By Tim Stevens
In a world full of threats that ignore borders, treaties, laws, and morality, Marvel NOW! needs a team that will meet those menaces with equal force and ruthlessness.
|Thunderbolts #1 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco|
Enter Red Hulk, The Punisher, Deadpool, Venom and Elektra—the new cast of THUNDERBOLTS.
The steward of this rag tag bunch, writer Daniel Way, chats with Marvel.com about the team without a country, their internal volatility and external brutality, and his impressive artistic collaborator, Steve Dillon.
Marvel.com: As a writer, what drew you to THUNDERBOLTS?
Daniel Way: My work on solo characters has probably been my strongest, and it’s definitely what I’m most comfortable writing. That being said, the idea—and the challenge—of writing a team book had been steadily moving to the front of my mind for several years. When I was presented with this team, in particular—a team of “lone wolf” characters—it was like a dream come true.
Marvel.com: Briefly, how would you describe the tone of THUNDERBOLTS? What kind of feelings are you hoping it evokes in the readers?
Daniel Way: A lot of what’s informed my approach to this new series—and what I believe will resonate with readers—is already out there in the zeitgeist; frustration, despondency, a deep-seeded desire to strike back in a decided—and, if necessary, drastic—and sure manner at forces which have systematically dismantled and/or subverted such constructs as transparency, equality and basic human rights. How many times have we said to ourselves, “If only I had the power...”? Well, Thunderbolt Ross has that power and this series will show what he does with it. Really, it all boils down to the most “Marvel” of our medium’s go-to ideologies: With great power comes great responsibility.
Marvel.com: Within both Marvel NOW! and the Marvel Universe, how do you view the Thunderbolts’ place?
Daniel Way: There are already plenty of super-powered teams out there protecting the planet; this team protects the people. All people, no matter what borders have to be crossed or what international treaties or trade agreements have to be violated or ignored to do so. This is the team that confronts aggression with greater aggression, force with greater force. They will strike anywhere, at any time, without warning. Y’know, like how lightning strikes the earth.
Marvel.com: Who is aware of the existence of the Thunderbolts’ existence?
Daniel Way: This Thunderbolts team has no inherent allegiance to any one country or government, and their various citizenships have been revoked, abandoned or, in Ross’ case, negated upon his supposed death. As to who knows of their existence, well, everyone—and very quickly. This is because, unlike X-Force, which runs covert ops, the Thunderbolts run overt ops—they don’t hide from anyone. They want you to know they’re out there. They want you to know what it is they do. And they do this for two reasons: one, to give the oppressed hope and, two, to let the oppressors know to either back down or come heavy because there is no middle ground.
Marvel.com: Amongst those in the know, is the team well supported?
Daniel Way: For multiple reasons, there will be no government willing to claim the Thunderbolts as their own and there will be some governments—the U.S. government, in particular—which will be loathe to acknowledge their very existence. The people, however, will be very much in the Thunderbolts corner—at first.
Amongst themselves, there’s very little love lost. They are together to serve a common purpose, not because they like each other.
Marvel.com: In building the team, what did you look for as a writer? Within the story what qualities is General Ross looking for?
Daniel Way: Same answer for both questions: highly-trained, highly motivated individuals with the necessary combination of capability, lethality and will required to walk the walk while others talk the talk.
Marvel.com: While all the players—Venom, The Punisher, Elektra, and Deadpool—have experiences in teamwork, most tend to favor solo endeavors. How are they drawn together in the first place?
Daniel Way: Without giving away too much—because it’s the basis of the first issue—this team is brought together through a common desire and that, essentially, is to make a bigger impact. In this regard, teaming with Red Hulk seems like the smar
Marvel.com: Given the aforementioned loner qualities, how stable is this roster?
Daniel Way: It’s an intensely volatile mix from the start, and it will only become more unstable as the series progresses. Something is revealed at the close of the first arc that will, very much against their wills, bind these characters together tighter than a hangman’s noose.
Marvel.com: Ross has been both a General and a gamma powered super creature, but THUNDERBOLTS marks the first time he must incorporate both of these sides of himself into a single mission. What challenges face him in trying to balance his two halves?
Daniel Way: That’s a great question. This was the first question I asked myself when laying out my plans for the series. Reading through the character’s previous series, I felt like it was a story of how the addition of Ross’ military training and tactical savvy made for a better and more effective
Marvel.com: A team like this obviously has a high level of lethality. What sort of threats do you foresee them being dispatched against?
Daniel Way: This is the team that takes on the big problems others can’t or won’t. The easiest way to explain this is to look at the real world. Though there are atrocities committed all over the world, why is it the U.S. government intervenes in only some of these cases, rather than all? The reasons, sadly and invariably, are rooted in politics. The Thunderbolts have no politics. Of course, this being a comic book with an unlimited special effects budget, rest assured that any conflict into which this team enters will definitely be on the epic side of the scale. With this cast of characters? There’s no way I’m going to hold back.
Marvel.com: THUNDERBOLTS would seem to be primed as a book full of intense action but you also have a reputation for great character work. With a book of this nature, where's the balance between providing those impressive action set pieces and exploring the personality, motivations, and changes of the lead characters?
Daniel Way: Every member of this team has spent the majority of their life at war. They’re familiar with it, almost comfortable with it. It’s the other stuff that throws them for a loop; the “life” stuff. The “dealing with my fellow man” stuff. This will become explosively evident as soon as these characters—[that have] been, for the most part, living in self-imposed exile—are thrown together within a confined space. Though they’re committed to acting on behalf of society, they have absolutely no interested in joining it. It’s simply not where they belong.
Marvel.com: How does collaborating with Steve Dillon on this book influence your approach to it?
Daniel Way: Steve Dillon is one of the greatest visual storytellers working in this medium. We’re lucky to have him, and I’m luckiest of all. Not only do I get to work with him, I get to see his pages before anyone else. And what I’m seeing from him on this series is jaw-dropping. I’d like to think the material has inspired him, because I haven’t seen this level of detail, energy and [expletive] in his work in quite a while. The guy who shocked the hell out of us month in and month out with Preacher is back.
Marvel.com: For those still unsure of whether they want to be onboard with THUNDERBOLTS from moment one, what would you offer as the absolute best reason they cannot afford to miss this book?
Daniel Way: By the time the first story arc concludes, the Thunderbolts will have done something that will have everyone—everyone—in the Marvel universe screaming for their blood. What that is and how it happens starts on the first page of the first issue.
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