Thunderbolts #122


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Thunderbolts #122


  • Words: Christos N. Gage
  • Art: Fernando Blanco
  • Inks: Fernando Blanco
  • Colors: Rain Beredo
  • Story Title: Running the Asylum ? Part 1
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 23, 2008

What everyone really wants to know is whether Christos N. Gage lives up to Warren Ellis' run on Thunderbolts. The short answer? No.

That's not to say that the first issue of Gage's run is incredibly bad; it's not. It's just mediocre, and in the comic industry mediocrity can be a dangerous thing.

The first thing that will catch readers' attention is the cover. This is certainly subjective, but I feel that the cover is entirely too cartoonish for the Thunderbolts series. One of the things that made Ellis' run on Thunderbolts so enjoyable was Mike Deodato, Jr.'s realistic, detail-oriented artwork. The cover for #122 is jarring and unimpressive. For one thing, many of the characters' bodies are out of proportion: Penance's arms are too large, Bullseye's shoulders are too wide, and Venom's head is entirely too small.

Furthermore, Captain Marvel looks almost exactly like Blasto, the over-the-top video game character voiced by Phil Hartman in 1998.

Rain Beredo's colors do a good job of capturing the feel of the Thunderbolts, but Fernando Blanco's pencils are a little disappointing. Norman Osborn no longer bears a striking resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones as he did in Deodato's work; sadly, he now resembles Silly Putty that's been stretched over Joe Quesada's knee. Many of the action-intensive panels lack motion or sense of movement and keep the scenes from being enjoyable.

One of Gage's main problems in writing Thunderbolts is characterization, especially Osborn's. Osborn always kept his hand close to his chest when Ellis wrote him, and that seemed to work well for a number of reasons. The members of the Thunderbolts team aren't the most honorable people in the Marvel Universe, so it stands to reason that Osborn would share as little as possible with them to avoid being ousted as director (among other things). At the very least, the team would begin to question his authority if he showed any signs of weakness or admitted to mistakes. In #122, though, there are a few instances where Osborn is too honest about the events transpiring, and even more than that he shows a bit of weakness in front of the team.

The Swordsman and his sister are one of the focal points of this issue, a point that carries with it a great deal of the mediocrity discussed previously. It was my understanding that the Swordsman is a C-list villain (at best) whose only purpose is to occasionally stab someone or get beaten around by another member of the Thunderbolts. It's unfortunate that the beginning of Gage's run is marred by such a dull, uninteresting character. Hopefully, Gage will once and for all resolve the story with the Swordsman's sister and quickly move in a different direction.

Thunderbolts #122 isn't a bad start for Gage, but he's going to have to work hard to ramp up the intensity and suspense for the book. Readers won't be satisfied with a story that spends a majority of its time rehashing plot points from previous issues. This is only the first issue, so readers should be interested enough to pick up a few more issues before passing final judgment.

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