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Thunderbolts #30 - The Punisher vs. The Thunderbolts Part Four Review

3

Frank Castle thinks the Thunderbolts need to be stopped. His latest target: Elektra.

The Good

If you title something "Punisher vs." I'm going to check it out -- it really is that simple. Marvel could make "Punisher vs. Squirrel Girl" and honestly, I'd be unable to resist reading the first issue (okay, maybe that does sound a little awesome). With this story in the latest volume of THUNDERBOLTS, writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have given Frank Castle an epiphany: the Thunderbolts are no good and, after being betrayed by Rulk, Frank thinks he needs to shut them down once and for all. He's already removed Red Leader, Deadpool, and Ghost Rider from the picture. It hasn't been a compelling experience, but it has been a fair amount of fun. Facing Elektra, however, brings more weight to the narrative because the two have been seeing each other. This means we're not just dealing with two people trying to defeat one another -- we're dealing with two people basically fighting over their relationship. One is struggling to end it while the other is battling to hold onto it. If you're expecting a crazy and over-the-top fight between these two, you'll more than likely be disappointed. It's more about fighting for what they stand for as opposed to trying to actually harm one another. Some bits of dialogue felt out of character and it wasn't as engaging as I hoped it would be, but it's still an amusing sequence. I'm still left wondering if Doctor Faustus is playing a significant role in the bigger picture.

Artist Jorge Fornés and colorist Izrael Silva create panels that have a totally wacky vibe -- which is an odd contrast to a heated exchange between two lovers -- but there's no denying they produce some really, really entertaining pages. The sequence of Elektra and Punisher on their first "date" is a lighthearted blast and so much fun to gaze at. The style -- jagged features and exaggerated expressions -- may not be for everyone and I don't think it's appropriate for this chapter, but overall, I enjoyed the attention given to each panel and the energy that was put into these characters' stronger physical and emotional beats. Oh, and I can't forget to compliment David Yardin's great cover.

The Bad

Look, I'm all for seeing popular characters duke it out, but the Punisher's fight against Elektra feels unnecessary and there's several bits of dialogue where both of them seem out of character (this includes Clint Barton's brief scene). Now, I know some of you might be thinking that Punisher's dealing with a lover, and considering his history with relationships, it's not an easy subject and we can all act a little out of character when dealing with potential breakups. I had that in mind while approaching this and it still felt like the two didn't quite sound like themselves at some points and the fight just didn't feel required. I like how the writers were handling Elektra's actions, but I still couldn't shake the idea that she's more than capable of restraining him and that would force them to talk it out. Sure, that's less exciting, but I'd rather have an engrossing exchange between these two. On top of that, there's a change made to their first encounter. It's meant to give us a stronger emotional connection and understanding of Elektra's actions, but the issue's tone doesn't really allow us to feel all that impacted by it. Is Punisher vs. Elektra fun? Sure, but it's a little tough to understand the logic behind Frank's decisions and he came off as pretty irrational.

The visuals work well for the action, but it doesn't seem very fitting for the more emotional side of this story. It makes some of the moments that need to be more heartfelt seem lighthearted and cartoonish. The splash page with three characters and a collection of moments is an example of this. That may work for some, but for me, the contrast between the tone and the style made some of the incidents feel less effective.

I can't hold it against this issue (and it doesn't impact the score, obviously), but I still think it's disappointing that we never got to see Punisher vs. Deadpool. The bit with them was amusing, but it's almost always a good time when we get to see those two fight.

The Verdict

THUNDERBOLTS #30 is a pretty fun journey which is complimented by equally fun artwork, but the characters' dialogue sometimes feels off and the physical conflict came off feeling really unnecessary. I get the symbolism behind the actions and how it was their way of addressing some issues, but it mostly seemed like fighting for the sake of fighting. On top of that, it's clear the story arc is going for over-the-top fun and the art works well with that, but it's odd when the narrative switches gears and aims for more serious and emotionally gripping scenes. It doesn't transition all that well into those and they're left feeling not nearly as impactful as they should. Still, if you're just looking to have fun, odds are you'll be able to overlook most of these issues and have a decent time.

11 Comments
Posted by MadeinBangladesh

Man this series had so much potential from issue 1 but it never took it anywhere. Very disappointing series from the start.

Posted by greenlucario

The treatment of Ghost Rider, last issue and for quite a few of the previous ones since his inclusion has been disappointing. I'm hoping that changes because GR is the only reason I'm still on this one.

Edited by Rainja

@madeinbangladesh: I.agree. This has a great cast but this series just sucked from the start. Art sucked 95 percent of the Time. I liked most of what soule was doing but before and after had just been horrible. Marvel shoukld just cancel this book. They can keep the team off panel and make them guest star in other books.

Edited by MadeinBangladesh

@rainja said:

@madeinbangladesh: I.agree. This has a great cast but this series just sucked from the start. Art sucked 95 percent of the Time. I liked most of what soule was doing but before and after had just been horrible. Marvel shoukld just cancel this book. They can keep the team off panel and make them guest star in other books.

It got a little better after SOule took over. Seriously, how can any writer screw up a great cast of team like this? I was sooooo excited when they announced this series for Marvel Now! It was such a huge let down.

Posted by CaptainHoopla

@rainja: This book has been cancelled. I think issue 32 in October is the last. Otherwise, yeah, this series has been a massive waste of potential.

Posted by Cave_Duck

I've been disappointed with it too, been on the verge of dropping it a few times. Then an interesting cover or arc will drag me in for more disappointment.

Its begging for a reboot.

But I agree that cover is awesome!

Posted by WheatStalker

Well, at least secret-identity L.A. Frank is treating my eyeballs correctly. Thunderbolts might be a fizzle, but the solo series' for both of these characters are a blast.

Posted by cdw101

Well done Frank, not!! he's just saved himself from having 6 months sex with Elektra at the least!!!!

Posted by Boynerdgeek

So looks like with great line up, Thunderbolts comics still struggle

Posted by daredevil21134

@cdw101 said:

Well done Frank, not!! he's just saved himself from having 6 months sex with Elektra at the least!!!!

Than God that this awful forced relationship is over.

Edited by Owie

In a way I'm glad to hear this series hasn't been all that great, in the sense that I would have liked to follow Elektra in it, but the couple early issues I got weren't very good, so I dropped it. So I'm glad that my early sense of it was confirmed and I didn't miss much.

On the other hand I did pick this up and thought the fight was pretty good. But I agree the motives were unclear by the end and the Hawkeye stuff seemed random.