Friday, 4 April 2014

Thunderbolts, Volume 3: Infinity Review (Charles Soule, Jefte Palo)


I’m not a big fan of Thunderbolts but I’ve been following the Marvel NOW! series and I was glad to see Daniel Way exit on the last volume and comic book wunderkind Charles Soule step in to take over. And then I saw the heading to the book - Infinity. 

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh. Infinity. That pile’a crap from last year when Jonathan Hickman brought Thanos back and did some stuff that didn’t matter, bored the world, and then left. I did not like Infinity at all. It was a bloated, over-hyped series that was severely underwhelming - a regular Marvel Event basically. 

So I was surprised when I found Soule had somehow managed to make something decent out of the Infinity hand he’d been dealt. 

When General Ross aka Red Hulk recruited the current Thunderbolts team, part of his sell was that in exchange for their help on his missions, he would lend the team’s support on their own individual missions - as Deadpool puts it, “We’re the selfish Avengers”. This time around, Punisher gets to pick the target so the Thunderbolts head to New York to take out a seemingly untouchable Mafia lynchpin family - and that’s when Thanos’ army attacks! 

New York. Aliens invading. Sounds very Avengers movie, no? It is - but not as exciting. Soule decides to split the team into various groups with different stories of varying interest: Punisher, Venom and Elektra go to take out the mob; Red Hulk, Leader and Mercy become embroiled in alien skirmishes; and Deadpool goes for pizza. 

The Punisher storyline is ok up to a point but once him, Venom and Elektra make it into the bunker where all the mafia dudes are, it becomes drawn out for no reason. Frank Castle, armed to the teeth, walks into a room full of gangsters: how long do you expect that scene to last - Frank kills everyone in a minute, maybe two? I think the only reason it went on for as long as it did was because Soule was told to keep the plates spinning while events in Infinity reached its climax with the detonation of the terrigen bomb, which plays into this book. 

The Red Hulk/Leader/Mercy storyline just didn’t grab me at all. Leader’s trying to sabotage things on the sly and Mercy is just a ridiculously powerful character whose motivations are too abstract for me to care about. They basically hang about staring at the massive alien fleet and wondering how to defeat it until Red Hulk says the right thing to Mercy who single-handedly blows everything up! 

The Deadpool storyline - eh. He gets pizza, does some silly things, kills some bad guys - it’s Deadpool 101. Not too boring but not too interesting either. 

The bookend issues aren’t that good either. One focuses on part of Mercy’s backstory and because I don’t care about Mercy, I just wanted the issue to end, and the other is a kind of dream sequence with the Leader that was just pointless. 

I really liked Jefte Palo’s art which doesn’t look like superhero comic art and feels more indie-like, so I found it refreshing to see such typically massive, dramatically Marvel things happening rendered in a different way. 

I definitely like this new creative team for Thunderbolts and I don’t put its failings down to Soule entirely - I think he’s basically given a broad outline of a story and told to fill in the blanks - but it’s still not a great volume that’s got some ok moments but generally feels overlong and dull for the most part. Now that Infinity’s over and done with and the Thunderbolts are headed (literally and figuratively) in a new direction, I think the next volume will be a more satisfying read. But for a book filled with Infinity crap, it was much better than I expected.

Thunderbolts Volume 3: Infinity (Marvel Now) (Thunderbolts (Marvel))

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