The Thunderbolts has usually been a team made up of ex-villains who are trying to redeem themselves. I don’t know much else about this team though, besides the Juggernaut being an on and off member. This version of the Thunderbolts seems to have a different purpose in Marvel Now. What is that purpose? This comic certainly doesn’t explain it.
This entire issue focuses on General Ross aka. Red Hulk as he recruits members for his Thunderbolts team. He brings in the Punisher, Venom, Electra, Deadpool and a character I’ve never seen before. The central scene is his conversation with the Punisher, who is tied up in a warehouse that is surrounded by his enemies. Despite this, The Punisher doesn’t have a lot to say in this comic, besides questions for the general. Neither of them have much characterization, besides maybe Ross’s personal shame for the mistakes he’s made.
The other characters get even less to say. Electra has exactly one line, and the character I don’t recognize doesn’t get any, or even a name. Deadpool just feels like any ordinary mercenary here. The worst introduction scene is Venom’s however. Venom acts as if he’s never met General Ross before, even though he’s worked with the Red Hulk in the Circle of Four crossover. In that crossover, he acknowledged that the Red Hulk outranked him in the military – a strong hint that he knew exactly who Red Hulk was. Beyond that, Venom has virtually no characterization here. If you’re just being introduced to these characters with this issue, you will have no reason to care about any of them.
The art is mediocre as well. The opening pages are decent establishing shots, and Venom’s scene looks good, but otherwise this comic looks boring. With few exceptions, most male faces look pretty much the same (besides the number of wrinkles and eyebrow colours). The last page spread just looks goofy, with all of the Punisher’s enemies crowding too closely together, and barren flashes floating in the middle of the air. Other people are just standing around with dull angry looks, while the Punisher’s face looks a lot like Doom Guy’s face does in the original Doom game. It’s not bad art overall, but it’s not good by any means.
Daniel Way’s writing has never impressed me. What I have read of his Daken work bored me, and what little of his Deadpool run I’ve read felt boring. This comic certainly didn’t change my mind, I’ll be dropping this book unless the next issue is a lot better. Simply put, nothing is explained in this comic, and that’s the biggest crime a first issue can commit. I have no idea who would like this comic, but it’s not bad enough to recommend that you should stay away.