Don't call them "Thunderbolts' Thunderbolts!"
Or do, I haven't asked writer Daniel Way's opinion on this title for what he describes as "the Uncanny X-Force of the terrestrial Marvel Universe." The new lineup reflects the team's mission to tackle some of the moral grey zones of the Marvel U. The "Wolverine: Origins" and "Deadpool" writer tackles Marvel's super team and gives them an all-new roster, mission, and leader in "Thunderbolts."
Way is rejoined by his one-time "Wolverine: Origins" artist Steve Dillon in the latest revamp to the Marvel team book.
"I guess the biggest [challenge] is writing all of these solo characters into a team." Indeed, it's hard to peg the Punisher, Elektra, Venom, Deadpool, or Red Hulk as team players. But Way says these are characters being sent to war--both against the world and inside of the team. The glue holding it together is General "Thunderbolt" Ross, who's spent a large part of his career hunting the Hulk, but is now overseeing a team of killers--that he hand-picked. "He is a soldier on a mission," Way says of Ross, but the mission becomes less clear early on. Their mandate, such as it is, will be to permanently put down threats--even if that means shooting someone in their sleep.
It's a curious fit for the straight-laced Ross, who Way explains as a man who was ready to wind down his life. But now he sees something that demands a response, something evil, on a grand scale and he won't let it get pushed under the table. "There is no compromise," Way says of the team, "this is the no f***ing around team."
Along with the recently-announced "Cable And X-Force," Way's "Thunderbolts" is about a team on a clandestine assignment, and the first arc will slowly reveal why these characters have been assembled to work together. But each of them has something that they need, and Way says that when we meet them in the first issue, they've reached the limits of their ability to reach their objectives. And like X-Force, they may see themselves against the Marvel U at large.
One character he singled out is Deadpool. Although the mutant merc doesn't get much respect from the wider Marvel universe, but in "Thunderbolts," he hopes to show readers why people should be scared of him. He's no longer constrained by rules here, and General Ross is banking on him causing maximum damage.
Likewise, Elektra's an interesting character to be put in the spotlight here. Way says she's a challenge to write: we know about where she's come from in her past, but it's difficult to get a bead on what she's thinking at any given point in time. "Making Elektra the woman of mystery, that really works for her," Way says. When we first meet her in the book, she's reached a point where she's impatient to complete her personal quest, which has taken her up to and beyond her own death. When the series starts, she doesn't take too much convincing to get on the team, but by the third issue or so, she might be ready to leave, and he alludes to some kind of ticking clock for the ninja assassin.
Way also hinted around another character who will galvanize the rest of the team, while leaving the door open for other characters to join the lineup down the way. But among the current crop of characters, Way says that the Red Hulk is really the most dangerous, volatile member of the team. General Ross is calling the shots, and "He doesn't mind losing a few" members of the Thunderbolts.
"Thunderbolts" #1 will be available from Marvel in December.