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Feeling Thunder

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Last month’s introduction of the all-new all-deadly Thunderbolts to the team’s main title didn’t go by unnoticed. The first part of the Faith in Monsters story arc, by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr. sold out faster than Bullseye can throw a shuriken between your eyes.

With a team comprised of Bullseye Venom, Moonstone, Songbird, Radioactive Man, Swordsman, Penance, and the Green Goblin, there’s sure to be some collateral damage coming up. BF spoke to Mike Deodato about the series.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Coincidentally, you were the artist on Incredible Hulk #449, which introduced the original Thunderbolts team in the Marvel Universe. History sure has a funny way of repeating itself sometimes, doesn’t it?

MIKE DEODATO, JR: It's all part of the Master Plan.  My goal is to eventually draw every Marvel hero and villain, one way or another.

Seriously, it's one of the cool things about being a comic book artist—the opportunity to draw many different surprising things.  I never know what's going to be in a story until the script arrives in my inbox.  Next issue I could be drawing Skull the Slayer teaming up with Millie the Model, and the following issue it's Batroc the Leaper getting down with Patsy Walker.  I'm holding out for Willie Lumpkin being the secret mastermind behind the hero registration.

BF: Now, you were originally slated to replace Gary Frank on Squadron Supreme, but instead ended up on Thunderbolts. How did that happen?

MD: Good question!  Marvel really talked up my stint on New Avengers, so I thought I was going to be on that a long while. Next I heard, Joe Straczynski wanted me on Squadron Supreme, so I revved up for that... I even drew a cover or two.  Then plans changed.  I worked on a Punisher story and an Ultimates Annual and, next thing I knew, they told me I was on Thunderbolts.  My chiropractor is trying to help with the whiplash. [Laughs]

BF: It’s not like doing Thunderbolts is a bad thing, because you ended up collaborating with a great writer just the same. You already worked with Warren on a Thor #491-494 — how does it feel to be working with him again?

MD: It's fantastic!  I love working with Warren Ellis.  I thought the "World Engine" stuff we did together a decade ago was some of my most enjoyable assignments from that period, so it's like Christmas when I get one of his scripts—I open the wrapping and there's all sorts of surprises in there.  I love his handling of characters.

I've been really fortunate over the years, with the writers I've gotten to work with.  I mean, look at the list:  Warren Ellis. Brian Michael Bendis. Bruce Jones. J. Michael Straczynski.  Peter David. William Messner-Loebs. I'm just waiting for the chance to work with Stan Lee next.

BF: When the Thunderbolts concept was launched back in the day, it featured a team of heroes disguised as villains, some of which started to feel more heroic as time went by. While such a makeover sounds a bit extreme looking at the current roster, how will the different characters develop during and beyond the Faith in Monsters arc?

MD: You will know soon after I know.  The scripts are a surprise to me, as well.  Of course, that could change if bribery is involved...

BF: Can’t take you up on that, sorry! [Laughs] Even more so than your recent runs on New Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man, Thunderbolts is a book everyone’s watching because they’re waiting to see whether the ‘villains experiment’ will blow up in the face of the pro-registration side. In your opinion, was it a good move by Reed and Tony?

MD: You're wanting me to voice a political opinion about that?  Me, with my mutant drawing super-power and macho heroic look?  I don't want them coming after me....

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeBF: Ok, well, then, there are a few iconic villains on the team: Green Goblin, Venom, and Bullseye. Which of these gives you the biggest kick drawing him?

MD: I like them all.  Probably Green Goblin has the edge.

BF: Personally, do you sympathise with Jack Flag’s cause as a ‘victim’ of the Registration Act, or do you feel the law must be abided by at all times, no matter what the cost?

MD: Aggh!  Political again!  I'll say this much:  Laws change.  Personal freedoms change.  Just because it was once legal to have slaves in your country doesn't mean it was right.  I've read online where there are hundreds of laws and statutes still "on the books" in the U.S. that make no sense.  There's still a law on the books where it's illegal to wear suspenders in a certain town in Arizona!  In California it's still illegal to set a mouse trap without a hunting license.  It is illegal to buy a bag of peanuts after sunset and before sunrise the next day in Alabama. 

Check out http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Zone/7474/ohlaws.html to see what I mean.  So if crazy laws like that are in existence, then, yeah, not every law needs to be abided by.

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeBF: As we already mentioned, the series you’ve worked on over the past few years are really among the upper-tier ones in the Marvel stable. Has working on top titles elevated your style?

MD: I've been fortunate to do a lot of top-tier titles in my career.  I've had two runs on Avengers and Hulk at different points in my career, and I’ve done Spider-Man and Thor and so many others.  I'm always pushing to do my best, but, you know, it's only been the past few years what I understood my best could BE.  I still put in long hours, but I'm working smarter now.

BF: In related, has working on those upper-tier titles renewed your enjoyment working in comics?

MD: I love drawing comics.  If I didn't, I would do something else.  There's always a new script, a new project, a new opportunity on the horizon, and each one brings renewed excitement for the job.  Scripts are better than ever, and that's a big part of staying jazzed up about this business of comics.

BF: Before we close this off, let’s revisit the Thunderbolts one more time. Perhaps the most controversial member on the team isn’t one of the villains, but Penance, the Superhero Formerly Known as Speedball. What can you say about his role in the series as it progresses?

MD: I can’t say much about it, that is, I'll be as excited as you are to see what happens when I get the next script…

Thunderbolts #111, Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato’s second issue together, goes on sale this Wednesday.

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