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New Thunderbolts #18

Posted: Monday, February 13, 2006
By: Shawn Hill



“The Whole Hole”
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artists: Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: As Zemo awakens a former ally from a long slumber, the current T-bolts ponder the ongoing enigma of Photon, who is still reeling from his cosmic awareness.

Comments: Interesting issue, not least of which for returning a sorely missed core character to the fold, the manipulative, sometimes maniacal, perhaps now completely mad Karla Sofen/Moonstone. Grummett has fun hiding her in a gleaming metal sarcophagus (despite the revealing cover). Her ambiguous state seems to parallel that of Genis, who has rendered himself comatose to ponder the variety of dire fates he can now sense.

Moonstone was rendered mad by her attempt to manipulate the fate of the planet. Her agenda now is unknown, though interestingly she seems to still possess some powers even without her nominal items. One interesting fact about Karla is how little the femme has always been a part of her fatale persona. She’s been deadly and manipulative, but as a rogue psychologist from the start, she’s always been more brain than body, and consequently, though definitely sensual and attractive, her costumes have usually covered more than they’ve shown. The “problem of Karla” is a welcome return to Nicieza’s ever-complicated cast of players, and as usual the mystery is more about what she might do than about how she appears.

There are now two groups of Thunderbolts, a clandestine one led by Zemo that reassembles the core team with M.A.C.H. IV and the Fixer, and Songbird’s official version that includes Atlas and a new member, the perennial second-stringer Nighthawk. Nighthawk’s necessary for funding purposes, but he’s also an old hand at somewhat sketchy Marvel teams, as he humorously comments in this issue.

Nicieza’s device of introducing each character (I count eleven) with short capsules about their motivations is effective shorthand, and while this issue is more setup than plot advancement, it’s a fun read for all the potential conflict it portends. The book finally seems to have shaken free of a year of crossovers, and to have returned to its primary theme, character studies of muddled, gifted people who might be heroes, if only they could escape their villainous impulses and pasts.



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