Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Thunderbolts, Volume 2: Red Scare Review (Daniel Way, Phil Noto)


The second volume of Marvel NOW! Thunderbolts sucks! Why? It has a mind-numbingly boring plot: Elektra’s brother Orestez has weaponized a bunch of Crimson Dynamo suits and sent them off to blow stuff up. Thunderbolts are….. zzzzzz………

I don’t know what it is about the Middle East and Marvel (or DC for that matter), but when a story takes place there it’s always the same: superhero has to stop terrorist from using a bomb to blow some stuff up, superhero succeeds, we get a shot of an innocent kid showing us that, hey, they’re not all violent extremists, they’re just like you and me! and then they move on. Same predictable guff in this book. Not that they’re wrong, extremists make up a very small percentage of the population anywhere, it’s just so banal to read. 

Meanwhile the downright pitiful “love triangle” between Deadpool, Elektra and Punisher mercilessly grinds on. I didn’t buy it’s forced nature in the first book, I hate it even more in the second. Were Deadpool and Elektra even dating in the first place or did Deadpool imagine it? Anyway, I absolutely don’t care who Elektra gets it on with, I just want it to stop being a plot point that Daniel Way thinks the audience want to read. 

Way is a very uneven writer in terms of quality writing/storytelling and while I thought he did a good job with the first volume, the second is just bad. The plotting is dull and unimaginative, the characters’ interactions haven’t developed any further since the first book – it’s the same unchanged dynamic as if nothing’s happened to them as a team – and some scenes are downright bizarre, like how he writes British people. I’m British and I can tell you only cartoon versions of Brits talk the way they do in this book (“Oi, shut it, you slaaag!” etc.). It’s actually kinda funny to read but supremely dumb nevertheless. Phil Noto’s art is ok for the most part but to be honest a lot of his stuff feels workmanlike and uninspired. 

The final issue that closes out the volume is the only part of the book that doesn’t suck. Writer Charles Soule takes over from a beleaguered Daniel Way and writes what is basically a Punisher comic. And who joins Soule for this issue? The consummate Punisher artist, that’s right, Steve Dillon! YESSS! The issue is the best kind of Punisher story – simple, straightforward, violent: Frank hunts down Elektra’s brother and kills him. In one amazing scene Frank head-butts Orestez so hard, Orestez’s neck snaps! 

This one comic made me wish they had jettisoned the Thunderbolts, Way and Noto entirely and let Soule/Dillon do a Punisher book instead. Unfortunately, we got a piss-awful Thunderbolts book with a good Punisher issue closing it out. At just the second volume, Thunderbolts has taken a nosedive in quality and is definitely missable but, if you’re a huge Punisher fan like me, it’s worth reading just for the Punisher issue.

Thunderbolts Volume 2: Red Scare

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