Patrick: We’re used to seeing clues pop up in detective stories. Even when those stories are as farcical as Clue, we always try to sort through the bits the matter and those that don’t. Any piece of information that doesn’t pay off can be referred to as a “red herring” – a literary device so well-known, the characters within the story will be able to point them out. It’s superfluous information, dressed up as the key to understanding the mystery. Charles Soule has accomplished something quite the opposite with his Thunderbolts Infinity crossover: we’re told repeatedly that the alien invasion and the resultant war between the Avengers and Thanos’ army are of little concern to our trusty Thunderbolts – particularly Punisher, Venom and Elektra. But just as it seems like Punisher’s myopic obsession with taking out the Paguro family is about to payoff, Infinity intrudes on his plans in a way he just can’t ignore. Turns out that red herring was worth paying attention to in the first place.
Jerry: We found a dead possum in the pool. Got any garbage bags?
Kirk: Ah, just throw it over the fence – let Arby’s worry about it.
The Simpsons, A Milhouse Divided.
Patrick: The most compelling part of the Thunderbolts conceit is the idea that none of these team-members ever give up their own agendas, even especially when they’re working together. These are creatures of habit, lone wolves and mavericks. That’s really the only trait, the only value that they share. Writer Charles Soule brilliantly sets the first team mission in the midst of Infinity – an event which fits into none of his characters’ MOs, They all take turns engaging in the conflict or ignoring it however they best see fit. If that means blowing off the alien invasion altogether, so be it – let Arby’s worry about it.
Drew: The US is lucky to have never fought a modern war on its own soil. Wartime always divides our attention between the warfront and the home front. Of course, governing a country can be a handful even in peace, so one of these often gets put on the back-burner. During World War II, it seemed that the emphasis was on the war, with resources being reallocated such that almost every American was consciously aware of the war effort. It was this kind of attitude that made George Orwell see war as an effective means of controlling the populations of Oceania in 1984 — war acts as both an explanation for a shitty situation AND a rousing source of patriotism. More recently, however, it’s been the war front that people push to the back of their minds, at times all but forgetting we’ve been at war for over a decade. That very well could have been the attitude on Earth as the Avengers rode off to face the Builders, an abstract threat that no earthling has ever even seen (hell, it’s likely that the public doesn’t even know about the threat), but they sure start to feel it in New Avengers 9. Continue reading →