Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters
Norman Osborne sets up a team of Marvel convicts to help capture the heroes who refuse the Super Hero Registration Act. His methods are dangerous and evil, but it is a good complement to the team.
155 Pages, Collects issues #110-#115
October 3, 2007
Both DC and Marvel have their own version of anti-heroes and former villains being forced by the government to do the will of a power hungry director. DC has the Suicide Squad and Marvel has the Thunderbolts. Norman Osborne has recruited Moonstone, Venom, Bullseye, Songbird, Radioactive Man, Penance (formerly Speedball), and Swordsman to find all the unregistered superheroes in the United States and bring them in.
The Thunderbolts are constantly switching directors and team mates, but the story always stands that they are messed up ex-villains being held against their will to do the government’s bidding. This time, Norman Osborne has been tasked with finding the superheroes who have not registered with Tony Stark’s Super Hero Registration Act. His method of getting his team to cooperate involves injecting nano serum into their skin, which will electrify them if they get out of line. But he is not such a bad guy, because he is offering a full pardon and a million dollars to each villain who finishes their contract.
Osborne’s mission is to use his team to gather the support of the United States of America. Right now, they are in a sensitive time where heroes are seen as terrorists and Captain America is an outcast. Osborne manipulates that emotion to make his Thunderbolts look like the salvation to America’s grievance. They are even selling Thunderbolt toys to kids to garner support. However, the Thunderbolt team is anything but pious heroes. Bullseye loves to murder people for fun and can’t stop himself. Moonstone is a manipulative psychologist that evokes drama on the team to get her way. Songbird slept with Baron Zemo, the dictator of the Nazi regime. Venom is naturally uncontrollable and desires to feast on people. Penance is a totally emo teenager who gets his powers from hurting himself (which he enjoys, rather than loathes). Then we have Swordsman and Radioactive Man, who support the group, but don’t really have much of a story.
Their first mission is to take in Jack Flag, a former compatriot with Captain America. Then a new superhero called the Steel Spider comes out of nowhere in Phoenix Arizona. Norman Osborne is obsessed with killing Spider-Man, so every time someone mentions a spider hero he loses his temper and starts downing psychological meds. He is hellbent on finding this Steel Spider and sends the team to Phoenix.
In Phoenix, we meet American Eagle (no relation to the clothing line), who is a Native American with some sweet kungfu and powerful strength. We also meet Jillian Woods, a master of the dark force. These two team up together to thwart the Thunderbolts. While the Thunderbolts have good intentions to finish Norman’s orders, backstabbing and manipulation get in the way as members fight their personal demons.
Violence and Gore
There’s a lot of crippling, stabbing, and hitting of appendages. Blood spurts out and someone gets their arm bitten off. This gritty story shows how malicious the ex-villains can be. Whenever Bullseye is on the scene, someone gets stabbed or crippled.
Swearing is nonexistent in this comic book. Everyone is mean and rude to each other, but no one drops a swear word.
Jillian Woods is seen in bed with a man she just slept with. The sheets are covering her naked body, so nothing is shown. Moonstone casually talks about having sex with a coworker. Everyone talks about how loose Songbird is.
Jillian Woods uses the power of darkness to fight her enemies.
Whether it be Thunderbolts or Suicide Squad, the story seems the same: A director with less than noble intentions abuses their power to get villains to do the black jobs that superheroes are too ethical for. Faith in Monsters is no different. It uses the gritty and dark world of villains to paint the story of a team that hates working together. The team dynamics are not very strong between members of the Thunderbolts, and I would have liked to see one member of the team try to keep them together. The the mass of the conflict is how messed up everyone is. It actually makes you want to root for the heroes that the Thunderbolts are apprehending.
The story doesn’t go that far. Sometimes a story arc is merely to show you how people react to situations and give you background, but nothing too significant happens. I really left this story hoping the good guys would beat the Thunderbolts and I didn’t care to see the anti-heroes go any further. That is a risk comic book lovers take when they spend $3.99 on a piece of the story or $16 on a graphic novel. Sometimes the story goes nowhere and the writer begs you to be patient. My biggest beef with the story is that nothing dangerous happens to the team that would make you question their safety or their future. It is just a bunch of drama and manipulation.
What I did like is seeing the dynamic of bad behavior in the group. Villains struggle with insatiable hunger, envy, pride, jealousy, lust, wrath, malicious intent. This team is a perfect example of the seven deadly sins. Each villain has their own secret demon that they struggle with.
Warren Ellis wrote a thick story filled with characters who you desperately want to see beaten silly. Mike Deodato drew a very dark and realistic looking Marvel world. These villains look like real people (albeit from a Hot Topics’ Catalog).
This story takes place in the Civil War storyline of Marvel. While it is not the most energetic and gripping story, it does show the dark and filthy path of Marvel’s most hated villains and makes them into credible monsters.
+ Deeply dark and messed up characters
+ Kind of fun watching the team manipulate each other
+ Very realistic and detail oriented drawings
- Story doesn't go very far
- I really wanted to see the Thunderbolts fail