Luke Cage & Iron Fist: Thundebolts For Hire?

Are These the New Thundebolts?

Thunderbolts #136

You wouldn’t typically find too many big announcements centering on a single issue unless they had to do with a big death or a big return. However, Thunderbolts #136 merits some special attention. It’s not just because Rick Remender is building his rep as the other busiest writer at Marvel, and it’s not just because the 48-page issue will be drawn by artistic up-and-comer Mahmud A. Asrar (Dynamo 5, Nova Annual #1). The real heat on the September issue is the fact that Luke Cage and Danny Rand, Power Man and Iron Fist, find themselves in the employ of Norman Osborn as his deadliest new assassins. WTF, right? We talked to Rick Remender before Philly for some of the salient details.

“I’m doing one double-size issue to set up a new program [of Norman’s],” Remender tells us. “Norman comes up [with this] in order to strengthen his mercenary operations. The idea of the new program here is that . . .basically Norman is bringing heroes into the Thunderbolts.” As for why Cage and Rand? Remender points out that should be obvious. “Why he goes for Danny and Luke kind of makes sense, given that they were the Heroes for Hire and how me makes them perform for [this team].”

When asked about the ongoing appeal of the Cage/Rand combination, Remender sums it up pretty succinctly. He notes, “It’s the muscle and the karate guy, just to boil it down to the fun aspects . . . the bruiser busting heads and his little buddy doing roundhouses . . . they really are unlikely friends, and that’s the core. It’s exploring the boundaries of a friendship that’s gone on as long as theirs has . . . that’s the theme.”

Apart from the cool-buddy-action aspect, Remender has some loftier goals for the story. “[I asked myself] what could I do that might have poignancy? This is action heavy, but also with some humanity that says something about the characters.”

Remender, a new dad himself, indicates that some of Luke Cage’s motives here are affected that character’s own fatherhood. Suggesting a key to the story, Remender says, “At what point does that friendship crumble away in lieu of self-interest and other friendships . . . their [respective places] in life play a role in that.”

As far as the overall tone of the issue, Remender says, “It flips and flops [between] espionage and intrigue, [i]Mission: Impossible[i/]-style reveals . . . you never really know anybody’s true motives . . . with Osborn and Ghost, there’s an undercurrent of people playing each other; there’s a good four or five zigs and zags [in the plot].”

And on top of that? Remender laughs: “Kung Fu guy is already a ton of fun.”

Look for the 48-page issue in September.

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