By Christos N. Gage (Writer), Fernando Blanco (Artist), and Frank Martin (Colorist)

The best part about the Thunderbolts’ Secret Invasion tie-in is that it allows for the characters to be totally unleashed. Warren Ellis wrote a story of contained chaos: what would happen if so many volatile personalities were kept in a (relatively) small space and pushed over the mental edge. Christos Gage’s Invasion story on the other hand let’s the characters come out to play and the results are no less chaotic.

Thunderbolts #123 shows why the team is both the best and worst choice to face off against the Skrull threat. Norman gathers the troops, declares open season on any team members acting weird, states that they are at war, and proceeds to lead the team to fight the Skrulls as only the Thunderbolts can. It all works extremely well and really feeds off the distrust established by the Caged Angels arc.

Gage deserves a lot of credit for maintaining nearly all of the momentum from the Ellis run while at the same time naturally bringing the Thunderbolts into the Secret Invasion storyline. All the things that I loved about the way Ellis handled the team remain intact and, honestly, that’s all I ask for. I just wish that Mike Deodato was still on art duty because Fernando Blanco and Frank Martin, while entirely serviceable, don’t quite hit the dark tone of the team quite as well.

Simply put, this tie-in is both fun and refreshing. The team already has trust and paranoia issues, so it’s great to see them just get to the task at hand. Even without the star power of Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, the Thunderbolts are still well worth reading. (Grade: B+)

-Kyle Posluszny