Writer: Jeff Parker
Penciller: Neil Edwards
Colourist: Chris Sotomayor
Inker: Terry Pallot
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Dark Avengers: The Thunderbolts’ time travelling adventures are almost at a close. Deep within Mondo City 1, a dystopian future city in the midst of a war with mutants, they have discovered a signal that Man-Thing can track back to the present. The only thing standing in their way is Boss Cage, the clone of Luke Cage’s grandson.
In the present, the Dark Avengers have managed to put an energy siphoning mutant named Wender inside the Rygellian device that powers the Sultan Magus. This has caused a massive energy feedback, and threatens to cause enormous destruction. This event has become known as the Cataclysm in the Thunderbolts’ future, and they are now trying to return to their own time to prevent this from occurring. Unfortunately, time is running out, and Luke Cage and Skaar are in no position to aid them.
In the longest storyline in the Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers history, this arc has had plenty of time to build momentum, and everything that has been percolating in the last seven issues now come to a head in this issue, with explosive results. Literally. All of the pacing problems that I had highlighted over the last few issues are easily rectified here, as the two teams of Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers finally meet, and hilarity (and fisticuffs) ensue as a result, ensuring that this issue is the sense-shattering conclusion that this storyline deserves.
Given how long Jeff Parker has had to move all of his chess pieces around the board, it should come as no surprise that every character has something important to do in this issue. All of the Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts, as well as their supporting casts, all get time to prove their relevance to the plot, even if it’s only for a panel or so. Characters that seem fairly inconsequential plotwise, like Boomerang, show just why they were necessary, and it all comes together to prove that Parker is a master storyteller. The reappearance of the Juggernaut is a little contrived, but given how the events in Uncanny X-Men are turning out, I’m inclined to let them slide. Oh, and FACT gets what was coming to them, which is always a reason to be cheerful.
I was surprised to learn that the next issue isn’t actually the beginning of the new direction for the title that was teased a few months back, at least not in total. It is also time to bid farewell to the Thunderbolts characters who are being shuffled off into character limbo, or wherever they are going to be used next. Given how this issue doesn’t have a lot of time near the end to deal with the aftermath of the massive battle and the defeat of the Dark Avengers, it’s nice to see that there will be time to deal with whatever is in store for each of them. Since we have been with some of these characters for the better part of 30 issues, a proper farewell is the least they deserve.
It is a shame that Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey aren’t around to see the finale of their long-running storyline, but Neil Edwards’ contributions to this series are well on their way to being just as good. Apart from one unfortunate incident with Iron Man’s arm and a lack of perspective, Edwards’ art is excellent. There’s a gritty feel to the proceedings that puts the ‘dark’ in Dark Avengers.
Ever since Thunderbolts became Dark Avengers, this series has been building to this point. Every plot thread that has been dangling since even before the name change are tied together in this issue, with only a few little footnotes to deal with in the coming one. Whatever this title is called, it continues to be perhaps the best and most consistent book with ‘Avengers’ in its name.
GO Rating: 4/5