Juggernaut – excuse me, Kuurth, breaker of stone – sets to a rampage in this issue and all across the rest of the Marvel Universe comics on the new comics racks this week. Or, at least, that’s how it seems. The bruiser formerly known as Juggernaut is on the covers (and the interiors) of this issue, “Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt” #3, and “Uncanny X-Men” #540. Either the ability to be in three places came with the hammer of Kuurth, or there’s a pattern in which these stories should be read. (It’s the latter, and without spoiling anything, it looks like the reading order might go this book, “Youth,” then “X-Men.”)
Jeff Parker has the ability to write great stories with any character handed to him, and his run on “Thunderbolts” has been bringing folks back to (or new to) this book, with good reason. Parker layers the stories into this issue, one atop the other, like a story version of a Dagwood sandwich: there’s the bitterness Fixer is feeling towards his teammates, Songbird and Mach V. There’s the undercurrent of dissent with the Shocker and Boomerang. There’s Satana’s mystical manipulations of the Man-Thing, the recovery of the Raft, the journey into a teammate’s soul, and – oh yeah! – the rampage of the Juggernaut. That’s an awful lot of story to put into twenty pages, but Parker does so without grinding this issue to a halt. Sure, it’s not a done in one story, but it is quite a hefty value for the price.
Declan Shalvey’s art hits every note, character, and setting with near perfect pitch, frequently changing style to accommodate the setting. The scenes with Man-Thing in them are looser and more uncertain, the soulscape art is chunky and overly simplified, like cave paintings. Throughout it all, Shalvey’s work is clear and precise. Frank Martin, Jr. comes in and fills that art with magnificent colors, causing background eruptions every time Kuurth/Juggernaut hits a panel.
Parker continues to do what he does best in this issue: write great stories with any and every character he touches. With the “Fear Itself” trade dress on the cover of a book, many writers (and a few artists) might be blindsided into mailing the story in, or might deliver paper thin characters squeezed into a sidebar plothole, but not Parker. Parker embraces “Fear Itself” and gives his “Thunderbolts” readers a reason to enjoy this crossover with Marvel’s summer event.