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Spotlight on ‘Thuderbolts’ Marvel Comics. Writer Warren Ellis, Artist Mike Deodato

Posted by Adrian on September 4, 2007


Warren Ellis is a master with his story telling, and his version of the Thunderbolts is a reminder how good he is at creating a believable and solid story. The Art by Mike Deodato is nothing less than incredible, like a movie, the sequences and spreads are fluid. With a lot of character emotion and are action packed. Ellis has a style which in all retrospect is quite dark, unique and in someways frightening, as far as his visions of the future. Although Thunderbolts is based in the present time, the story does however allow Ellis to explore some of the inconsistencies of the current ‘American Way’ policies. In which he exposes the seething underbelly of discontent and overzealous ambition within that style of policy making. You can see this in his writing of the various Thunderbolts characters.

The Thunderbolts story takes place after the Civil War which is now officially over, with finite wisdom of the bureaucratic powers at be, it has been decided that a group of super-villains will be the official Marshals in hunting down renegade superheroes who haven’t committed to the registration act. Which is an act that is to ensure that all super humans are registered to the American government after the Stamford disaster. One of the interesting aspects in the comic and Ellis writing of the Thunderbolt characters, is the near impossible feat in trying to regulate the chaotic, that being a bunch of superhero criminals who are now attack dogs for the US government. It’s a good theme, and Ellis seems to enjoy revealing the flaws in the conservatively rigid, especially if it’s connected to a society that is over regulated and ruled.

The team, well you have Bullseye, quite possible one of the most psychopathic characters in the Marvel Universe. If you ever followed him in Frank Millers Daredevil and other encounters with various Marvel characters. You would know what he is capable of; a psychotic contract killer who enjoys his job in human destruction, and he is good at it.

Moonstone, you know Deodato likes to draw his female characters a certain way. So you can’t ignore the amount of sex appeal he projects with Moonstone, the groups default leader – a blond statuesque woman who is manipulative and a trained psychologist. Not the most pleasant character. Ellis is able to handle her well, he keeps the excess down as far as the ‘super bitch’ persona. But rather creates some good depth to the character. Although unlikable, as far as personality, she has a role to play apart from her driven ruthless ambition.

Songbird, the balanced and sensible ex-team leader (replaced by Moonstone, who is currently conspiring to kill Songbird ). Ellis writes her as the slightly vulnerable, yet strong character who attempts to rationalize the team – as far as trying to make the project work. Ellis introduced Songbird as the female who made a so called sexual mistake (sleeping with the enemy). The team manager or administrator Norman Osbourne uses this mistake against her to participate in the team and demote her as the team leader. Songbird is the decent and appealing character in the team, although it’s interesting how Ellis looks at the common and unbalanced view on human sexuality (Songbirds apparent misdemeanor). In other words how sex can get a female in trouble more so than a male. Deodato is able keep the sex appeal with Songbird, but not in the over ambitious sense he does with Moonstone.

Penance, the sadomasochistic, guilt ridden nut case. Who wears a suit akin to a Iron Maiden torture devise, where the spikes are pointed inward. Ellis seems to be having a fun time with Penance, definitely an interesting character who’s powers are activated by his self inflicted pain. Clearly mentally unstable, as we see in #114 when he physically destroyers a fellow prisoner (who accused him off being a child killer). Deodeto, as he done with other issues of the Thunderbolts, draws some of the most intense actions sequences you’ll see in a comic. Especially the brutal and violent assault on a fellow prisoner by Penance.

Swordsman, I actually no little about this character. But like the rest of the Thunderbolts, he has mental issues too.

Radioactive Man who is a physicist from China once a known supervillian, now reformed and working for the Thunderbolts

Venom, again a guy with issues who has donned the Venom symbiont, who once activated becomes almost uncontrollable.

To top all this off is Norman Osbourne the team administrator aka the Green Goblin, who it appears is on anti psychotic drugs to keep his paranoid obsession of Spiderman at bay. So you have a bunch of deranged and problematic super villains, lead by Osbourne who is trying to hold the whole thing together, whilst keeping his own psychotic behavior in check by popping pills.


Thunderbolts could be your standard superhero/supervillian group which would make the comic quite generic in that sense. But Ellis knows how to warp stories and keep the general storyline suspenseful; regarding the characters and their interaction with each other. He is an unpredictable writer and the Thunderbolts is an unpredictable comic, which is good, it keeps you wondering what will happen next.

The general situations in the comic are adult based, as far as the power struggle between Norman Osbourne, the ambitious Moonstone and sensible Songbird. It has a corporate, business feel to it, as far as the ruthlessness that can and does take place in work environments – which is the internal political and sexual power brokering. But as I said Ellis is an unpredictable writer, and the characters which is the Thunderbolts team are far from an orderly bunch.

An exerts from the comics

Moonstone and Norman Osbourne


Bullseye goes bonkers. Venom on the attack



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