Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Classics - Thunderbolts #1

   It's rare, in the modern day, for a comic to surprise the readers.

   That's the curse of the Internet - news travels immediately, and secrets are spilled al the time. In fact, fans revel in uncovering secrets ahead of time. (To be fair, there are many positive things about the Internet, too. This blog, for example.)

   Even worse, the companies now spill the big events to the news media, so you can read about Captain America's death or Spider-Man's unmasking before the issue even goes on sale.

   I think one of the last times - and maybe the last time - a comic book managed to deliver a shocking story was in the pages of the Thunderbolts, a new team hero comic launched in 1997.

   This was the time of "Heroes Reborn," as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were apparently killed (though they suffered a worse fate as they "started new" in a different universe).

   To fill in the gap, new heroes appeared to fight the bad guys - including the Rat Pack (hi-tech thieves) and the Wrecking Crew.

   As crafted by writer Kurt Busiek and artists Mark Bagley and Vince Russell, the issue seemed to follow the usual setup for a team comic. It included the big strong guy (the size-changing Atlas), the beautiful innocent (Songbird), an energy-casting powerhouse (Meteorite),  the tech guy (Techno), the armored guy (Mach-1), and the brilliant leader (Citizen V).

   But the team harbored a secret - one not revealed until the final page, and it was a genuine shock (which I won't reveal here, of course). How had they kept it a secret? No idea, but thank goodness it worked out that way.

   It made the issue immediately memorable, and put it at the top of my "must-buy" list.

   Sadly, I don't think it could happen today. No one can keep a secret, and no one seems to appreciate the joy of being surprised by a plot twist. It's sad.

Grade: A


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