By Tim Stevens
In charge or not, Norman Osborn remains a man with a quick temper and a penchant for doing bad, bad things. This August, writer Rick Remender and artist Mahmud Asrar will show fans how deep Osborn's dark side goes as he forces Luke Cage and Iron Fist to become his two newest pawns in the double-sized THUNDERBOLTS #136.
Remender stays largely tight-lipped on how this "recruitment" comes to pass, but does drop some tantalizing hints:
"Osborn sees an opportunity to bring in some heavy hitters for his little assassins club. [He] has turned up the heat on the Dark Reign, things are looking bad for the heroes of the [Marvel Universe] and now, as Osborn directs his focus on these two, the brunt of his scheming hits them right between the eyes."
The duo can also blame, in part, writer Ed Brubaker for their fate.
"When Rick and I started talking about which hero would fit best into this scenario, Danny Rand leaped to the top of our list," recalls THUNDERBOLTS editor Bill Rosemann. "As luck would have it, Ed Brubaker jumped in with, 'Aw, man, you gotta make it Power Man and Iron Fist!' [It] reminded us all just how much we love that classic tag team."
As Remender tells it, Luke and Iron Fist represent but the first step in a long-term plan that could toss Osborn even further control of the Marvel Universe.
"Osborn's plan [is] to create another branch, a new squad of conquered heroes-not-necessarily-for-hire," the writer explains. "Norman isn't just going to kill everyone who opposes him or it could potential cause him trouble. It would ruin his PR scheme and damage his shiny public image as the savior of humanity. In this special issue we look at a new solution he comes up with. If it works, he's going to have just about an unstoppable army."
The exact nature of Osborn's machinations remains wrapped in secrecy to the existing members of the Thunderbolts. They do know though that they do not trust this sudden development and have no intention of simply taking it.
"They've been privy to Osborn's calculated deception and manipulation of them in the past so the team isn't going to find this new program much to their liking," Remender reveals. "As the Thunderbolts learn more about the true nature of Osborn's long-term plan they make plans of their own. This isn't a cast of servile milksops."
While THUNDERBOLTS always lends itself to action, #136 brings the relationships between the characters front and center.
[Luke and Danny's] friendship is in large part the theme for this issue," Remender divulges. "The current events and relationship between the Luke, Danny and Misty [Knight] play an important role in this tale."
Despite this being a single issue assignment, T-bolts fans should not expect the story to be without ramifications.
"Norman's plan is wide in scope," reminds Remender. "If he achieves his goal with Danny and Luke, how it plays out [is] going to be the fun part. How it will play into the future remains to be seen."
"Rick and Ed [Brubaker] discussed the idea some more and quickly saw how that pairing would build upon Norman Osborn's actions in some other upcoming titles," adds Rosemann.
As for how this might echo in THUNDERBOLTS going forward when Andy Diggle and Miguel Sepulveda return with #137, neither Rosemann nor Remender will say much.
"I love the dynamic Andy has built within the new cast," compliments Remender. "You don't know who to trust, everyone's motives are suspect. That leads to good tension and keeps readers asking questions. Andy has so much fun stuff happening, I'd hate to show any part of the hand he is playing. It's terrific stuff."
"Andy is building towards the big payoff of his phenomenal run on T-Bolts and Miguel is delivering the action in a way that's raising many eyebrows inside the halls of Marvel," echoes Rosemann.
For all the latest news updates from Heroes Con 2009 and Wizard World Philadelphia 2009, keep checking back right here on Marvel.com all weekend!
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