If you've been following Jeff Parker's Thunderbolts lately, you know that part of the team is traveling through time — a trip that in March will culminate with Thunderbolts #171 and the start of the three-issue "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts" arc, where the original lineup meets the current cast. Newsarama talked with Parker via email to learn more about the cross-generational T-Bolts action.
Newsarama: Jeff, the upcoming "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts" story teases a prominent role for the "original" Thunderbolts. Just to clarify — since the story involves time travel, does that mean we're going to see the full-on original team from the Kurt Busiek/Mark Bagley run? Zemo as Citizen V? Moonstone as Meteorite? Fixer as Techno? (And so on?)
Jeff Parker: Exactly, and Goliath as Atlas and Songbird as the first time she uses that name instead of Screaming Mimi. Which is maybe the most valuable service that first issue did, changing that name!
Nrama: One thing that's become apparent in your Thunderbolts run is a lot of respect for the history of the book — this upcoming arc with the original team, the flashback scenes in the Point One issue, and the presence throughout of original members like Songbird, Mach V, Moonstone and Fixer. What motivates this strong connection the legacy of the series?
Parker: I think Thunderbolts has earned that kind of acknowledgement like a lot of classic titles (Spider-Man, FF, etc) do. It's weathered some hard times in the comics industry and kept going. Heck, it began in a hard time for the industry. At the same time, we stay fresh and don't wallow in the continuity of the past, no one needs to know all of that stuff to come on and start reading, you get it pretty quickly. This is where the bad guys get to shine and have their stories told.
Nrama: On that note, original T-Bolts artist Mark Bagley is on covers for "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts." How important is it to have him involved with this storyline?
Parker: Very! I hope it's a kick for him. I'm going to have a discussion with him, Kurt Busiek and Tom Brevoort and run it as a feature in these issues, talking about how it all came to be.
Nrama: But while the book has had a link to the past, it's also seen a ton of changes recently, both in cast and status quo. In fact, that seems to be a hallmark of the series as a whole, since it's never really stood in one place for long. Do you see frequent change as essentially in the DNA of Thunderbolts?
Parker: Yes, the almost chaotic structure of the book is a foundation of it, odd as that sounds. It keeps Thunderbolts very dynamic and gives us a place to rebuild old underused characters into modern menaces.
Nrama: Since the time-traveling team appears to be accounted for in this arc, will Luke Cage, Songbird, Mach V and Ghost still be playing a major role? (Of course, there's a long way to go between now and March, so I totally understand if there's not much you can say about this matter.)
Parker: Yes, you'll be seeing the Bolts left behind and how they approach The Great Escape. They aren't throwing up their hands and giving up, they're determined to bring the escapees back.
Nrama: Declan Shalvey — who's been rotating arcs with Kev Walker — is on art for "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts." In an age where art teams often change rapidly on a series, how much of an advantage is it to have the kind of consistency the two of them have provided?
Parker: The biggest advantage, maybe? Kev and Dec are very different artists but both hit the tone of the book perfectly, which is no mean feat. There's a lot of harsh humor, grim reality, and unexpected nobility — it's an incredibly tough balance to maintain and you need real professionals like Walker and Shalvey to pull that off. And man do they leave behind some beautiful trades, it's like an eye massage. We also need to welcome Terry Pallot aboard as Kev's inker- he's fit incredibly well and is going to help us get to our goal of extra issues of the book in the coming years.
The secret weapon of the book is colorist Frank Martin, who month in and out pulls off the most incredible choices and effects, he works with the artists like a chameleon. I get people asking me all the time how he pulls off certain pages. Even if I understood how Frank did it, I wouldn't tell though. That's his edge to share or not!
Nrama: Thunderbolts seems to be really picking up as of late in terms of online buzz and people taking notice of the title, beyond the hardcore fans. Have you been monitoring that type of reaction? And is there anything specific that, from your perspective, has really clicked in recent months with the series?
Parker: Yes, I guess word of mouth really does kick in, huh? I'm glad of course- this team has been swinging for the fence for a good while and it should pay off. Editor Tom Brennan has been helping brainstorm the kind of weirdness that really only works in our book. The escape through time was his idea, and it's the kind of storyline that isn't always encouraged in this age of "stay close to the main event."
I just want to say to our readers: keep bringing in your friends to the book and we will keep surprising and exciting you. Is it a deal?Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!