"Sword and Claw"
Writers: Fabian Nicieza and Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: RS & Comicraft's Albert Deschesne
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN
As the new Swordsman discovers Baron Strucker is rather difficult to kill, he soon finds himself coming to the villain's defence, as a raging Wolverine arrives to kill Strucker, and if the villain is killed a deadly virus will be released in the middle of New York City. As the Swordsman battles Wolverine, we see the Thunderbolts are trying to enjoy some downtime, but this comes to a abrupt end when the city is attacked by a rampaging sea monster.
Given this book is looking to build a fan base a guest-appearance by Wolverine is to be expected. However, this issue is an awkward merging of two story-lines, and the issue's efforts to explain what the heck Wolverine is trying to do isn't exactly helpful. Now perhaps the issue is more accessible for readers who have been following the "Enemy of the State" story-line over in the pages of Wolverine, but for readers of this title I can't say there's much here to be enjoyed. Now, I guess there is something to be said for the fact that this story does take Wolverine out of his normal playground, as he hasn't had much interaction with the forces of Hydra, but truth be told this issue doesn't really make much of this idea, as Wolverine is presented as little more than a raging killing machine. Still, if nothing else a battle with Wolverine does make a pretty effective means of showing readers that Baron Strucker is difficult to kill, and the reason why the new Swordman steps in to do battle with Wolverine was a fun reversal. However, the only reason why I'd recommend this issue to Thunderbolt fans, is that there is a couple brief cutaway scenes where we get a better look at the new team dynamic, and it's pretty clear that the new kids on the block are not exactly asking how high when Abe tells them to jump. There's also an interesting revelation in the final pages as we learn the identity of the person who was narrating the issue, and his connection to the new Swordsman, whose identity makes for another mysterious element.
Tom Grummett turns in some lovely work on this title, as he brings a level of detail to the page that can't help but impress, and for the most part he has a good understanding of how to convey the action in an easily understood manner. I mean the abrupt arrival of Wolverine was a bit confusing, and the intensity level could've been higher, as the battle is lacking any close in shots that would've done a better job of conveying the emotions of the combatants. However, there is a lovely sequence where Wolverine is thrown off the building by Baron Strucker that results in a pretty exciting sequence where the new Swordsman is allowed to show off his new toys. There's also some nice work on the scene where the new Swordsman uses his electrified blades to take of a raging Wolverine. I also have to say the cover image does a great job of selling the idea that Wolverine is on hand to do battle with the new Swordsman.
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