Marvel Plays Musical Chairs with New Thunderbolts

What’s in a name?

If you’re putting together a new superhero team, do you come up with a brand new, original name? Or do you just give them the name of an already existing team in the hopes that it will increase sales? Even though the new team has absolutely nothing to do with the old team?

That’s what Marvel seems to be doing with the new Thunderbolts in Marvel NOW!

Let’s base a superhero team around the colors red and black!

You’ve got Red Hulk, Deadpool, Elekta, Venom and the Punisher (for some reason) on a team together, and are going to call themselves the Thunderbolts. I don’t know about you, but it looks to me like Marvel just threw a bunch of violent character names into a hat and picked out a couple at random. This thing is almost destined to fail, and not just because they’re stealing a name. Potentially, these characters as solo heroes sell pretty well. But they have no business being on a team together. The Punisher is definitely not a team player. Deadpool makes no sense on a team like this. And Elektra is a hired assassin, not a superhero. I’m starting to think that the black/red color scheme is the sole reason why these people are together. And where’s Ghost Rider? Was his name not picked?

Orange is kind of like red

Don’t get me wrong, the concept of this team could have potential. If you didn’t know, the Red Hulk is actually General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross…so I guess that’s why they’re going to use that name…He’s that old army guy who is always chasing the Incredible Hulk, and was in both Hulk movies. A few years ago, they turned him into a Hulk himself, and he’s been a superhero ever since, even an Avenger. Well I kind of like the idea that Red Hulk breaks away from the Avengers to put together his own superhero team to do things his way, especially if they lean heavily on the fact that he’s a retired general, with a lot of military experience.

Punisher is a former Marine and Venom is an Army veteran, so that works. But still, this does not seem like a team that Ross would put together, no matter what writer Daniel Way said in this interview. It just screams of Marvel’s marketing department.

I’ve never particularly enjoyed Way’s comics. I read some of his Wolverine back in the day, and his Deadpool, but I eventually just stopped liking what he was doing with Deadpool and dropped the book. Way was also the longtime writer of Wolverine: Origins, one of the most universally disliked comics of all time. That was the series that tried to insist that Wolverine’s entire life was all part of some vast conspiracy orchestrated by a guy named Romulus, who was basically just ‘uber-Wolverine’. You will likely never find a character more hated than Romulus, yet Marvel keeps trying to make him work for some ridiculous reason. He’s almost as hated as Red Hulk was when he first debuted.

Joining Way on art will be his Wolverine: Origins collaborator Steve Dillon, another creator whose work I just don’t like. Dillon has this stiff artistic style, where all of his characters look like they have this long, wooden face. I just don’t like it.

I just don’t like his art, so sue me

So two creators that I don’t like and who can’t sell comics based on their names alone; that’s two strikes against this series. The third? Stealing the name Thunderbolts. The comic world is not kind when Marvel tries to misuse the Thunderbolts name.

Debuting in the 90s, the Thunderbolts were a new superhero team where the concept was that they were secretly super-villains posing as superheroes. It was fairly popular…until Marvel decided to just completely revamp the series and make it about an underground super-villain fight club. Marvel completely threw out the old idea and brought in new characters and concepts for this fight club nonsense. Everybody hated it.

Worst. Revamp. Ever.

The title was mercifully cancelled after less than 10 issues.

A few years later, Marvel brought back the classic Thunderbolts, and again the series thrived. It’s been an ongoing publication ever since, using the concept of villains posing as heroes. They’ve had a few roster changes over the years, while keeping a core group of the same characters at its heart.

But then most recently, Marvel decided to change the title from ‘Thunderbolts’ to ‘Dark Avengers’, because as we saw yesterday, Marvel will slap the brand name ‘Avengers’ on anything if it’ll possibly sell more comics. So the team that has been known as the Thunderbolts is now known as the Dark Avengers…which, in theory, frees up the name Thunderbolts. And now we see that Marvel is just going to take that name and slap it on a new comic that has absolutely nothing to do with the classic Thunderbolts team and concept.

Because that worked so well when they tried it with the fight club. At least that black/red thing looks pretty cool on the cover.

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on September 14, 2012, in Comics, Marvel, Punisher and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Right?! That cover looks awesome! But I do think General Ross leading a group of nutcases would be interesting. I honestly know next to nothing about the Red Hulk but it seems to me that the basic concept was that green Hulk’s arch nemesis got the same powers and asked “Why was this so hard for you to control? All those years you went around killing random innocent people, you could have just not done it. Look at me, I’m a hulk too, but you don’t see me freaking out and killing everybody.”

    And that, to me, is awesome. It would be like if Lex Luthor got all of Superman’s powers and then did a better job of saving the world. That’s hilarious. And if that’s what Red Hulk is, then I say he might have a decent team. His whole team has in common that they’re all crazy killing machines. Naturally if Ross had their powers, then he’d use them a whole lot better, just like with Hulk. But he can’t just take their powers (though Venom would be a neat maybe) so the next best thing is to put all their powers under his command in team form.

    If Deadpool fought with perfect military discipline, if Punisher killed real enemies instead of whoever pisses him off this week, if Venom didn’t have to worry about losing control and eating people, and if Elektra did something that mattered then they would be the best team ever. Story-wise, Ross would be the right man to make that happen.

    Obviously none of that will work because Marvel won’t let me write the comic for them. (Though I haven’t asked.) So odds are it is just another sad cash grab. And yeah, what is up with that artists eyes and lips? So creepy.

    • I don’t think that’s what they did with Red Hulk…I think he’s just been a Hulk who can talk and interact with real people. But then I have no real idea what they did with Red Hulk…

  2. Daniel Way’s Deadpool has been the single worst run in the character’s history (not counting MAX, because that wasn’t in-continuity). So seeing him continue to use Deadpool in a new book is disappointing. I like all the characters in the book, but I’m not sure why they’re working together. Guess we’ll find out when it starts.

    It’ll be nice to see Elektra in a book again. She hasn’t done much the past few years, in this Age of Bendis. The Dark Reign mini, and a bit of DnA’s Heroes for Hire, but that’s about it. Too bad it’s Way writing her, because I doubt he’ll do a good job with her.

  3. My guess is that they didn’t pick Dillon for the art, they did it to make sure Way doesn’t “pull a Frankencastle”.

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