Writer: Jeff Parker
Pencillers: Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey
Inker: Terry Pallot
Colourist: Frank Martin Jr.
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Dark Avengers: The Dark Avengers are now a part of the Thunderbolts program, and with both Luke Cage and Skaar, son of Hulk, as their chaperones, they have headed to the desert country of Sharzhad to infiltrate the lair of the omnipotent Sultan Magus.
Meanwhile, the Thunderbolts have arrived at the beginning of time. With Man-Thing revived as the first living being on the planet due to their time travel, they rescued another time traveller, who was revealed to be Doctor Doom in disguise. Doom hijacked their time-travelling tower, and set it to explode once he had brought them back to the future.
This entire issue was a surprise. A nice surprise, though, which is good. First off, the Dark Avengers work together to get further into Sharzhad. That’s right, work together. This is a team that is made up of psychopaths and nutcases who would like to kill everyone in sight, and they work as a unit, playing to each of their strengths. This wasn’t what I expected at all, and instantly made me take to the characters quicker than if they’d just bickered, which is something the Thunderbolts do better anyway. It gives them a different edge and makes them a separate entity, which is a perfect way to justify sharing the spotlight.
Then we head into the not-too-distant past as the Thunderbolts deal with Doctor Doom, and whilst the big fight scene is enjoyable, the best part of this section comes between Ghost and Man-Thing, which has a fantastic few panels by Kev Walker that really gets across deep emotions, which is very difficult considering that the only character in those panels is a pile of swamp goo. There’s also a clever reference back to a very old Doctor Doom story courtesy of Satana, which goes hand in hand with the reference made in the previous issue to Mark Millar’s run on the Fantastic Four.
So both teams get a chance to shine, and both storylines progress a surprising amount. There’s some decent recap given in the early pages that catch up anyone who hasn’t read about Sharzhad over in Hulk yet, and this works well with the other references that Parker makes in order to give this book a sense of place among the other Marvel Universe titles, whereas it usually operates on its own. This isn’t the first time Parker’s Hulk work has affected Thunderbolts, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but it has worked so far, so I encourage him to continue.
Both Declan Shalvey and Kev Walker get to work on this issue, and if I remember right, this is the first time that it has happened since the pair began working on the title. I’ve complimented their styles before, and they mesh together well to give the issue a consistent feel but still manage to differentiate nicely between the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers sections of the book. This looks to continue for the future issues, so this good start is a great sign. Also, it seems that John Tyler Christopher will be sticking around for cover duties for a while, which is brilliant - look it up, if you don’t believe me.
Both the Dark Avengers and the Thunderbolts have had one issue to themselves, and now it’s time they learned to share, as each gets pretty much half an issue for their own escapades, joining together to create a surprisingly cohesive whole. Both teams’ storylines are heading in fun directions, and if there’s one thing this title gets right, it’s fun.
GO Rating: 4/5