Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey
Colourist: Frank Martin Jr.
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Dark Avengers: In the not-too-distant past, the Thunderbolts found themselves at war with Doctor Doom, who had hijacked their time traveling tower. After a fierce battle, they were able to fight Doom to a stand-still, but were unable to stop the tower from traveling into what seems to be a dystopian future, run by the mysterious Boss Cage.
And in the present, the Dark Avengers, Luke Cage, and Skaar were sent to the desert country of Sharzhad to rescue a kidnapped scientist from the omnipotent dictator of the country, the Sultan Magus. Despite good teamwork from the deranged villain team, they attracted the Magus’ attention, and now stand at his mercy.
Like the previous issue (and I assume every issue going forward), this one is split between the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers teams as both plotlines edge further forward. There’s no sign yet as to how they’re going to collide, though solicitations have indicated that they in fact will, but alone they’re still both very enjoyable regardless. Rather than mixing up the storylines and having a few scene swaps, the bulk of this issue is given to the Dark Avengers, whereas the Thunderbolts bookend the issue by having the opening and closing scenes. Mixing things up like this keeps each issue unique and interesting, which is a clever move by writer Jeff Parker.
It’s still so much fun to see the differences and similarities between the two teams showcased here. The closeness that the Thunderbolts now have after their many adventures through time together is wonderful to see, and really reminds me of the camaraderie that the earliest incarnations of the team had under Kurt Busiek. The loss of Thunderbolts Tower in the earliest pages of the issue really hits home, since the team has lost the only true home they’ve ever had, and it has been following them along through time for the past year or so of storylines.
You can see echoes of this kind of friendship (or at least tolerance) with the Dark Avengers, but their motivations for working together are a little different—they’re trying to escape, and the only way to do that is to work together. Parker is working hard to establish personalities for characters that haven’t really had time to shine in their previous appearances, such as the Dark Scarlet Witch and Dark Spider-Man (whose name keeps getting spelt differently in every panel, which is a little irksome). If there’s anything Parker knows how to do and do well, it’s working with under-rated characters and making them into characters you can really root for, or at least understand, and he’s doing his best with the Dark Avengers in this respect.
Shalvey and Walker continue to share art duties with their assigned sections of the book, and as I’ve mentioned before, the pair looked great together. Shalvey’s depictions of the Sultan Magus’ monstrous creations are chilling to look at, and I still love the creepy edge he gives to Dark Spider-Man, the way he practically slithers across the page. Walker creates a gritty atmosphere for the Thunderbolts in the future, and this lends itself nicely to the tone of the story too, whilst keeping his fantastic work up on our favourite Thunderbolts team.
Four issues into the new name for the title, and it seems that Jeff Parker’s already fantastic storytelling shows no sign of altering. Both teams get equal amounts of time in the spotlight, and both storylines move along nicely with some plot development in both. This isn’t an issue that will likely stand out as part of Parker’s run, but it continues the trend of rock solid issues that has gone before it.
GO Rating: 3/5