Review by Frank Plowright
Daniel Way’s method of reviving the Thunderbolts comes with a clever twist. They’re now a black ops team run by General Thaddeus Ross, known as ‘Thunderbolt’ in his Hulk chasing days. He’s now a Hulk himself, the Red Hulk, and that’s just as well when dealing with a hand-picked team consisting of Deadpool, Elektra, the Punisher and Venom. Ross has a mission. He’s compiled the worst of the worst to make a statement that no longer will those committing the worst crimes against humanity be ignored or condoned. Ross and his crew will remove the problem, and it’s then up to the locals what happens next.
It’s an interesting premise, and begins with a mission in Kata Jaya, a small island in the China Seas where decades before Americans installed a dictator, and with their interest at an end he’s been left high and dry. However, he’s discovered other options of keeping the world’s attention, and that’s where the Thunderbolts come in.
Despite the super powered assassins involved, Way treats No Quarter much like an action thriller or war story, the specialists having to infiltrate and the raw power following through, stumbling blocks met along the way. Not many of them, though, and therein lies the problem. There are a couple of jaw-dropping scenes, one being the Punisher’s faith in his reinforced chestplate, but Way doesn’t include enough of them, and by the time he reaches the final complications No Quarter has progressed from novel opening chapter to a bit of a slog. Way’s previous work on Deadpool makes him the most rounded of the cast, but the downside of that is Elektra being all-but ignored, as if she’s been included under editorial instruction, but Way doesn’t really know what to do with her. What he does eventually just to keep her on panel strains the belief. The introduction of Mercy late in the day at least removes her designation of ‘token woman’.
This sort of plot is bread and butter to Steve Dillon, whose efficient layouts tell the story supremely well, while his sense of the ridiculous ensures the nastier events are depicted in a way that avoids grossing people out.
Deadpool apart, the most interesting character turns out to be an old Hulk foe introduced halfway through, but not quite himself. Way’s method of how he previously operated is neat, and becomes the crux of the plot, but there aren’t enough moments like it in a story that’s dragged on too long. Part one is accomplished here, but the story continues in Red Scare.