Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Roberto De La Torre
Andy Diggle continues to do a great job with the new direction for the Thunderbolts title and if you dropped this title post-Ellis, I'd recomment grabbing these last two issues and giving it a whirl, I'm confident you'll still very much enjoy this comic.
I actually had to double check to make sure De La Torre was the artist on this issue or not. The art looks like his, but there was something really off about it that I couldn't put my finger on. I'm thinking they switched the colourist or inker, but I didn't bother to check. I just know that the art lacked the same darkness and polish that the previous issue had. It wasn't horrible, by any means, but something that caught my eye while reading this and felt like pointing out.
Despite a few minor hiccups, this issue actually played out pretty much exactly as anyone who read last month's issue would have expected. The fake Green Goblin, who's later revealed as Headsman, is obviously working for Norman and is used to help "persuade" the president to believe that Norman isn't the Green Goblin, past or present, and, combined with the hulking out Doc Samson (thanks to a gamma emitter put in place by Norman), convince the president to take his side against the obviously gamma rage induced Doc Samson.
While some have reservations about the differences between the Norman of the Ellis era and the current infallible Dark Reign version, the conclusion still flows together perfectly in the confines of this story and the framework of Dark Reign, which Diggle has no control over, and I found Norman's power plays here to be quite believable as far as comic book believability goes. Norman's insanity actually does boil over at times, such as his overzealousness to show off how much better HAMMER is than SHIELD to the new president and the impossible, "have this all sorted out within the hour", comment that even one of his subordinates questions the impossibility of doing.
After wrapping up the first black op mission of the Thunderbolts, Diggle finally gets around to introducing us to the entire crew, with the exceptoin of one character featured on last month's cover, who has yet to appear, to my knowledge. I liked how Paladin and Ant-Man got along so well, as both are assholes and it's a perfect fit. I'm also a fan of reusing the recently abandoned Cube prison complex as their new base of operations.
Finally, there's a cameo of Songbird in this issue, which should be a nice nod to fans of the character, myself included, that have missed her and thought she might be written out of the series. I'm unsure of her intentions, but I get the feeling she might end up forming her own team to combat or expose Norman and the Thunderbolts. There's no clear indication though, so for now I'm just glad she's still involved in the book in some capacity.
Verdict - Must Read. A perfect companion book to Dark Avengers and maintains the dark aspects of an all villain book that made the Ellis run so much fun to read. Looking forward to more of this.