by Charles Soule (Writer), Carlo Barberi (Artist), Isreal Silva (Colorist)

The Story: Getting set in a new base, the Thunderbolts decide they need to deal with Mercy. Cue in everyone’s favourite biker from hell.

The Review
: Thunderbolts is a book that I should love. It’s written with a good dose of action and humor, I really like most of the characters from its cast and I do believe there is a potential with its general premise. Better yet, it’s written by Charles Soule, the man who write one of the only few DC title I still follow, Swamp Thing. However, there have been a few problems, the art being the most preeminent one. Plagued by artists that don’t always fit the tone of the book, the book was weighted down by some of its aspects.

Thankfully, the addition of a new character and a new artist can certainly bring some energy and some fun to the book. However, is it enough to give this title the jolt it needs?

Unfortunately, while these additions may prove to be essential, there is an ill sense of timing as this issue doesn’t accomplish much in terms of development or in sheer fun. While there are some notable interactions and some progression in terms of character arc given to readers, there’s just not that much going on in this issue.

Soule does try to balance things out with humor, playing with the general lack of cohesion of the Thunderbolts unit and their disparate personalities, yet all the one-liners and the general silliness cannot deviate the attention of readers from the lack of progress made in several plots and subplots. There are things occurring here, mind you, some that are important, like the fact that the team try to find a solution to the ongoing problem that is Mercy, yet there isn’t much else truly going on.

Another element of note that happens in the book is the introduction of Ghost Rider to its cast, with Johnny Blaze being set up rather effectively. What is less unfortunate is how short and rather forced the arrival of the character is, with the team finding him and then with the character joining them without a hint of a fuss. Close to no explanations are given as to how they found him and why he wouldn’t object to being with an undercover team of killers. There’s a lack of drama and potential problems here that seem to scream for rushed development, pushing for expediency instead of genuine development.

Still, all in all, there are some nicer moments in the book. Some characters do manage to bring out some factor of entertainment, such as Deadpool and his crazy antics or just why Frank Castle is staying on the team for now. Not all characters receive this treatment, of course, but fans of those characters should indeed be pleased that these fan-favourites aren’t just left behind in favour of others. Soule seems to have a plan for most of them and it’s nice to see it there.

Another aspect that is nice is Carlo Barberi, who gives the book another style that is rather neat considering the other artists that were attached to the book. His characters are rather evocative, his backgrounds consistent and with just enough details and there is a certain diversity in terms of expressions that is rather good. Where he seems to be a bit weaker, though, is the fact that some humanoid characters look a bit too pretty for their own good, with their traits a bit too round and too clean to fit with their general demeanour. While Flash Thompson can certainly manage to look like this, others like Johnny Blaze and Frank Castle seem to suffer a bit from this enhancement of their feature as they are interpreted with rather rough features most of the time. The diversity of locales is also a bit troublesome here, with not many ways to make underground bases and desert areas that great to look at. Still, the composition of his panels and his attention to not put too much nor too little details pay off quite well in terms of visuals here. It is certainly an upgrade from the latest arc.

There is also a new colorist, with Isreal Silva replacing Guru eFX here. While the general range isn’t that great considering the low number of environment, Silva is able to play well with shadows, lights and with an acceptable level of shading in most pages. Playing with the characters to provide contrasts most of the time, Silva does so efficiently enough to do some comparisons of some elements, which works quite well with characters like Red Hulk, Deadpool, Red Leader and Ghost Rider. It may not be anything impressive or special, but this is competent coloring nonetheless.

The Conclusion: The story may be a little slow and there isn’t that much entertaining action this time around, yet the small amount of character development, some of the jokes and the general upgrade in terms of art makes this issue acceptable. Not the best this series has seen, but certainly not the worst.

Grade: C+

Hugo Robberts Larivière