Charles Soule Joins THUNDERBOLTS in Time for INFINITY

Charles Soule was initially announced to be writing a two-issue stint on Thunderbolts following the departure of previous series writer Daniel Way, but he’s going steady with the team starting in August with issue #14.

As announced Saturday at Marvel’s "From NOW! to Infinity" panel Saturday at C2E2 in Chicago, Soule is the new full-time writer on Thunderbolts, guiding the unconventional team into the looming Infinity event. As Soule explains, it’s a unique take to a tie-in — with Marvel’s more public heroes occupied by a clear and present cosmic threat, the Thunderbolts take to the streets of New York City for a distinctly Punisher-driven mission: eliminating the city’s crime families.

Despite the power and capabilities of members like the Red Hulk, Elektra, Venom, Deadpool and Frank Castle himself, things naturally don’t go quite as planned, and Soule (who's also writing Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns at DC, plus the Strange Attractors graphic novel for Archaia) talked to us about the arc — starting with issue #14 — and the new "framework" he and artist Jefte Palo are looking to bring to the series.


Newsarama: Charles, when it was first announced that you were coming on board Thunderbolts, it was initially said to be a two-issue run. Now it’s been made known that you’re taking over as regular writer. How exciting is it to have some room to stretch out and tell a more long-term story, on your very first Marvel project?

Charles Soule: Can’t complain! First of all, I was very excited to be asked to work on the two fill-ins. As you point out, it was my first work for Marvel, and a wonderful opportunity. If it had ended there, it would still have been more than enough. On the other hand, during the scripting process for my two initial issues (#12 and #13), I couldn’t help but start to spin out ideas for these characters. It’s almost impossible not to. I can’t wait to put some of that stuff into play.

Nrama: Since this is your first Marvel project, do you find that any of your thematically diverse past work — be it creator-owned or work-for-hire — has specifically prepared you for the task of taking on Thunderbolts?

Soule: Writing a team-based book is a unique challenge. Everyone needs their moments to shine, and you have to play out all of the character threads in a satisfying way while telling a cool overarching story at the same time. It’s the big leagues as far as writing goes. It feels a little like being a one-man band — every limb is paying attention to a different instrument, and you have to keep all of it going at once.

It’s fun, though. My first series, Strongman for [Slave Labor Graphics], was team-based, in a way, although the team in that book was just a trio, and there was a clear leader with two subordinates. In Thunderbolts I’ve got Red Hulk, Punisher, Elektra, Deadpool, Venom, Red Leader and Mercy to pay attention to, and none of those characters are particularly good at playing second fiddle.

Nrama: While it looks like you’re continuing fairly closely with what Daniel Way set up, naturally one would imagine there’s an amount of wanting to put your own stamp on things, too. What are some different types of elements that you’re looking to introduce in your run?

Soule: The current Thunderbolts lineup is fantastic. I don’t know who I would have chosen who isn’t already on the team. I love Punisher and Elektra in particular, and the rest of the personalities can grind against each other in a way that makes for some awesome stories.

I am going to introduce a new… framework, I guess you’d call it. I want to make it very clear why these people are working together and what they all expect to get from their time on the team. If I do it right, it will work as a story engine that will generate lots of cool adventures as the title continues. It came from sitting down when I was asked to pitch and thinking about the big question for any Thunderbolts incarnation: these are people who don’t play nice with others. Why would they get together at all, and what keeps them together?

Nrama: To talk more specifically about the story arc coming up, Thunderbolts will be tying in to Infinity, and it looks like a unique type of tie-in, where it’s more about what the T-Bolts are doing on Earth while the Avengers are off-world. The story sees them targeting the NYC crime families — given that they have the power of the Red Hulk and the mob-targeting skills of the Punisher (not to mention Elektra, Deadpool and Venom), it seems like they could have a fairly good shot, but what might get in their way? And what’s fun in writing an unconventional event tie-in like this?

Soule: Well, the mob family they’re targeting is a group that Frank Castle has been unable to eradicate in all his many years of warfare against crime in New York — the Paguros (from the Italian word for "hermit crab"). It’s always stuck in his craw that he couldn’t get these guys on his own, and he sees the T-Bolts as his chance to finally take them out. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if the gang just runs in and executes the mission perfectly. Things will get massively complicated once the Infinity crossover begins, and the goal rapidly shifts from killing mob bosses to just trying to get out of the city alive.

I live in New York — it’s one of my favorite "characters" to include in my stories. (In fact, my most recent creator-owned OGN, Strange Attractors, is all about the city.) I could write about NYC all day long. So, it’s particularly fun that this Thunderbolts arc will take place in "my" city. Plus, I’ll get to throw some more or less street-level characters against some serious cosmic mayhem, and that’s a contrast that’s going to pay off in spades.

Nrama: It looks like Red Leader is definitely a part of the Infinity arc. Is he going to become a more traditional part of the team?

Soule: I don’t think there’s anything traditional about Red Leader. He was one of the most effective villains in the Marvel Universe, and now he’s… good? There’s a lot going on with Samuel Sterns, and we’re going to see that playing out in the next few arcs. He’s not going anywhere, but the Thunderbolts might wish he had. (Which doesn’t mean he’s turning bad! He’s just an unpredictable element in a team that’s already full of unpredictable elements.)

Nrama: Finally, your comic book workload has definitely increased dramatically in recent months, and with this news, is continuing to increase. Obviously, that’s a good thing, but what’s it been like adjusting to that type of change in schedule?

Soule: Ha. I could do a whole interview about this one question — if I had the time, which I no longer do.

Here’s the truth of the matter. In the last six months or so, I have been given what I consider to be extraordinary opportunities to work on incredible projects, both work-for-hire and my creator-owned books. I would be a fool not to take advantage of those opportunities to the fullest extent of my ability. I would also be a fool to overextend myself to the extent that the work suffers. Finding the balance has been interesting, but I’m very aware that it needs to be found. Mostly, I have a great slate of work right now, and I’m very proud of everything I’m doing — and that’s pretty damn fantastic, honestly.

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