By: Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (pencils), Jason Gorder (inks), Frank Martin (colors), Albert Deschesne (letters) & Tom Brennan (editor)

The Story: The Thunderbolts wrap up their battle with the Scorched Earth dino-monsters and an evil Hyperion.

What’s Good: It never ceases to amaze me how much exciting stuff Jeff Parker can cram into one of these issues.  Whereas some writers nowadays think that it is suitable to blow an entire issue with the hero talking about themselves (exciting, huh?), Parker just makes the story move from scene to scene to scene.  Nothing is belabored.  He usually cuts from scene to scene at just the right moment, but always errs on the side of leaving us wanting more instead of thinking, “Good lord.  Why doesn’t that character shut up!”

Parker is also very adept at handling a team book.  Everyone gets a little bit of time in his stories.  Again, he never overdoes it.  And he usually has a story that really gives the characters something useful to do.  I’d love to see Parker get a shot at one of the in-continuity X-books at some point.

So, overall, this is a hopping fun story that even works in some solid humor.  Who knew that Ghost was so expert on lifesaving techniques?

Of course, Kev Walker’s pencils and the efforts of the entire art team really bring Parker’s vision to life.  What I really enjoy about Walker’s style is that it has the cartoony elements that I enjoy for the freedom they give the artist, but he also mixes in some softness and realism in areas like Moonstone’s musculature.  And, that makes sense because Moonstone is a softer character, so she shouldn’t be as angular.  He also capture’s the raw power of Juggernaut very well.  Another neat element is that we get some non-scripted storytelling as Man Thing appears in the background of many panels.  I love it when there are story-elements in the panel that have nothing to do with the word balloons because it shows a dedication to a finished artistic product that goes beyond the mere script.

I also really enjoy Frank Martin’s understated colors.  I’m sick of all superheroes glistening like waxed sports cars.

What’s Not So Good: Well, even Parker can’t manage to fit everything into his stories.  At the beginning of this issue, we get a tease that Gunna the troll-girl is still around.  Honestly, I’d forgotten about her, but having been reminded, I’d like to see more of this character.  And given my high opinion of Parker’s story-cramming skills, I figured for sure she would turn up towards the end.  But nope.  Guess we have to wait until next issue.

Conclusion: This is how you write a Big 2 team super-hero book!  Keep it snappy and give all of the characters something to do.  Kev Walker’s art is great.  This is probably IMHO the best team book that Marvel is publishing right now.

Grade: A-

-Dean Stell

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