Thunderbolts #76-81 (2003): Series Ends

While the Thunderbolts team we all knew and some of us loved (I myself was largely indifferent) was busy breaking up in the Avengers/Thunderbolts miniseries, the pages of the actual Tbolts ongoing series ran a self-contained series for six issues before the book was cancelled.

Thunderbolts #76-81 are, basically, a miniseries parked in the installments of an ongoing series slated for cancellation.  It’s a bizarre publication choice, but here we go.

If you liked the Thing solo book in the ‘80s, where Ben Grimm became a wrestler, these issues should be right up your alley.  The story featured some truly D-listers (e.g., Armadillo and Jason from The Pantheon(!)) and also introduced some superhumans who you will never see again (a random werewolf!).  They are all part of an underground fight club (the Ultimate Brawling League) that preys on super-ex-cons and down-and-outers.

The story is largely slice-of-life storytelling about these characters.  Spider-Man gets woven in at one point, when Man-Killer tries to form a “Spider-Man Revenge Club.”  But it’s really about the boxers, shady promoters, etc.  It’s really good writing by John Arcudi—best known as a writer for various Dark Horse comics like The Mask (which became a Jim Carrey movie).  In fact, this is the best Thunderbolts story arc we’ve gotten in many years—despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the Thunderbolts, and the book is cancelled with issue #81.

2 thoughts on “Thunderbolts #76-81 (2003): Series Ends”

  1. Its definitely an attempt to transform the book like the Milligan X-Force. With declining or stagnant sales it was a good candidate for a big shakeup. But unlike that where those displaced characters could be spread into other books there is only the one Thunderbolts.

    This just made people who liked that book unhappy and with no alternatives. So I think the harshness of the change has overshadowed any quality the comics actually had. John Arcudi knows how to write a comic.

    • I wasn’t as impressed with Tbolts vol 1 as many other were. I liked it a lot until Busiek left, and then it was more “meh” to me. Not terrible, but not something I would choose to read if I weren’t doing this site.


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