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Thunderbolts #159 – Review

By: Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (art), Frank Martin (colors) & Albert Deschesne (letters)

Moonstone story by: Joe Caramagna (writer), Valentine de Landro (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors) & Deschesne (letters)

Ghost/John Walker story by: Jen Van Meter (writer), Eric Canete (art), Fabio D’Auria (colors) & Dave Sharpe (letters)

Crossbones story by: Frank Tieri (writer), Matthew Southworth (art) & Sharpe (letters)

The Story: A medley of stories detailing events on the Raft after it is destroyed by Juggernaut’s Fear Itself Hammer.

What’s Good: For one thing, this is a pretty fat issue.  Checking in at 40 pages for its $4.99 price, you’re getting a double-sized comic for less than double-price.  And none of the 40 pages is junky crap like an old reprinted Thunderbolts story.  Nice one…

This is effectively a Thunderbolts anthology.  I love anthologies, but it isn’t uncommon to get some crummy stories that you just need to skip.  That’s not a problem in this issue as all of the stories are between “solid” and “quite good”.  And, because these four stories are both bulky and from widely different parts of the Raft, it really drives home the enormity of the crisis.  It also continues the general strength of the Fear Itself tie-ins.  This issue adds a lot of local flavor to Marvel’s summer event.

For regular T-bolts readers, the star of the issue will be the Parker/Shalvey Underbolts story.  When we last left these characters, they were contemplating just running for it instead of continuing to serve as “heroes”.  Here we see them helping out with rescue efforts but also building in their own little insurance policy for the future.  This is just classic T-bolts storytelling since these characters are villains and you never want them to feel “safe”.

The other stories all have their moments such as Marvel letterer Joe Caramagna showing us what happens when the female and male prisoners come into contact without any chaperones present or how effectively the anarchist Ghost and the former US Agent, John Walker team-up (and build a grudging respect).

The art is strong throughout, but that isn’t surprising when you look at the stable of artists.  Declan Shalvey is really a name to keep an eye on going forward.  He was really strong on 28 Days Later and his early work at Marvel is just as hot: solid story-telling and really kinetic characters.  de Landro draws a great Moonstone and that’s a good thing when you’re drawing the Moonstone story.  We also get actual sequential art from Eric Canete.  How often does that happen anymore?  Good stuff all around!

What’s Not So Good: My only fault is that none of these stories was stunning.  I usually want one superstar of a story out of an anthology and we don’t get that here.  On the other hand, none of the stories is a turd either.

Conclusion: A very solid issue that expands the events of Fear Itself on the Raft.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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