Plot: Another gleeful issue of carnage as the Thunderbolts, under the bloodthirsty leadership of Norman Osborn, show the Skrulls what it means to take on Americans in their capital city. Even criminal ones.
Comments: There's nothing too deep here, and it's really sort of a holding pattern until new talent comes on board, but Gage and Blanco get the job done with the Thunderbolts (due to the peculiar logic of their formation) providing one of the few competitive edges in the turf war against the Super Skrull Invasion. Norman, in his own way, is as effective as Nick Fury and his medications seem to be helping him focus.
He also knows his crew of mind-damaged screw-ups all-too-well. After a cathartic massacre of several varieties of Spider-dupes (do not try to psych out the Goblin, aliens) he’s on to their nefarious game with the other players. He talks Penance back to semi-sanity, aims Venom at the right targets, tries to keep a handle on Bullseye, and knows he can rely on Moonstone’s self-interest in all cases.
That self-interest gets the surprisingly non-Skrull Andrea Strucker killed again, which is the main disappointment of the issue. Just trotting her in as a red herring to keep her brother in line is an anti-climax, but Gage and Blanco keep their cynical tone in place as they show Norman conniving (and of course lying) to the Swordsman.
Moonstone’s immateriality power comes in handy on several occasions, though somehow her costume gets a bit more ripped each time she solidifies. As the least inspired one she’s ever worn, it looks better in tatters.
The final image, where Norman poses next to a very important monument, is beyond heavy-handed, but the ambiguous message about government control of super-humans is a welcome one. The remnants of Civil War may have become muddled in the chaos of the Invasion, but not so much in this book, where chaos is something all the characters live with daily, even if mostly in their own minds. I don’t know where this book will head in the future, but so far it’s keeping up the Ellis/Deodato tone quite well.
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