Mandatory Reading: Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato Jr's Thunderbolts

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Mandatory Reading: Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato Jr's Thunderbolts

Thunderbolts by Mike Deodato, Jr. and Rain Beredo
Marvel Comics

There's a lot of must-read Marvel comics out there. Many people know - or at least should know - about the big events and the great runs like Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men or Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Travel Foreman, and David Aja's Immortal Iron Fist. One phenomenal run doesn't receive nearly as much attention as it should, though. If you've read the title of the article (and it's tough to believe you didn't), you already know which one I'm talking about. 

From Thunderbolts #110 to #121, writer Warren Ellis, artist Mike Deodato, Jr., letterer Albert Deschesne, and colorist Rain Beredo created an unforgettable story. Taking place during writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven's Civil War, the story focuses on Norman Osborn as the director of the Thunderbolts, and he's made some major changes to the roster. The two stories in the creative team's run, Faith in Monsters and Caged Angels, are most definitely worth your time. Some of you out there are still on the fence? Fine, we'll elaborate.

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Artist Mike Deodato Jr's Style

Venom by Mike Deodato, Jr. and Rain Beredo
Marvel Comics

Warren Ellis' script is obviously important and I'll get to that in a bit, but sweet mother of Magneto, have you seen artist Mike Deodato, Jr. and colorist Rain Beredo's artwork in this comic? It's magnificent and absolutely perfect for the story's darker tone.

The character work and effects are brilliant. Whether it's a Penance destroying a street with a vivid blast or the look of pure terror in Bullseye's eyes as he's about to be struck, the way the artist and colorist capture every scene in the comic is so incredible. Expressions of pain, fear, joy, and pure hatred sink right in and make these fictional beings feel so very alive. The sheer force behind every attack is jaw-dropping as well. The fantastic emphasis on energy and impact allows the reader to really appreciate just how dangerous and powerful these characters really are. To top it off, a whole lot of effort went into making sure these characters are regularly populating highly detailed settings, and that definitely makes the experience more immersive. Just take some time to stare at each of the panels in this article and we're pretty sure you'll agree that the art is terrific.

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Warren Ellis' Hugely Entertaining Script

Green Goblin by Mike Deodato, Jr. and Rain Beredo
Marvel Comics

Writer Warren Ellis makes sure every single issue is a memorable one; it doesn't matter if the scene is simply two people sitting and talking in an ordinary room or if it's a bunch of superpowered people brawling. The story never fails to entertain and that's because Ellis knows how to craft dialogue and action ridiculously well. Every conversation had me totally hooked - it's twisted, clever, and engaging stuff. Every battle - and there sure are quite a few - is exciting and so easy to follow. 

There's a lot of characters to juggle in this story, and somehow, Ellis does it seemingly effortlessly and he doesn't neglect a single one. To make matters even more impressive, he later brings in Doc Sampson and gives that guy such a standout role. Obviously, some characters receive more focus than others, but no one is left in the dust. Ellis manages to give us a good amount of insight into each character and he absolutely puts them all to proper use. It really is impressive just how entertaining each and every issue is in this run.

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A Twisted Return to the Civil War Era

Jack Flag and Lucy by Mike Deodato, Jr. and Rain Beredo
Marvel Comics

During Marvel's Civil War, the most admirable and patriotic hero there is, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, is being called a villain by the United States government. To make matters even stranger, the Thunderbolts - a team assembled by the government to go after vigilantes - is being run by Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin. You know, that guy who happens to be one of Spider-Man's biggest enemies and clearly isn't the most stable man around? Yup, he's the one in charge! (Yes, his instability plays a big role.) As if that wasn't baffling enough, the team consists of blatantly evil and/or untrustworthy people like Mac Gargan's Venom, Moonstone, and even Bullseye - yeah, Bullseye. Daredevil's villain is wisely kept out of the spotlight and used purely as a backup plan, but that just goes to show how messed up things were during the Civil War. Bullseye, a bloodthirsty and psychotic assassin, is on the "good" team (even if he is kept out of the public's eye), and Captain America, one of the bravest and most praiseworthy heroes in Marvel's history, is the big bad. And then there's the emotionally devastated Penance (he blames himself for the death of hundreds of people, and that figure includes children), as well as Radioactive Man, Swordsman, and Songbird. As you probably could have guessed by now, this is a team that is not going to see eye-to-eye on a lot of things and that generates some really, really amusing (and not to mention organic) conflicts and drama.

It's important to have heroes that make us want to be better people. We can never have too many reminders that we should strive to be nicer to our fellow humans. But not every story needs to inspire, and sometimes we need to simply sit back and enjoy some chaos. This is one of those delightfully chaotic stories that doesn't aim to motivate... it aims to entertain and have fun with the changes that Civil War created. Luckily for us, it's sharply written and presented beautifully. 

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Norman Osborn

Norman Osborn, a.k.a. Green Goblin, by Mike Deodato, Jr. and Rain Beredo
Marvel Comics

Warren Ellis turns Norman Osborn into the highlight of this 12-issue run. The immoral and corrupt guy is constantly a twisted delight. Things like naked monologuing, a slow but steady road towards a mental breakdown, and a whole slew of blatantly rude - but often hilarious - remarks makes Norman Osborn a character we loved to hate. You'll want to see everything blow up in his face, but at the same time, Ellis' writing also means you probably won't be able to get enough of the deranged man. The fact that Deodato, Jr. makes Osborn look like actor Tommy Lee Jones is just icing on this extremely delicious Thunderbolts cake.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go give this comic shot! If you've already read this run, wouldn't you say it's time to give this awesome comic another read?

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Your Citation
Katzman, Gregg. "Mandatory Reading: Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato Jr's Thunderbolts." ThoughtCo, Dec. 8, 2017, Katzman, Gregg. (2017, December 8). Mandatory Reading: Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato Jr's Thunderbolts. Retrieved from Katzman, Gregg. "Mandatory Reading: Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato Jr's Thunderbolts." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 18, 2018).