More news about the upcoming arcs of Thunderbolts...
The cover to "Thunderbolts" #7, featuring the Punisher and Elektra locked in a passionate embrace, suggests not all the Thunderbolts are unhappy at being forced to work together. The sight of the team's two most cold-blooded members kissing has left the other Thunderbolts wondering what exactly is going on.
"The story we're telling is not a love story. It's a perceived love story. The friction, tension and danger comes out of what certain people think is happening. It mostly plays out in other characters' imaginations," Way said. "Everyone who looks at that picture assumes they understand what's happening. We know who those characters are, so why would we think they would abruptly switch such fundamental things about themselves? Even if we think about it and it doesn't make sense that's what it looks like.
"There are a lot of characters in the book who have the same feeling. They can't reconcile what they believe is going with what is actually going on," Way continued. "It's interesting to explore whether or not the Punisher and Elektra are capable of these types of feelings anymore. Does Frank fall in love? Or is that part of him just as dead as his wife and kids? Elektra has used sex and sex appeal as a weapon for so long. So would she know to use it in any other way? Is it even possible for her to conceive of such a thing?"
Those interpersonal dynamics unfold against the backdrop of the Thunderbolts' next mission, which finds them dealing with nefarious people who have gotten their hands on some of the Marvel Universe's more fantastic military technology.
"I think a lot of writers from a certain generation fell in love with the idea of examining how superheroes would solve problems in the real world. How would they tackle the stuff you see on CNN or CNBC? Why doesn't the FF open source some of their technology and make the world better? I love asking questions like that," Way said. "I don't think it drags superheroes down -- I think it bonds them more fully to us. It closes the gap a little bit.
"In our first arc, we dealt with a puppet regime on this island nation that's within striking distance of China and the former Soviet Union. The next story arc takes place all across the Middle East, Northern Africa and in parts of present day Russia. The real world analogy would be the Cold War ordinance that's just sort of sitting around and then gets gathered up by these suddenly appearing warlords. Everybody is picking over the bones of a former super power and seeing if they can do with what Mother Russia failed to deliver on.
"I'm not saying this is about the rebirth of Communism, but they definitely use some of the tools," Way continued. "Basically we have a loose nukes style scenario involving a lot of upgraded Crimson Dynamo armors."
The Crimson Dynamo pilots and their masters won't be the only villains in the second arc of "Thunderbolts." Readers also get a glimpse at the mastermind behind some of the horrible revelations the team uncovers in the initial arc.
"This is a villain who's going to be around for quite awhile," Way said. "It's still too early to say much about this character, but this was all masterminded a long, long time ago. The plan was then broken up into billions of pieces and now it's being reassembled. It's a process that began on Kata Jaya and will then be exported."
Artist Phil Noto brings to life this mysterious mastermind and all the other major players in this arc. The artist, who is an old friend of Way's, is no stranger to stories involving super powered strike teams, having just come off of an acclaimed run on the first volume of "Uncanny X-Force."
"Due to ramping up of the shipping schedule, we brought in another artist and Phil's a great choice. Obviously the guy has big chops. He knows exactly what needs to be done with a team of this nature," Way stated. "At this point I've only seen thumbnails, but when you look at thumbnails and already get a sense of kinetic action it really frees you up as a writer. You know your artist has got it -- I don't have to take a lot of time to make sure Phil understands things.
"In our first conversation we talked about a scene taking place at a CIA headquarters in Afghanistan, this dilapidated run down hotel. I was like, 'It's a hotel that you can imagine was totally luxurious back in 1971. Since then it's just been bombed to shit and has leaky pipes and things like that,'" Way continued. "Phil was like, 'Oh yeah! I love that stuff!' It's easy for an artist to get excited about a scene involving super powered characters, but when your artist is getting excited about drawing some old janky hotel in Kabul you know it's going to be great -- especially when it's an all action scene. It's cool to have a conversation like that knowing he's going to Google image search to try and find that hotel."
The CIA continues to be a presence in the Thunderbolts' lives moving forward. Sometimes they'll be embroiled in operations where they'll clean up the Agency's messes, but other times the CIA acts in a beneficial way by exerting their influence to keep a major Marvel super team from interfering in the T-Bolts' operations.
"It's the actions and inactions of agencies like the CIA that end up putting the Avengers at bay for now," Way continued. "The Thunderbolts have definitely popped on the Avengers radar, though. They've just done so in a way that the Avengers aren't looking to get involved because this isn't an Avengers problem. From what they're able to see it's simply not something they should get involved with."
"The Thunderbolts are out there doing what they do in the same world as the Avengers. Now, especially with some things we're planning out across Marvel, there exists a bigger level of interaction. Until that happens, we have to delay a confrontation between the Avengers and the Thunderbolts. We really want that showdown to be resonant when it happens," Way said. "We have to introduce a reason for the Avengers to not get involved in things at this point, which is simple. The mechanism used is one that happens all the time -- so much of what the CIA does is inherently compromised and hard to act upon. You can't really back them up one hundred percent because there's no way you can agree one hundred percent on what they've done. You can guarantee they're not telling you the whole truth.
When the Avengers do decide to confront the Thunderbolts, it's at the worst possible time for the team -- the Red Hulk's super powered force has their hands full for the foreseeable future, battling the various cells making up the larger organization of the mysterious mastermind introduced in the book's second arc.
"There are several villainous characters who have a piece of the larger puzzle. There's only one guy though who can put them all together. The villains are basically seeing what they want to see because they have things they want to do," Way said. "Each of these underbosses are not aware they're all being fed from a common source. All they're seeing is an availability of power they can use for their separate agendas. They don't realize it serves a larger purpose that's been mapped out by someone else.
"I wouldn't want anyone to think they should feel sorry for these guys because what they do definitely justifies a Thunderbolts response, but they're part of a bigger and ultimately much more destructive type of plan," Way continued. "Since we have this kind of ultimate team of bad asses, the worst and most disappointing thing we could have done is to put them up against people they could just mow down without much effort."
As the Thunderbolts dispatch these various villains, their war with the mysterious mastermind above these adversaries escalates, taking them into new and dangerous territories. "The more force the team exerts -- and the harder they hit -- results in exposing more of a larger and sinister plan, propelling them towards bigger action. The Thunderbolts have to get more extreme to deal with it. When you start hitting that critical mass a whole new spectrum of stories opens up," Way concluded. "The Thunderbolts are facing a many headed adversary -- what brings them deeper into this is their unquestioned assertion that evil is evil, and the solution for evil is a bullet to the head."
For the full interview check @CBR