Sunday, 14 September 2014

Thunderbolts, Volume 4: No Mercy Review (Charles Soule, Carlo Barberi)


If I wasn’t already reading Inhuman in the monthlies, I’d say Thunderbolts is Charles Soule’s weakest title yet. As it is though, this fourth volume is ok but never really rises above the mediocre. 

In the first of three stories, most of the gang wind up in hell after an attempt to send Mercy there goes awry. Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (who has nothing to do with the All-New Ghost Rider series currently going on) also joins the team and it’s one on, one off, as Venom decides to jump ship - but not before a parting fight! And the final story has a Heart of Darkness flavour to it as Ross leads the team into the Honduran jungle on a potential suicide mission to rescue one of his men who’s gone a bit mad... 

None of the stories really grabbed me - the hell story was alright in places but I never felt the team were in any danger at any time. You knew they were going to be fine and they’d do what they needed to so it was fairly predictable. Plus it was your usual fire and brimstone hell, so not exactly a memorable version to see. 

The Venom one-shot felt equally drawn-out and pointless, while the Honduran jungle story… well, the ending just annoyed me. Remember how the last story in volume 3 ended? Same deal here - it’s such a hacky trick, there should be a ban against using that kinda ending! 

There are some fun moments - mostly all Deadpool related - especially the references to the two bad Ghost Rider movies (take that, Nic Cage!). Elsewhere, Deadpool’s pimp hat make a reappearance and he fights a moustache, so if you’re a fan of Wade Wilson’s, this book might be worth reading just for his scenes. Surprisingly, for all the fanfare about his arrival, Ghost Rider doesn’t make much of an impression in the series or to the team dynamic as a whole which is a bit disappointing. 

This book collects the last of Soule’s Thunderbolts issues as he moves upwards onto bigger titles like Inhuman and Death of Wolverine (the latter being pretty good). Soule tries to set the Thunderbolts on a different and potentially more interesting path as his farewell gift but whether it carries over into the next book with a new writer in place, who knows. Frankly, without Soule on the title, I’ve lost all interest in finding out. 

But though Charles Soule’s scripts are decently written and the art from Carlo Barberi, Kim Jacinto and Paco Diaz are all fine, Thunderbolts Volume 4 is an unremarkable book full of so-so stories. They’re not awful, they’re not great, they’re the Thunderbolts.

Thunderbolts Volume 4: No Mercy

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