The Leader Is back...sort of...
I've been on the edge with this damn series for a long time, Danial way has destroyed one of my favorite characters and I actually thought that I'd never get to see him as the a cool villain he once was, luckily I was wrong. Charles soule, while he has some specific bumps, managed to restore my hope that maybe there is a chance this series could become better with time.
I've been ranting about how Leader had become a spineless whelp with no motivation or confidence, and what's worse is that they limited his intelligence. Luckily Charles soule saw potential in this and decided to hint a couple of interesting concepts. The leader has been planing all this time, as if he was playing a game of chess and his figures were the thunderbolts themselves. I'm very glad that it turned out that Sterns had merely been acting like and idiot in order to make the others feel comfortable, and in reality he was actually hoping to achieve his own goals. He demonstrated the ability to plan and map out ways to take his teammates out. We're not quite there yet, but this gave me slight hope that it's possible that the Leader wants to restore himself to his full potential again, which would be just terrific. It won't happen soon, but Charles seems to be setting Sterns up to be the villain,which would actually work really well.
On the other hand, while I did enjoy the focus on Leader, this was by no means a good issues. Charles isn't good with character capabilities, he's more interested in the story rather than keeping the power levels of these characters consistent, which isn't BAD, but he takes it to an extreme degree. I've seen this happen more times the one, Guy beats atrocitus in Red Lanterns, Zod almost kills Martain Manhunter( Although Zod is being re-introduced so he maybe more power than he use to be), Red Hulk almost died of a mountain fall, and so on and on. This issues seems to be no different, the way leader maps out the scenarios in which he kills his team is pretty ridiculous. Neither deadpool nor Rulk could possibly ever die from a car explosion, Venom, while vulnerable to fire, can at least resist it to some degree, whereas here the symbiot detaches itself from Flash at the mere sight of fire. None of these makes sense, nor are they consistent with the ways these characters have been portrayed before. I'm glad leader realizes that his plan will most probably won't work out, at least that seemed realistic(comic books terms of course).
Also, why is there no mention of what happened previously? What happened to Gordon? The Inhuman father who swore vengeance on punisher? Why was there no mention of him? I'm sure he'll appear later on, but it would have been nice to see what had panned after his sons died and after he had learned the bizarre extents of his power. I get that this issue was focusing merely on The Lader, but still it would have been nice.
And last but not least, there art. Why is it that Marvel seems to shove mediocre artists on this title? By mediocre I mean that it completely doesn't suit this book. I'd expect that type art on a detective book with human protagonists at best, but Leader, Ross, flash all look very boxy. The art lacks consistent structure, which for some reason has been a problem on thunderbolts for quite some time. The characters can't maintain their body structures and somehow blend in with the colors which ruins the experience for me.
Overall it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. I understand that the series had a rough start with Danial way, but since Thunderbolts is having a new point 1 from issue 20 with Ghost Rider, I'm hoping that maybe things will finely pick up. Plus the the new art seems gorgeous.