Bad blood boils to the surface as the Thunderbolts' old grudges with the Avengers come to a head in a parallel world the two teams are stranded in.
This how you do an anniversary issue. Bringing long-held tensions up in a way that never pussyfoots around the real, mean drama. And things do get mean. So often, superhero battles seem like showy dance number with a lot of lights and smoke, but this is a very nasty, very brutal fight (watch out for Thor wrecking Juggy's helmet!) with some serious ill spirits behind it. And the characters feel real. From anti-capitalist zealot to quirky billionaire, from bipolar behemoth to weary ex-con... they all act and interact as they would, without any pap answers.
The cover boasts that this is a 96 page special and, while it does live up to that promise, the relevancy of the extra 48 pages is going to be up to you, as it's a reprint of the very first T-Bolts issue. If you've been reading the title since the beginning, as I have, then that material's going to feel extraneous. Story wise, I was a bit confused (though still charmed) by the inclusion of the frog and the setting of this intense showdown in a fairy tale world.
The Verdict - 4.5/5
Stepping back a little, it's worth it to compliment the editorial team behind this book as they've given this book a purpose that clearly complements the other Avengers spin-offs. If the the Avengers are the varsity heroes and the Avengers Academy are super-kids who need guidance as they teeter between hero and villain, then this is very clearly the place for borderline lost causes who need a lot effort to be pulled off the edge. And the drama's, of course, riveting for that. Consistently one my favorite books at Marvel.