Tag Archives: Thunderbolts

Thunderbolts #32 (2014) – The Review and… What Happened?

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Thunderbolts #32 (Final Issue) and a look back at the series.
W: Acker and Blacker
A: Jacinto

In 2008 things were going well for the Hulk.  He had just come off of one of the most well received and highly publicized runs in recent history that led to one of the more highly anticipated event (but ultimately disappointing) event comics of the past decade.  With Hercules taking over his title and the ending of World War Hulk leaving the fate of the Hulk uncertain it was a cliffhanger that every fanboy was taking about.  What came next was hyped around the web like nothing I had seen before regarding the Hulk – there was a new Hulk in town!  And he was RED!  The buzz surrounding this book was huge – and the sales didn’t disappoint as it sold through the roof!  Even as long time Hulk fans and comic reviewers alike questioned the book’s substance the sales stayed steady (with help mainly from multiple covers to every issue) and people all over talked about how they loved the Red Hulk!

A good portion of fans of the real Hulk didn’t share the same sentiments – and it seemed that quite a few “die-hard” Red Hulk fans didn’t even read the actual book – it didn’t stop the Red Hulk from traversing all over the Marvel U.  He was working with the Avengers, he even replaced the real Hulk in the event comics of the year (which I guess I should be thankful for) and his book sales seemingly couldn’t be stopped.  Until they were…

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By issue #24, when they stopped teasing about revealing his identity and finally showed us who he was, the readership had plummeted.  No one cared anymore.  The message boards were filled with reactions like “That’s still going on?” and “Is anyone really surprised?”  It seemed as though the days of the Red Hulk’s soaring popularity were over.  Loeb left the book – along with the real star of the book, McGuinness – and a new writer was brought on to keep his exploits going.  Jeff Parker was suddenly writing the Hulk and you know what?  It was good.  I mean, really, really good!  He made one of the most one-dimensional, least thought out, stylized characters of the Marvel U actually a joy to read!  You wouldn’t know that by the sales though – they continued to dwindle.  It always amazes me that people complain about the state of comics but don’t bother checking out titles that people rave over – unless they rebooted the book and they can get in on the ground floor at #1.  Jeff Parker’s Red Hulk was great.  But alas, the Red She-Hulk took over the title – a character I had absolutely NO interest in – and the book died a slow, quiet death.

But that was not all for the ill-christened “Rulk”, no, straight from the pages of the Red Hulk came a team that no one asked for!  A team brought together for no other real reason than they all matched.  Yeah – it’s important for a team not to clash when they are fighting crime!  But you know what?  It wasn’t terrible.  Sure, people complained about the art style of Dillon being a little too bland for their tastes – they are entitled to their opinion of course, but I disagreed.  I enjoy his style.  People didn’t see too excited over the stories – but they didn’t complain about them either.  To me, Thunderbolts should have been every real Hulk fan’s wet dream!  Way brought back classic Hulk villains like Mercy and Madman – at the same time as dragging his now dullard brother Sam Sterns.  Sure, I would have enjoyed seeing the Leader stay his true emerald color – but remember what I said about this whole team having to match and all…

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The stories were good.  Fun!  They had some witty dialogue, they even made Deadpool, a character I loathe, an enjoyable part of the book!  This was a testament to Way and what he was bringing to the table with the new “non-team” of Marvel.  That title was always used for the Defenders – a group of heroes who were, far and away, loners – but worked together in times of crisis to bring down some big bads.  This term could certainly apply to the Thunderbolts – while not all of them thought of as heroes – they were a group of loners who came together to take on the cases no one else could and try to do some good.

The book really hit its stride though at issue #12 when Soule took over the writing duties!  He started to explore each of the teammates trust in others.  Showing just where their weaknesses are in becoming a cohesive, cooperative team.  Even better was Red decided to let every member choose to do the next mission – whatever they thought needed to be done the team would work to fixing it.  Things didn’t even slow down with having to tie into the event of the year Infinity.  Tying into an event can be disastrous for the flow of a story – but Soule handles things perfectly for this cast of misfits.  So well that you worry where they could possibly go next.  Well, sure enough the questioned is answered with the Ghost Rider coming into the fray to take down Mercy, who had inadvertently joined the team.  Even then, the team wasn’t all flowers and ass-kicking – Venom suddenly decided to test the other members to see who could destroy him.  All this time the Red Leader was both a help and a secret plotter on how to take every last member down.  Week after week it was exciting, hilarious and action-packed!  The Soule decided it was time to leave the title.  Things went downhill fast.

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His last outing with the crimson group had them trekking through the jungle going after a powerful force that was too much for anyone to handle.  The entire arc started off a little wonky and only disintegrated from there with the Leader using the locals as a way to off the team – of course that didn’t work – and the Red Hulk being too secretive and sketchy about his past with the power they were seeking… it all seemed too rushed and certainly wasn’t the best swan song to put out after an enjoyable year or so of great stories.  That said, new writers, Ben Acker and Blacker took over with a volatile group ready to destroy each other.  Basically that’s what happened too.  The Punisher wanted out – Red Hulk chose to let him leave the only way he saw fit – by trying to kill him – and it was all out war from there.

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They say it was the Punisher vs Thunderbolts when in fact it was actually Sterns vs the rest of the team.  The Red Leader finally put his re-acquired big brain to work in taking out the rest of the team with the Punisher as a distraction.  The final issue shows us the Leader’s hard work has paid off.  His deal with Mephisto has granted him everything he could ask for – including a front row seat to his brother’s unending torture in hell.  There is one thing Sterns can’t seem to figure out though… matters of the heart.  His lust blinds him to the fact that there is a traitor in his midst – and when the Thunderbolts come to collect – he is taken down by the one person he had been trying to impress.

Sort of fitting end to Sterns – who is taken to hell and I’m sure that’s not the last we’ll see of him (who knows, maybe he’ll come back his proper color too!).  The book, in its hey-day, was one of the first I ripped into reading it with anticipation for what was to come.  It ended with a thud – and it was Soule leaving that put the nail in the coffin, I think.  Sure the book was never a big seller – but it was decent enough.  If you were one of the ones who never picked up an issue, go out and take a look at this series… at least 1-23.  Those who gave up on this book too early – it’s a shame – take another gander at the issues you missed.  It’s so worth it!  As for the later issues – they aren’t bad – they have their merits worth reading with an inkling of opportunities to grab its height of greatness back.  Acker and Blacker did their best, I’m sure, but Soule was able to write Deadpool without making him a ridiculous, annoying twat – which is not easy to do – but he also made the other characters brooding and funny while at the same time a team you wanted to root for.  Grade for final issue: C Grade for the series: B-

Catching Up With…

So… by tomorrow I obviously meant in a few days.  It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed, well, pretty much anything – so this might be a bit long (that’s what she said) buckle up and enjoy the ride here, folks!  There is a lot of ground to cover!  Let’s begin with:

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Hulk #4

W: Mark Waid
A: Mark Bagley

What can I say that hasn’t already been said (by me) with this swan song from the ultimately cut short Hulk saga from the ultra-talented Mark Waid?  Well, he left us with quite the doozy – extremis not only saves Bruce Banner but also gives us a mysterious future with Banner being maybe even more brilliant than before – who knows?  I liked the last issue – the Abomination returning (even a clone) is still a great thing to me – I just wish since the recently launched Savage Hulk also has the Green Goliath battling the age-old foe that we could have had a different baddie.  It almost seemed redundant reading the Savage Hulk.  Over all, I will miss Waid and will forever be bummed we didn’t get to see his ultimate vision come to fruition.  Grade: A-

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Thunderbolts

W: Soule, and then the Bens
A: Diaz Luque and then Barberi

What can I say abou… wait, that’s how I started out the last issue review – nevermind.  I have enjoyed the Thunderbolts and thought it hit its real stride with the Infinity tie-ins.  Bringing back Madman and the Leader (even though he was turned red – big mistake in my opinion) was fun to start things out but when Red turned the deciding missions over to the rest of the group that’s when the real fun began!  Watching these personalities clash with each other and how they never seemed to agree but still made winning a possibility was entertaining as heck.  Too bad it didn’t last.  Soule’s final issues seemed rushed and sloppy.  What began as a haunted ride down a murky swamp in search of a mystical treasure quickly turned into a “Crystal Skull” type ending.  Unsatisfactory and unfair.  Unfair to all the readers who were following this unconventional team of super-mercenaries with questionable morals and even more questionable methods.  This book made me even tolerate Deadpool – which says a lot!  The art was even getting better with each issue!  Overall, I think dwindling sales turned this series on its belly and it will end its run at issue #32.

So far the Punisher vs Thunderbolts story line has delivered some great moments but nothing worth real mention – the magic seems to have been dropped from the book – and they are even recycling earlier events back into the fray.  The Punisher shot the Leader… again.  Haven’t we been here before?  I liked when the Leader allowed Red to berate him all the while plotting to take the entire team down – but even that has become tiresome since nothing ever comes of it.  Soule had a real knack for making these characters interesting – but we’re seeing more clichés of these characters rather than the hilarious “Odd Couple” scenarios that made the earlier issues so much better.  Grade: C-

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Original Sin:

W: Aaron
A: Deodato

Everyone said to read other Aaron works – to just turn a blind eye to his ill-suited Hulk run and read his other stories – and I did.  I read his Wolverine Omnibus – fantastic, I read some of his Punisher – great stuff.  This Marvel event, though, takes the cake. It’s fast paced, exciting and the best part – thus far it actually makes sense.  Every issue delivers a great “What the-?” moment that makes you want to pick up the next issue!  Not to mention, I have not picked up every variant, only the Hulk ones and the “Eye” variants, but there are two sets that actually look really decent together!  The Art Adam’s variants combine to create a huge mural type scene and the “Eye” variants look amazing displayed together!

Grade so far: A-

This mini may fizzle in the end – but with two issues left and the story still going strong – I have high hopes for a “blow me away” kind of ending.  I can’t even tell you how refreshing it is to read an event comic that isn’t making me roll my eyes.  It’s been a while – I loved AvX but even that one had its moments that didn’t keep my attention.  Age of Ultron was a disaster from the get-go – and I didn’t mind Infinity but it really crapped the bed with the “homage” ending.  Even World War Hulk, coming off of one of the greatest Hulk stories of recent memory, was a bit of a let down.  We all knew the ending before it even began.  Original Sin, on the other hand, has even served up a pretty thrilling tie-in series with:

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Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man

Let me begin with the idea that I never usually enjoy the idea of going back to origin and changing status quo.  Hell, it usually opens a can of continuity worms that the writers explain by saying “It’s just a fun story – don’t worry about the history” and that never sits well with people.  When this series was announced I was immediately thrown back to the Hulk: Gray moment when Iron Man showed up when everyone knows the first time the two powerhouses met was Avengers #1.  Of course, Loeb has never been one for continuity – it takes a more skilled writer to care about such things (let’s face it, he’s no Jeff Parker) – but I was worried that this was just another Marvel moment.  You know, just write a story and see if people have a god memory or not.

With all of that in mind this new (awkwardly numbered) mini-series promises to serve up an interesting take on what went down that fateful day the green Goliath was created.  So far all we know is that Stark was acting like his pompous self and, thinking he knew best, let his clouded judgement take president over what Banner’s ultimate vision was for the gamma-bomb.  Stark knew how to make it into a more destructive weapon which is exactly what Ross always wanted.  This series still hasn’t let the car out of the bag just yet of what Stark actually did – but it is shaping up nicely.  Grade: B+

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Savage Hulk

W: Alan Davis
A: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer

For all the people who have griping that Waid didn’t bring back the classic Hulk stories that they thought he would – I give you – Alan Davis.  There is only one Hulk guest-spot issue that I had a terrible time finding.  eBay not withstanding, I’ve only seen this issue once – The Uncanny X-Men #66 – and it’s the one in my collection.  With Xaiver is real trouble he needs Banner to help him heal.  The X-Men go to retrieve Banner but have to deal with the Hulk first.  It’s a fun issue with Banner coming out victorious in saving the Professor.

Davis brings us back to that point of time and we re-examine the super-hero battle and it is truly a blast from the past.  The classic Hulk that graced the comics (and television to a lesser extent) is back in full form here.  For everyone hoping for that 80’s child-like Hulk back in action – it’s finally here!  The follow up issue gives us a wild gamma-romp with the real Abomination tearing up the desert in a classic tussle with our favorite Jade Jaws!  This is an entertaining series so far – let’s hope they can keep this train chugging along at a great speed!  Hell, they ended the second issue with the Leader in his original color!  What a refreshing sight!  If only current times were the same!  Grade: B+

I’ve also been asked what my opinion is on the recent news that Thor is being turned into a woman.  Well, it turns out that he isn’t.  Thor isn’t worthy of Mjolnir anymore – and this new chick is.  Thor now battles with an axe.  If you’re wondering what I think about that – well, I haven’t read it.  In fact, no one has – because it’s not out yet – and I remember not too long ago that people were freaking out because Doc Ock was going to inhabit Peter Parker’s body – and look how all of that turned out.  So, let’s be patient – it may turn out kind of cool.  If not, no worries, these are comics – nothing lasts for ever.

Catching Up With… Thunderbolts!

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Thunderbolts #20-22
W: Charles Soule
A: Carlo Baberi & Israel Silva

My overwhelming “to read” pile was tackled last night – I caught up with Indestructible Hulk and Thunderbolts.  I will review the Indestructible Hulk when they finish this Inhumanity story line – but for now – I have time to review the Thunderbolts for you!  If you follow my blog then you know I have been enjoying this series – it’s not amazingly well written – but it’s a fun, enjoyable ride.  It’s most outstanding feat is that it is able to make some of the worst Marvel creations, like Red Hulk and Deadpool, and some of the more bland characters, like Flash Thompson Venom, and make them not just tolerable but actually entertaining!  I started reading this book for the lost Hulk rouges gallery that has been popping up in this series, ie; Madman, Leader and Mercy – and continued to read it because it readily amused me.  The most admirable thing about this team is that is seemed like an organic creation stemming from the terrible “Code Red” arc from when Red had his own title.  I say this mainly because we’re in a day and age when it seems Marvel isn’t interested in telling compelling stories that actually follow any kind of continuity and they seem to feel the only numbered milestone for any of their books to reach is #1 as they continue to reboot and renumber.

This writers who tackle this series seem to know how to make Thunderbolts work – even if it’s not a chart topper – it is a fun read.  I think this sort of allows for them to just dip back into Marvel history and pull some classic villains out who can whale on the members of this “non-team”.  These characters grouping together remind me very much of classic Defenders stuff – where the members not only don’t like each other – they don’t care to keep working together past their agreed upon promise to do one thing for each member.  I’ve also been impressed with the seamless integration into the forced Marvel events that have littered the stands.  The Infinity side story was well done and didn’t feeling like a waste of time.  It pushed the story forward as well as dealt with the major event happening in the MU.  So, while I have been voraciously reading each issue I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of Ghost Rider coming riding into the fray.

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I like Ghost Rider, don’t get me wrong, but each of these character’s personalities bounce of each other so well thus far, to add in a new character could be disastrous.  Like, Chrissy being added to Growing Pains disastrous.  We start off catching up with Johnny Blaze trying to pick up the pieces of his life after his failed movie career by doing Evil Knievel type stunts.  Of course, he isn’t successful so why not go with Red Hulk and his crimson cronies to do some sketchy voodoo to rid the Earth of Mercy.  As things always do though – the plan does not go off without a hitch and it lands everyone – sans Punisher and Elektra – into Hell.  They run into Mephisto who, since being booted off the throne of Hell, is not as intimidating.  Enlisting the help of the Thunderbolts (with Leader drawing up the particulars) he asks that they boot the current resident out of the chair so that he may once again reside as the #1 in Hell.  Turns out though – the guy on the throne is Strong Man.  Yeah… THAT Strong Man.

Here is where I was thrown for a but of a loop in this series – with how much the writers have been faithful to bringing back the Hulk foes of yesteryear I was sure they were gearing up for a re-match with Ross and the Abomination.  I was truly disappointed that Guido was the man on the throne and not Emil.  This was a wasted opportunity to have the creature responsible for the death of Ross’ daughter confront his killer on a bigger, massive scale.  We all know Blonsky is in Hell – thanks to Pak’s Incredible Hulk #618 (tie in with the Chaos War) – so it would have made the most sense to have him there.  But not a word.  This was the biggest misstep I think this series has taken.  Otherwise it’s been a blast.

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I won’t say much more – the finale of this arc is a bit predictable but still worth the read – and when Ghost Rider decides to stay and join the group, and to fit in turn his flaming head red, I did laugh out loud.  Overall, if you’re still not reading this series that’s a darn shame – because you’re missing out on the Red Hulk actually utilized in a decent way.

As it is, I have to accept that the Leader will continue to be red – but one of the major issues with the Red Hulk in general is that he was not fleshed out as a character before he hit the printed page and ignored the basic rule that has been standing since the Hulk’s inception – which is that the Hulk was an anomaly – one that hadn’t been able to be reproduced… ever!  All of a sudden Sterns figured it out and turned EVERYONE into a Hulk – but we were told in the earliest stages (with the creation of the Leader, mind you) that gamma rays affect everyone differently.  Let’s even say that the Leader did unlock the key to making a Hulk – and realized how to make a more powerful Hulk by combining the power cosmic with the gamma rays – so why didn’t Sterns get those powers?  I am talking the unexplained “absorbing” power and more that Red showed off in the beginning – but has seemed to lose for no reason – since.  These are the things I have to over look, major plot holes from the beginning that were never explained, insulting additions contributed by Loeb that were never really corrected, while reading this series.  And I am able to because it’s so good.

Grade: B+

Catching Up Thursdays – and Happy New Year!

Wow – the beginning of a new year!  Let’s catch up with a few new issues – annuals of my favorite comics to be exact:

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Indestructible Hulk Annual #1 (2013)

W: Jeff Parker
I: Mahmud Asar

Parker has a real knack for writing interesting and fun stories that intertwine perfectly with continuity.  History is as important to the fan boy as costume preciseness and power accuracy – a fact that some new writers (and even a few veterans) miss out on.  That being said, I am still not sure where to place The Indestructible Hulk.  I mean, I know he has the where with all of decimating city blocks and destroying small towns as the Hulk – fighting heroes over the year – being shot into space, etc.  But which parts of history should remain – and what is being asked to be forgotten?  Here we have Stark and Banner tracking down an old Professor named Zadian who has an entire island that he has turned into a living, breathing weapon.  Everything is susceptible to destroying anything that he views as his enemy – including his former students – everything including the sand on the beach and the air that they breathe.  Watching Stark and Banner’s personalities bounce off each other, seeing them prodding each other over who has the superior intellect, is like watching old friends banter over long standing feuds about ex-girlfriends.

The only thing that bothers me, still to this day, is how Banner (and the Hulk, for that matter) don’t mention Stark’s part in the idea to shoot the Hulk into space.  We can all see that they had plenty of chances in the chattering amidst the two about “turning space travel into a weapon”.  Over all though, watching Banner and Stark facing a foe who can match, and sometimes defeat, their mental prowess was a real thrill.  Overall, Parker shows that he could be handling the Hulk’s monthlies without a problem.

Grade: A-

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Thunderbolts Annual #1

W: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
I: Matteo Lolli

Not sure why this didn’t hit me right away – I think I will chalk it up to the fact that I just don’t pay attention sometimes – but I found it pretty hilarious when I linked the fact that this new version of the Thunderbolts are called that because they are lead by… General “Thunderbolt” Ross.  Again, I know that I am probably really late to the party on this one but I still found it funny.  So, I wish this Annual was just as fun and entertaining as the regular series but I am sorry to report that this issue, which features the team collecting mystical items to battle a troll posing as Dr. Strange, falls pretty flat.  The only real joy was the somewhat predictable ending where Castle saves the day when he can’t be cheered up.  It’s still worth the read if you’re following the series – but don’t let this be your first exposure to the usually more entertaining team.

Grade: B-

Catching Up Thursdays…

Let’s catch up on some comic book reading!  I usually only read two comics a month – not because of anything other than the two comics I read are the only ones I am interested in.  So, What has been happening in:

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The Indestructible Hulk Issues #11-15 – Agents of T.I.M.E.

W: Mark Waid
I: Matteo Scalera, Kim Jacinto, Mahmud Asrar,

Wolverine destroyed the timeline in Age of Ultron.  He didn’t just destroy it – he decimated it – and now the heroes are feeling the effects.  Bruce Banner, who is now working for S.H.E.I.L.D., is frustrated with the unfortunate timing of his newest discoveries – things that will help humanity – except he is a bit too late.  Every time!  Stark, Reed and the other intellectual heavyweights keep beating Banner to the punch.  But with the threat of the timestream destroying the universe, and chronarchists using the broken time as their playground, it’s up to Hulk and robot Banner to save the day.  Hulk has to stay furious, though, because traveling through the timestream will rip his fragile alter ego’s fleshy covering apart.  Waid’s handling of this story line is at times hilarious, confusing and exciting – but always a fun read!  Watching the Hulk travel to mid-evil times, chasing the baddies Khotto and Zarko, trying to stop their meandering ways is wonderful.  Hulk battling Abomination on the moon and fighting Fin Fang Foom on the high seas are pretty enthralling – and then back to the beginning… the Hulk’s beginning that is.

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This time jump leaves the Hulk rescuing past Banner as he rescues Rick Jones.  The Hulk takes the brunt of the gamma bomb (again) and is turned into uberHulk… which is a just as silly as it sounds.  I thought it would be fantastic to see Maestro at ground zero again, like we did at the end of the Future Imperfect, but we can’t have everything we want.  Zarrko and Khotto’s motives aren’t exactly clear and the story does get wordy toward the end with Banner trying to explain it all – but still, Waid’s handling of the Hulk thus far has been a fun ride.  I am happy that this particular storyline is over though as it was getting a bit long in the tooth – of course – we have now moved the Hulk’s story into the latest Marvel event “Inhumanity”.  I am not sure if this is part of Waid’s plan or if it is being forced upon him by the higher ups at Marvel to have the Hulk title intertwined in the events – but here’s to hoping this next arc really wraps up better than this one did.

Grade *** out of 5

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Thunderbolts Issues #14-18

W: Charles Soule
I: Jefte Palo, Terry Pallot

I have followed the Red Hulk from his inception.  Every article leading up to the premier of his own title (Even though Marvel really dropped the ball when coming up with a name for this character. Something a little more original would have been better) I read – and bought the title, even under protest upon learning that Loeb was writing this character into the gutter of the Marvel Universe.  As the inconsistencies and continuity issues continued to rise the sales (and people’s interest) began to falter.  By the time the Red Hulk’s identity had been revealed no one cared anymore.  His titled was turned over to his as equally crimson daughter and Red moved to this group title, now sharing the spotlight with The Punisher, Flash Thompson’s Venom, Elektra and Deadpool.  While I can’t stand Deadpool as a character I do like this book.  The art can be hit or miss (IMO mostly miss) but the stories have been worth the ride.

They continue to bring back forgotten Hulk villains, the first was Madman – and lest we forget that a ruby reincarnation of his brother, the Leader, is along for the ride – they also have Mercy, who was released inadvertently by Ross and now keeps her close until he figures out a way to destroy her.  While the original arc began with the “team”  doing Ross’ bidding on a secret mission it is now the other members turns to choose the mission.  Up first is Punisher – who has a simple request – kill the mob family that all the other scum on the streets answer to.  The thing is, with Infinity happening, an alien invasion is occurring just at that moment, making completing Castle’s request a bit more complicated.

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The thing that makes this comic so enjoyable, for me anyways, is that the group never seems to stay together and each member, even if they are working with other teammates, have their own adventures to follow.  This is an unexpected, consistent good read month after month.  I say to pick it up!

Grade: **** out of 5

Catching Up With… Friday!

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Something inside me said to read the Thunderbolts.  The new line-up was not that enticing, so it wasn’t that.  I mean, I have never felt a NEED to read the Red Hulk, Elektra was cool back in the day but I never stayed current with her character, Venom was an amazing villain and heard things here and there but never read up on him either.  Deadpool is just an annoying twat of a character, created by one of the biggest douches in comics history, and I never wanted to read him.  In fact, truth be told, the only character I ever had any interest in was the Punisher.  I hadn’t read an issue from any of his series in years though… So it wasn’t like he was the reason I started to pick it up.  I honestly have no clue why I decided to read this new series (Thunderbolts #3 – W: Way, I: Dillion – $2.99), but, man am I glad I did!

Even when I saw the teaser for issue #3 featuring a “Red Leader” (I can’t be the only one who is sick of Marvel beating this whole “crimson gamma powered creatures” thing to death) I wasn’t overly excited.  It would be interesting to see what they have in store for the Leader since he last tried to take over the world.  Amazingly, and I can only assume it’s because Loeb isn’t writing it, they kept within continuity.  Samuel Sterns was left, drained of his intellect, which was his only superpower to begin with.  Red is looking to revive him, though, not completely.  He needs information – but he isn’t looking too have an evil genius running around.  He just needs information about his brother.

Elektra might be wondering how Madman got bigger boobs than her...

Elektra might be wondering how Madman got bigger boobs than her…

You heard right!  It has been over 20 years that I can recall reading about Madman – it was 1993 if I recall right – and I don’t think we’ve heard from him since, although I will admit I may not be completely correct on that one, and that was 21 years ago!  I always thought PD should have used Madman more – he is one of the most underused, best Hulk villains of all time!  Thank you, Way for focusing on him rather than the gimmicky Red Leader direction!  Pak should have brought this guy back in heart of the monster – never mind with Bi-Beast!  That’s coming from a guy who LOVES Bi-Beast!  Anyways, the last shot of this issue is pretty hilarious and I would say it’s time to start picking up this series!  Grade: B+

“Catching Up With” Wednesday!

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Part of my new design – the reviews will now be called “Catching Up With” – They may not always fall on Wednesdays – but it will be a few different series as I have picked up and dropped a few different titles.  For example, I dropped the Red Hulk series when it became Red She Hulk, and this has nothing to do with the writer, Parker is still one of the better writers writing funny books these days, I just have no interest in reading about that character.  Hulk has joined the Avengers – so of course that is now on my pull list – and I have even given the new Thunderbolts series a chance.  The Red Hulk has joined that team (I think it’s hilarious that Thunderbolt Ross now leads the Thunderbolts) and the line up looks interesting enough for me to check it out – even if Deadpool, who is still considered the worst character ever created, in my opinion, is on the team.  But let’s “Catch up”!

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First Up is the second installment of the Waid’s Indestructible Hulk.  Stan Lee once said that when Marvel had heroes fight each other the writers intentionally had the battles interrupted or had the heroes dead locked so that there was no clear winner.  That way fan boys would be able to argue over who actually won the fight and be clamoring for another match up, this time with a clear winner.  Of course, in the early days, they never got their wish.  But now, with comic readers being older, and writers aiming the story lines toward an aging demographic, they give us a bit more concrete and literal winners and losers.

That being said, Indestructible Hulk #2 (W: Waid, I: Yu, $3.99) has an old timey feel of two battling heroes.  While Hulk is obviously more powerful, Iron Man has enough gadgets and tricks up his sleeve to make the fight more than a mere beat down.  This time around, the Hulk takes Stark to a desolate mountain top to work out his anger issues from everything in the past.  For which infraction we are not too sure but take your pick… (I still say Stark never accurately paid for shooting Hulk into space).  There are some great moments in this issue and some  funny ones too.  I have liked Waid’s writing in the past and this series still has me on board for more, unlike, if you can recall, Aaron’s try which lost me at issue #2.  Grade: B+

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I will admit I have not read the Avengers in a while.  I haven’t really has a desire to – but with this new creative team (and the Hulk on the roster) I have now picked up the series.  So far I am pleasantly surprised with what is going on in Avengers # 1 & 2 (W: Hickman, I: Opena, $3.99).  I am even more surprised that I don’t hate the obvious “new” line-up inspired by the very successful movie.  Hulk is used as the heavyweight pawn pretty early on – a trick that has been used many times over but still works well here as he is used to take Thor out (TAKE THAT THOR FANS!)  The big baddie, Ex Nihilo, is scary enough to not know what will happen as he calmly plays with the super teams attempts to disrupt his plans of evolution.  The first two issues have dealt with Cap and Iron Man collecting a bigger team of heroes together – a emergency team – of heroes in case anything dire is facing the planet.  Lucky for them – the Earth is in trouble… AGAIN! Grade: B+

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Now onto a team book I thought I would drop immediately but have found myself intrigued to continue buying past the initial outing.  I didn’t feel that the first issue of Thunderbolts #1 & 2 (W: Way, I: Dillon, #2.99) was a flat out fantastic, stellar, jaw dropper of an issue but I did like seeing Ross recruiting some of the seedy “heroes” for a team together.  Going back to Loeb’s horrible “Code Red” story line from his abysmal Hulk series where the Red Hulk collected some pawns to take out Domino for seeing something people should have figures out from issue 2 but due to Loeb’s horrible mis-leading writing didn’t come out until issue #24.  This list included some of the heavy’s here like Elektra, Punisher and Deadpool – I guess they couldn’t get Thundra and the Crimson Dynamo to join so they replaced them with Venom (who I am not even sure who he is anymore but I am sure I will find out) – the first issue mostly focused on Ross talking the Punisher into joining… and by talking I mean threatening.

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The second issue takes the team on the mission of taking down a tyrant but shows more and more of the team dynamic.  Ross lets the whole crew know he is in charge – but does not want to be called sir – and that everything is volunteer, so they can leave whenever they want.  Venom is a team player displaying team colors but is volatile at best when confronted.  Deadpool (who may be the sole reason for me dropping this title) is still annoying and useless.  This title will hopefully pick up more steam soon – other wise you won’t be seeing it in the “Catching Up With” section in the future!  Grade: C

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