Review by: JDC

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Avg Rating: 4.6
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Story by Jeff Parker
Art by Kev Walker
Cover by Marko Djurdjevic

Size: 112 pages
Price: 14.99
The great thing about only being a casual reader of Marvel is that I have no idea who half the characters are in most stories. I go in blind, ready to discover their personalities and nuances, and be wowed by some new hero or villain. A good writer can appeal to readers such as me; showing us why these characters are so long-lasting without simply referring to their pre-established reputations.

And Jeff Parker is a good writer.

Compared somewhat unfairly to DC’s Secret Six, which I love, I was attracted to the idea of a team of Marvel villains working under the supervision of Luke Cage. I was further lured in by the aforementioned exciting opportunity to get to know new characters (aside from Cage and Crossbones, whom I were already familiar with). Plus, everybody loves a good villain story. You know you do.

The premise is deliciously simple: Supervillains are given the chance to earn leniency or even a full pardon by working with the government’s “Thunderbolts” program under the command of the indestructible Luke Cage, carrying out dangerous and exciting missions. It is the stuff kick-ass action stories are made of, and Thunderbolts: Cage does not disappoint in that department.

It takes a very specific kind of action scene to catch my attention in comics. Usually the fight begins and I skim through the smack-talk and polite exchange of punches until somebody wins. But every so often you get a clever, well-paced, and freakin’ awesome sequence that demands your attention and elicits much more feeling. In Cage there is something memorable about each fight scene, which is quite a rare feat.

Thankfully, the time between fisticuffs and explosions isn’t spent thinking “How long til the next fight?” Walker’s characterisation and dialogue is a treat for casual readers like me; getting across who everybody is — and making them all feel unique too — without dragging down the story. Each of the missions the ‘Bolts undertake are very inventive and far from lazy plotting. My only negative thought is that there is no real overall story here; more of a “getting to know you” session, which is perfect for those like me, but I’m wondering how long that will sustain readers with shorter attention spans.

But if Parker’s writing doesn’t bring you back, Walker’s art surely will. Very clear-cut, with an ever-so-slightly cartoonish edge to it. Bad-ass posing is always important in a team book, and there are some damned nice examples in here, but it’s his designs that I love the most. Juggernaut really does look like someone I would get out of the way of, and Man-Thing (the ensemble’s dark horse) radiates mystery and a little bit of melancholy too.

An excellent example of both a good team book and a great action book, I’m happy I expanded my knowledge of the Marvel Universe and all who dwell within her, even if it was some of the more disreputable citizens.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 4 - Very Good

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