In the early 1990s, John Byrne took over the Avengers. The franchise has never recovered. The run’s negative effects were even more pronounced immediately afterwards, as the franchise couldn’t string 10 good issues together for years. This all culminated in “Onslaught,” a story that served to take the Avengers away from the Marvel Universe and toss them into the much-rather-forgotten Heroes Reborn universe. For a lot of reasons, this entire era of Avengers feels like the franchise is circling the drain, until finally, mercifully, they’re put to rest. I don’t think anyone could have expected what ended up happening next.
After “Onslaught,” pretty much all the premiere heroes of the Marvel Universe were gone. The X-Men and Spider-Man were still around, obviously, but in-story they were far from being beloved like the Avengers or Fantastic Four. Obviously, in this clear vacuum of superheroism, some new blood will get the chance to shine. And that’s what happened with the New Warriors – with the Avengers and Fantastic Four gone, the New Warriors became a premiere team in their own right in-universe. But the more interesting group of newcomers, the one that really felt new, were the Thunderbolts. All-new heroes, banding together to fill the void left by the Avengers, saving people in the face of threats greater than any one hero can fight – it’s almost too good to be true!
That’s because it is.
It’s almost impossible to talk about Thunderbolts as a property, especially early Thunderbolts, without spoiling the twist, so I’m going to issue a big official warning here – if you don’t know the big revelation that happens fairly early on in Thunderbolts, and if you would rather remain unspoiled, stop reading here. We’re about to get into it. [Read more…] about Thunderbolts by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley Omnibus Review!