The Selfish Avengers: Thunderbolts Finally Gets on Track

August 23rd, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

First off, it pains me to say that after forty-plus issues, Venom is cancelled. I’m bummed, not just for the obvious, but because I wanted to see if it could have outlasted the 90’s solo series, which went a full 60 issues. I can’t say I’m too surprised. The whole demon subplot (which is still a dangling thread) really hurt the momentum and the symbiote’s been tossed to the sidelines as a character, always being drugged up and being a mental non-factor. It’s a weapon rather than being a creature.

They did just give him a teenage girl sidekick and that had potential. Ah well. Chances are he’s going to be killed in the big upcoming Spider-Man crossover when Doc Ock Spider-Man goes too far or something. You know, regular Spider-Man never did blow a gasket over Venom being a government agent and member of the Avengers. You’d think he would have had a passionate opinion about that, but all he ever did was make a joke about the Punisher and tell Venom to please not kill Carnage.

Whether Venom’s set to die or not, he currently has another series to call home in Thunderbolts. Recently, Thunderbolts was pretty bad, mainly because it was written by Daniel Way, who wrote 11 issues of… I’m not really sure. It was a bunch of twists and turns and I found myself not caring for a lot of it. Frank Castle strapping a landmine to his chest and jumping onto a guy was pretty sweet, though. That and it gave me one of my favorite Deadpool quotes with, “You may kill me first, but I fucking guarantee I’ll kill you last.”

Charles Soule took over as of issue #12 and already it’s felt like a breath of fresh air. #12 was a Punisher-centric story that turned his “banging on the side” relationship with Elektra into something more dramatic as she’s given him reason to kill her down the line. Then #13 was kind of average because it was an attempt to clean up Way’s mess by explaining who the hell Mercy is and why she’s on the team when she’s yet to do anything of note or interact with anyone other than Red Leader. For any of you who haven’t been paying attention, Leader has been resurrected and he’s red. He’s currently the intelligence of the team, although he’s given limited intellect to work with to keep him from remembering who he was. Right now he’s just a timid follower of General Ross, retaining his personality from before he became an insane supervillain.

The big problem with the series has been that it hasn’t delivered a hook. Sure, I get that it’s taken the Thunderbolts name because of General Ross’ nickname and how they’re a bunch of dark heroes with blood on their hands, but why are they together? The first issue had Ross recruit everyone and it gave the idea that they were going to be a non-mutant version of X-Force. Even though it took fourteen issues, this week’s issue FINALLY gives us an idea of what the series is really all about.

And it’s a pretty awesome idea.

Right there! Why couldn’t they make this clear from the very first issue? Hell, the second issue or even sixth? Why did we have to wait that long to get this great hook for a series about a group of heroic killers working together? I mean, you’re the fucking Thunderbolts! You know what the original Thunderbolts were known for? Telling us why we should be reading it from the end of the first issue! Imagine if Citizen V unmasked in the middle of the 14th issue.

“The Selfish Avengers.” All members of the team (outside of Red Leader and Mercy) get a chance to lead the team into a mission of their choosing. If Deadpool wants them to kill Sabretooth, they will all go off together to kill Sabretooth, go back home and ask Elektra who she wants iced. It kind of has a low-rent Illuminati feel to it.

So far the first choice has gone to Castle, leading to this exchange.

I hate it when comics get so obsessed with decompression that by the time they get to the point, people have stopped reading and it dies. That’s what happened with Chaykin’s Squadron Supreme and I have a feeling it’s going to happen here. I don’t have too much experience reading Soule’s stuff, but so far he’s turned Red Lanterns around and he’s been doing good work on Swamp Thing.

All that I’m saying is to give Thunderbolts a chance. Which is really the opposite of giving peace of a chance.

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11 comments to “The Selfish Avengers: Thunderbolts Finally Gets on Track”

  1. Alright. I initially wouldn’t touch the book with both Way and Steve Dillon’s names on it. But I suppose it is safe to try now.

    Shame about Venom, but I’ve found the book to be incredibly dull since Bunn took over. Even the returns of Toxin and Jack O’Lantern were really…pedestrian, I guess.

    I guess this bodes ill for Scarlet Spider. That rots.

  2. Aww, Venom! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I stopped reading it few months ago (about when Toxin popped up) and I can’t imagine I was alone.

    But I liked the hook. And the demon subplot was probably my favorite part, and I wish we coulda stuck with that idea more and done less meandering around to other subplots. (It’s not a coincidence I stopped reading when Toxin showed up.)

    Hum. How long, now, until Venom gets a revert to the old status quo?

  3. Jack O’Lantern had already finished his story on the best note possible (“who’s this loser again?”) and I can’t believe someone thought it would be great to bring him back essentially unchanged except with an extra gripe. And motto, motto, motto-and-goddamned-theme-song on the symbiote being stuck as a tool, not a character. Throwing in the demon thing was just the icing on the disrespect cake: “Oh no, now Flash is possessed by an entity with goals of its own! THIS IS ENTIRELY NEW TO HIM!”
    Also every single most sensible bit of dialogue in this whole post is said by Deadpool.

  4. When the pitch it like that, I might be willing to give the book a try.

    Plus, I want to find out what the deal is with Deadpool’s hat he’s wearing there.

  5. Been grabbing this for a ‘pool-loving friend who has no shop nearby, and so I’ve suffered through the Way in the process, but no more! That panel made me sit up and take notice, I’m actively interested in where Soule’s going with the book now.

    Well, that panel and Deadpool’s amazing hat.

  6. “The selfish avengers: Red is the new Orange”

  7. Venom is cancelled. I’m bummed, not just for the obvious, but because I wanted to see if it could have outlasted the 90′s solo series, which went a full 60 issues. I can’t say I’m too surprised. The whole demon subplot (which is still a dangling thread) really hurt the momentum

    Wait, doesn’t that momentum-breaking moment ever-so-mysteriously align with the exact point that Bunn took over writing from Remender?

  8. @Dorey Mifaso: Not exactly. First, the demon possessing storyline was based off of something Remender introduced. Second, the two co-wrote an arc together to do the Savage Six arc.

    It wasn’t so much using the demon concept, but keeping it. If it ended at the end of the Hellstrom storyline, it would have been fine, but now it’s just a lingering subplot that doesn’t add anything.

  9. “turned Red Lanterns around” – are you trying to imply that RED LANTERNS wasn’t already the best book being published by Marvel or DC?

    Also, while I generally agree that this issue was a vast improvement over what came before, I will say that I was a bit disappointed in the fact that the team had to learn that the Avengers were off-planet via a news report on an iPad. Both Venom and Red Hulk should still be Avengers in good standing, so they’d probably know what was happening just from checking their communicard. But I know I’m probably in the minority in being bugged by that kind of thing.

  10. @Tim O’Neil: Yes. And it still isn’t.

  11. @Space Jawa: I thought that Deadpool’s hat was from his individual series and it could be the Deadpimp hat.

    Just the last issue has been a breath of fresh air for the current series. I love all of the previous Thunderbolts stories and I was so excited for this line up. If Marvel was ever going to make a bad guys-ish kind of movie this would be the line up I want to see.