Thunderbolts #103: The Silver Lining
...okay, you know something? I'm going to take a break from looking for everything that's wrong with the comics in Civil War. I'm going to do this because right now, we're looking at the Thunderbolts and I just can't complain about that. I'll still point out the stupid things other people do, but the Thunderbolts are pretty much awesome the whole way through.
The Thunderbolts are a team of supervillains who pretended to be superheroes filling in for the Avengers when they went missing one time in order to gain the public's trust, but then some of them realized they actually like
being the good guys, and over time the team as a whole became more and more heroic, some of them moreso than others. That gives them an interesting place in this whole mess, as we'll see.
The issue opens with a battle between the entire Thunderbolts team and one individual called Quicksand. Also Spider-Man's unmasking is being shown on TV but I think we can ignore that for now. Quicksand seems to be giving the team trouble just by virtue of being impossible to do real damage to, being made of sand and all. She knocks Atlas down, right on top of several bystanders, but Smuggler gets them to safety in time. What were they doing there, anyway? This fight has presumably been going on for several minutes but they were still standing in the shadow of the giant guy...
Finally they decide to finish this and they split her in half, freeze her, and break her into chunks in a sequence that's so quick and easy I wonder why they didn't do that at the very start of the battle, other than that it just wouldn't have been fun. And... this is when Atlas notices the TV screen in the electronics store. Great. Nice job acknowledging the other plot points in this event. Maybe now you can acknowledge how terrible they are. Well, Songbird is worried about what this is going to mean for the Thunderbolts, to which the answer, as we're going to see, is "absolutely nothing".
We cut to Washington, D.C., which is as full of robots as ever.
Okay, so they're actually people in tech armor. Apparently, the acting directors of the Commission on Superhuman Activities are waiting for someone. Gee, I wonder who - oh, yeah, one panel later we see that it's the Thunderbolts. The language here just seems designed to make us wonder something, and then any hint of mystery is dispelled instantly. These people could've at least had a proper conversation
Baron Zemo is delighted to see they have guns trained on him, calling it a sign of respect. Sorry, Civil War, you're going to have to try a little harder to get your characters to beat each other to death over nothing. Actually, you're probably wasting your time. The Thunderbolts are cool enough to just not care, a fact which they're about to demonstrate.
The team is led inside the Department of Homeland Security, where they meet Iron Man, Reed Richards and Hank Pym. There's a brief standoff as Iron Man challenges Zemo to prove they can trust him. Reed quickly defuses the situation... really? Reed Richards is the voice of reason here?... and Tony tells the Thunderbolts:
If you just heard a whooshing sound, that is the sound of all common sense being sucked right out of this plot. See... what just happened here was, Tony Stark just asked a bunch of former supervillains who he maintains can't be trusted to go recruit a bunch of current
supervillains who definitely
can't be trusted so they
can in turn track down heroes
to support the morally ambiguous Superhuman Registration Act.
Tony, there are so many ways this can blow up in your face you might as well start building a self-destruct function into your helmet.
The Beetle is surprised to notice that the list of villains the Thunderbolts are to round up includes the Beetle... three times. Dallas Riordan explains that the former Beetle suits were stolen from a CSA holding facility. Because apparently holding facilities for superhuman activity-related paraphernalia contain nothing more interesting than... this.
By the way, if a joke popped into your head as soon as you read that last paragraph, don't worry... Fixer's thinking the same thing.
Have I mentioned the Thunderbolts are awesome? The Thunderbolts fight the three Beetles, and quickly defeat them in classic comicbook fashions. There's not a lot to be said about this sequence other than... it's awesome. Also, there's a little bit of Les Yay
at the end when Joystick mentions that she wants to see if the girl in the second Beetle armor is cute.
Fixer teleports the three defeated Beetles to a detainment area, and then we cut back to the Thunderbolts' base, where Zemo is congratulating them on their victory. A bit of slightly stilted dialogue reveals that Songbird is apprehensive about their accomplishment. Since she's ruining the mood, Zemo takes her aside and explains how their rehabilitation program works - basically, they give the subjects dreams about why they should join the Thunderbolts.
Finally, Zemo opens a portal to the Detainment Quadrant. The issue ends as he examines the contents of the room, declaring...
Impressive. They even beat Ozymandias to the punch. To recap, the Thunderbolts are awesome, Tony Stark is an idiot, and the Thunderbolts are awesome. This could be the best issue of Civil War... but I can't make that call yet because it's not the only issue of the Thunderbolts.
Next time: Civil War #2.