Review: Thunderbolts: From The Marvel Vault By Fabian Nicieza


Written by Fabian Nicieza

Art by Derec Aucoin and Vero Gandini


A while back I interviewed Sean McKeever and one of the topics that came up was his single issue story of Spider-Girl, he explained that he wrote an inventory issue just in case it was ever needed, and it wound up right in the middle of Tom DeFalco’s run. DeFalco didn’t blame him for it, nor was he mad, that’s just how the industry works. Every so often you find yourself with an issue to fill, and that’s where the inventroy comes in; that’s where filler issues that have no bearing on the current goings on come from. This is one of those issues, written years ago by Fabian Nicieza during his original run on Thunderbolts, and starring Jack Monroe. The issue opens with a page explaining what this issue is, a story he wrote for inventory years ago…during a time when he actually worked for Marvel. It’s a story about Jack Monroe and what happened to him after the Scourge arc, as Fabian tried to explore the mind of a character that was a favorite of his. It’s an odd thing though, this issue, because for as much fun as it is, and for the nostalgia it gives me, it never escapes my mind that Jack Monroe was killed in the opening arc of Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, and that this really is a story that never was about a character that never will be again. Sure, characters come back from the dead, but generally people care….and the Nomad fanbase is pretty slim.

Anyway, the story beings with Jack Monroe having something he needs to stop in St. Louis (represent!) but keeping the reader in the dark as to what it is, instead of does what any good Nomad would do and goes off on a road trip with his image inducer. Making pit stops at locations of origin for several of the ‘Bolts, Jack sets out to see just what makes them tick. From Songbird’s abusive childhood, to Atlas’s dead family, Jack ponders whether or not someone can truly go straight, or if it would always just be an act. Do second chances really exist or are they just a good way to get under the radar? It’s an interesting quest of discovery, especially as Jack is trying to figure out where he fits into the world now in the aftermath of his mind control inspired time as Scourge. Can he redeem himself?

As Jack ventures from life to life, discovering more and more about these former villains playing hero, his quest becomes internal. He wasn’t in control when he was Scourge, but he was chosen because they knew it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. It becomes less about their quests for redemption and more about his own. It all boils down to Jack’s return to St. Louis, where we find out that his quest this whole time has been to discover whether a villain working at a bank is trying to reform or just scouting the next job. The end result of the book is a nice little moment between Jack and this villain as the former Bucky asks the villain to choose just what he wants to do, who he wants to be. It’s a nice story about redemption.

I’m not overly familiar with artist Derec Aucoin, but he does a nice job in this issue. If I remember right, Mark Bagley and Pat Zircher were the normal artists on the title at the time, and while it’s hard to match up to either of them, Aucoin does his best. The issue is clear, the characters look nice, and while the issue doesn’t look spectacular I still applaud them for going with someone who maintained the basic style of the book. I’m also operating under the assumption that he pencilled the book back when Fabian initially wrote the script, as I’m not finding many recent credits.

The issue is bittersweet because on one hand it’s a well told filler story that really excels at the done in one, and succeeds in being a fun read. Then, on the other hand, Fabian does a nice job with Monroe’s character and carves out a little niche for the man once called Nomad that will never be used since, again, he’s dead. Jack wound up in character limbo after his time as Scourge only to return during Captain America, and had this issue come out years ago at the very least it would have established a status quo for Jack in his remaining years. Like I said, it’s bittersweet. It’s a good story about a character that isn’t with us, and while it doesn’t really add anything, there are far worse ways to spend your money than on a done-in-one by the great Fabian Nicieza.




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