Marvel Comics (April, 1999)
“Saving The World!”
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Mark Bagley
INKERS: Bob Wiacek & Al Vey
COLORIST: Joe Rosas
LETTERER: Saida Temofonte
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
It’s the Thunderbolts alone against 25 Masters Of Evil, and I looked up their profiles and put the 24 underlings in alphabetical because that’s how much I care about my readers–Aqueduct, Bison, Blackwing, Boomerang, Cardinal, Constrictor, Cyclone, Dragonfly, Eel, Flying Tiger, Icemaster, Joystick, Klaw, Lodestone, Man-Ape, Man-Killer, Quicksand, Scorcher, Shatterfist, Shockwave, Slyde, Sunstroke, Supercharger, and Tiger Shark–all led by Crimson Cowl. (So if one of your underappreciated favorites is here, you already know to get the book. 🙂 )
With that many villains and the world currently being ravaged by the storms from Cowl’s weather machine, Hawkeye comes up with the plan of Moonstone pretending to join the Masters. But as she’s brought around and sees Cowl appears to be winning sees an opportunity to back the winning side and take over, while also remembering the daughter of the rich family her parents used to work for and how she valued their friendship (not realizing Karen was messing with her of course). Plus hearing some of the villains talking about their motivations means she has a means to manipulate them. She reveals the Thunderbolts when they sneak in disguised as members of the Masters and as the Thunderbolts fight off the villains Cowl takes off with Moonstone, Dragonfly, and Sunstroke as well as the control device for the weather weapon. Thanks to a key left in her cell, Moonstone gets free of her cuffs and for reasons even she can’t explain stops the Cowl’s plans. In the wreckage of the ship, they find the Cowl and remove her mask to reveal Dallas! (Although if you’ve read her profile you know this is not the full story. I don’t think I have that reveal in my collection.) As our heroes celebrate and Atlas tries to figure out what’s going on, Moonstone wonders who slipped her the key and why she helped save the world.
What they got right: What’s that? You have a bunch of minor villains and you want to use them in a story, but you DON’T want to horribly murder them for shock value? The heck you say! It’s almost like you see characters who can be useful in the future so you make them interesting instead of bumping them off. We also get an interesting dive into Moonstone’s mind and history, while also showing a hint that maybe she can be redeemed as well. (She won’t be but I like they’re teasing the possibility.
What they got wrong: Was the Dallas/Cowl reveal planned or later retconned? Citizen V being knocked out before suggests the former but I can’t trust the latter anymore. You have to admit that would be a doozy of a twist though. There’s also a panel where Atlas is accidentally drawn as Hawkeye.
Recommendation: A really good finale to the storyline and their 25th issue. Pick this one up.