Written by Charles Soule
Art by Jefte Palo
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 2, 2013
While the story of a book like Mighty Avengers is based entirely in the events of the Infinity invasion, Soule deftly has the invasion blow up the Thunderbolts plans, rather than deploy the team as a crew that will save Earth. These are not Earth’s mightiest heroes, and certainly not the most noble, and I applaud Soule for keeping the mission goal at the forefront of the chaos. Soule’s focus in the issue also goes to show how dysfunctional this ‘team’ and it’s members are compared to the teamwork occurring in the other Infinity books. His writing really differentiates the Thunderbolts from the rest of the Marvel U and defines their role in the world of Marvel. Soule throws in a good amount of humour in this script as well, writing one the funniest Deadpool sequences I have read in quite a while. The humour gives the issue a black-comedy feel as these characters are some of the deadliest in comics and are in the middle of a mission that could become a total bloodbath, but it works. This dark take on this team (with splashes of black comedy) works well in this issue and showcases how a standalone title can tie-in to an event without completely succumbing to it. With more tie-ins like this, event fatigue would not be as common and I applaud Soule for keeping the essential characteristics of his book intact and using the event as a plot thread rather than the plot itself.
Jefte Palo’s artwork highlights the comedic feel of this book, though his stylized work often goes too far and reduces the gravity of the invasion and danger of Thanos’ forces down to virtually nothing. The cartoon-y nature of the artwork may as well have these invasion forces be Smurfs for how serious any of this looks, and even The Punisher, Elektra, Red Hulk and Venom do not look dangerous so much as they look like cartoon caricatures of well established comic book characters. There are consistency issues throughout the issue, but more than anything the tone of the artwork does not fit the tone of the story well. The dark comedy aspect of Soule’s script is lost in the cartoonish style of the art and all what is left is what looks like a Saturday morning cartoon with inappropriate elements. Subtlety does not exist in this art and the story suffers because of it. It does not damn the issue, but it does hurt what is a very well crafted script.
Thunderbolts #16 is a solid event tie-in that stays true to the primary series. Soule does an excellent job of keeping this book true to its core while integrating the events of Infinity, and he infuses some delightful dark humour to give the book a unique feel. Palo’s artwork lacks some of the subtleties I feel make the script strong, but overall it is one of the strongest issues of Thunderbolts I have read.