Writer: Jim Zub
Penciler: Jon Malin
Colorist: Matt Yackey
Inker: Matt Yackey
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Release Date: August 31, 2016
Plot: After having a run in with the Inhumans, the Thunderbolts team finds themselves trying to lay low once again and avoid the various organizations and teams coming after them. This issue the group faces off against the Squadron Supreme who wants to eliminate the potential world ending threat that Kobik is.
Story: The Thunderbolts story has been interesting through four issues because it is still setting up the long-term story for the book. Having Bucky lead the new team is a really good place to start and he seems like the exact type of character who should be leading a team of ex-villains because of his ability to relate to people wanting to reform.
In issue #4 the Squadron Supreme has caught wind of the destruction the Thunderbolts caused and how powerful Kobik is, which leads them to the conclusion that they should eliminate the threat. It’s interesting to have the Thunderbolts fight two teams in a row and whether or not this will be a recurring theme of the team being on the run, having to fend off other heroes and organizations. The book keeps things pretty light and it’s a lot of fun to watch these heroes battle one another for a quick minute because both teams have a good balance of powers that makes the battle well-rounded.
In the past the Thunderbolts have had some pretty cool lineups with well-known Marvel characters, but the team in this run goes back to the roots of the Thunderbolts being criminals turned heroes, which creates some great character stories. In this issue there is a scene where MACH-V points out that the news did not mention him as being one of the wanted members of the team and how he is thinking about leaving, which really sets Atlas off. The panel where he discusses how messed up Pleasant Hill was and what they did to him was very emotional and the type of things that really make these characters likable. While they might have been villains once, that doesn’t mean they deserved to have a false reality implanted into their minds. It’s sad to hear what happened to the character, but really gets readers to connect with the individuals and want to see them succeed, making payoff in future issues count for more.
Jim Zub seems to have a really solid grasp on how to write characters that are on a tough journey and who have to overcome struggle with each step. The thing that is really neat about this Thunderbolts lineup is that each character seems like they have something to prove to themselves, and that is how a writer can truly elevate a character from being unknown to greatness. Zub’s ability to bring out the emotion behind all of the team members is what makes this book enjoyable through the four issues and adding in Kobik to the mix really makes them seem like a family trying to work things out and get along.
Art: The artwork in Thunderbolts has been very good as well. Jon Malin has been doing a great job with the pencil work and giving reader’s very detailed versions of characters in each panel. The fight scenes have been really neat so far because not only does Malin give us large broad images depicting the entirety of the fight between two teams, he also cuts right back into a closeup with great detail.
In this book, with the Thunderbolts facing the Squadron Supreme, there are some great panels of Bucky that just look pretty because of the detail in his face, seeing the individual strands of hair, or the shattering of Blur’s mask which you can see above. These types of details go a long way and set up for great back and forth when a battle is being shown on the page.
Eventually Malin is jumping back and forth between the closeups and broad scenes to really convey both aspects of the big battles. Readers get to feel the impact of how large these team fights are but doesn’t get lazy and skip over the individual 1 vs. 1 shots either. Matt Yackey also builds these scenes up with his color choices and keeping things vibrant which makes a lot of little details look much cooler. In the panel above adding color to things like MACH-V’s wrist rockets, Moonstone’s beam or even Atlas’ blood as he is wrapped in chains. This all completes the scenes and really brings them to life with a flowing continuity throughout the book.
On top of this, Yackey has beautifully portrayed the effect of Kobik’s powers in this issue. The glitter detail seen above when she stops Blur from speeding around looks very neat and pretty while also getting the point across that Kobik is doing something to his entire body. The story is told through both the writing and the art, and Yackey really does a great job of conveying what is actually happening through his coloring choices.
Verdict: Thunderbolts still seems to be finding its footing through four issues, but the story seems to be honing in on its long-term focus. There are a ton of great elements and Zub seems to have a grasp on where he wants to take these characters and the emotions he wants to convey through their struggle. Malin and Yackey’s combined artwork really brings the story to life and does a great job with visual storytelling. Thunderbolts is definitely a book to keep up with because all signs are pointing to great things ahead.