Beginning this June, Thrilling Adventure Hour creators/writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker will have career… as Thunderbolts.
Acker and Blacker will be taking over the Thunderbolts series from Charles Soule beginning with June’s Thunderbolts #27 with artist Carlo Barberi, continuing the story of the Red Hulk-led hitsquad as they fight villains and, more often than not, themselves. Although Acker and Blacker are best known for their podcast radio show Thrilling Adventure Hour, the duo have written a number of comics in recent years from a graphic novel adaptation of their podcast show to the standalone Wolverine: Season One as well as annuals for Deadpool and Thunderbolts.
In the duo’s Thunderbolts Annual #1 readers saw the Thunderbolts take on a hero in the form of Doctor Strange, and that theme of taking on heroes returns – with someone closer to home – in Thunderbolts #27 as they’ll be taking on the Punisher. The Punisher joined the Red Hulk’s iteration of the team inthe beginning of this volume but has made no qualms about speaking his mind on the direction of the team, and from what we know it looks like that’s reaching a tipping point this June.
Newsarama: This just in – you two have been tapped by Marvel to take over the Thunderbolts series beginning with June’s issue 27. Thanks for doing this. So what do you have planned, guys?
Ben Acker: It is our pleasure to do this. Thanks for your interest.
Ben Blacker: Our plans are to put the Thunderbolts through the wringer. To put them up against an unbeatable foe.
Acker: Let's keep just who that foe is a secret.
Nrama: From what I’m told, “the” foe (or “a” foe) for them is the Punisher (Sorry, it's right there on the cover). The Punisher versus the Thunderbolts – you’re on the book and first thing you do is break up the team. How’d the idea for this face-off come about, and is it just squabbling or are they really at odds here?
Acker: So much for keeping that foe a secret.
Blacker: As to whether they are at odds or just squabbling, tell me: does the Punisher seem like a squabbling type?
Nrama: Hardly. Your previous Thunderbolts work -- Thunderbolts Annual #1 which came out in December – also showed the team taking on a fellow hero, in that of Doctor Strange. What would you say to that theme of Thunderbolts versus heroes, and will we be seeing more of that in your Thunderbolts run?
Blacker: The Thunderbolts title has always been about the nature of heroes and villains. Back when Kurt Busiek started it with villains pretending to be heroes and falling for the hero lifestyle, through Warren Ellis's run where villains were barely playing hero.
Acker: Even in the current run, these Thunderbolts are a collection of the most anti- of anti-heroes. It's part of what makes Thunderbolts a unique title.
Nrama: Will any other heroes be showing up in your Thunderbolts debut?
Acker: Avengers will be there. One of them will take notice of the Thunderbolts, who have been trying to operate off the radar.
Blacker: Some heroes might not approve of the Thunderbolts' methods. One of those heroes is going to get the 'Bolts scent. And follow it.
Nrama: You two have been bouncing around comics for a year or so now, but this’ll be your first ongoing project; what made Thunderbolts the right book for you two?
Blacker: We love heroes that are villains and vice versa. Textured characters.
Acker: Also Thunderbolts is first and foremost an action book. These guys aren't gonna bicker. Every disagreement has the highest stakes.
Blacker: Also, we like all these characters! Dry tough guys. Jerks who should be working solo having to work together.
Acker: A wry ensemble is right in our wheelhouse.
Nrama: Working with you on this is artist Carlo Barberi. I know it’s still early on, but what are your thoughts of him visualizing your scripts for this comic series?
Acker: We haven't seen any pages of the book yet, but we've seen Carlo's stuff and he's fantastic. We are very excited.
Blacker: He did the cover to our Thunderbolts Annual, which knocked our socks off.
Acker: Our socks remain off in anticipation.
Nrama: We can’t leave people with that visual; could you give us an early peek on a specific moment, action or line of dialogue from Thunderbolts #27 that’ll get people excited about your first issue?
Blacker: Let's just say Punisher's attempt to quit the team doesn't go well.