By Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Frank Martin (colorist)

The Story: Luke Cage and the all new Thunderbolts have been tasked with cleaning up the fallout from ‘Siege’, but they’ll have to survive their encounter with Baron Zemo before they get a chance to prove themselves.

The Good: Holy crap, it’s a rare thing when this happens but I actually enjoyed this issue more than the last one! Let’s get this out of the way right now: this is one hell of an amazing creative team. Parker, Walker, and Martin have, in a mere two issues, left an indelible impression on this book that I find to be unique and, more importantly, a whole lot of fun to read. Parker’s assembled a wonderful roster here that balances redemption and bastardry in a way that I think is going to create wonderful tension throughout the team. Of Parker and Martin, I can only say that I’ve found a complete art team that I genuinely look forward to seeing every month. Remember how last month I said I wasn’t totally sold on Walker’s version of Juggernaut? Yeah, well, there’s a particular shot of him flattening a forest that completely convinced me Walker knows what he’s doing with the character.

Oddly enough, one of the things I enjoyed most about this issue was the sense of disarray that nearly crippled the team throughout the issue. It makes sense when you think about it, that a team this raw would barely even trust each other, much less know how to work together efficiently. This is still a team very much willing to betray each other for the sake of self-preservation, and that’s exactly the kind of dynamic we need to be seeing on the Thunderbolts right now. And being introduced to The Warden was an especially poignant moment. I feel like he has turned a new page in his life and is no longer the hero we grew up loving and loathing in equal measure. My hope is that, in future issues, he will become a voice of reason and perhaps even the emotional anchor that will bring this team together.

The Not So Good: Despite a few minor complaints, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this issue. The bit of misdirection early on in the issue was rather underwhelming in hindsight and the team’s first test mission, although it was logical and made sense given the events of ‘Siege’, was something of a yawner, although Walker and Martin did one hell of a job to make it look as epic as possible. But honestly, that was it, and those are hardly factors that would stop me from buying this comic.

Conclusion: Wow, this comic keeps getting better! The creative team is pure dynamite and they’ve succeeded in crafting stories that are making me excited to read comics again, and that’s what it’s all about. Easily one of my favorite ‘Heroic Age’ titles right now, and I encourage you to check it out!

Grade: B+

-Tony Rakittke