Writer Jim Zub just took my mind and punted it back into the 90s.
Not the bad 90s, but the insanely, maniacal, cute yet terrifying 90s.
While this issue is a throwback to the late 90s Thunderbolts team, it succeeds best when it steps away from the presumed narrative and story direction.
Bucky Barnes leads the Thunderbolts coming out of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Pleasant Hill disaster, and has taken on a very Captain America-ey state of mind. It's one of the most fascinating aspects of this issue. He's off the grid with a bunch of former super criminals working to erase the results of the Pleasant Hill experiment, yet he has this undying drive to fight for what he sees as "justice."
Buck is an emotional wreck as he balances his new found responsibilities and tries to wrap his head around what Kobik actually is and how he should treat her.
As for Kobik, she is hands-down the most compelling aspect of this issue.
Here artist Jon Malin has created this cute-as-shit 4-year-old girl with the ability to turn a cave into a bad ass secret lair, and Zub writes a story where she literally -- ahem, literally -- rips the Moonstone out of Karla's heart.
Seriously, Malin's Kobik is fascinating. Her facial expressions when she expresses "I wanna see Aliens," but mostly, oh god, but mostly the final panel:
It's a much more effective take on the Kobik character than those familiar with Paul Renaud's most recent take. Malin has made this inhuman character more human. It resonates more.
Some of the panels are filled with so many different emotional and physical layers, that it's sadly hard to miss. Malin has found a way to fit each character in and make sure their personality stands out.
While I don't agree with some of the grief this book is getting, I understand it. This is supposed to be a Thunderbolts book and not a Bucky one.
Bucky is the leader. Bucky saved their asses from Pleasant Hill. Bucky is hiding them from S.H.I.E.L.D.
With all that said, this book better well have been focused on Buck more than the others.
Jim Zub wrote a fun-as-shit comic that brings in a new era of Bucky and the Thunderbolts and for that I say, huzzah. Go buy this book more for its content, and not its title.
Rating: 8/10 A lot of people are going to have a hard time looking past that "Thunderbolts" title to enjoy this book at the level it deserves. It's a strong Winter Soldier comic starring the Thunderbolts. Jim Zub wrote a heck of a Bucky story that just happens to be a "Thunderbolts" title; I'm over it and you should be, too. Artist Jon Malin's Kobik is worth the cover price, alone.