Here’s one of the things I like the most about the current “Thunderbolts” comic under the hands of Jeff Parker and Kev Walker: it knows how to mix drama and conspiracy with out-and-out fun.
Take, for instance, the latest issue. The team of super-villains, having had Crossbones removed from the team, gets a new member in the form of Hyperion, who claims he’s a good guy and it was just an evil duplicate from another world that’s done all of the bad stuff recently. And so, keeping one eye carefully fixed on him, the team is scrambled to go and fight four Godzilla-sized creatures from Monster Island that are (surprise, surprise) about to attack Japan.
In a nutshell, we get fighting, we get scheming, we get hints about something else going on when the Thunderbolts have their backs turned. Parker has fun teasing us with the “good or bad?” question surrounding Hyperion, even as we get to watch the more arrogant members of the Thunderbolts quickly learn that the behemoths of Monster Island are harder to take down than they thought. Plus the Fixer looks to be up to no good back at the base, and the less said about the trustworthiness of Moonstone, the better. Watching the team work together (or sometimes at loggerheads) is fun, like the Songbird and Juggernaut team-up, and even with some ridiculously high-powered members on the team, Parker’s come up with a good match for them.
Of course, having Kev Walker draw the book doesn’t hurt matters. His drawings of the monsters are just amazing; huge, terrifying, details creatures where you can stop and count all of the dozens of spikes and ridges on their hide. (Well, provided you don’t get stepped on.) Walker makes them look genuinely dangerous, not the often-played-for-comedy monsters that get churned out from Monster Island. He draws a mean fight scene, too; when Hyperion gets swatted through the air, you only need the air trail to figure out just what happened, it’s so smooth and easy to follow. He and Parker are doing such a dynamite job together, you’d think they’d been working on the book for years.
Reading “Thunderbolts” once more has an “anything can happen” air about it, without having to worry that said “anything” is going to involve a hideous maiming or other nastiness. For a book that’s a combination of heroes and villains working together, there’s a great upbeat sense to this comic, but without dulling the edges of the villains. If you haven’t read it already, check it out, this is a ton of fun.