving the team at one point because he has stuff to do.

    – There’s a short story in one of the Manifest Destiny comics where Juggernaut hangs out at a bar/restaurant and has the people there debate with him on whether he should be a hero or a villain. Some cops show up and fire at Juggernaut, so he promptly smashes up their cars and leaves.

    – An issue of X-Men Legacy has him in almost the exact same setting. He’s taken an entire bar hostage and has Xavier come to see him. Juggernaut spends the issue telling him that all the hero stuff was out of weakness. In truth, nobody tells Juggernaut what to do. He proceeds to kill Xavier and years later discovers that this is all in his head. Xavier shows that he is able to get into Juggernaut’s head any time Juggernaut goes to sleep, since it means he has to take his helmet off.

    – Juggernaut is now living in a trailer and just robbed a bank. Banner blows up the trailer and the money so that Juggernaut could get his ass handed to him by Skaar as a training session. Juggernaut ends up being shot into the stratosphere.

  14. I like Luke Cage as leader because he brings a Purity to the team that Osborn or Zemo really couldn’t. Up to this point the Thunderbolts was Criminals leading Criminals, so seeing an actual hero in charge kind of renews my faith in the title.

    I’d rather see Howard the Duck in there instead of Man-Thing, but only because that would be the most entertaining book of the year. (And 3 strongmen is more than enough for one team)

  15. @Gavok: Cool story bro. Definitely cleared some stuff up.

    So I take it HAMMER/SHIELD/whatever easily arrests him when he crashes back down to Earth.

  16. Cyttorak isn’t dead. If Cyttorak was dead, it’s pretty likely that the gem would have sucked his killer into the gem as a replacement (shades of Dr. Strange becoming Shuma Gorath when he killed the tentacled freak back in the 70’s.)

  17. @Jordan: Hawkeye was a villain when he lead the team then?

  18. The problem with Juggernauts whole redemption storyline was that it was badly out of character. If you want to read a good story regarding a depowered Juggernaut working with a team of mutants and dealing with his past, check out his (very) old run in the Ultraverse with the original Exiles. That was a very good, well written story.

    Chuck Austens story was crap. He didn’t develope Juggernauts character, he just needed a big, bumbling brute and decided to use Juggy instead of coming up with something original.