Secret Invasion Review – “Thunderbolts #122-125”

Want a tie-in that has implications for the main title? This is it.

General Information

Title: Thunderbolts #122-125

Author: Christos N. Gage

Illustrator(s): Fernando Blanco (artist) and Frank Martin (colours)

Cover Date: September through December 2008

Cover Price: All issues $2.99 US. 122-124 are $3.05 Can, and 125 has the new $3.50 Can price.

Detailed coverage of all applicable issues of all Secret Invasion related titles can be found at this address.


The Thunderbolts changed with the Civil War. The team is under the control of the Comission for Superhuman Affairs, under the directorship of Norman Osborn. The members of the team are held in line by their nanochain tech, since most of these individuals (Bullseye, Venom, Moonstone, Songbird, Radioactive Man, Penance and Swordsman) are not to be trusted to act appropriately when running autonomously. As they answer to the C.S.A. rather than S.H.I.E.L.D., they didn’t experience the same issues the Initiative teams did when the Skrull invasion hits. These issues cover events starting just before the Captain America Skrull attacked them in “Secret Invasion #1,” through that attack and their subsequent defense of Washington D.C., and concluding with events seen in “Secret Invasion #7.”

High Point

“The others — the Avengers, the Fantastic Four — they must be crippled by mistrust, knowing anyone could be the enemy. But we have an advantage. We don’t trust each other to begin with. So keep an eye out. At the first sign of betrayal by a teammate, execute them. But you’d better have a damned good reason, or you’ll be presumed to be a skrull and you’ll be killed. Understood? Good. I’m glad we had this little talk. Now let’s show these bureaucrats what we can do when they get out of our way. Thunderbolts! ENGAGE!”

Low Point

The last issue telegraphs a likely outcome of “Secret Invasion” a little too strongly. I think they turned a “surprising but consistent” revelation from “Secret Invasion #8” into an inevitability with that issue, which can be read as a standalone.

The Scores

This is an original approach to the crossover. As explained in Norman Osborn’s speech quoted as the “high point,” the team didn’t suffer the dip in efficiency most other teams felt. In fact, if anything, they are more effective now than they used to be, as the team’s murderous tendencies can go unrestrained. Osborn’s machinations within the battle are also unique both in and out of the crossover. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork first struck me negatively, but rereading them now, I see that my issues were the art weren’t because it was bad, but were because it wasn’t as good as it was under Mike Deodato Jr. who took over when the Civil War changes took effect. Here, the art’s not bad, but there are still individual panels that could have been better. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story works well, showing the Thunderbolts as they are and indicating how they’d work together in the face of the Skrull invasion. All of the Thunderbolts, including Venom and Bullseye, have very nice moments, but it’s Norman Osborn who guides and manipulates the events so well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is great, particularly for Osborn. New readers can start with issue 122 or issue 125 and see who these characters are and how they work. I recommend getting at least issue 125, given where I think “Secret Invasion” is going. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is strong, giving good indications of exactly where things are going with these characters, and seeing how they work together, and seeing where the Marvel Universe could well be headed. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow works well. This follows the team as they run right through the invasion, and how they deal with things. There are few time jumps or distractions, and the action is easy to follow. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this has been one of the stronger crossovers, and is well worth looking at, as I suspect it will have large implications for the Marvel Universe post Secret Invasion. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Thunderbolts #122-125 receive 34 out of 42.

Secret Invasion Review Checklists

Background reviews:

Infiltration reviews:

Main Event reviews (including date the last issue should be available):

Aftermath (Dark Reign) reviews:

  • Avengers: The Iniative #20-?
  • Dark Reign: New Nation
  • Invincible Iron Man #8-?
  • Ms. Marvel #34-?
  • New Avengers #48-?
  • Secret Invasion: Dark Reign
  • Secret Invasion: Requiem #1
  • War Machine #1-?
  • several unannounced titles, I’m sure