Halfway through this issue, Andy Diggle gives Moonstone the following lines of dialogue: “I want you to hunt that little witch down, tear her limb from limb and then eat whatever’s left.”
If you ever felt that Warren Ellis provided a twisted take on the Thunderbolts but didn’t go quite far enough in his depravity, this is the comic for you.
I enjoyed Ellis’s take on these monstrosities-turned-not-quite-heroes, but the shipping delays and the decent-but-not-spectacular Christos Gage issues caused me to lose interest in the ongoing adventures of the Thunderbolts. Ultimately, they seemed like a one note team: unrepentant bastards trying to repent a little, led by Norman Osborn, a vicious and psychotic unrepentant bastard. What Ellis did well was balance the weird pathos of characters like Swordsman and Radioactive Man with the deranged brutality of Venom or Bullseye. But, for me, at least, the team dynamic seemed to stall after the first handful of issues.
Diggle and Roberto De La Torre have reinvigorated that dynamic, mostly by letting the characters unleash their inner rage, and by giving Moonstone the most vicious turns of all. Last issue, Moonstone vocalized fanboy rage in her devastating emotional attack on Penance (pointing out the pathetic absurdity of his new persona), and in this issue she is the puppet master pulling the strings on what remains of the Thunderbolts squad.
Things are falling apart for Osborn’s team, and Diggle and De La Torre revel in it.
De La Torre, by the way, provided some nice work on the “Ms. Marvel” series over the past couple of years, but his “Thunderbolts” stuff is his best yet. He provides the pencils and the inks here, and his figure drawing and storytelling reminds me of the work of Ivan Reis on “Green Lantern.” De La Torre’s work has a harder edge, more jagged corners (as appropriate for a “Thunderbolts” comic), but he’s part of that classical Neal Adams tradition and he has shifted the visual look of this series from moody darkness to swiftly lethal action. It’s a nice looking issue.
“Thunderbolts” seems poised to take an even bigger role in the “Dark Reign” Marvel Universe, though the team will clearly undergo some personnel changes based on events in recent issues. But Diggle and De La Torre are a perfect fit for a more sinister, more caustic brand of “Thunderbolt” action, and that sounds good to me.