The seventh consecutive Marvel NOW! “Next Big Thing” conference call is all about the December-debuting new volume of Thunderbolts, with series writer Daniel Way and editor Jordan D. White on the line. This page will be continually updated, so keep hitting refresh. New art from the series is here.
“These are the characters who absolutely do not mind getting their hands dirty,” Daniel Way states, comparing the book to Uncanny X-Force for the rest of the Marvel Universe.
Way says that the cast, as a unit, is more dynamic that he expected. “You definitely catch a glimpse of it in the first issue,” Way continues, saying that every character’s moral compass is different, and leads them on a unique path — sometimes a collision course with another character.
“The Thunderbolts are going to war, both outside and within their own camp,” Way says. “General Ross put a lot of planning into this, and even he’s surprised.” White points out that, oddly enough, Venom is maybe the most moral character in the comic.
“He is definitely a solider on a mission,” Way says of Venom, but the mission “is not clear to him.” White says readers don’t find out too many details about their second mission until the first issue.
“Long ago, Ross was not only aware, but partially complicit in some under the table dealings by the U.S. government,” Way details. “This is kind of where the story begins. He was an old man, and he was almost done with his life, and he was in that mode of coming to a rest, and then he became Red Hulk, and his future is essentially wide open. Through a series of events and realizations, this is part of why this Thunderbolts team exists to begin with.” Way says Ross is “done with compromise,” and that the Thunderbolts are a reflection of that attitude.
White says that though the first mission is Red Hulk-centric, it’s distinctly possible that future stories will extend from something in Elektra’s life, or Venom, Punisher, or any of the other main characters.
First question, from CBR; Since Way wrote Deadpool for years, and this book co-stars Deadpool, does it incorporate any elements from his run on the book? “I’m not going to completely import the whole thing into a team book, because it simply wouldn’t fit,” Way says. “I am going to bring in some of that.” But what’s interesting to Way, he shares, is being able to present Deadpool from multiple perspectives. “The way he’s shown in Thunderbolts, we’re going to see why exactly it is that people are truly afraid of Deadpool. This is a very scary individual. Deadpool’s not used to even being around other people in general, so he’s the fish most out of water, and at least at the outset has the most extreme reaction to it.”
Next question, from MTV Geek: How does Way see Elektra, since it’s been a while since the character has been active? “We don’t know a whole lot about her,” Way says. “We don’t really understand her thought process all that much. When you look back to see what makes the character work, you want to stick with those things. Having Elektra be the woman of mystery, that seems to really work for her. There are no plans, at least right now, to really crawl into her head.” Way continues, saying that something is going to happen with the team that puts them at odds with the Marvel Universe at large, and adds that Elektra is the most “anti-establishment” of all the characters in the book.
“A lot of the best Elektra stories really aren’t about Elektra at all,” White says. “When writers have tried to make her a legit main character whose head we’re inside of, and we can understand so to speak, it sort of falls flat to me. It’s definitely a very fine line you have to walk — keeping her dangerous and interesting, without giving too much of her away.”
Next question, from us: Is the “Red Leader” Samuel Sterns, or someone else? “It is Samuel Sterns,” Way confirms, adding that the character will play an unexpected role in the book.
White says they pick up with the character where readers last saw him — depowered, and no longer super-intelligent (or large-headed). “Surprises abound exactly what he’s doing in this story,” White says. “I’ve got big plans for that cat,” Way adds.
Next question, from Marvel.com: Will other characters be joining the team? Yes. “There is another member of the team that you won’t see often, but when she does show up, it’ll have an extremely galvanizing effect,” Way answers, saying that “we may pick up a few characters here and there, and we may lose a few.”
Going back around, back to CBR: How does Red Hulk’s experience with the Avengers effect his approach to the Thunderbolts? “The Avengers don’t snatch you out of your bed and kill you,” Way replies. “The Thunderbolts will is that’s what’s required. This is the no-more-compromise team, this is the no f*cking around team. No more beating Doctor Doom just to have him show up two months later. This is the permanent situation.” White says it’s important to remember that though Red Hulk was an Avenger, right before that, he tried to take over America and rule it as a dictator, so he’s a guy that does what he thinks is best, and thinks he knows better than anyone else.
Next question, from MTV Geek: Who is the most dangerous or volatile member of the team? “From the outset, I would say it’s Red Hulk,” Way says, but states that it changes in the course of the series. “Unlike a good general on the field that’s just trying to keep his men alive, Ross is calling the orders. That’s why he’s assembled this dirty half-dozen. He doesn’t mind losing a few.” Way continues, saying that Deadpool might end up being the most dangerous.
“For me, I’ve got to say Punisher,” White adds. “He’s mentally unstoppable.”
Next question, from us: Thunderbolts seems like a more blatantly superhero book than usual for Steve Dillon — what made him the right artist for the series, and what can he do on the book that others can’t? “You have to look at where Steve started,” Way says. “He did a lot of this stuff for 2000AD and Warrior; a lot of that stuff was, if not superhero, but supernatural. Then throughout the ’90s it was Vertigo. Steve’s stuff is striking. When it comes to those moments of getting across brutality, those really jarring scenes, I don’t think there are any people who do it better than Steve. And his storytelling is so damn good. It’s a real privilege being able to work with him.”
White says that Dillon himself acknowledged that the book was a bit of a departure for him, but he’s “definitely bringing his A-game, and he’s such a great artist that he’s pulling it off.”
Last question, from Marvel.com: After Uncanny X-Force, why would Deadpool join a team like this again? “Because Uncanny X-Force had rules,” Way says, adding that it’s also important that Deadpool isn’t a mutant, since X-Force dealt with mutant issues. “This is much more Deadpool’s wheelhouse. It’s about doing as much damage as possible.” Way says that X-Force was a covert-ops team, and this is out in the open. “And Deadpool is nothing if not narcissistic.” White jokes that the fact the Thunderbolts are “overt ops” is why they all feel comfortable wearing bright red.
Marvel marketing’s James Viscardi wraps up: Thunderbolts, from Daniel Way and Steve Dillon, debuts in December, with the first two issues out that month.