Shelby: It’s really hard to write about a new creative team on a title; how do you manage to discuss the book as a stand-alone piece without comparing it to the previous issues? It’s even harder when you liked the title before the change, because now you have to make sure you stay objective. If there are things I dislike about the new team, is it because I genuinely dislike it, or is it just because it’s different from how it used to be? I’m faced with this dilemma now as I consider the first issue of Thunderbolts without Charles Soule at the helm, and some of the decisions Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have made with this book definitely have me scratching my head.
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Thunderbolts 26, originally released May 28th, 2014.
Patrick: Every time you meet an enemy of the Hulk, you gotta ask yourself: this guy’s not really a bad guy, right? Thaddeus Ross — in his platonic, Hulk-huntin’ phase — is a totally rational individual. Who wouldn’t want to find a way to stomp out the big green guy? Oh sure, he’s more or less learned to control himself now, but Ross’ goal is fundamentally noble. That’s part of the reason the anti-hero label never stuck to him all that well in Thunderbolts. He’s not like the rest of these guys – they’re all amoral killers only looking out for their own selfish ends. But should that make them any more expendable than anyone else? With his final issue on Thunderbolts, Charles Soule reinforces that Ross’ view of his teammates, past and present, is precisely what makes him worthy of their company. But like most of the darker revelations in this series, its tinged with eventual sweetness, and we’re allowed to love these monsters all the same. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing All-New Ghost Rider 3, originally released May 14th, 2014
Shelby: I’ve only been reading monthly comics for a couple years: basically since the New 52 launched. Even with that relatively short history with comics, I feel pretty jaded when it comes to origin stories. If I don’t already know it backwards and forwards, I’ve seen enough origins to get the gist of it. Tragically lost parents at a young age, science experiment gone wrong, coming-of-age gaining of powers (be they magical or otherwise) — it’s easy to roll your eyes at a new origin story because you think you’ve already seen it. Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore have embraced that origin spirit with their All-New Ghost Rider, but have somehow managed to do so in a way that feels new and relevant. It doesn’t hurt that it’s completely gorgeous to look at, either. Continue reading
Spencer: It’s rough to start picking up a new comic in the middle of a storyline. If I can’t buy a book starting with issue one, I try to wait for a new storyline to begin, and I’m far from the only person with this strategy. Charles Soule wisely takes advantage of this in his and Paco Diaz’s Thunderbolts 24; while much of the issue is devoted to establishing the new storyline to come, there’s enough focus on the characters and team dynamic to make this the perfect first issue for any Thunderbolts-newbie. If you aren’t already picking this book up, now’s the time to give it a try! Continue reading
Shelby: Kids love “…and they lived happily ever after.” It’s an uncomplicated and rewarding end to a story; the good guys are rewarded, the bad guys punished, the boy gets the girl, and the plucky sidekicks probably got some action as well. It’s not until you get older that the everything-worked-in-the-end approach grows stale. It’s too neat and clean; we want our stories to reflect the complexities of every day life, not tie everything up in a nicely resolved bow. Personally, I find a too-happy ending where everything works out to be insincere and frankly a little boring. It might be surprising, then, that I love Charles Soule’s latest issue of Thunderbolts. Leave it to Soule to deliver an end to the recent Thunderbolts arc that gives the “good” guys exactly what they want and leaves the bad (by comparison) guy with a mess to deal with, without once appearing insincere.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Thunderbolts 21, originally released January 29th, 2014.
Drew: Life is complicated. It’s an axiom that we’re all familiar with, but in a vacuum, our own lives are pretty simple: we have basic needs that must be met, and additional wants that we try to meet. It’s only when people, with their own conflicting needs and desires, start interacting that things get messy. That’s the stuff narratives are made of — a hero encounters some opposition to what he wants or needs — but what if the team itself is a source of opposition? What if your heroes can’t even decide what their wants and needs are? That’s when thing start to really resemble the complexities of life, and is exactly the kind of situation the team finds themselves in in Thunderbolts 21. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing Thunderbolts 20, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Patrick: With issue 20, Thunderbolts enters All-New Marvel NOW! territory. Functionally, this means that this issue should serve as a good jumping-on point for new readers, and the cover broadcasts that in a variety of ways: note that the issue’s number is technically 20.NOW; there’s a second issue number in the upper right corner, declaring this “No Mercy #1”; the All-New Marvel Now logo is emblazoned along the bottom; and finally, the cover prominently features a character that’s not normally on the team. The contents of the issue follow suit, giving us another start to a delightfully self-contained adventure. With it’s one-job-for-you-one-job-for-me structure, Thunderbolts might be the series most perfectly suited for this periodic refreshing of the Marvel line. Continue reading
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Ethan discuss Thunderbolts 18, A+X 14, Superior Spider-Man Annual 1, Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe 2, Young Avengers 12, Uncanny X-Men 14, X-Men 7, and X-Men: Legacy 20.
Drew: Our Infinity-fatigue is pretty well catalogued at this point, but Charles Soule continues to find a fresh angle in Thunderbolts 18. Where other series are preoccupied with piecing together a monolithic narrative by retracing the same steps, Soule has stayed very street-level, keeping his team focused on the mission at hand, even as New York crumbles around them. They manage to succeed in that mission in spite of each of them being focused on their own problems. Indeed, with a significant portion of the resolution arriving via the coincidental overlap of those problems, this series feels all the world like the superhero version of Seinfeld. Continue reading