Marvel’s Thunderbolts Revival Hasn’t Lived Up To Its Potential

Warning! Spoilers ahead for King In Black: Thunderbolts #2 by Matthew Rosenberg and Juan Ferreyra!

Everything that fans expected would happen in the first two issues of King In Black: Thunderbolts has yet to transpire, which only means that Marvel is setting up the three-part series for an epic conclusion. Now Marvel just has to deliver. As of now, the publisher hasn’t capitalized on the things that make this band of dysfunctional criminals so appealing – and if they’re being saved for the final issue of the King in Black tie-in, then readers are in for a bumpy ride.

Most of what fans expect to take place in this series derives from what can’t happen in DC’s equivalent team of criminals: the Suicide Squad. Those villains are kept in line by their leader, Amanda Waller, who implants bombs in their heads that she triggers if they have the audacity to double-cross her or deviate from their mission in any way. And she possesses the means of always knowing what they’re doing and when they’re doing it, so they don’t have much wiggle room to try and sneak something by her. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolts just have Wilson Fisk. If they leave, he’ll kill them. If he can find them.

In other words, Waller’s Suicide Squad must – and do – follow her rules to the “T” because they understandably don’t want their heads to explode. They’re controlled chaos. Meanwhile, Fisk’s Thunderbolts have more freedom. They are uncontrolled chaos. And, so far, the chaos hasn’t been unleashed. As of King In Black: Thunderbolts #2 written by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Juan Ferreyra, the Thunderbolts have done the least amount possible with the freedom that Fisk inadvertently gave them: A few members have left the team, Star is thrown out of a moving bus (but she doesn’t die), and a fight almost breaks out between Bartoc The Leaper and Mister Fear. Almost. Ironically, the biggest line the Thunderbolts cross is donning their masks since Fisk wants this to be a legitimate operation. Oh, boy.

If Marvel plans on spending the majority of the final issue focusing on the King In Black instead of the team’s internal strife then the series should have done more to capitalize on what makes this team unique in the previous installments. For example, the fight between Bartoc The Leaper and Mister Fear should have played out in full because Fisk couldn’t have stopped them. And when Star is thrown out of a moving bus, rather than her flying to safety, the bus should’ve hit her.

Conversely, if Marvel has been saving the best for last, then any of the above scenarios can still transpire in some capacity and should. Undoubtedly, one of the most exciting possibilities can come as a result of Star releasing the inmates of the Ravencroft Institute in the second issue. Star was warned that letting them escape would create havoc, and so far the fugitives have been compliant (i.e. no havoc has been had). Let’s see some consequences come as a result of Star’s decision to deviate from the plan. Maybe some of the escapees could attack the Thunderbolts or sabotage their mission.

Although King In Black is a massive crossover event, Thunderbolts doesn’t play a major role in the main story and should focus more so on this band of villains than their fight against the symbiotes, especially since this series is supposed to be the Thunderbolts‘ big comeback. The symbiotes can definitely boost the plot, though. Hopefully, Marvel will deliver in the final issue by capitalizing on how they differ from their obvious DC competition, the Suicide Squad. If not, then the publisher will have squandered an opportunity to promote the rebirth of this compelling troupe.

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