Thunderbolts #1 (2016)
By Jim Zub (W), Jon Malin (A), and Matt Yackey (CA)
Published By: Marvel Comics
Alright, maiden voyage time, and I can think of no better way to start it off than with Thunderbolts #1, released last week. I love the Thunderbolts, the original by Kurt Busiek, the New Thunderbolts by Fabian Nicieza, Norman Osborn’s Initiative-era Thunderbolts by Warren Ellis, the Dark Reign-era psycho-killer Thunderbolts by Andy Diggle, and the Luke Cage-led Heroic Age Thunderbolts by Jeff Parker. I also love the Winter Soldier. He’s my favorite super hero. So, I was thoroughly looking forward to this series, though, being a millennial cynic, I had my concerns.
But, to finally get to it, this story happens in the shadow of the recent Avengers crossover, Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill (a story that I will review in full soon). Bucky Barnes leads a ragtag team of ex-cons, is fighting off Shield and continues his role as the Man on the Wall: fighting off extraterrestrial threats to Earth. His team consists of Moonstone, Fixer, Mach X, and Atlas, all Thunderbolts alumni. They are also protecting Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube that Maria Hill used to mind-wipe the criminals that Pleasant Hill held.
This comic works for me. It was very good, quite fantastic, even. The characters felt like themselves. Bucky Barnes is the hard-nosed leader who is in over his head leading these personalities. Moonstone, true to her form, is vain, challenging the Winter Soldier at every turn and complaining about their station. Atlas is sort of the comic relief, trying to make light of things whenever possible. Fixer is the cocky tech-guy. Mach X doesn’t really get much attention in the first issue, but it’s still nice to see him back on the roster. Kobik is a very enjoyable character too. She is really endearing, and she and Bucky have a nice big brother-little sister relationship. The humor and endearment balances out the overall aptly dark tone of the comic. The ending is quite the surprise, and I’m interested in seeing how they continue from this issue.
This book also had something that I felt Standoff lacked; someone sticking it to Shield. Standoff made Maria Hill an irredeemable character in my eyes. The idea of taking someone’s identity and completely changing who they are is nightmarish. It’s worse than simply executing them. The first portion of Standoff seemed to view it this way, but the story’s attitude towards Maria Hill seemed to change midway through (I really do need to talk about this story in full soon). The ending was, consequently, a bit lackluster. Thunderbolts #1 seems to want to remedy that and opens up with our sort-of heroes tearing through a team of Guardsmen (which was a pretty cool 90’s throwback) with a narration by Bucky talking about how far gone Shield is in his eyes.
Malin and Yackey’s art is solid. They create a Nineties-esque look that fits the Nineties origin of the team. It’s good Nineties work. Think good Jim Lee work, not Rob Liefeld. I like that they incorporate Bucky’s face mask from the movies. I think that was a nice addition to the costume. There are some spots where the art looks a little wonky and incongruous with the rest of the book, but those are few and far between.
On the whole, this is a great start to the series. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s definitely worth your four dollars.
Final Score: 9/10