Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogathon 23: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters

[Discussed in this post: Thunderbolts #110-115.]

Warren Ellis's Thunderbolts stuff with Mike Deodato are the best comics I will discuss today. Out of around 230 comics, these 12 make up the best without question.

"Faith in Monsters" is the opening arc where Ellis takes the ill-thought idea of using supervillains to hunt down rogue superheroes who have not registered and turns it into a disturbing, twisted examination of very bad people. It's oddly complex and surprising at times.

Norman Osborn has been put in charge of the Thunderbolts (thus making Tony Stark responsible for Osborn's position in "Dark Reign") and soon builds a team featuring the craziest of crazies. Nearly all are kept in check via nanochains. Their first mission is barely a success and that's only because of Bullseye, who is the team's secret weapon. There's no trust in Thunderbolts Mountain, not in their leader, not in one another.

Meanwhile, the nation loves the Thunderbolts! These are the new supercops and they keep the streets safe from evil superheroes who want to kill your children. This book is cynical and twisted in a good way -- we never see the people suppoting the Thunderbolts, we see the media mindlessly supporting the line the government wants them to. Ellis seems careful to make that differentiation, because he's too smart to just blanket people like that -- which Millar doesn't.

What I love about Ellis's run is that it's devoted to showing why this was the dumbest idea in the history of superhero comics. Not as an idea for a title, but as an idea for a program. He really makes you question what intelligence a supposedly brilliant man like Tony Stark has when he sets up a program with these people. Venom eats arms! Moonstone all-but-openly wants to take over the team. The Swordsman is a creepy aristocrat obsessed with his dead sister -- whose skin covers the hilt of his sword. And Bullseye... Bullseye thinks killing people makes him God's only friend.

And the whole thing is run by Norman fucking Osborn. The Green Goblin who is 100% absolutely batshit insane.

This comic is so damn entertaining I can't even get it across in words. And Mike Deodato does his best work with creepy and twisted characters. He doesn't do heroic well, but a guy who wears an iron maiden for a costume? Hell yes. Tommy Lee Jones as Norman Osborn is a bit distracting, though.

The entire build-up of this arc leads to the Thunderbolts getting their asses handed to them by three nobodies. The best scene of all? American Eagle kicking the shit out of Bullseye who'd been set up as such a dangerous, lethal individual, but, as American Eagle puts it, is used to picking on people without superpowers -- he's a bully, not a lethal killer.

There are some great gags in here like "Who Wants to be a Thunderbolt?" as hosted by Stan Lee.

This book made my top ten comics of the year in 2007.

In 30 minutes, The Order (Part 1).

As well, we're up to $135 raised for the CBLDF! Keep the donations coming, folks!

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]