Comic: "Thunderbolts #128-129"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Andy Diggle
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Plot: The President is attacked on Air Force One by the Thunderbolts and it's up to Norman Osborn and his Thunderbolts to stop...themselves. But it's okay, because it's all part of a clever (and logistically impossible) ruse to make Norman Osborn look like he shits rose petals.
Review: After Warren Ellis's enjoyable run on the book (which I had never read prior to that), Andy Diggle takes over. I've enjoyed his work on Vertigo books The Losers and Hellblazer, so I decided to stick with it long enough to see the new Thunderbolts team in action. And I have to be honest, apart from Ant-Man and Black Widow, I don't know who in the hell any of the rest of them are (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).
Headsman, Paladin, Ghost, and Mister X are complete unknowns to me, and so far most of them don't appear to be terribly interesting, though I will concede that introducing lots of characters in one fell swoop can make them difficult to flesh out right out the gate. My main problem with the book so far is a simple matter of logistics: their first operation under Norman Osborn's watchful eye could not possibly have been executed in the way we've seen here, and Diggle insults the reader's intelligence by suggesting that we simply accept something so incredibly stupid. The operation itself is fairly fun to see in action--but the fact that it happens at all is just overwhelmingly dumb, dumb, dumb.
See, it goes like this: Norman Osborn, director of the new H.A.M.M.E.R. organization, has what is supposed to be a brief tarmac meeting with the new President before he goes overseas. The President catches Norman off guard by asking him to fly to Russia with him on Air Force One, so that they may discuss H.A.M.M.E.R.'s future initiatives in great detail. Unbeknownst to Norman, Dr. Leonard Samson, who just happened to witness Norm's crazy romp through Thunderbolts Mountain as the Green Goblin during which he killed several government employed guards, is on board, and he wishes to show the President security camera footage proving that Osborne is a psychopath.
Knowing that this will get him hastily removed from his new position of power, Norman cannot allow this. But fortunately, he has either planned for it, and is thus capable now of predicting the future, or he has somehow managed to get his people in position for the whole "attack the plane and during the distraction the security footage gets misplaced" op in an amazingly short time, especially considering that he had no time to communicate with any of them. Not only are his people in position on board the most secure aircraft on the planet with absolutely no time to prepare, but the fucking co-pilot has been replaced by the Black Widow, which nobody thinks is suspicious. I'm sure Air Force One has back-up pilots, and I'm just as sure that those pilots' identities are very well known. None of this "Oh, the usual back-up was sick today, so I, a total stranger, will be filling in. On transporting the fucking President."
So of course, Norman "saves" the President from his own trap, comes out looking like a hero, and begins to earn the President's trust. It's pretty much as hamfisted and sloppy as it sounds. I really want to like this book, considering that I enjoyed Ellis's run and I was hoping the quality would continue, but if things carry on like this, I won't be able to stomach reading any more of it. Fortunately the setup for the next issue shows us that Deadpool is up next--and if he can't save this book from a slump, I don't know what can.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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