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Comics You Should Be Reading: Thunderbolts

Written by 365Dom on Wednesday, June 01 2011 and posted in Features

It seems odd to remind readers to pick up a book by the top publisher, but Comics You Should Be Reading highlights the Marvel series Thunderbolts.

Comics You Should Be Reading is a new feature here on the Outhouse, featuring a rotating panel of Outhouse writers highlighting some of the best, under-heralded books out today.

Thunderbolts is written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Kev Walker

thunderbolts-cageSynopsis of the book: As quoted straight from Thunderbolts: "Their base is a supermax facility known as the Raft. Their transport is a swamp monster (Man-Thing). Their mission leader is the bulletproof Avenger known as Luke Cage. A handpicked team of inmates have the chance to go outside prison walls as long as they use their powers to deal with the worst the world has to offer - They are the Thunderbolts."

Thunderbolts has not seen great sales numbers since the change to writer Jeff Parker and artist Kev Walker, yet the critical acclaim seems to have increased with the changing of the guard. Both IGN (Miguel Perez) and iFanboy (Ron Richards) have given the book praise when Thunderbolts turned to Parker and Walker. It has become one of the titles I most look forward to over the course of the month and I shouldn't be alone in my anticipation.

Reasons why it's awesome: It's always cooler to be bad. The Thunderbolts title has always had a great concept: a team of bad guys who do good, but how they do it is often unconventional. The team has included both low profile villains and popular villains such as Venom and Bullseye. Jeff Parker and Kev Walker make their team their own by creating a team that consists of the former con turned Avenger, Luke Cage and some of the most entertaining and oddest choices to populate any team.

The coolest prisoner Parker added to the team was the unstoppable Juggernaut. Juggs has cooled in temperament more recently in comic books, but he is still his own man and nearly impossible to control. His unique attitude towards following orders and doing what is right is a joy to follow in the pages of Parker and Walker's Thunderbolts.

The team is always changing, but always consists of characters who readers can never quite peg or fully understand. The Cap killing Crossbones was on the team for some time and added a delightful amount of chaos which sparked some great panels, and the before mentioned Man-Thing's presence on the Thunderbolts is always a surprise...even though you know he's on the team. Man-Thing's supernatural presence ads to the diversity of this highly entertaining team.

If you like _____, then you'll like this book:  I can't really pin point what Thunderbolts is like. I think it can best be described as a mix between Warren Ellis's previous run on Thunderbolts infused with the lighter nature of a team book like the New Avengers. It includes villains, which you can never really control, yet the book has a lighter feel to it than the Ellis run. Kev Walker's art also gives the book a more playful feel that is somewhere in between the Ellis Thunderbolts and the current New Avengers.

But don't listen to us: Jeff Parker, the writer of Thunderbolts thinks you should pick up the book too!  Here's what he had to say: "Most superhero comics have to adhere by some groundrules or they don't feel right, read like the title or characters you came for. The magic of THUNDERBOLTS is that since it began with an enormous switch that pulled the rug out from under the readers, it's never had to obey any such rules since. Anything can happen in our book, and it always feels like it could go in several directions at once. We have a sprawling cast, and they're all fascinating characters. And though they're supposed to be the meanest and the lowest people in the Marvel universe, read it and see if you don't manage to find yourself or people you know represented in there!"

thunderbolts-153Best pick-up point: Thunderbolts is now 13 issues into the pairing of Jeff Parker and Kev Walker. To fully understand the direction of this new team you should do yourself a favor and start with the tpb "Cage" which collects issues #144 to #147. Most comic shops should have a copy, but if they do not...check out for 45% off trades and hardcovers. The link will take you directly to "Cage."

Final thoughts: I know Thunderbolts has the power of Marvel behind it, but for how good it currently is, not enough people are reading it. Since Thunderbolts #144 there has not been a bad issue. In fact, a couple of the issues (#152 and #153) may be 2 of the best Marvel issues over the last year. Pick up this title now!

For more comic related posts and reviews by Dom, head on over to!

Written or Contributed by: Dom G

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