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Review: Thunderbolts #144

T-Bolt fans will be happy about this.

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Luke Cage rounds up a new team of Thunderbolts from the Raft, including Juggernaut, Ghost, Moonstone, Crossbones and Man-Thing.

The Good

I'm a sucker for supervillain stories and Parker makes does a good turn in the sub-genre, here. "Rounding up the team" stories are sometimes of a necessary evil, but he makes this really engaging. I especially enjoyed the little moments like Ghost only communicating to Cage through his mask, Moonstone's alarming profile matching Songbird's and the explanation offered for Juggernaut's possibly bi-polar nature. And Mach-IV finally upgrades to Mach-V! The twist at the end was a great hook, too! Maybe it'll seem obvious in hindsight, but I was glad to see Parker throw readers a curve ball in the T-Bolts tradition. My head's spinning and I want to see where this goes. Also, Walker and Martin make a great team. There's a nice mix of realistic grit and cartoony stylization to the art that I appreciated, selling the prison drama as well as the heroic fantasy.

The Bad

There are some good reasons given in the story as to why Man-Thing and Crossbones are members of this team, but I don't know... they seem a little too far removed from the T-Bolts' usual corner of the Marvel Universe. It's almost like having Howard the Duck working off a jail sentence for them. You can find ways to make it make sense, but it'll still seem a little off. Actually, you could probably add Moonstone's membership to the list of odd inclusions. SHIELD's got a good reason for her involvement, but she's such a schemer, you can't swallow that they'd be this stupid about setting themselves up.

The Verdict - 4.5/5

This really continues what I enjoyed from the T-Bolt shorts in the Enter the Heroic Age special last week.  And, as someone who's read T-Bolts from the beginning, I was so glad to see a signature twist at the end of this issue. This title has always been about lulling readers into thinking they'll get one premise, then surprising them with something else that changes everything. The fact that it ties back into earlier incarnations of the book makes it all the more thrilling.