Thunder After The Reign: Jeff Parker Takes The Thunderbolts Into The Heroic Age

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For 3 years now, the Thunderbolts have served as the vanguard of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign, first as a team of psychopaths on a short leash, then disguised as the Avengers, and most recently as a black-ops squad. In May, Jeff Parker puts the criminals back in their place, and sets the team back on a potential path for redemption. Broken Frontier spoke with Parker about his plans for Marvel's Most Wanted; who amongst the new lineup has the chance to go straight, and who is just biding their time, waiting to unleash the latest act of villainy.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Now that you've been on Thunderbolts for a while, how has it been working with this team and concept?

JEFF PARKER: It's a good time. While I of course like being able to establish my own foundation and story architecture as happens with the new direction in 144, it's also really interesting to be brought in the way I was with the current team. In essence "This group of Thunderbolts is built on a deeply flawed premise, organized by a megalomaniac (and just maniac)- that's heading towards a fiery end. Make sure it crashes and burns!"

BF: May sees the debut on an almost entirely new cast; going through the roster, let's start with the team leader, Luke Cage. What makes him want to take this job on? Would he feel comfortable using the same "nanite" tech that kept the previous Thunderbolts under control? And do you have him all to yourself for now, or do you have to balance his appearances here with other books?

JP: Luke didn't go out of his way to take on this responsibility, but I'm sure you know the saying "Those who Can... Do." He was the right man for the job. You'll see how he deals with the failsafe in that first story. And no, he's still in New Avengers- really, do you think Brian Bendis is ever going to give him up? At least The Raft penitentiary isn't that far from Manhattan, it's not the work commute that say Wolverine has to do.

BF: Probably the best known of the criminals on the team is Juggernaut. Where is he at as a character as he comes into this series? He's been straddling the hero/villain fence for a while, right?

JP: And he still will be. I don't think he'll ever be defined clearly as one or the other, just like a lot of people in real life. I like that to some people, he's a nightmare and to others he's a loyal ally. That makes him the perfect type to be in the Thunderbolts- a really powerful figure who can affect the world in a big way, and you want to point him the right way. You may never change him.
BF: Next up is Crossbones; is he there to basically be the"irredeemable sociopath" of the group?

JP: Part of the group's mission is to get some jobs done, and they can't shoot for making a project out of everybody. Some people are just really good at what they do, and Crossbones is one of those. As you can imagine, Luke is not happy to have to work with him.

BF: Staying around from the previous line-up are Ghost and Moonstone; can you say what Ghost's motivations are for staying with the group? And is Moonstone's role pretty much the same as before, or is there going to be some fallout from her close association with Osborn?

JP: Ghost is glad they let him come onboard, he does not like being out of his suit.  He's another formidable figure who can be pointed the right way, but might get up to extreme no good left to his own devices, like trying to kill Iron Man.

Moonstone is returning with more strikes against her, but she has potential!

BF: Lastly, what I think most people consider the surprise of the group-- Man-Thing. This may sound strange when talking about a semi-sentient pile of swamp vegetation, but can you tell us anything about his motivations or mindset?

JP: No, because no one can tell what Man-Thing is thinking. You'll understand his place soon enough.

BF: Does this team have a specific mandate or mission, aside from reducing their sentences?

JP: They have a lot of crappy jobs to do in the wake of Dark Reign. While SHIELD was disbanded, a lot of things went to hell, and putting all those demons back in the box requires some heavies like the Thunderbolts.

BF: You're paired with artist Kev Walker for this run; what does he bring to the table?

JP: Besides that he's simply an impressive artist, I'm already enjoying how much he cares about the storytelling. Kev makes lots of suggestions of handling the dialogue and character moments, the big sign that an artist cares about his work. I also appreciate that he gives the whole environment a subtle 2000 AD feel, if you like Eagle Comics and Judge Dredd, where Kev came from. And he does brilliant design. It's going to be a terrific looking book.

BF: It's been revealed that the prison system has now changed in the Marvel Universe; all the top super-criminals are now being held in one supermax prison, The Raft, and the new Thunderbolts lineup will operate from there. I recall that years ago, when The Vault (which was a similar set-up) was destroyed, Thunderbolts writer Kurt Busiek opined that it was good to get rid of it, because having one central super-prison with supposedly top-security led to it looking like a "cracker box" (ie; incredibly ineffective) when villains inevitably and regularly have to escape, as writers want to use them. Do you see this as a problem, and if so, do you have any ideas on how to address it?

JP: As you'll see in our set up, the Raft is now inviting in lots of specialists and advisors that will be familiar to Marvel fans. They're going with an adaptive system- they realize someone may break out, but they'll never do it the same way again. You'll see some of the safeguards established in the Heroic Age short story.













BF: Given the setting of The Raft, with its many super-criminals, is the plan to have line-up changes as a frequent occurrence?

JP: Yes. And different characters can come on for a brief stint as missions require their specialties. It will keep things fresh and shake up the team often.

BF: Any other teases about what readers can look forward to in this run?

JP: Luke is going to be bringing some good friends of his by to show these reprobates what a team is supposed to be, and it heats up from there!

Thunderbolts #144 goes on sale from Marvel on May 26th priced $2.99.

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  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Mar 29, 2010 at 10:40am

    The penultimate question answer made me think instantly of SUICIDE SQUAD. All sounds worth watching though. Jeff Parker is always dependable and worth watching. Not sure about the Man-Thing as a member though. He's not meant to be able to exist outside of his Everglades swamp after all...

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