The team of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker aren’t among Marvel’s go-to writers, but their plot of the Punisher turning against the Thunderbolts is both consistent with what’s happened earlier in the series (see No Mercy), and a viable direction to take it. However, despite their best efforts, their story is sabotaged by an editorial decision to change the artist almost every chapter, and some of the art being grim. The primary culprit is Kim Jacinto (sample page), and unfortunately he draws half of the six chapters.

It all starts so well, under Carlo Barberi, who may not quite have a handle on Elektra’s lithe athleticism, but otherwise tells a story convincingly. It’s more than can be said for Gerado Sandoval, or Jorge Fornés. They have their strengths, Fornés impressing with a complex spread of Elektra and the Punisher fighting their way through three floors of ninjas and gangsters, but this is at the cost of plenty of rushed pages displaying little thought or ambition.

Acker and Blacker reference the Thunderbolts’ earlier escapades well, dip back into the past well and create convincing scenarios for the Punisher to carry out his mission of destroying the Thunderbolts. However, it all goes horribly wrong for a rushed final chapter in which everything is theoretically wrapped up, but makes little sense even before taking the timescale into account. Before then they’ve taken the convenience route with Thunderbolt Ross, distorting his personality and aims to support their plot, which might have just about worked in other conditions, but flops here.

The next incarnation of the Thunderbolts is led by Winter Soldier, and begins with There is No Right Road.