Never let it be said that “Thunderbolts” #128 isn’t a timely comic. With a release date the day after a Presidential inauguration, Diggle has the Marvel Universe’s new Commander-in-Chief take a look at Norman Osborn’s new stranglehold of power over agencies like S.H.I.E.L.D. and H.A.M.M.E.R. and openly question if this is such a good thing after all. After having gotten to know Diggle’s writing through books like “The Losers,” it feels in many ways like Diggle is writing to his strengths: political intrigue, black ops teams, and double- and triple-crosses galore.
On the surface, this sounds like it would be my favorite book of the week. The reality, though, is that while it’s not doing bad, it doesn’t quite feel like it’s firing on all cylinders. It’s hard to get excited about some of the new characters added to the team, for starters. I know that there’s really no such thing as a bad character and that comics like “Thunderbolts” have certainly proven that in the past. So far, though, I’m a little underwhelmed. The new characters come across as crass rather than amusing or interesting. Hopefully with time Diggle will grow into writing them (and I’ll grow into liking them).
There also seems to be a pretty big glitch along the way; I’m more than willing to be proven wrong, but right now it seems like characters are desperate to remove a DVD off of Air Force One to make sure it’s never seen. With the DVD itself even mentioned in its introduction as having just been burnt, though, it’s just a copy, so what’s the big deal? Like I said, I’m hoping that I’m going to be proven wrong next month, but at the moment it just makes the characters look a little stupid.
De La Torre’s art is a great choice for “Thunderbolts” with its rough, slightly craggy look of its characters and situations. Diggle is taking “Thunderbolts” into some very dark territory, and the art perfectly matches that mood. My only real quibble here is that colorist Frank Martin still doesn’t seem to be the right match for the art. Martin’s colors are definitely better than they was two issues ago, but every now and then a panel or page pops out as a little too bright, too shiny, too garish for what de la Torre is going for here.
It’s strange, because Diggle’s scripts normally feel a little more cracking than this, and as entertaining as parts of “Thunderbolts” #128 run, it’s not up to his normal high standard. Consider this a slightly-above average book than great, in the end. Hopefully we’ll be up to great before we know it.