Over the years Marvel’s Thunderbolts has been consistent source of fun storytelling, and the latest incarnation of the team is no exception. Writer Daniel Way and artist Steve Dillon have relaunched the series with a bit of a twist. No longer a government sponsored team full of villains, Thunderbolts now features anti-heroes led by the Red Hulk, whose motives for forming the team aren’t so clear. Red Hulk’s methods have his teammates ready to jump ship after only three issues.
Issue four opens with a confrontation between Red Hulk and Punisher, who has just used a bullet to disrupt a major aspect of Red Hulk’s plan. The Thunderbolts are in Kata Jaya on a mission to bring an end to a dictator’s regime. Venom is equally unhappy with this new aspect of Red Hulk’s plan and decides the team needs to free Elektra and get out of Kata Jaya, leaving Red Hulk to his own devices. In order to rescue Elektra, Punisher, Venom, and Deadpool must infiltrate the dictator’s stronghold. As the rest of the team work on their rescue mission, Red Hulk is intent not to let Punisher’s bullet ruin his surprise.
The new issue continues the fast pace of the ongoing story and includes the intelligent action that’s becoming a hallmark of the series. For instance, in issue two Deadpool and Elektra attempt an escape by diving into water, only to reemerge above the surface on top of a submarine. Issue four packs another moment of creative chaos, and it’s starting to look like Thunderbolts might be a book you pick up not only because it’s really good but because you’ll want to see how Way tops himself each month.
There are a lot of flashbacks in the story arc, and time jumps in a very non-sequential manner. One moment you might be ten years in the past, then back in the present, and then a few months in the past, and so on. But Way juggles these time jumps in a manner that never loses the reader. Dillon’s artwork also helps with these transitions. The visual storytelling is very clear and each panel is well-defined. In lesser hands Thunderbolts could become a deal-breaking jumbled mess.
The hands shaping this title are very skilled, however, and so far Way and Dillon are orchestrating a great read.