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Thunderbolts #1: Review

May 2016
Jim Zubkavich, Jon Malin

Story Name:

There is no high road part 1: Power and control

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Thunderbolts #1 Review by (May 14, 2016)
I was a big fan of the original Thunderbolts (but not of the Red Hulk version) so I'm glad to see many of the old gang reunited. But artist Jon Malin seems to be channelling Rob Liefield, which is not so good news for me.

Leader Winter Soldier is of course new to the team, replacing Baron Zemo who led the originals. But Atlas, Fixer and Moonstone were in the 1st issue, as was MACH-X as MACH-1. Of the other original members Songbird is too busy in New Avengers to be here (as is Hawkeye, another long-time leader), and Jolt is on Counter-Earth with the Young Allies.

Abner Jenkins used to be the Beetle. Like all the criminal Thunderbolts he adopted a new codename as a 'hero' - MACH-1. Since then he's upgraded his flying armour and Mark number several times. For MACH-IV he switched to Roman numerals, and reached MACH-V within Thunderbolts. After the team disbanded Abner jumped a Mark to MACH-VII but continued as a good guy in Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Avengers: Standoff. Now he's going exponential to MACH-X.

After he left Thunderbolts back in #109 Atlas didn't quite make into the Initiative and instead joined 1 of the unofficial Last Defenders teams in their #3-4. Then the rejected hero joined Wonder Man's Revengers to fight the post-Dark Reign Avengers and New Avengers in their 1st and only Annuals. That's presumably why he was put in Pleasant Hill.

Moonstone vies with Abner Jenkins for the most Thunderbolts issues logged. It probably depends whether you count the Dark Reign Dark Avengers series too. After Dark Reign she was imprisoned on the Raft and rejoined Thunderbolts who were then run like DC's Suicide Squad.
Meanwhile Fixer had continued to be a mainly good guy loosely associated with the team. And after Dark Reign he helped run its new version until he got fed up with the boring good life. He went time-travelling with Moonstone and some other prisoners, met and killed his younger self and had to replace himself to preserve the timestream.
We don't know how he got himself out of that time loop. But that incident blotted his copybook so he was sent to Pleasant Hill. Where he was the 1st to break his conditioning and free the other criminals.
Meanwhile Moonstone returned from the time trip and the Thunderbolts morphed into a new Dark Avengers. Sometime after their title ended Moonstone too wound up in PH.

The Guardsmen are armoured guards who work for various government institutions. Their armour was developed from a prototype by Tony Stark in Iron Man (original series) #43. They were 1st seen as a group in Avengers Annual #15. You can always tell it's them because their armour's always green.

Most of the inmates of Pleasant Hill were recaptured after its fall and are imprisoned elsewhere, probably in Augustus Roman's Cellar in Amazing Spider-Man.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thunderbolts #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes recruited Atlas, Fixer, MACH-X and Moonstone as his new Thunderbolts team from the ruins of the Pleasant Hill prison (in the Avengers: Standoff event). (Abner Jenkins/MACH-X wasn't actually a prisoner - he was 1 of the staff.)

He leads the group in a raid on a SHIELD installation. Since Standoff he no longer trusts SHIELD, and the 'Bolts are here to destroy the info SHIELD has amassed on the super-community. (And copy some of it for themselves.)

Fixer's tech gets them in, but they're faced with a bunch of Guardsmen. Most of the team play nice, but Moonstone uses a combination of psychological attack and lethal force.

When Fixer has dealt with the data MACH-X leads them to an aircraft in which they can escape. After Atlas has knocked a hole in the wall big enough to fly through.

When they return to their secret underground base in New Mexico they are greeted by Kobik, the little girl who is really a Cosmic Cube and was used by SHIELD to keep the PLeasant Hill inmates 'sedated'.

We learn that Bucky is still Nick Fury's replacement as the Man On The Wall who guards the Earth against external threats. He saved these guys from PH to help him do that job. The SHIELD intel they've taken will update Fury's old files.

Kobik overhears the team bitching about their rubbish hideout. Next morning they wake to find that she's transformed it into their dream home. Bucky thanks her, but warns her it's not safe to use her powers because SHIELD might be able to track her.

Fixer integrates the data and applies his own programs to filter and cross-relate the result. He derives a ranked threat list, and the biggest signal come from Georgia. Nick Fury's files say it matches the comms of certain aliens.

The team fly to investigate, leaving Kobik behind again. But the 'little girl' materialises in the plane, and they agree to take her along.

What they find when they get there is a building full of things similar to Inhuman Terrigen cocoons. But Fixer says that isn't what they are. MACH-X and Moonstone want to destroy them all but Bucky wants to investigate further.

This triggers a head-to-head clash between Karla Sofen and Bucky. Karla thinks she should be leader because she's the most powerful. Bucky points out it's only her Moonstone gem which gives her that power. She responds by challenging anyone to try and take it from her.

Unfortunately Kobik takes her literally. She rips the gem out of Karla's chest and transforms herself into a mini-Moonstone (seemingly taking half of Sofen's armour as well).

Jon Malin
Jon Malin
Matt Yackey
Jon Malin (Cover Penciler)
Jon Malin (Cover Inker)
Matt Yackey (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Plus: Atlas.

> Thunderbolts: Book info and issue index

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