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Thunderbolts: Fork in the Road

Jeff Parker sets the T-Bolts off in another frantic new direction following Fear Itself

By Jim Beard

Fear Itself sent the Thunderbolts, Marvel’s ragtag team of former criminals, into a tailspin, but when they try to right themselves, a new explosion of problems means a story arc of major proportions. It all kicks off in THUNDERBOLTS #163 on September 7, and writer Jeff Parker’s got a few things to say about it.

“[Fear Itself] puts them back on the run and not just through space, but time,” he reports of his team. “If you were concerned at how the Serpent's forces would shape the future, wait until you see what the Bolts do to the past.

THUNDERBOLTS #163 preview art by Kev Walker

“The Thunderbolts assessed the situation near the end of Fear Itself like the true non-heroes they are and reached the conclusion: Let's get out of here. Also Fixer believes that everyone will know he's stayed in contact with their old leader, Baron Zemo. In truth, Mach V hasn't said anything about that. So they go as far and as fast as they can, but they're working with a combination of science and magic that isn't responding the way they expected.”

If that’s not  enough to whet the appetite of THUNDERBOLTS readers past, present and future, the addition of none other than the legendary Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner to the story should cause a few more tongues to wag.

“If you thought it was a bit over the top before, this should wipe that ‘a bit’ out of your reckoning,” notes Parker of the series. “This megastory opens up all of history for our criminals to reinvent themselves in, where no one knows who they are. And it's not a parallel timeline that doesn't affect the modern day, it's this one.”

The inclusion of two such towering figures in the Marvel Universe, should lead to some frankly unique head-butting with the Thunderbolts. Can a ponderous ego such as Namor’s mesh with the personalities of the team? How will Cap’s leadership skills serve him here?

“As you'll see, Moonstone takes an opportunity to influence how Cap thinks,” Parker says. “And, it looks like Namor and Satana have noticed each other's bodies. That's how you get around his ego.”

To make matters even more interesting, the very-special THUNDERBOLTS #163.1, due out September 21, serves as a parallel tale to the main action, one concerning classic T-Bolt Songbird and a new problem of her own: capturing the wayward team.

THUNDERBOLTS #163.1 preview inks by Declan Shalvey

“With such a big escape [by the Thunderbolts] you'd probably think Songbird and Luke Cage have no chance of tracking down the team, but a way presents itself,” Parker hints. “This is going to be a chase like you've not seen.” 

Parker also reflects on what makes THUNDERBOLTS—and particularly this arc—such a joy for him as a writer:

“I think it's what's happening to Man-Thing, but I'll say no more about that at the moment. I'm always fired up to work on THUNDERBOLTS for the same reason everyone likes to write the rogue character on a team book—but in this title they're all the rogue characters and can constantly do things you won't expect them to. Yet their personalities are strong and move the plot in interesting places.

“They don't need colorful foes to come in and spice up their book; they are the colorful foes!”

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      Not sure if it was in the Thunderbolts but my favourite character was Ghost; he appeared at one time with Crossbones and others fighting trolls I believe. Hot art!