Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Tom Grummett(p), Gary Erskine(i), Brian Reber(c)
When last we left the T-Bolts, Baron Zemo had designed and the Fixer had built a machine called Liberator that absorbed all the transformational energy across the earth. In this issue, Kurt Busiek confirms the purpose of the machine, and darned if Zemo doesn't have a pretty good argument. Avengers/T-Bolts has something to say about our reality, and by making this commentary within a shared super-hero universe, the statement gains strength.
Frankly, it would be nice if all the nuclear missiles vanished or were rendered useless. The Super Powers--and I don't mean the Avengers or the Thunderbolts--have dug a deep hole and chucked our planet into the pit. The possibility of terrorists gaining access to nuclear weapons is no longer confined to thousands of direct-to-video cheapies. The Doomsday Clock has been moved forward.
With this comprehension, Avengers/T-Bolts carries a lot of weight. The philosophical arguments between the heroes are even more interesting than the small skirmishes that erupt. Both competitions are ably drawn by Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine. Brian Reber's colors are even more important than usual because super-heroes are naturally colorful, and these multiple hues contrast a very dark discussion subject.
Mr. Busiek does not just fill this story with thought. Primarily "Betrayal" is meant to entertain, and he includes several surprises within the super-heroic elements, and for once there's a build up to the battles that imbues to the story a sense of tragedy. The T-Bolts really are trying to do good. The Avengers are giving them a hard time, but their rationale is quite understandable.
In terms of the mechanics of writing, everybody sounds in character, and Baron Zemo becomes shockingly heroic as well as human while Songbird hints at her Avengers Forever fate. The narration by Hawkeye gives the tale a distinctive voice and allows the reader to feel for both teams.
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