Writer: Jeff Parker
Penciller: Neil Edwards
Inker: Terry Pallot
Colourist: Frank Martin Jr.
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
Previously, in Dark Avengers: The Dark Avengers fled from Luke Cage and Skaar, leaving them to face the Sultan Magus on their own. The magus used his omnipotent powers to transform Skaar into his vulnerable human form, and now holds the Son of Hulk’s life in his hands. Back in the United States, Songbird, Mach V, and John Walker have discovered that the Federal Advisory Committee to the Thunderbolts is planning something that bodes ill for the Dark Avengers, as well as Luke and Skaar.
And in the future, the Thunderbolts have teamed up with a band of mutants in the future in order to battle the forces of Mondo City 1. They have also discovered that an event known as the Cataclysm was the reason for the dismal future they now find themselves in, and that the Dark Avengers were the key reason the Cataclysm took place. They are now trying to find a time machine so that they can get back to their own time, get to Sharzhad and stop the Dark Avengers from destroying the future!
Wow. After mentioning last issue that the plots of both the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers sections of this book had slowed to a crawl, we now have an issue in which there’s a huge amount of development on both fronts, and the introduction of a third which also moves in the right direction fairly rapidly too. Evidently, last issue was the calm before the storm, and this issue more than makes up for it.
First up, the Thunderbolts are still having their fun in the future, and this 2000AD love letter couldn’t be more blatant if it tried. Not that this is a bad thing, because it works nicely as a backdrop and emphasizes how out of place the Thunderbolts are in this position. Plus, it also allows for some funky mutant designs and allows both the writer and artist to go crazy. The time travel that has taken place so far in this series has all been to ‘familiar’ time periods, which restricts the imagination slightly, and this isn’t the case with this future. The usual witty banter between the dysfunctional team is present, and Man-Thing, especially, continues to shine, whilst this part of the book continues to be the lynchpin that will hold everything together as this arc comes to a close in two or three issues time.
Then there’s the Dark Avengers, who aren’t around quite as much in this issue, but still prove to be integral parts of the storytelling, as they infiltrate the Sultan Magus’ base and cause all sorts of trouble when they get there. Combining this part of the book with the focus on Songbird, Mach V, and John Walker back at the Raft facilities and it becomes clearer as to how everything is going to progress. It’s taken a little while to get here, but all the pieces are in place for the big reveals next issue, and there are some tantalizing teases to be had here as the mysteries pile up and some familiar faces reappear. It’s also nice to see series staples like Songbird sticking around, since they’ve been a part of the Thunderbolts name since its inception, and to have them still being important to the grand scheme of things is rewarding for long time fans like me.
New series artist Neil Edwards joins the book with this issue, and pulls double duty by drawing both the Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts portions, which have been split between two artists since the title’s name change a few issues ago. Edwards fits in very nicely, and between his artwork and the inking by Terry Pallot and Frank Martin Jr.’s colouring, it’s still easy to distinguish between the sections of the book whilst maintaining the consistency that Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey brought.
And as we edge ever closer to another status quo change, Dark Avengers maintains the quality that it has set up since #175 and even before that. Last issue was a bit of a blip, but this one has easily restored my faith in the book, and the addition of Neil Edwards to the creative team has done nothing to hurt it at all. The Cataclysm is on the horizon, but this book continues to be anything but cataclysmic.
GO Rating: 3.5/5