Thunderbolts is no more. But that doesn't mean their story is over.
This week, Thunderbolts becomes the new Dark Avengers, using a title from Marvel's "Dark Reign" era, and Norman Osborn's allies from the recent return of H.A.M.M.E.R. story in Avengers and New Avengers — namely Dark Scarlet Witch, Dark Spider-Man, Trickshot, Ragnarok and Skaar. They're joining much of the Thunderbolts cast, which complicates things in some obvious ways — like the fact that they targeted team leader Luke Cage in the New Avengers arc, and that Skaar was actually working as a double agent on the Avengers behalf the whole time.
With Dark Avengers #175 — the first issue of the new era of the series, keeping the Thunderbolts numbering — Newsarama talked with writer Jeff Parker about the book, which he calls a "very natural transition" from what he was doing before. As seen in the preview of issue #175 — pages scattered throughout the article — Cage, Songbird and Mach-V all appear early on, and series artists Declan Shalvey and Kev Walker are still on board. Parker also tlaks about what he likes about writing the new characters, how Skaar fits in, and looks back a bit on the recently wrapped "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts" arc that closed the previous phase of the book.Newsarama: Jeff, now that the first issue of Dark Avengers is almost here, it's interesting in that though it's a new era of the series, it seems very much a natural transition from what's been happening in Thunderbolts. As the writer of the series, how big of a shift do you see taking place? Do you look at it as a different entity, or just the next step in the evolutionary process of what you've been doing?
Jeff Parker: As you say, it's a very natural transition. I'm not interested in stopping a storyline cold; I think it's more rewarding to have a new title grow out of what came before. You could read it and think "well it's still Thunderbolts," because the hand-off isn't right away. The Dark Avengers aren't good guys, and we're going to show that before we go into their eventual dynamic.
Nrama: And with the title now Dark Avengers, are there plans for the book to tie in a bit closer to the other Avengers titles?Parker: First I want to establish them as their own thing. Of course they
and Luke Cage have to work together as we kick it off, so there's one connection right away.
Nrama: The Dark Avengers characters joining the book are an interesting mix — some are very new, some have been around since the '60s, but all are characters that are lesser-known and generally less explored, similar to much of the Thunderbolts cast you've already been working with. How much do you prefer working with characters like this, where there isn't a huge amount of prior history — presumably meaning relative freedom to take them in new directions?
Parker: It really is always freeing to work with villains — they can fail and make horrible choices, all the things that aren't as tolerated with the heroes. It gives them a story edge, I think. And yes, I don't have to worry about ages of continuity in most cases!Nrama: Skaar is also joining the cast, and obviously his former Dark Avengers teammates can't be happy about that given what went down between them. What can you say about his role in the series?
Parker: Skaar is there to back up Luke, who doesn't trust this whole scenario. And he's right not to. A good chess move from Luke on the fly, to bring their own Hulk double agent back into the mix.
Nrama: Thunderbolts already had a large cast, and you're adding several new players, while also, it appears, keeping most everyone else still around. Is it challenging to balance that many different characters, or pretty much just part of the fun?
Parker: Luckily I've got some experience with team books by now, because it is a big cast. It gives us a chance to cram a lot in and give readers a big fat dose of story each issue, I'm breaking out every trick of compressing that I've got.Dark Avengers #177
cover.Nrama: To rewind a back to "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts," you've written original T-bolts like Moonstone, Fixer, Mach-V and Songbird throughout your run, but the previous arc was your first real crack at Baron Zemo and Erik Josten. How much did you enjoy writing that original crew?
Parker: That was a good time, having the original 'Bolts in there. I hope we showed how formidable they were — the only real edge the current Thunderbolts had was the benefit of hindsight. I wish I could have dragged the party scene out even longer.
Nrama: At the end of "Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts," Fixer ends up in an interesting position — why was that the right time to bring his story to an end (at least temporarily)?
Parker: That was the arc Fixer has been on since the Heroic Age 'Bolts began, a big part of the overall story of Luke Cage's era. Having his end be at his Thunderbolts beginning essentially, was too good a place to not do it. That three issues was really his story. And I felt we got to pull off a paradox you don't see a lot.Nrama: To wrap up, with the Dark Avengers era starting this week, you've now written Thunderbolts for nearly 40 issues, a lengthy run by any standard. With one phase ending another beginning, how meaningful has working on the book been to you over the past few years?
Parker: Very meaningful. I've gotten to do a lot of what I like about comics in this run, and work with Frank Martin, Kev Walker, and Declan Shalvey — visual storytelling powerhouses. I'm not bragging when I say I think we've put together one of the best monthlies going, I just think we really gelled as a team.
And beginning with Bill Rosemann and then Tom Brennan, our editors have backed us up to take chances that make the book stand out and have its own voice. It's been a real privilege.FACEBOOK and TWITTER!