Review: Thunderbolts: Violent Rejection trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

It’s Thunderbolts time again, and for the moment, we’re going to skip ahead past the “Shadowland” crossover and go right to Violent Rejection. Because Luke Cage’s partner Iron Fist was a key player in that crossover, Cage and his Thunderbolts got dragged into it.

The main result is that Crossbones is gone from the team. In his place at first is Hyperion, one of Marvel’s Superman analogues. He’s part of the Squadron Supreme, an alternate-dimension Justice League of America which has gone through quite a few incarnations. Unfortunately, this Hyperion is not one of the more sane ones, despite what he claims. An absolutely massive battle unfolds in the second part of this story, which includes a great reference to the song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” by Jim Croce. Naturally, Man-Thing is on hand to help out, and as Hyperion finds out, it’s a bad idea to be afraid around him. One of the funniest moments in this year’s comic books occurs in this issue. I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s just say it involves the Ghost, his cloud of flies and the ladies of the team.

After a Man-Thing solo adventure (more or less), the team recruits its newest member: Satana, daughter of Mephisto and sister of Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, because the team needs someone versed in the mystical arts. As a perky, mischievous character, Satana adds some friction to the team’s line-up. Again, Man-Thing is essential to recruiting her, and she turns out to really like the guy, going as far as tattooing a complex mystical spell on him. I’m sorry for emphasizing Man-Thing so much, but I’m only doing so because Jeff Parker, Jason Aaron or another writer with magic-related character experience needs to create a solo series for him. I have room on my schedule if they’re busy.

While all this is going on, Songbird and John Walker are coming up with an ingenious tactic which I can’t believe they hadn’t used before with the Thunderbolts: creating a Beta team to bring in when another member is dropped. A few teams have done this before, most notably Alpha Flight’s trainee teams, Beta and Gamma Flight, and the Avengers’ reserve members in the '90s, but with the Thunderbolts’ turnover rate, a Beta team is almost necessary.

The extensive search results in the crazy and super-strong Mr. Hyde; Gunna the Troll, a half-human feral girl who was captured during the events of Cage; Boomerang, who is more or less Marvel’s version of DC’s Captain Boomerang; Centurius, an arrogant super-scientist; and the Shocker, one of Spider-Man’s more famous rogues. As it turns out, Centurius is not the same person as Ghost Rider’s foe Centurious, which sort of confused me at first.

Kev Walker is back as the artist, and as I mentioned in the Invincible Iron Man reviews, I love consistent writer/artist teams. Declan Shalvey has two fill-in issues, including the Man-Thing solo issue, and like Siege: Thunderbolts, there are no jarring art shifts. Mr. Hyde, both in writing and art, has been turned into the version seen in Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Considering how much I enjoyed that version of Hyde, I have absolutely no problem with this. I do need to give a specific kudos to the cover artist for issue #156, John-Sébastien Rossbach, for invoking the famous Avengers “who will be the next member” covers.

Thunderbolts: Violent Tendencies continues Parker’s excellent Thunderbolts run, which will hopefully keep on going for a long time. This trade does end with a cliffhanger, but I think this is purposeful on the part of the collection department in order to publish a six-issue trade as soon as possible. Also, the next few issues tie in to the “Fear Itself” event, which warrants its own trade. This trade also includes Handbook profiles for Hyperion and Satana, so you can catch up on them without having to search elsewhere. If you enjoyed Cage, then you’ll certainly enjoy Violent Tendencies.

This trade comes courtesy of Twilite Zone Comics in Glen Burnie, MD.
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