As announced at Saturday's Secret Invasion panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel's Thunderbolts is getting some new blood - in the form of writer Andy Diggle and artist Roberto De La Torre
Although the “new super-heroes” known as Ctizen V, Atlas, Meteorite, Techno, Mach-1, and Songbird first debuted in Incredible Hulk #449 by Peter David and Mike Deodato Jr, the Thunderbolts was actually an original concept introduced by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley following the “death” of the heroes in the Onslaught crossover in 1996.
They became an instant hit with citizens of the Marvel Universe (as well as Marvel Comics fans) but had just as quickly became Marvel’s most wanted. Over the years, the “team” had added new recruits and new members, including a less than stellar Fight Club-esque version.
A new team consisting of Songbird and new recruits Venom, Taskmaster, Bullsye, Lady Deathstrike, Jack O’Lantern and Jester was revealed at the end of issue #4 of the 2006/2007 Civil War summer blockbuster by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.
From issue #110 onwards, Warren Ellis came on board as the new Thunderbolts writer with Deodato Jr. as the artist and unleashed the All-New, All-Deadly Thunderbolts, who’re now sanctioned by the Pro-Registration side to act as special marshals for the Commission on Superhuman Affairs and led by Norman Osborn.
However, things are going to be shaken once again following Marvel’s latest summer blockbuster event.
We spoke with editor Bill Rosemann and Diggle about the new team dynamics and more.
Newsarama: Bill, it looks like in the wake of this summer's Secret Invasion, the T-Bolts get a new status quo and a new creative team. While the ramifications of the latest Skrull war against Marvel's super-heroes and humanity are still being explored in the pages of Secret Invasion, can you at least give readers a mission statement of the Thunderbolts post-Secret Invasion?
Bill Rosemann: Hmmm…how can I give you an answer that protects all the upcoming surprises but isn’t too Skrully? Well, I can say the finale of Secret Invasion will profoundly impact Norman Osborn and his sinister squad. The T-Bolts will continue to do someone’s bidding…whoever that might be…but underneath it all we’ll continue to explore thin line between heroes and villains.
NRAMA: Andy, how did you land this gig?
AD: I just put some feelers out to Marvel editorial to see if they'd be interested in setting something up, and Tom Brevoort and Bill Rosemann got right back and invited me to pitch for Thunderbolts. I've been writing more-or-less exclusively for DC and Vertigo for six years now, and while DC have been great to work with, I just felt like I needed a change of scene. And my friends who work for Marvel have had nothing but good things to say about them just lately.
Plus, I've been hankering to write another action book for a while now. I made my mark writing action in The Losers and I'm eager to get back to that. Hellblazer's a real privilege to write, and I'm thrilled it's been so well received by the fans, but it's not exactly big on giant robots and aerial dogfight sequences...
NRAMA: The series has been revamped many a time since the Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley days, although technically, they first appeared in Peter David and Mike Deodato Jr.'s Incredible Hulk #449. What're some of your favorite elements from each of the previous takes on the team?
AD: I think it's the strength of Kurt Busiek's original core concept that has always made Thunderbolts stand out. The "villains masquerading as heroes" twist in the first issue was such a great hook for what appeared to be, on the surface at least, just another super-team.
I love the way Warren Ellis has recently given that core concept a darkly satirical twist, turning a bunch of violent sociopaths into propaganda tools for the pro-Registration agenda. But after the Secret Invasion, the Thunderbolts will have to adapt to a whole new status quo. The public are losing faith in these institutions and organizations that were supposed to keep them safe, yet spectacularly failed to do so. And if there's one man who's perfectly positioned to seize advantage of that public mistrust, it's... Well, you'll just have to wait and see!
NRAMA: Are you guys introducing a totally new team or will it be a mixture of old and new members?
BR: As much as we love the current line-up, Andy has proposed some new members that had us all giggling with maniacal glee. Whether you’re a longtime True Believer or a new school fan, Andy has a little something for everyone.
AD: Our new run kicks off with the current team still intact, but things will take a sudden turn for the... homicidal, shall we say, and some new team members will be brought in to replace others. A certain individual has big plans for the Thunderbolts...
NRAMA: Can you name one (or more) of them at this juncture?
AD: I could. But then I'd have to kill you. And then Marvel would kill me.
I guess I can say the team will include an insect and an arachnid. But I've probably said too much...
BR: Can I say X marks the spot? I guess I just did.
NRAMA: Will the first arc delve into Khn'nr, the Skrull sleeper agent who posed as Captain Marvel, and Norman Osborn's private chat session following the events depicted in Secret Invasion #3?
AD: Christos Gage takes you inside Norman’s office for that very chat in Thunderbolts #123 [due in stores on August 27], and we'll see it from another angle in Secret Invasion #5 [scheduled for release on August 13]. Bendis is nothing if not thorough!
NRAMA: What kind of threats will the Thunderbolts be facing? What kind of missions will they be embarking on? Is a confrontation with Fury's Secret Warriors or even the Avengers (New and/or Mighty) on the cards?
AD: I think the readers are going to get a real kick when they find out what we have planned. Let's just say the Thunderbolts won't be doing any more posing for the TV cameras. Quite the opposite, in fact. From now on, they're literally taking no prisoners. If even Scott Summers is willing to rack up a bodycount these days, just imagine how far a bunch of former villains might be willing to push it...
NRAMA: In five words or less, why would even fans of Busiek and Nicieza's runs read your version of the Thunderbolts?
BR: Diggle + De La Torre + Dastardly Doings = Drama!
AD: I'll do it in three: Songbird versus Bullseye!