I really like this series. It's a fun book and one of my favorites that I look forward too every month. Ever since Ellis turned the status quo on its head by having a team of irredeemable sociopaths as heroes followed by Diggle's take which turned the team into Osborn's personal kill squad, Parker has taken the book more or less to its roots with a new status quo: Prisoners being offered a chance to join the Thunderbolts team and earn their freedom and possibly redemption by undertaking government sanctioned missions. A sort of work-release program for supervillains more or less.
Every issue so far has been quietly building up small threads (Fixer's disgruntlement at being relegated to support status, Luke Cage fighting the system to keep the ideals alive of what the Thunderbolts program should be, Ghost playing along but keeping his cards to himself, Moonstone trying to find a way to play an angle for herself, the former US Agent John Walker in his role as warden of the Raft and much more). Everything has been a slow burn yet the story arc's still manage to stay relatively self contained.
Now we get the next developments, the inclusion of Satanna, Satan's daughter, to the team as their magic expert, who is equally eager to work her magic on the team itself for better or worse in an amusing scene where she gets acquainted with every member in an extremely friendly manner...even Moonstone who was on the receiving end in a rare instances.
Unfortunately we don't have much time to digest this though as we're immediately thrown into the next TBolts mission into an ancient German castle populated by WWI era supernatural German troops.
Then there's the other new development: The interviews leading to the formation of the B-Team which will be led by Songbird. Troll seems to be a sure bet of making the cut thanks to the character being created and featured heavily in this book. Same with the winner of Marvel's "Pick the next Thunderbolts member" poll: The Shocker, one of Spider-Man's greatest and most underrated villains of all-time.
I especially liked Mach V's reasoning for forwarding Herman onto the team: For kicking Spider-man's ass a few times back in the day. This has the potential to be the best buddy combination since Taskmaster and Constrictor over in the old Avengers: Initiative book.
The rest of the team has a decidedly mercenary feel though: Centurius (who I vaguely remember from way back in one of my 60's Nick Fury trades) and Boomerang, who clearly see only their skills as assets to the team and don't give a rats ass about rehabilitation. And finally the last of this issue's interviewee's: Mister Hyde who I see as the Crossbones of this lot.
Out of the character mentioned but not interviewed there were definitely some interesting candidates: It'd be nice to see Blizzard return to the Thunderbolts given his history and appearance, the Super-Skrull (maybe this is why he didn't make the cut in the Annihilators...?), Black Mamba (though minus the rest of the B.A.D. Girls
That's what I've enjoyed about this book so far, rather than other titles that subtly build up a big bad throughout an arc the character's actual development seems to be the focus here. Example: who'd have imagined the Ghost could be one of the most fascinating characters on the team? With all this foreboding about the teams volatile composition it's obvious that there will be a payoff somewhere down the line but so far this has been a title that is building up mostly low-tier characters...and this issue is no exception.
Onto the art: I love Kev Walker's work on this title. I find his art different, awesome and most importantly of all it can tell the story by itself...he's absolutely nailed it on this book. RoK: Imperial Guard, where I first saw his work, didn't do much for me but what I saw as a shaky start on TBolts (the ugly Songbird hair) I love it. What really stands out is his depiction of Luke Cage, arguably one of my favourite renderings of the character.
Can't understand all the hate for it at all. I remember Parker describing it in some interview in an analogy that fits: cross between Jamie Hewlett and Mike Mignola. If that's not your thing then I suggest you stick to the comfort zone of DC in-house art.
Art: 8Overall: 8