New Thunderbolts # 11

Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: N/A

Written by: Fabian Nicieza
Penciled by: Tom Grummett
Inked by: Gary Erskine
Colored by: SotoColor’s J. Brown
Lettered by: RS & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Editor: Either Tom Brevoort, or Dan Buckley
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Crossover events. Tie-in issues. Gimmick stories. Sometimes they are a fun diversion from humdrum repetitive plots, or otherwise unappealing continuity. Then, and for as long as the event lasts, they manage to create some sort of reprieve from dross or mediocrity (see Nightwing: Year One). Occasionally, it’s merely a substitution of one brand of fertilizer for another (see: Maximum Carnage) as the same boring stuff is reapplied in a new and equally lame way. And then, and worst of all, the event/crossover/mandatory gimmick interrupts something really keen (see: Starman #35 as well as this issue). A series is moving along, developing nicely, and then BAM! everything is totally sidetracked because the publisher demanded it.

Alright, sometimes it’s unavoidable. One expects all the major X-books to refer to the Bowel Movement of Magneto or what have you. And if the threat becomes an Onslaught, then maybe all the world’s major heroes will band together to try to make a difference. But really, sometimes I wish that a big crossover could be negotiated in one panel for the books readers smarter than big round stones would know will not be affected by whatever goofy reality changes occur as the result of the event. New Thunderbolts is a book predicated on mysteries, character reversals, failure, redemption, and revelations. Nothing crushes reader expectations more effectively than morphing all the characters and subsequently telling a story that has no relevance to the ongoing multi-layered plot. Technically, an alternate reality tale can do things for the parent reality series: foreshadow events, perform character examinations through a What If? style one off issue, and maybe even introduce a character to the non-event timeline through some sort of accident. In this issue of New Thunderbolts exactly one panel has material that matters to the series’ normal ongoing story. One panel in twenty-three pages is a horrendous return on an investment of $2.99!

So you know what I’m gonna do? I’m going to save the loyal readers some dough and reveal the one important detail to be found in this issue…

Really, I am.

I’m not going to warn you again; back out now if you’re the spoiler type…

Okay, in this issue it slips out that the reason “our” Captain Marvel’s cosmic awareness is all screwed up involves Baron Strucker and either an Infinity Gem or a Cosmic Egg. The art is kinda sketchy on the details, but at least that’s a plot point in this particular needless digression. Now you don’t have to buy the thing I will continue to talk about below. Hey Tim, did I just idiotically write myself into a corner there?

Oh, nooooo. That’s great. Nothing better than telling someone that the issue sucks and then asking them to read the plot summary of that issue. Always works out well.

This issue focuses on Genis-Vell. In this reality, he’s the natural son of the original Captain Marvel, the Kree’s greatest warrior to ever live and die in battle. Genis is something of a disappointment, as the progeny of heroes tend to be; he’s not all that happy about how he’s measured up either. A battle against this reality’s Thunderbolts (super-beings or their kids who weren’t born with their powers mutant style and therefore fight for the rights of the oppressed regular humans) accidentally activates Genis’ cosmic awareness, which tips him off that his reality is a fraud tout suite. After that, Genis tries to contact the allies of the “real” Genis, but the results are not so good. Let’s just say that a character revelation or two (he sees dead people) culminates in Genis’ powers veering well out of control, forcing the humans, mutants and Kree to put him down. It’s a shame that the sympathy and understanding this installment provides for Captain Marvel will most likely be literally forgotten once the conventional timeline resumes.

The art in this issue is typical of the art team, which means it excels in the things it does well while not remaking the industry with its quality or taking lots of creative chances. The figures are well rendered. The fight scenes have a dramatic layout, while the colors, inks, and lettering don’t detract from that. The multiple reality mix and match panels are fun to examine, but a bit cliché. And whoever wrote Rick Jones’ tombstone’s copy needs to take a walk through a real boneyard. Not even Marla Chandler could be that glib with his epitaph.

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