The Marvel NOW! Initiative rolls forward, featuring soft reboots and gentle nudges ton established continuity. Perhaps one of the more drastic changes to the Marvel Universe occurs within the pages of Thunderbolts #1. A new team, a new mission…will this be a new addition to your pull list? The review awaits after the jump!

Writer – Daniel Way
Artist – Steve Dillon
Colorist – Guru eFX
Publisher – Marvel Comics
Cover Price – $2.99

Previously in THUNDERBOLTS:  Thunderbolts has a convoluted history. They’ve been villains masquerading as heroes in two different eras, they’ve been an underground fight club, they’ve been reforming super-villains, and every now and then, they’ve unmistakably been the good guys.


Thunderbolts #1 starts off with Frank Castle held hostage by a man who quickly reveals himself to be General “Thunderbolt” Ross, who explains to Castle that he has been assembling a team to kill the threats to the Marvel Universe. He reveals he has been recruiting other heroes who walk the line between hero and murderer, including Elektra, Deadpool, and others. Castle agrees to do some killing for the General, and the book ends.

Seriously, that was it.

Now, Daniel Way did a fine job capturing the voice of each character. Agent Venom is respectful and patriotic; Deadpool is the same goofy dork we’ve seen in many of his titles. The problem is that no character is given anything to do. The entire drama of the story is centered on the premise of, “Will Character X join the Thunderbolts?” Well, the cover and solicitations already told us they do. There’s not much of a hook here. And I admit to not being a follower of Red Hulk, but I didn’t know he was a black-ops leadin’, criminal murderin’ kind of fellow. I guess the military background is there, so…yeah, I guess it works.


I really like Steve Dillon’s art. In classic arcs like “Welcome Back, Frank,” Dillon’s realistic take on the world made everything very convincing. Great facial expressions, great composition in each panel, great exploding heads. However, I’m not convinced that the realism Dillon puts down is going to be a good fit for this series. The fantastic elements, like Red Hulk on the last page, just look weird and out of place. Hopefully he gets a handle on it. The rest of the team isn’t brimming with special effects and powers, so they all looked great.


I just didn’t find myself enjoying Thunderbolts at any time. The characters don’t seem to have a lot in common, and we saw absolutely no team interplay this issue. The team isn’t assembling for any reason or motivation, just General Ross’ promise that they will all get to kill a lot of people. The problem with a group of killers like this is that the Marvel Bullpen isn’t going to let them kill any important villains. Hopefully Issue #2 will have a knockdown, drag-out, exciting moment that will make up for this debut, because right now, Thunderbolts is not something I can recommend.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Reader Rating



About Author

Thomas J. Angelo has lived life to the fullest since birth and is living proof that people can see their dreams become reality. He has hunted ghosts, been a prison guard, graduated from professional wrestling school, written a novel for young adults, and taught middle school Social Studies. Writing for Major Spoilers is yet another fantastic adventure. A comic book fan for life, Thomas is a huge fan of Marvel comics and has also jumped into DC’s New 52. In addition to comics, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of WWE trivia and Disney’s animated films. Someday he hopes to write his own comic series.


    • I’m nearly entirely convinced that the average high school comic book geek with an artistic streak and a sketchpad could’ve drawn this book better.

    • George Chimples on

      That…. that’s amazing. It’s basically equivalent to The Punisher running around with like, Himmler or Heydrich’s face on his chest, isn’t it?

  1. Looks like I am in the minority here, but I actually found it interesting. I guess “your mileage may vary” as Matthew says. Reminded me of the Punisher run with superpowered types.

  2. Art wise I actualy quite like Dillon’s take on these characters interested to see how he handles a more action heavy story. Story wise I agree feels more like a zero or .1 issue than the number one relaunch of a major title.

  3. When I picked up my orders last week I didn’t have Thunderbolts, despite having ordered it when I first heard of the reboot. Turns out the guy at the comic shop remembered I dislike Dillon’s art and wondered if I’d want it. I think he took it off my list, but I decided my interest in Thunderbolts overrode my dislike of the art.

  4. I disagree, I can’t imagine General Ross holding Punisher hostage and then he decides to work with him later? Daniel Way was vague on that plot point.
    I wish that the motivation was shown in this book.

    I’m on board because I love the idea of these characters coming together.

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