While I’m patiently waiting on last week’s released Thunderbolts 119, I’m going back and reading the last couple arcs as a refreshener. The characters in this book, no matter how unlikeable or unrealistic previously, seem so fresh and real. Not ever have I seen a take so interesting on Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. Osborn has been given the keys to the team by the US Government; anyone who reads The New Thunderbolts knows that the Goblin will eventually rip out of him after being repressed for so long. What this book does, is it examines this as if it were REAL (as I’ve said). The idea that this government employee… boss… has some very deep and serious mental and psychological problems. He’s a bipolar with sporadic, random or nonrandom, inclinations towards split-personality-disorder. He has very deep power and control issues which often times directly contradict the very nature of his mind. The Doctors at Thunderbolts mountain watch this all closely, as they’ve been told by the higher ups. If Osborn gets out of hand, they simply up (or change) his medications. Here we get the classic “trapped in the institution” convention, but with a twist. Norman Osborn is trapped in the institution he’s also running. He’s the director of that which inhibits and controls him; which also is quite the indictment of governmental organizations as well.
Deodato’s symbiot is one of the best I’ve ever seen, including anything from Spiderman. Mac Garen, who once terrorized Spiderman and New York as “Scorpion”, got his hands on the black entity; he’s now the second Venom. Ellis portrays this as a struggle between an evil man, and a more evil force. Even a ruthless murderer like Garen fears his alter ego Venom to the point where he will do things he normally wouldn’t; these things must be pretty darn fucked up, since Garen has killed before. Well, now Venom’s beginning to take over. And he’s on the loose eating (yeah EATING) random Thunderbolt employees.
One of the biggest and coolest themes of the overall idea of the new Thunderbolts is the complete lack of trust with the government (a reflection of society). After all, this is the government creating a team of US sanctioned villains to round up, kill, or cripple heroes. Hero’s who disagree with what the government has done, and simply want to continue helping society. Power and authority are huge as well. The government made LEGISLATION; and they’re going to enforce those laws no matter what the cost. Simply because they’re the authority, and they make the rules. In the front of this book we get a glimpse of anti-Thunderbolt posters in urban environments across the United States. Such as:
“Justice, like lightning, ever should appear to few men’s ruin, but to all men’s fear. FIGHT THE THUNDERBOLTS”
“Behold, I teach you the Superman: He is this lightning, he is this madness. THUNDERBOLTS ARE ILLEGAL GOVT OPERATION”
“And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. THUNDERBOLTS ARE SECRET POLICE”
I don’t know what the hell is going on with the German called “Swordsman”, but he just blew up a hanger in his own HQ; and he’s claiming to kill the rest of the team, with help from several employees. Songbird and the Chinese dude who uses radiation at will. These two members are the only remaining truly “good” guys. Even though Songbird wants to keep control of the team badly. Moonstone will do anything to take it from her, including kill her and her confidant Chen (radiation dude). I’m hoping Robbie Baldwin (Penance) will have a dramatic reappearance in the next issue. He’s got the worst control of the bunch, but at his craziest he’s also the most powerful. Right now, it’s hard to tell what exactly everyone’s intentions are. There’s still the issue of Bullseye being utterly paralyzed. Who knows exactly where that will lead as well.
One thing is for certain, this is one of Marvel’s best books right now. Warren Ellis does a miraculous job at fucking with our heads. We’re following a team of “heroes” compromised of villains. We’re rooting for them (even when they’re doing disgustingly horrible things) while simultaneously rooting against them. We want Green Goblin to emerge, yet we want Norman to keep his job. We want Robbie to unleash his full power, even though we know in order to do that he must self-mutilate himself pretty terribly. And we want the only two Thunderbolts with good intentions to be brutally killed by the rest of the team. It’s almost as if Ellis takes pleasure in bringing out the sadism in us, he sure as hell doesn’t mind exposing his own.