Written by Daniel Way
Art by Steve Dillon
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Issue #1 of this volume of Thunderbolts comes to us via Daniel Way and Steve Dillon and, frankly, bears absolutely no resemblance to its predecessor. This series deals with General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross setting up a team of trained killers for an unknown purpose. The common thread between these characters appears to be an ability to kill like mad, and the color combo of red, black and white.
This may seem like an oversimplification, boiling a title down to what I have above, but after twenty odd pages of posturing and poetic waxing from General Ross, that is still all I know. This script is poorly paced, and one of the weakest debut issues in the Marvel NOW! initiative. Considering all the characters in play are featured on the cover, the extremely slow and staggered introduction of each reads as hollow and belaboured for no real reason, dragging this title to a halt at points with awkward transitions that are not fluid in any way. Way has Ross ramble cryptic speeches to each team member, attempting to entice them, with very little convincing information, to join his team for an unknown mission that I can only assume is killing mad amounts of people and nothing more. Ross’ character comes across as confused and the cryptic nature of his speeches do not read as being intriguing, but rather the ramblings of an incoherent old man. This is not a decorated General, the tactician that has been featured in the Avengers for the past couple years…this General is a man with a bloodlust for no apparent reason, and after reading the entire issue I still have absolutely no clue why he is recruiting these killers. I’ll give credit where it is due, there is one funny part where Deadpool is taking on some interesting foes, but other than that it is a repetitive, slow and disappointing sequence of events for a title featuring a name that has been a rock solid franchise for Marvel for quite a long time. There are some dynamic characters in this comic, and each has a stale and generic voice that doesn’t do a single one justice.
Sadly, stale and generic is my best description for Steve Dillon’s art, as well. For the life of me I cannot understand why every single male character not wearing a mask has the exact same facial structure. Remove Ross’ mustache and you have Frank Castle. The lack of differentiation in facial structure between characters is actually jarring, and at one point I didn’t know if I was supposed to be thinking clones were in play, or what was going on. Dillon’s action sequences are alright, but the pencils lack life or any stylization and the net result is a book that is as flat visually as the dialogue. The sequence I mentioned above with Deadpool was the only part that had any life at all, through its sheer randomness if nothing else.
I wanted to enjoy this book, I was fully prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt considering the random characters being throw together, but at this point I have no reason to read another issue to find out if this storyline is going anywhere.