Open Mike Night: Thunderbolts (2016) #1

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Thunderbolts (2016) #1


​Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Jon Malin
Colored by:  Matt Yackey
Lettered by: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover by: Jon Malin and Matt Yackey
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99


Mike Weaver: This week, we take a look at the newest iteration of the Thunderbolts.  I was a big fan of the original series, and I followed the first reboot for a while, but I haven’t touched base with any of these characters in several years.  Side point: in the letter from the writer at the end, it’s mentioned that Thunderbolts has been around for almost twenty years, which is weird to me since it still seems like a “new” concept to the Marvel universe.  I don’t know if that’s me being old or Marvel being stuck pretty heavily in same old same old, probably a little of both.

This group of Thunderbolts is led by the Winter Soldier, who broke them out of a weird Truman Show style SHIELD prison.  Along with the battery for that prison, a Cosmic Cube made humanish called Kobik, Bucky sets up a new version of the team featuring old favorites Moonstone, Mach-X, Atlas, and Fixer. Obviously Zemo wouldn’t work for this group, but I’m a little sad to see no Songbird.

The Thunderbolts have about half an issue of status quo setting exposition followed by going to what appears to be an alien invasion site in Georgia.  During a conflict about who should lead the team, Moonstone mockingly tells Bucky that the most powerful one should lead, and as long as she has the Moonstone, that means her.  So Kobik appears to rip the Moonstone out of her chest for a cliffhanger ending, although I’m pretty sure everything’s going to be okay since Moonstone is in the promo art for future issues.

Mike Maillaro: I actually wanted Songbird on this team too, but she’s part of Sunspot’s New Avengers team.  Though during Avengers Standoff, we found out that she was a mole for SHIELD.  Sunspot’s team went underground, and Songbird has basically taken over the New Avengers in SHIELD’s name.  Though in the end of the last issue, we did find out that she’s actually been working for Sunspot all along.  This whole thing could be silly and frustrating, but Sunspot’s gleeful announcement that she’s a TRIPLE AGENT made me laugh, so I’m willing to give it a chance.

Kobik sort of reminds me of Fifty Sue from DC’s Future’s End.  A very powerful child with not a lot of moral limits.  In the past, Thunderbolts has typically been teams of villains, so the addition of Winter Soldier and Kobik is a nice change to the dynamic here.  I was also curious about the inclusion of Mach X, since he’s been mostly a hero the last few years.  A clumsy hero, but a hero none the less.  

Weaver: I think Winter Soldier counts as a villain as much as Hawkeye did, and Kobik feels a lot like Classic Jolt.  To me, there’s not a lot of mixing up the formula by adding them.  But I do like the seriousness that Bucky brings to the team.  He takes up a lot of the function of Helmut without being megalomaniacally evil.  That’s a nice twist.

Maillaro: The Jolt comparison makes a lot of sense.  Jolt had no idea the Thunderbolts were villains.  Kobik basically does, but she’s too young to realize why that is a bad thing.  So, we’ve talked a lot about WHAT this book is, but what did you think of the quality?  

Weaver: Everyone had a distinctive voice, and it was the voice I’m used to for them.  There’s the typical bickering of people who are used to basically doing things their own way versus people who are more into following orders.  That’s a dynamic that’s been at the base of Thunderbolts throughout.  Bucky manages to steer the team in a non-ambiguously heroic direction, and I like that.  They intro the team easily, and show their interactions both in and out of costume so you get a level set of how they are.  Basically, I liked this book a lot.  Didn’t especially care for the shock twist ending, though.

Maillaro: Even though Original Sin was kind of questionable, I was glad that they are dealing with Winter Soldier’s “man on the wall” status.  I actually like that this team has a pretty unique mission, in they are working covertly to ensure that aliens don’t destroy the Earth.  Too often, superhero groups are all kind of generic, but giving this team a specific purpose was a nice touch to me.

I actually loved the ending.  Like you said, it probably won’t stick, but it was memorable and ensured that this comic wasn’t just going to get forgotten after I read it.  Just in sheer number, there are a lot of comics that I read, enjoy, but don’t give much thought until the next issue comes along in a few weeks.  That ending was a solid cliffhanger, and whenever I hear “Thunderbolts” I think of that last page.  Granted, it’s not as awesome as the ending of the original Thunerbolts #1...but there are few things in comics as powerful as that moment....

Weaver: In some ways, this reminded me of the post-Mutant Massacre X-Men, sitting around chilling while they assess the threats they need to deal with around the world, except the Thunderbolts have a free fridge worth of beer.  I’m not sure how specific the mission is, beyond just “follow Bucky’s lead”, but it’s specific enough.

I think it just may be me, but I really hate the “super super duper powerful child like thing that takes things too literally and is both cute and dangerous at the same time” schtick.  Which I guess is an anti-Kobik in general stance, but I’m willing to give her time.

Maillaro: Yeah, I tend to agree with that stance.  At least she’s not outright “evil” like Fifty Sue or Damian Wayne in his early appearances (I know, I know, that is a huge oversimplification), but I still think Kobik could get real annoying real fast.  Hopefully she will limit her Mortal Kombat kills in future issues.

So scores...I thought the writing and art were both solid.  There was nothing I particularly disliked about this comic.  The only real issue I had is that I am not sure it has enough to make it stand out in the overly crowded comic market place, not even a real big name character or creative team, but quality wise, it’s a good comic.  I think 4.5 for writing, 4 for the art.   And the art wasn’t even bad, there just wasn’t anything all that memorable about it for me.  

Weaver: I mostly agree, but I’m going to bump the art up to a 4.5.  Yeah, it had no wow factor, but it was thoroughly serviceable, and that’s actually a bit of a rarity in this day and age.  4.5 on art pretty much exclusively for consistency.

Maillaro: I’m thinking about going Dark Horse next week.  We pretty much never talk about them (for the longest time, the only Dark Horse book I ever bought was Groo), and they had a pretty cool book coming out

Mae #1

When she was just a girl, Abbie discovered a portal to a fantasy world and for the last couple of years has been having great adventures there: defeating horrible monsters, power-mad scientists, and evil nobles. She was a celebrated action hero! But when she turned twenty-one it all came apart and she decided to return home. Her sister, Mae, has had no idea what happened to Abbie all this time. Her tales are too hard to believe; that is, until the monsters and other terrible creatures start to cross over to our world . . .

Weaver: That sounds fantastic.  I like going with indy books.

Maillaro: Cool!  See you then!

Final Scores

Summary: Thunderbolts' newest iteration gets off to a strong start.  Real solid writing and art here. Bucky Barnes proves to be a great addition to the Thunderbolts formula, and we get a pretty huge surprise ending, though it won't likely stick. 


Maillaro – Story (out of 5)

Weaver – Story (out of 5)

Maillaro – Art (out of 5)

Weaver – Art (out of 5)

Thunderbolts #1







4.5 / 5.0