Law of odds alone says one of these days, it's gotta happen, right?
I had high hopes for this. I was hoping it could be an actual Marvel NOW book that I enjoyed. With Thunderbolts utterly ruined, I saw in this the possibility for a replacement. I mean, there's 3 former Thunderbolts right there on the cover (Boomerang, Shocker and Speed Demon) and one pseudo-T-Bolt (Beetle). Hell, Boomerang and Shocker are even still wearing their T-Bolt belt buckles on the cover. I legitimately was hoping to like this. Spoilers: I didn't.
The book takes an approach to the villains that is light-hearted and pokes fun at them. I'm fine with this general idea, it's been done great in other books, but the problem here is it's not. It's just the same old stuff. "Let's laugh at these losers for being losers". That's all that's really going on here. You can read the preview and as much as have read the book because it is through-and-through just a series of thematically identical sketches thinly linked by a few set-ups of a plot for the next few issues.
I think running down the plot more or less exemplifies why this book didn't work for me: we begin with Boomerang in jail talking to Shocker and Speed Demon. There's not-so-snappy decompressed Bendis-style talk galore and awkward attempts at trying to write people like "real" people. Then Shocker and Speed Demon go to feed Boomerang's birds but rob a pet store and steal a puppy from a little girl while swearing non-stop while elsewhere Beetle and Overdrive rob a comic book store (OH ALL THE META HUMORS). Amidst complaining about everything and swearing, Shocker and Speed Demon find Boomerang actually had them steal diamonds. But the diamonds are fake and Hammerhead's not really there and all this annoying banter is mixed in with a few random bits with the Chameleon setting up a plot, that's about it.
It's just annoying, really. The characters all have the same pathetic voice that I'm sure others will say is "so realistic" and "the greatest down-to-Earth portrayal of the a villain ever" but it's really really not. It's just frustrating in it's repetitive tone. Maybe Speed Demon is lame, maybe Shocker is pathetic, whatever. If that's all you can be bothered to establish in an issue, then don't bother writing them and pretending it's character building. Making them have petty little banters and generally appear incompetent and lame is fun for about 3 pages. A whole book about it is just insulting and boring.
Also the amount of censored swear-words (and in one case not censored at all) is just insane. It seems like it's not just the decompressed banter inspired by Bendis, but we have the ol' Bendis method of instead of writing reactions or dialogue, just offering us "%^&*$^&%" every now and again. It's just tiresome. So tiresome.
The only real good points of this issue are that I wasn't forced to endure a guest spot form the Inferior Spider-Man and that's about it. Boomerang taking the lead I suppose I liked but I'm sure these is just an excuse to build to more sketches about how lame and pathetic he is. Also, it's nice to see they decided to just ignore anything done with Boomerang in Thunderbolts except for the costume. What little characterisation there is, it's nothing unique. At all. A villain being self-aware isn't anything to write home about. I wanted to like this book, I really did, it's just too annoying at it's insistence of "pathetic".