Review: Thunderbolts #147

Published on August 21st, 2010

When you’re a person in charge of a group of people from time to time you have to let loose and show everyone that you really are a badass motherfucker.  Thunderbolts #147 is Luke Cage and Warden John Walker’s chance to do just that.

Issue 147 of Thunderbolts starts off with a quick wrap up of the previous issue where the T-Bolts were sent to find a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. and U.N. agents who were investigating a deposit of mutation causing terrigen crystals.  The agents were mutated and the Thunderbolts had to work together to bring the grotesque monsters down.

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The main focus of issue 147 is a very interesting and clever way of selling more comic books.  Thunderbolts #147 and Avengers Academy #3 & 4 are all about the same story but from different perspectives.  The young heroes of Avengers Academy are taking a tour guided by Hank Pym and Luke Cage of The Raft, the high tech super max prison designed for housing super villains, as a “scared straight” program intended to keep the Avengers Academy kids from turning to super villainy.  During the tour, for an unexplained reason, an EMP blast cuts power out of the entire prison.  With the power out there’s nothing keeping the prisoners from getting out of their cells and wreaking havoc in the prison; except the Thunderbolts.

The rest of the book spotlights certain members of the team dealing with different groups of escaping inmates in rather varied ways.  Songbird uses her powers to hold back a stampede of female inmates, Juggernaut pretends to help a couple of escapees only to ditch them in the waters surrounding the Raft which are teaming with weird jellyfish like “biodefense” creatures and Luke Cage beats back a horde of angry inmates lead by his old enemy Purple Man.  The biggest, badass surprise came from wheelchair bound Warden John Walker who is attacked by a group of escapees.  The Warden, who has one leg, one arm and a prosthetic on his other arm, proceeds to leap from his wheelchair using his one good leg and then beat the shit out of his attackers.  While standing on ONE LEG!  The story concludes with the cause of the blackout still a mystery and with the revelation that during the power outage three members of Avengers Academy used the event to run off and try to find Norman Osborn to presumably take revenge on him for the events of Dark Reign.

I really went out on a limb with this series beginning with issue #144 for two rather shaky reasons: 1) the covers by Marko Djurdjevic are God damn beautiful and 2) it’s got Juggernaut as a main character.  After reading about two pages I realized that I had made a considerably wise decision.  The writing by Jeff Parker is not only very succinct and well planned, but also very witty and clever as well.  The current Thunderbolts lineup kind of follows suit with what has been going on in Secret Avengers lately by creating a team roster that make no rational sense whatsoever, with characters that you would never expect to see teamed up.

The other half of what makes Thunderbolts what it is is Kev Walker’s outstanding art.  He makes his characters a bit cartoony but still maintains a very gritty feel.  Walker is very good at capturing motion in his characters and his action scenes.  About 3/4 of the way through the book there is a five page splash sequence that depicts Warden Walker, Songbird and Cage fighting their separate battles that is nothing short of epic.  My one complaint about his art is that it looks sometimes like a lot of the male characters have very similar looking faces.

Overall, if you’re not reading Thunderbolts right now you’re doing something wrong.  Issue 147 was so good I’m seriously considering picking up Avengers Academy #3 and #4 so I can get the other side of this story…or go read Comic Impact staff member Rob’s review of #3 on the main page right now!

Ian Candish
Ian@ComicImpact.com