Thunderbolts Vol. 1: Faith in Monsters

Warren Ellis, Mike Deodato

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status Copy #1 (478): in
genre Superhero » Marvel Comics
publisher Marvel Comics
publish date October 3, 2007
popularity checked out 10 time(s)


  • By Strangely -

    I wonder how many comic book characters are even slightly aware of the cyclical nature of their existence? With the ebb and flow of many longstanding comic book continuities it’s amazing how many times characters end up finding themselves in the exact same situation. Sometimes these come across as deliberate attempts to reference a previous moment, but most often it’s just the nature of these kinds of stories to have similar things happen.

    Much of the drama in this book centers around Bullseye (of Daredevil’s rogues gallery) and his coercion into joining the reformed-villian (now villian run, but accepted by society) team of “heroes.” If that sentence is confusing for you, I understand, this book is just a small part of the much larger overarching story of the aftermath of marvel’s big “Cival War” event from 2006. And that’s probably the biggest thing hampering this book, all of the real drama and emotion in this book are mostly in the ways that it parallels larger events happening with more “important” characters elsewhere. Spiderman, Captain America et. al. are all getting name-checked so much it feels as though the writers are going out of their way to point out the fact that this story also means something.

    Honestly though, this just comes across as a pastiche of some of the best parts of Watchmen (And stylistically The Dark Knight Returns), along with references to other “Team-Up” books. The concept of having a team of villains being forced onto the side of good, whether by reform or by the threat of instantaneous death, is a compelling one. But with the exception of one conversation between Radioactive Man and Norman Osborne it remains largely unexplored.

    I did somewhat enjoy the bits in the book about a few of Captain America’s backup guys trying to make a difference but much of their stories felt a bit hollow. I’m going to have to look into what Cap was doing during this book to see if that makes it more compelling. If Cap is just hiding like a wuss, then his abandonment of them is a compelling bit of storytelling. But if he’s being held against his will, then his lost puppies are just that, lost puppies, and their crises of faith seem, somehow, less interesting.

    Another interesting note. I’ve been reading through Alan Moore’s back catalogue lately and I love how decidedly “Hardcore R” his work is. Moore’s books pull no punches, and if a really gorey scene is what’s required, or some distinctly flavorful cursing will express a character better then it’s on the page. After something like that, Thunderbolts feels so hampered by it’s “PG-13” level of violence, sensuality and profanity. Clearly some of these people are supposed to be evil psychotics, but for me, (especially with bullseye) they hold little fright. I know some of them are reformed, but a few of them are not.

    All in all, it’s still a fascinating idea, and it does go some interesting places. The action scenes are pretty and it’s always clear what’s going on, which can be a bit difficult in books with this many superfolks running around (particularly when they’re nearly all ones you’re not used to looking at). I found the big moment at the end of the story to be more of an eye-roller than anything else, there is little here to make me jones for the second installment.

    *** SPOILER’S BELOW ***

    *** SPOILERS ***

    My biggest problem with this book from a storytelling sense is how Bullseye was handled, I mean honestly, how many times has this guy been paralyzed? I get that they’re going for some kind of resonance, but it makes you wonder: How many times are things like this going to happen to him before he get’s it through his head?

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