Archive for July, 2014

Thunderbolts #118

July 31, 2014

Thunderbolts 118Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
February 2008
***

A central part of Busiek’s original T-bolts, which Ellis has revived, is the sense that the status quo is unsustainable. The team starts to tear apart—but this is too soon, due to decompressed pacing. Ironically, the best moment has Songbird & Rad-Man cooperate to douse a flaming jet in its hanger.

last issue: Thunderbolts #117
next issue: Thunderbolts #119

also indexed for Feb. ’08
Annihilation: Conquest #2 of 6
The Immortal Iron Fist #12
Nova #9

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Thunderbolts #117

July 30, 2014

Thunderbolts 117Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
December 2007
***

Doc Samson takes the tough-love approach to a shrink session w/ castmember Speedball. The doc is Ellis’ surrogate in rehabilitating this broken character, once a goofball & now a super-masochist in an iron maiden! Deo often puts together dandy layouts, tho’ his photo-reffed actors are wooden.

last issue: Thunderbolts #116
next issue: Thunderbolts #118

also indexed for Dec. ’07
Annihilation: Conquest: Quasar #4 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Star-Lord #4 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Wraith #4 of 4
The Immortal Iron Fist #10
Nova #7

Thunderbolts #116

July 29, 2014

Thunderbolts 116Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
October 2007
****

T-bolts effectively goes bimonthly for the rest of this revisionistic run. Ellis takes a ’90s-style strikeforce of black hats & uses it as a vehicle for W. Bush-era commentary. The dark side of the post-Civil War: a crackdown on civil rights, as the team’s base is an overcrowded black site prison.

last issue: Thunderbolts #115
next issue: Thunderbolts #117

also indexed for Oct. ’07
Astonishing X-Men #22
Annihilation: Conquest: Quasar #2 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Star-Lord #2 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Wraith #2 of 4
The Immortal Iron Fist #8
Nova #5

Thunderbolts #115

July 28, 2014

Thunderbolts 115Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
August 2007
***

The field op is a failure, although the T-bolts capture their man (a Spidey wannabe). A second exception: during the chaos, Songbird takes the opportunity to strike Bullseye from the team. Ellis works excellently in the moral shadows, but Deodato’s photo-referencing can make the actors seem stiff.

last issue: Thunderbolts #114
next issue: Thunderbolts #116

also indexed for Aug. ’07
Annihilation: Conquest: Prologue #1 of 1
The Immortal Iron Fist #7
Nova #3

Thunderbolts #114

July 27, 2014

Thunderbolts 114Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
July 2007
***

A super-rumble in downtown Phoenix has a trio of ‘undocumented’ superheroes undaunted by the title team’s surprise attack. A slightly subpar issue, partly cuz it’s so decompressed. Deodato quits the grid layout to imply the dynamism of battle, but he loses a sense of space and slows the pacing.

last issue: Thunderbolts #113
next issue: Thunderbolts #115

also indexed for Jul. ’07
The Immortal Iron Fist #6
Nova #2

Thunderbolts #113

July 26, 2014

Thunderbolts 113Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
June 2007
****

Several subplots are converging on Phoenix AZ: a querulous strike team of psychopaths & a trio of naïve super-types just trying to avoid the Marvel überplot, a super-draft (AKA the Initiative) & do the right thing. Deodato’s faces are very expressive, due to painterly contouring by his colorist.

last issue: Thunderbolts #112
next issue: Thunderbolts #114

also indexed for Jun. ’07
The Immortal Iron Fist #5
Nova #1

Thunderbolts #112

July 25, 2014

Thunderbolts 112Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
May 2007
****

The team’s a vivid array of luridly damaged psyches. Norman Osborne finally justifies his Clone-era resurrection, but it’s Moonstone & Songbird who stand out (as they had in Busiek’s T-bolts). The women butt heads over the leadership role in a scene out of a military briefing in the Iraqi Green Zone.

last issue: Thunderbolts #111
next issue: Thunderbolts #113

also indexed for May ’07
Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #2 of 2
Astonishing X-Men #21

Thunderbolts #111

July 24, 2014

Thunderbolts 111Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
April 2007
****

Norm Osborne, on antipsychotics, leads a federal team of superconvicts. Here, they arrest one of Captain America’s protégés with extreme force & revolting machismo. This new take on the T-bolts does what Civil War didn’t: use a superhero idiom to take a timely stand against domestic policing.

last issue: Thunderbolts #110
next issue: Thunderbolts #112

also indexed for Apr. ’07
Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1 of 2
The Immortal Iron Fist #4

Thunderbolts #110

July 23, 2014

Thunderbolts 110Warren Ellis // Mike Deodato
March 2007
****

A marquee creative team revamps this mag superbly. In Ellis’ hands, the T-bolts are a variation on Suicide Squad, but w/ a strong satiric take on his übermenschen in The Authority as informed by Homeland Security. Deodato, in the cinematic mode-of-the-monent, has the virtue of being a very good DP.

last issue: Thunderbolts #109
next issue: Thunderbolts #111

also indexed for Mar. ’07
Annihilation #6 of 6
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #12

Thunderbolts #33

July 22, 2014

Thunderbolts 033Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
December 1999
****

Busiek’s swansong recounts Jolt’s trauma during the Onslaught attack—no surprises yet. His real interest is in a techno-oddball right out of Astro City: a pudgy, scruffy recluse who’s lurked in a mountain base since X-Men #28, thru several changes of ownership, & now accepts T-bolts membership.

last issue: Thunderbolts #32
next issue: Thunderbolts #34

also indexed for Dec. ’99
Avengers #23

Thunderbolts #32

July 21, 2014

Thunderbolts 032Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
November 1999
***

An aristo-fascist conspiracy airs the ol’ gladiator trope. Like so much of this mag, both in writing & art, it’s well-crafted convention—but compare this melée of zaps & thunks to Kirby’s original (a killer roller-derby)! Thru it all, I’m still not a Bagley fan: his style is pretty, but he never surprises me.

last issue: Thunderbolts #31
next issue: Thunderbolts #33

also indexed for Nov. ’99
Avengers #22
Avengers Forever #11 of 12

Thunderbolts #31

July 20, 2014

Thunderbolts 031Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
October 1999
***

Encyclopedic Busiek goes all-out on the Roy Thomas Approach, tying a quasi-fascist conspiracy from Kirby’s ’70s Cap to Englehart’s Secret Empire. Like Bag’s art, the tale’s fun but generic, lacking the political conviction of those earlier writers; these are simply heavies trying to conquer America.

last issue: Thunderbolts #30
next issue: Thunderbolts #32

also indexed for Oct. ’99
Avengers #21
Avengers Forever #10 of #12 

Thunderbolts #30

July 19, 2014

Thunderbolts 030Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
September 1999
***

After Graviton falls into an alt dimension, he’s recruited by a hooded figure. From the new base’s labyrinth of corridors, another secretive shadow overhauls the T-bolts’ sky-jalopy. Then there’s the still-unknown IDs of Citizen V & Crimson C… This gambit rarely ends in a satisfying reveal.

last issue: Thunderbolts #29
next issue: Thunderbolts #31

also indexed for Sept. ’99
Avengers #20

Thunderbolts #29

July 18, 2014

Thunderbolts 029Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
August 1999
****

One flaw of T-bolts is its chirpy fan-girl sidekick, now joined by a 2nd superteen. W/ their teammates captured, it’s up to them to save the day. But one strength of T-bolts is its team dynamic, such that other scenes showcase more vivid characters—like Moonstone, sniggering at Graviton’s clichéd goals.

last issue: Thunderbolts #28
next issue: Thunderbolts #30

also indexed for Aug. ’99
Avengers #19
Avengers Forever #9 of 12

Thunderbolts #28

July 17, 2014

Thunderbolts 028Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
July 1999
***

Graviton returns, leading a floating island of flying pirates over San F! Busiek has an aptitude for megalomaniac plans! He & Bagley also have a great sense of pacing, staging tight scenes of clear motivation. And when they break the one-off issue rhythm w/ a cliffhanger, it helps show the stakes.

last issue: Thunderbolts #27
next issue: Thunderbolts #29

also indexed for Jul. ’99
Avengers #18
Avengers #0
Avengers Annual 1999
Avengers Forever #8 of 12

Thunderbolts #27

July 16, 2014

Thunderbolts 027Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
June 1999
***

This ish compares the title team to the West Coast Avengers & then the Champions (the ’70s poster kids for generic superteams). To underscore the tribute, ex-Champ Archangel guest-stars as a visitor to the new secret base in the Rockies. Subplots simmer as well, w/ each char getting a moment.

last issue: Thunderbolts #26
next issue: Thunderbolts #28

also indexed for Jun. ’99
Avengers #17
Avengers Forever #7 of 12

Thunderbolts #26

July 15, 2014

Thunderbolts 026Kurt Busiek & Joe Casey // Mark Bagley & Leonardo Manco
May 1999
****

Having earned a rest, Busiek & Bagley hand the reins over to Casey & Manco for a doozy of a fill-in. #26 goes into a super-prison, where Mach-1 quells a riot. Its approach is an homage to Astro City, w/ a realistic, hard-boiled perspective & gloomy style augmented nicely by echoes of Windsor-Smith.

last issue: Thunderbolts #25
next issue: Thunderbolts #27

also indexed for May ’99
Avengers #16
Avengers Forever #6 of 12

Thunderbolts #25

July 14, 2014

Thunderbolts 025Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
April 1999
***

The second anniversary ish serves as climax to T-bolts‘ second act: a brawl w/ 25 super-goons! Moonstone has been the mag’s protag, & ever since her regicide, she’s provided it w/ plenty of character. #25 fills in her backstory (a childhood of class resentment & manipulation) as she weighs betraying her team to usurp the megalomaniac plan of Crimson Cowl, femme leader of the Masters of Evil.

last issue: Thunderbolts #25
next issue: Thunderbolts #26

also indexed for Apr. ’99
Avengers #15
Avengers Forever #5 of 12

Thunderbolts #24

July 13, 2014

Thunderbolts 024Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
March 1999
***

The T-bolts save Kansan bystanders from their turf war w/ the Masters of Evil, who possess a Kirbytech weather device. Busiek’s focus, however, is devising a détente w/ the new Citizen V, a sort of female Batman, who gets a stern lesson in heroics from Hawkeye after her earlier work w/ Captain A.

last issue: Thunderbolts #23
next issue: Thunderbolts #25

also indexed for Mar. ’99
Avengers #14
Avengers Forever #4 of 12

Thunderbolts #23

July 12, 2014

Thunderbolts 023Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
February 1999
****

As Mach-1 turns himself in, an industrialist funds an armored team (& Bagley co-creation) to capture the T-bolts, led by a wannabe Cap. Since Hawkeye joined, this mag has found its swing! KB & MB juggle a huge cast using trad methods like 2×3 grids, bright 2D chars, & a constant shift in status quo.

last issue: Thunderbolts #22
next issue: Thunderbolts #24
see also Avengers #12

also indexed for Feb. ’99
Avengers #13
Avengers Forever #3 of 12

Thunderbolts #0

July 11, 2014

Thunderbolts 000Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
January 1999
***

The team faces a hit-squad of armored baddies, & bolster their bona fides. Though this non-sequential issue was done special for Wizard magazine, it fits cleanly btw T-bolts #22 and Avengers #12. It also demos what makes the mag appealing: a neo-classical sense of superheroics in art & in writing.

see also Thunderbolts #22

also indexed for Jan. ’99
Avengers #12
Avengers Forever #2 of 12
Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98
Thunderbolts #22

Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98

July 10, 2014

Captain America & Citizen V annual '98Kurt Busiek, Karl Kesel, & Barbara Kesel // Mark Bagley
January 1999
***

Marvel’s ’98 annuals are team-ups: here it’s Captain A on a mission from the T-bolts mag. Backstory: in his plan for world domination, Baron Zemo had impersonated the grandkid of Citizen V, a WW2-era supersoldier. Now the true grandchild (& her back-up team) works w/ Cap to stop Baron Z from launching a super-rocket. Props to Bagley, who pencils a whole annual w/o stinting on style or setting!

continued from Thunderbolts #22
continued in Thunderbolts #23
see also Thunderbolts #0

also indexed for Jan. ’99
Avengers #12
Avengers Forever #2 of 12
Thunderbolts #22
Thunderbolts #0

Thunderbolts #22

July 9, 2014

Thunderbolts 022Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
January 1999
****

Finally addressing the cast’s criminal acts, #22 turns the cape-comics trick of making fisticuffs an allegory for internal conflicts. Mach-1, who once killed a man, considers jail as a gesture of good faith; meanwhile, Atlas trades blows w/ Hercules, who he’d incapacitated in a classic Avengers arc.

continued in Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98
last issue: Thunderbolts #21
next issue: Thunderbolts #23
see also Thunderbolts #0

also indexed for Jan. ’99
Avengers #12
Avengers Forever #2 of 12
Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98
Thunderbolts #0

 

Thunderbolts #21

July 8, 2014

Thunderbolts 021Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
December 1998
****

Hawkeye’s new role as the T-bolts’ captain lends legitimacy to the team, & also makes formal this mag’s position as the beta Avengers. It even reinvigorates the mag’s heel-face dynamic after a slow six months. And #21 spends time on Songbird’s motivations, filling her personality out nicely.

last issue: Thunderbolts #20
next issue: Thunderbolts #22

also indexed for Dec. ’98
Avengers #11
Avengers Forever #1 of 12

Thunderbolts #20

July 7, 2014

Thunderbolts 020Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
November 1998
***

A confrontation w/ the new, for-profit Masters of Evil ends in stalemate as Moonstone’s egotism interferes with victory. Mostly the ish is a knockabout melee btw two superteams—Busiek’s in his element, & Bagley does fine too—but the issue’s heart is a post-mortem debate about needing new leadership…

last issue: Thunderbolts #19
next issue: Thunderbolts #21

also indexed for nov. ’98
Avengers #10

Thunderbolts #19

July 6, 2014

Thunderbolts 019Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
October 1998
**

As the cover announces, #19 intros the winner of Wizard Mag’s “create-a-villain” contest. Maybe that’s why the ish feels like padding, as the T-bolts emancipate a mountain town from generic super-troopers. Of course, KB & MB provide solid craftsmanship, but they don’t move the plot forward from #18.

last issue: Thunderbolts #18
next issue: Thunderbolts #20

also indexed for Oct. ’98
Avengers #9

Thunderbolts #18

July 5, 2014

Thunderbolts 018Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
September 1998
***

With morale low, the T-bolts are bested by the poseur Masters of Evil, who then offer them a job (incl a pension!). The twists and moral jeopardies keep surprising me—it’s a clever iteration of Stan Lee’s trope of heroes accused. Also nice: Bagley has shed some of his more outmoded ’90s tics.

last issue: Thunderbolts #17
next issue: Thunderbolts #19

also indexed for Sept. ’98
Avengers #8

Thunderbolts #17

July 4, 2014

Thunderbolts 017Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
August 1998
****

A powerful Avengers foe is defeated when Moonstone convinces him to think through his vague plans for world domination. Meanwhile, Baron Z is bested by the “true” Citizen V! Busiek toys w/ & undercuts classic supervillainy, but he obv loves them, both in convention & (as w/ Moonstone) in the breach.

last issue: Thunderbolts #16
next issue: Thunderbolts #18

also indexed for Aug. ’98
Avengers #7
Quicksilver #10

Thunderbolts #16

July 3, 2014

Thunderbolts 016Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
July 1998
**

The T-bolts easily defeat a team of D-listers, the Great Lakes Avengers—a lost opportunity to balance the book’s soapy adventure with real comedy. For the first time, the mag actually feels rote, even as it gets usurped by Busiek’s Avengers as the core of the Marvel Rebirth, post-Image & -bankruptcy.

last issue: Thunderbolts #15
next issue: Thunderbolts #17

also indexed for Jul. ’98
Avengers #6
Avengers/Squadron Supreme Annual 1998

Thunderbolts #15

July 2, 2014

Thunderbolts 015Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
June 1998
***

After a top-notch pair of arcs, a new status quo for this morally ambiguous superteam. The T-bolts hide out west, on the run from SHIELD while they try to clear their reps. Busiek focuses again on Moonstone (AKA Meteorite), whose ego-driven schemes provide the strongest engine for conflict & fun.

last issue: Thunderbolts #14
next issue: Thunderbolts #16

also indexed for Jun. ’98
Avengers #5

Thunderbolts #14

July 1, 2014

Thunderbolts 014Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
May 1998
****

Some time-kinked plotting links an alien planet (of barbarian bug-men!) to a future invasion by Kang the Conqueror & to the proportionate powers of Hank Pym & other growing men. The upshot is, to return her team to Earth, Moonstone commits regicide! Slippery moral qualms point the mag forward.

last issue: Thunderbolts #13
next issue: Thunderbolts #15

also indexed for May ’98
Avengers #4