Wes Reads Thunderbolts #1: A Good Surprise Gets You Everywhere

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Cover

Thunderbolts is a series that means a lot to me. It was one of the first books I got into when I started reading comics again. I have given every iteration of Thunderbolts a shot over the years. Every version of the team had a unique style to it that love or hate, you can never say that it didn’t take chances in one way or another. The original Thunderbolts was the Masters of Evil pretending to be heroes and along the way some of them realizing they like being heroes. This time around the Thunderbolts have sprouted out of the events of Avengers Standoff with Winter Soldier (James “Bucky” Barnes”) leading the team of Moonstone, Atlas, The Fixer, and Mach-X, so a good mix of old and new in this team. On paper this is one of the better ways to revive the team, especially after Standoff went over well with a lot of fans. The team has come together to clean up the mess left in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their experiment in imprisoning villains, Pleasant Hill. There’s much more than that in the mix too, but we’ll get into more of that as I talk more about my thoughts on this new Thunderbolts book. As this book while having similar touches to the classic Thunderbolts, there is a couple new ideas in the mix that surprised me.

To begin with if you haven’t read Avengers Standoff yet, you’re fine. Jim Zub sums up the event smoothly, Zub gives you everything you need to know within the first few pages. The team dynamic is easy to dive into for older readers of the series and if you’re new to it, the dynamics are made clear to you. It shows a team that knows how to work with one another yet Moonstone is still that wild card of the team.  I like how Zub captures the dynamic of the original team and working with Bucky, comfortable and exciting all at the same time. Bucky is the outsider and now leader of the Thunderbolts, making life interesting for this new team. It adds a new quirk outside of the major addition to the team which is Kobik, the energy of the cosmic cube brought to life as a four year old girl. I had no idea Kobik was involved in this series but it works and I am pleasantly surprised by that. Even if you haven’t read Standoff, you know what Kobik can do and why she means so much to the team. Kobik is so likable and you see how she fits in. Take note though, she is a kid yet she is pure cosmic cube energy so that can play out in many fun and surprising ways.

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Splash Page

The tone of the comic is a good mix of action, comedy, and a good dose of high end drama here and there. The blend of tones work well as it seems the revivals of Thunderbolts over the years have trended too dark and this has the right balance. I can tell Zub is already on his way to finding the right tone on this series. Which is where we dive into the one thing that I feel works but for some it may not, the art. Jon Malin was an artist I first discovered on his work in Youngblood and I liked it, quite a lot. That same energy that was within Youngblood that shines well here. In fact there’s more energy to it, the opening double page splash is filled with action, unabashed firepower, and pure excitement. A nice way to follow up the moody and strong opening page that shows the team preparing for the mission, enhanced by the strong coloring of Matt Yackey. Nice dark tones to set the mood and then a blast of color on that double page spread that is enough to knock your socks off. Malin and Yackey work well with the tone that Zub is aiming for, a classic action story but with humor and some dark twists to boot.

A big part of what caught my eye about Thunderbolts and my excitement for this new run is the final page. No spoilers here my friends as this final page is adding a nice amount of unpredictability to the proceedings. It’s why I did a tweet about it before this review, I had to let out that reaction fast. People are going to quibble about the art and I say give it a chance, this is some good storytelling here and a lot of fun, and that ending is going to blow your mind and have you begging for the next issue. Welcome back to my pull list Thunderbolts and to a new group of readers discovering the Thunderbolts in the process, this series is already rocking and rolling from the start.

Wes Reads: Marvel’s Avengers Standoff Stage One: The Event That is Actually Fun

Avengers Standoff Alpha #1 Cover

Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill has managed to surprise me. Heck if you read my Spoiler Filled Thoughts on Welcome to Pleasant Hill, I bought the first part of this on a whim and out of curiosity. Now I am finding myself into the idea of Pleasant Hill being a massive supervillain prison town populated by brainwashed supervillains thinking they’re someone else entirely. A massive S.H.I.E.L.D idea that has a level of brilliance that makes it great. For Stage one of this I’m reading Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3, and Uncanny Avengers #7. I’ve been reading Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and got Uncanny Avengers as it is part of this event. It’s not too insane so two tie-ins to an event like this isn’t too bad at all to deal with. This is Stage One of my Avengers Standoff journey. These are going to be loosely reviews, yet in general my shock that Avengers Standoff is a fun event so far. Yes my friends a Marvel and Comic Book Event in general that is a lot of fun, who could’ve thought that could happen right? Time to join me in the start of my Avengers Standoff adventures!

Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 is doing stuff that back in the day likely would have been revealed near the end than at the beginning of the adventure. I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible too. One part of this being that without anything too spoiler crazy, this is going to be our set up for Steve Rogers becoming young again and being Captain America. No real shock there but the big set up is happening. Even more fun, I adore Maria Hill in this series as Nick Spencer writes a rocking Maria Hill and Steve Rogers conversation. I like the role the villains are playing in this too, especially love the fact of Baron Zemo being the leader of the whole crusade to deal with Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D within Pleasant Hill. We even learn of a certain old favorite of the Marvel Universe in the mix too, which is a cool thing to see. We’re only starting to get more of the heroes in play too and it makes me wonder what the Thunderbolts series will be like after this is all said and done. It also helps that art wise, Jesus Saiz adds a level of rocking realism to the mix. Saiz adds depth and emotion to Spencer’s story. It’s a good way to continue the vibe that Avengers Standoff has so far.

(Seriously you all, this is not meaning to become a yay everything is awesome adventure here but this is giving me back Baron Zemo and more into the Marvel Universe, this makes me happy.)

Avengers Standoff Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 Football

It’s interesting with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D #3 and Uncanny Avengers #7 as to how much they really tie into Avengers Standoff. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a laser sharp focus with the story. Since it involves Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. the focus is going to be more cohesive and it is overall. Marc Guggenheim is doing great work on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway and Phil Coulson and his team split up as they deal with different aspects of the Pleasant Hill situation. It works well overall and I thought about it in the aspect of a reader new to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it still reads well overall. Guggenheim does a good job in making this a story accessible for the Avengers Standoff readers. Perfect way to operate with a tie-in story like this. German Peralta’s art fluctuates but it does well in conveying the story and mood of what Guggenheim is going for, though Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring makes this shine.  If you’re new to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stick around after Avengers Standoff, it’s a pretty cool comic either way.

I haven’t been reading Uncanny Avengers #7 but I figure with Avengers Standoff, why not give it a go again? Outside of one story with Brother Voodoo, it is new reader friendly too. Garry Duggan works with the Avengers Standoff story as seamlessly as Guggenheim does. It’s a little off kilter with some last bit strangeness near the end of the issue but it does work. The Wrecker is the one that fills in the Uncanny Avengers on what is happening with Pleasant Hill and their place in the Avengers Standoff. It has a ton of action in between the fun banter the team has with one another too. I like that Cable is part of the squad helping to train a newer hero Synapse in new ways of using her Inhuman abilities. Lots of action, good characterization and meshing with the event too. Ryan Stegman’s art is also on point looking as sharp as ever and Mark Morales and Guillermo Ortego, the two inkers on this issue, mesh well with Stegman’s art.  The coloring of this book looks just as great too, with Richard Isanove and Matt Yackey working together on it, really making the action packed festivities look even better. I may stick around with Uncanny Avengers after Avengers Standoff is over as overall it was fun.

Stage One of Avengers Standoff for me was a good time and I will probably make this a regular thing throughout Avengers Standoff. It would be fun to cover an entire event again as I haven’t done that since Trinity War back in my Comics Crux days. If you all like this quirky pellet review/overview of Avengers Standoff, let me know in the comments below or hit me up on my twitter too. Always love feedback, take care everyone and thanks for reading!