"Whosoever picks up this comic, if he be worthy, shall instantly regret it."
While my review of Youngblood #1 may have picked up on some of the clichés of the Dark Age of Comics (big guns, anti-heroes, heroes who kill, over-muscled protagonists, and the rise of the Independent publisher), there were still plenty of clichés that we didn’t quite hit, and so here’s a few more of ‘em. In this case, we have:
1. The replacement of a classic hero by an upstart wannabe.
2. Updating said hero’s look for to be more “extreme,” usually including a leather jacket.
3. Gimmicky cover.
In all fairness, Thunderstrike himself isn’t that bad a character, despite the insults I throw at him in this review (I write the introductions after I write the review), he’s an okay guy and certainly tries to do heroic things unlike many other Dark Age protagonists. My primary problem with the book is the overall writing, which is just plain dull and lacking in revision (sentence fragments aplenty throughout as well as comma splices). Plus the narration tries to make things sound more dramatic than things really are, constantly igniting my rage. Plus the villains aren’t all that interesting as you’ll see.
I guess my problem is that they’re trying to play this up as something grand and exciting when really it’s just something to shrug at. By the way, this review's going to be a wee bit longer than my usual fare since this "first explosive issue" is about 40 pages long.
I’ve got to say, that even though it was a cheap (well, not entirely cheap) gimmick to increase sales of a book, I really liked the foil covers used for a lot of Dark Age comics. Sure, it didn’t really contribute anything to the overall story, or to the fact that Thunderstrike here looks like he’s having a temper tantrum, but it’s nice and sparkly and really I think I’m going to need that after I’m done with this one.
Upon initially seeing the cover, I thought that this was the original Thor who decided to have a makeover (I’m not as familiar with Marvel characters as DC ones) but according to the blurb at the top of the first page, this is “architect Eric Masterson.” And that when he “stamps his wooden walking stick upon the ground, it is transformed into a mystical weapon called Thunderstrike! Armed with incredible powers (like what?), Masterson works to prove that one man must make a difference, because this world still needs heroes!” Not exactly ‘bitten by a radioactive spider and taught that with great power comes great responsibility,’ is it?
The (unintentional) hilarity begins right from the first narration box: “Carjacking!” I love how they need the triple emphasis on it (the original text has an underline on it, too, that I couldn’t duplicate here). “A national disgrace that has spread across this land like an unchecked cancer!” Well, first of all, no it hasn’t. Seriously, was there some sort of epidemic of carjacking in 1993? “Carjacking!” What, no italics or underline this time? I guess it’s not as bad as they make it out to be. “No one is safe! None are spared! To Carol Platt, the horror begins as her car door is brutally yanked open – and rough hands hurl her to the cold, cold street!” Actually it looks like it’s a fair spring day, so I’m not exactly sure why it’s a ‘cold, cold’ street. Furthermore, at no point do we actually see Carol here getting hurled to the street, it looks like from the artwork that the door has been opened and three guys (all wearing exactly the same hood masks, green jacket, and jeans) are trying to pull her out while she’s struggling for dear life.
“But that’s when the horror bursts from Carol’s lips --” Erm, I thought the horror was the carjacking itself? Does she have some sort of evil demonic tongue or something? “A cry full of desperation, fear -- and something more!” LUST! Okay, sorry, that joke was in bad taste considering the situation, but seriously, this narration is just terrible. If this is such a horrifying thing for the narrator, I can only imagine how much he’s going to be throwing up when we reach murder or bank store robberies or something. Anyway, the criminals get angry at Carol:
“Bad move, lady! Real dumb!”
“Yeah! You should have kept your mouth shut until we were outta(sic) here!”
Okay, seriously, what did they expect was going to happen? They just pulled a woman from her own car, did they expect her to just let it happen without even muttering a peep? Jeez, we’re not even past the first page and we’ve already gone through a few paragraphs... Anyway, they hear a “twump” sound indicating someone has landed on top of the car and they all look to the unseen hero who has shown up. And now we flip the page...
...And we see it’s Zechs Marquise! Okay, not really, but it’s easy to make the mistake, what with the weird mask/helmet and long blonde hair. This is the eponymous Thunderstrike. After reading Wikipedia, apparently Thunderstrike was temporarily merged with Thor or some such ridiculous thing but by this point they had gotten better and the mace in his hand is also named Thunderstrike while Thor’s hammer is Mjolnir. Also, by some bizarre coloring disaster, Thunderstrike’s right hand is yellow. As for the page itself, it’s a two-page spread going horizontally, so you have to shift the book to the side to read it. Rarely in comics is this ever a good idea.
Thunderstrike speaks in text that’s noticeably smaller than the other text and this’ll be the first of several instances where we see his masterful command of words, comparable only to Shakespeare himself: “Let her go!” WOW! That’ll show ‘em, Eric! Our oh-so helpful narrator helps us about why the text is small: “The words are spoken softly -- through gritted teeth -- but they strike with the force of a blazing thunderbolt!” Um, no they don’t, it seems like he’s trying to whisper while looking cool. It’s not helpful that he’s wearing Thor’s outfit here, making me shake my head in disbelief that the Norse God of thunder ever trusted this guy with his hammer.
The narration continues, saying that the carjackers gaze in awe and fear (more like amusement) at the “one-man strike force.” In case you hadn’t noticed already, the narration also seems to be speaking in sentence fragments, as further expounded with this little diddy: “A hero born of legend and bound for greatness!” More like bound for the quarter bin, but hey, what do I know?
The narration continues onto the next page in EVERY PANEL: “And then, with a suddenness that would surely leave these terrorists gasping in wonder if they were only permitted to breathe -- Eric Masterson springs forward!” My God, just shut up. Thunderstrike leaps forward and smothers two of them with his muscular arms (and making me wonder if Northstar wasn’t the only one trying to come out of the closet...) and he proudly thinks about how he managed to force them from the woman. And by the way, with the force necessary to drive them forward like that and still have them be in mid-air considering the distance of the car behind him, I have to assume he broke their necks in the process.
The third carjacker gets in the car and decides he needs to run the Thor-wannabe down (even though he wouldn’t be able to build up speed necessary to actually cause any real harm to him). However, Thunderstrike overreacts to this, shoving the woman behind him and smashing her car with his mace and sending glass shards everywhere and, I’m presuming, killing the third hijacker too with as much collateral damage as he’s causing swinging that damn thing around. And barely a moment later (as expounded by the narrator), two policemen come running up. They say they “got a report of a disturbance here.” Um... from who and when? Sure, the carjacking was occurring in the open and in broad daylight, but there was no indication that there was anyone nearby who made a phone call or even knew what was happening. On top of that, if there were people in the area who could put in a call, why didn’t they try to help the woman?
Thunderstrike reassures the cop while holding the woman with this wonderfully sympathetic comment: “Everything is under control, officer!” Wow, it’s like listening to Winston Churchill – there’s so much emotion, so much power in everything he says! See? Even I could be a narrator for Thunderstrike. The policeman notes that these criminals belong to an organized gang that’s plaguing the city. Thunderstrike briefly wonders about the poor woman’s car that he just smashed: “Who’s going to pay for it? Will her insurance company cover her? Wish I could have avoided damaging it, but things happened too quickly!” Yeah, that car going 2 miles an hour really took you by surprise there.
Thunderstrike flies off by swinging his mace around in a circle and looking like a monkey while doing it. His worries about the poor woman’s car that he just trashed are forgotten as he thinks to himself about how he’s late for his lunch date with a woman named Samantha Joyce. Meanwhile a mysterious shadowed figure watches him fly from a nearby rooftop. Thunderstrike thinks to himself about how the cops keep calling him Thor. “That’s a big mistake!” Well, maybe if you weren’t flying around in Thor’s clothes with long blonde hair and smashing things with a weapon that sort of resembles his hammer, they wouldn’t call you Thor, you idiot!
Thunderstrike gives a little back-story on his relationship with Thor, featuring a section of the page showing what I presume to be some of Thor’s enemies. Why they’re being shown eludes me since they’re not even mentioned on the page, but hey, I’m not the writer. Thunderstrike expounds: “We ran across each other a few months back, and became close -- inseparable, in fact (Um, ew?) -- and I managed to help him out on quite a few occasions!” Yeah, I’m sure you were quite helpful what with your overreactions to slow-moving cars and subsequent smashing of them.
He exposits that Thor eventually had to go back to Asgard and gave him a parting gift of a walking stick (talk about your cheap gifts. “Happy birthday, Captain America! For you, I have this rock I found outside your house!”). Upon stamping it on the ground, the walking stick transforms itself into the trusty mace Thunderstrike and he realized, “that he had taken it upon himself to appoint me his successor on the planet Earth!” And what, he appointed other people to be his successor on other planets?
And actually it’s nifty that he can hide his mace as a walking stick like that, but seriously there are some flaws with this little arrangement. First of all, the walking stick looks like an old gnarled tree branch that wise men use in movies, which isn’t exactly inconspicuous. Next, he’ll need an excuse to actually carry the walking stick around with him, since there’s no indication that he needs it for a limp or something. And even if he did, the method for it to change into the mace is by stomping it on the ground. I can just imagine him walking along a street and accidentally brings the stick down too hard and it changes him into Thunderstrike. Speaking of which, when he does go into Thor mode, why does he have the beard to begin with? Did Thor think that this guy would need to look like a Viking if he was going to be taking his place?
Thunderstrike flies down into an alleyway to change back into Eric Masterson (albeit I’ll still refer to him as Thunderstrike) and he talks of how it doesn’t feel right to use Thor’s name even though he’s taken his place (Erm, doesn’t it defeat the point of being his successor if you take on a different name?). He says he’ll have to establish his own identity:
“Guess I’ll just pull out the old thesaurus tonight! After all, how hard can it be to come up with a cool-sounding name (yeah, THAT’S what’s important when carrying on a legacy)? Not very... Considering the Einsteins who usually write those hokey comic books that my son is always buying.”
Wow, the metatextuality is simply astounding. Grant Morrison would be proud.
Thunderstrike meets up with a woman named Samantha for lunch while the mysterious shadow continues to watch from afar. We get a little bit of exposition about the two, mostly that Thunderstrike gave up his old apartment and has been staying at Avenger’s mansion. Also, we learn that Thunderstrike is divorced and his kid is with his ex-wife (wouldn’t want to have a superhero with a direct family to shackle him, no-siree!). His friend Samantha here is apparently a lawyer (what is it with superheroes who have secret identity connections to lawyers?) and we also discover that Thunderstrike’s ex-wife is opening another health club, which we cut to in the next page (our helpful narrator has apparently gone on his lunch break).
Ms. Steele, as she’s called (and wearing a red dress that seems rather inappropriate for the time of day and for a simple opening of a health club), is filming an infomercial about the new club. The cameraman actually talks to her while filming, saying, “This will be your best infomercial yet, Ms. Steele -- especially with the front line of the New York Smashers signing autographs!” Well, it won’t be a particularly good infomercial if the cameraman is yacking about it while the film is rolling. Ms. Steele gets her husband (who looks suspiciously like a more muscular Burt Reynolds) to appear in a photo-op with her. By the way, this guy is also overdressed in a tuxedo, especially considering his teammates are seen in the background wearing rather comfortable attire.
The husband, Bobby, says that he hopes she doesn’t mind that he’s taking the guys out for a few beers after the festivities are over. Yeah, a bunch of drunken athletes with lots of reporters around, what could go wrong? Fortunately, we’re spared that as we seem to jump a few hours later to Bobby leaving and Ms. Steele giving us this cryptic thought balloon: “Bobby has been acting real moody the last few weeks (actually he seemed pretty reserved a second ago...) -- and he’s spending an awful lot of time with the ‘guys.’ I never faced problems like these with Eric!” Um, I think you need to reassess that statement – Bobby hangs out with ‘the guys’ and Eric was ‘inseparable’ from Thor. I hate to break it to you, lady, but I think your gaydar is waaaaay off.
Bobby excuses himself from the ‘guys’ and gives some mysterious hinting about how he hates to lie to his wife and friends, but that he’s doing the right thing. Suddenly, he’s attacked by carjackers who look exactly like the ones who Thunderstrike had dealt with and take Bobby’s car. Wow, those police were right; they are highly organized – they all have a uniform when doing carjacking! I wonder if they have good benefits.
The narrator returns from his break to tell us: “Sometime later, in a darker, grittier part of the city...” As opposed to the darker, grittier part of the comics industry we’re already experiencing? Anyway, the carjackers arrive at their base (wearing entirely different colored versions of the same outfit, I might add) and announce how proud they are of their recent acquisition, and we reveal the mastermind behind the “national disgrace that has spread across this land like an unchecked cancer.”
And now I’m just laughing my head off here. Our hero’s first villain he has to contend with has dreadlocks, a metallic mask with iron bars over the mouth, a huge brown trench coat, purple pants, and huge, ungainly boots and gloves. Essentially he looks like an adult Jakeem Thunder with a Dr. Doom mask. Oh, and the best part? His name is Carjack. Norse Gods beware, Carjack’s reign of terror will spread throughout the land like a cancer and- well, you get the idea.
To be fair, Carjack isn’t the main villain of this piece, but he’s still a pretty dorky-looking bad guy with an even dorkier name. He scolds the man who was proud of his capture for getting blood on the front seat, lessening the resale value. “We cannot continue to hold this city in a grip of true terror... without proper discipline!” Yeah, I mean look at how much the people of the city are in a grip of terror. Boy-howdy are they all terrified, what with their casual, friendly dinners and health club openings and whatnot. “We have already lost three of our brothers today! The time has come to increase the pressure... and turn up the heat! Wait a second, overestimating how really damaging a crime is? Sentence fragments in what he’s saying? My God, Carjack is the narrator!
On the next page, the narrator wonders, “Is it hours,(sic) or only mere minutes that pass before muffled footsteps are heard within a deserted locker room--?!” You have thirty seconds to answer! Anyway, our shadowy figure reveals himself to be a loser named Bloodaxe, who looks like a metal-coated Red Skull with big muscles, a huge axe, and a spike and skull motif on his outfit. Well, actually, I shouldn’t say ‘he,’ since as it turned out later in Thunderstrike’s run that Bloodaxe was actually a woman we’ll be seeing later named Jackie Lukus. Sorry if I spoiled anyone out there. Do not reveal the incredible secret of Bloodaxe! Bloodaxe has a few bits of scintillating thoughts and dialogue, including this little diddy: “Few would have the courage, the daring to seek vengeance upon those who are already held by the police!” Well, that’s because no one’s that idiotic. Once they’re in police custody, the vengeance is worthless since they’ve already been captured. Moron.
The narrator once again pipes up as we cut to the prison and suddenly I wish he’d go on break again. The three carjackers who are surprisingly not dead thanks to Thunderstrike’s assault on them (actually they look pretty good, especially considering one of them probably got tons of glass shards jabbed into him). Bloodaxe shows up, kills one of them, and demands to know where Carjack is from the other two frightened criminals.
Cut to next page, where Thunderstrike is soaring along at a rather bizarre angle considering he exposits how he just tosses the mace into the air and then hangs on while it shoots him in that direction (which I must say is a really inconvenient method of flight. What if you needed to stop or turn suddenly? Is this how Thor traveled?). He wonders if he should get involved in the ‘carjack nonsense.’ “Besides, it’s hardly the kind of crime you’d typically associate with one of Earth’s mightiest heroes, or whatever the Avengers are calling themselves these days!” But... But... Doesn’t he know how carjacking is a national disgrace that’s spread across this land like an unchecked cancer!?
“I suppose I could check in with the police, but... why should they share their info with me?! As far they’re concerned, I’m just some jerk with a big stick and a gaudy cape!” Dude, you’ve got the power of the friggin’ God of thunder, who the hell cares what they think? Thunderstrike hears police sirens and wonders for a moment what exactly his responsibilities are as Thor’s surrogate. I admit this panel does work pretty well, what with a normal guy having the power of a God on his side and not being sure which things he needs to worry about and balancing his personal life with his heroics and what part of his heroics (ordinary street crime vs. saving the world) he should worry about. Of course, everything else around the book pretty much sucks, so we’ll just assume this was a fluke.
Thunderstrike gets the rundown of Bloodaxe’s attack on the police station from a police Lieutenant. Thunderstrike says that there’s a wild chance he can track Bloodaxe. When the Lieutenant asks him how it’s possible, Thunderstrike gives this brilliant response: “It’s too... er... complicated... to explain!” Jeez, the guy’s a regular Cicero, isn’t he? Thunderstrike asks the police to follow him as best as they can while he flies off.
Flip the page and the narrator’s boxes are the only dialogue for the entire page again. Ugh. “It has been said that a well-organized chop shop can strip an entire car -- completely reducing it to its individual components (NO, is THAT what stripping a car means?! And here I thought it had something to do with Demi Moore!) -- in less time than it takes the average mechanic to attach a muffler.” Wow, got to give the criminals credit for efficiency. That’s fast. The side of the warehouse where Carjack is at blows open, revealing Bloodaxe. “And now, even as the side of the building erupts with flame and fury -- one is forced to wonder exactly how long it will take a certain axe-wielding vigilante to strip a chop shop!?” Actually I was wondering how long it’d take for me to strip the narrator of his throat so he couldn’t speak anymore.
Carjack and his cronies of course know that some serious ass-whooping is about to go down thanks to the visibly impressive Bloodaxe, but Thunderstrike suddenly tackles into him on another horizontal-flipped page. Thunderstrike thought-balloons: “My plan worked! I somehow managed to use my own enchanted weapon to trail Bloodaxe across the city!” Anyone want to bet this ability will either be lost by the issue’s end or just completely forgotten in the future when other criminals need to be tracked down?
Thunderstrike knocks Bloodaxe through a wall in order to have more room to maneuver. Bloodaxe easily recovers from all of this and starts laying the smackdown on Thunderstrike, knocking him around. Thunderstrike thinks to himself how he must not have the same power level as Thor and that he can’t summon a thunderstorm with his mace like he could with Mjolnir. Oh, gee, smooth move, Thor – you’ve got someone to take your place, but you didn’t even bother to let them be on the same power level as you?! How exactly was he supposed to be Thor’s successor? Did Thor think that Eric here would just show up at social events, kind of a mascot for the Avengers instead of an actual superhero? Bloodaxe lays down the standard, ‘vengeance against criminals, killing better than imprisoning, yadda yadda blah blah’ to Thunderstrke while he smacks him around.
Meanwhile, Carjack and his followers take off their masks to try to fool the cops and we learn that Carjack’s dreadlocks are actually attached to his mask and he’s actually a white guy with blonde hair, which is even dumber than just having a loser villain named Carjack who has dreadlocks. Bloodaxe closes in for the kill and I suddenly realize that the skies are quite red, either indicating that the sun’s setting or that the Crisis on Infinite Earths is about to begin. Suddenly a deus ex machina in the form of a red energy beam fires and Bloodaxe is knocked away from Thunderstrike. The police Lieutenant from earlier comes running up to Thunderstrike (now sporting Scott Summers-like red sunglasses) while Bloodaxe dashes off.
Thunderstrike speculates about who saved him, running through the two options, both of whom he disregards as not being possible. He then realizes that his main problem was that he was completely unprepared for the fight and that everyone keeps mistaking him for Thor when he is most clearly not. As such, he goes to a shop called ‘Spotlight Costumes’ and we can see Captain America and Spider-Man inside. This makes me wonder if it actually was them (which wouldn’t make sense, since Captain America’s suit was designed by the government and Spider-Man made his own and wouldn’t risk his secret identity by going to a costume shop) or if they’re just mannequins (which would make even LESS sense given the above considerations). The woman there says she’s been, “following his exploits in the newspaper.” What exploits? ‘Thunder-God wannabe breaks spines of three criminals before getting his butt handed to him by Red Skull wannabe?’
By the by, in a Liefeld-esque moment, Thunderstrike here has on a huge black trench coat and his shoulders are bulging out as if he had huge padding underneath them (even though we can tell he’s wearing normal clothes at the moment). Thunderstrike shows the woman some sketches of alternate costumes, which include a rather Thor-like design with some alternate color highlights and another one that looks like his normal outfit sans cape and with sunglasses. The woman has some opinions of her own:
“Interesting! You’re obviously going for a look which combines the classic with the contemporary! But a cape is too 60’s -- mind if I make a few suggestions?” Well, thanks for insulting the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Moon Knight, Dr. Strange, Sentry, and all the other heroes who wear capes. Thunderstrike asks what ideas she has and we have THIS stellar costume suggestion: “Well... I’ve always thought an earring can be sooo sexy on the right man!” Yeah, and that man’s name is George Michael, not Eric Masterson, lady.
Cut to outside a courthouse where Carjack is being released and *sigh* the narrator has decided to interject what he’s learned from his Creative Writing class. “Needles of cold prickle the air outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse some 24 hours later...” Carjack’s lawyer advises him to lay low, but our braintrust of a supervillain announces, “We’ll be hitting the streets harder than ever... After we party!” o/ I’m going to a paaaaarrtaaaay! Party at midnight... o/ And, as ever, our narrator keeps us on the edge of our seats: “Laughter, colder than the air, begins to echo.”
Everyone with me now? 1...2...3... SHUT UP!
Meanwhile, Thunderstrike returns home from a date with Jackie Lukus, AKA Bloodaxe. Jackie thinks to herself how she’s excited that dinner is only the start of the evening (so Bloodaxe isn’t getting any? THAT’S why she’s a homicidal maniac?) She says she’s going to turn off the TV, but it’s the news and Thunderstrike tells her to leave it on as the announcer reports: “The District Attorney’s office has confirmed the release of the man the newspapers have dubbed Carjack!” This has been plot convenience news; thank you and good night! Wait a second, it was the newspapers that gave him that dumb name? Now I REALLY have a low opinion of the mass media...
Thunderstrike tells Jackie that he wants to borrow her phone so he can call Marcy. Jackie rightfully thinks with shock, “He’s calling his ex-wife -- in the middle of my date?!” You know, after going out with someone as moronic as that, I have to safely say that I’d become a psychotic loner with a demonic axe if I had to deal with that, too. Thunderstrike’s wife tells him that Bobby ran out on a rampage and their son says that his dad has to call Thor. How exactly the kid thinks that his father has a red phone for calling Thor escapes my knowledge, but even better is his next line: “Only Thor can help Bobby now!” Um... What about the fifty or sixty other heroes who operate out of New York? I’m sure they can deal with a loser wearing a dumb mask whose superpower is apparently throwing people out of cars and making threats against his own cohorts.
Thunderstrike goes running out on Jackie with his walking stick in hand (and it looks really stupid when he does it, since again a walking stick is supposed to help people walk and he’s clearly running out of there unaided). The narrator comes chiming in as we close in on Jackie’s face. “Questions blaze within Jackie’s mind!” Like how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie center?!
“Is it some misguided sense of responsibility, some macho jock ethic which drives Eric on this fool’s errand?” Or is he just an idiot? “Or, does Marcy Masterson-Steele hold even greater sway than Jackie ever feared?!” No, since it was his son who was demanding him to get Thor. “Tonight could have been... would have been... so special!” Jeez, the narrator’s awfully bummed that Jackie isn’t getting laid tonight. Maybe he’s some perverse voyeur?
Cut to the streets, where Carjack and his crew are drinking Wild Turkey and generally not doing anything that disruptive other than being loud. Bloodaxe arrives and makes Carjack’s cronies run away while she grabs Carjack. Thunderstrike’s mace slams into Bloodaxe’s back and we get our big reveal and hero moment as Thunderstrike comes and utters these immortal lines that will go down in the annuls of great comic moments:
“No one dies tonight! Not if I can help it!” Oscar Wilde, eat your heart out. By the way, Thunderstrike is now wearing the outfit from his cover, with a ponytail, the Thor “four circles on his torso” shirt, and a brown leather vest-jacket. I can see no signs of the earring, but it must be there, since it’s on the cover.
Thunderstrike slams into Bloodaxe, sending her careening back while Carjack orders his men to get their guns ready and a silhouetted form watches from the background (whom I’m presuming is Bobby). Bloodaxe echoes my sentiments as he says, “Your ridiculous attempt at a heroic entrance was as pathetic as your new uniform!” Thunderstrike quips back, “Yeah... well you should check a mirror before you start dispensing fashion advice!” Ah, such witty banter could only- ah, you get the idea.
Bloodaxe talks about how the law doesn’t work and that criminals have to be killed and Thunderstrike naturally responds about how it doesn’t give him the right to be judge, jury, and- my goodness, I’m getting bored just typing this stuff. Carjack agrees with me when he says that he can’t believe that the two are talking philosophy while trying to beat each other’s brains out. Subsequently, he and his men open fire. Now, I will admit, I’m guilty of interjecting philosophy during a fight into my own webcomic, but any kind of usefulness here is undercut by the fact that so far these guys have been pretty dull. We have no real reason of why Thunderstrike believes in heroics or why he chooses not to kill and Bloodaxe is just your standard-issue ‘kill-‘em-all’ Punisher-style vigilante and we have no back-story about why she’s the way she is... but maybe that’s explained in a later issue.
Bloodaxe uses some sort of magnetic force in her axe to repel the bullets back, killing three of Carjack’s forces. Thunderstrike has what I will now be referring to as ‘heroic spaz attack’ since “NO ONE WAS SUPPOSED TO GET HURT! NO ONE WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE!” and starts laying it on Bloodaxe, swinging like a madman. Bloodaxe boasts that she possesses the greater power and greater strength, but Thunderstrike gets his mace under her axe and disarms her, telling her back, “Raw power is never enough, my friend! Power without responsibility, compassion, and intelligence is merely a defeat waiting to happen!” And while I agree philosophically with that, I’m still bored out of my head. Oh, and somehow they’re now inside a warehouse even though we never saw them leave the streets.
Thunderstrike talks about how it was the height of stupidity for him to try to be like Thor (and what was the idea of being his successor, then?), but now he’s his own man. Bloodaxe gets knocked into a support beam and Thunderstrike exposits that Carjack and his crew left in the melee and he hasn’t seen any sign of Bobby. And then the narrator pipes in again: “But, even as Eric scours the rubble -- Bloodaxe rises from the wreckage like some terrifying phoenix of legend!” Shut up. Shut UP. SHUT UP. SHUT UP. SHUT UP! SHUT! UP!
Bloodaxe lifts a car over his head and proclaims, “No battle with Bloodaxe is ever truly over, Thor!” Thunderstrike raises his mace up and somehow it shoots out a beam of energy that slams into Bloodaxe. Thunderstrike responds, “That’s what you think, pal -- And please stop calling me Thor!”
Thunderstrike announces to himself in shock that the mace has powers that he didn’t realize, but then the building collapses on top of him. Bloodaxe gets away, swearing vengeance and all that. The narrator, finally speaking without sounding stupid, announces that the police arrive a few minutes later and we see they have apprehended Carjack along with evidence of drugs and illegal weapons (so, wait, wasn’t his whole deal about carjacking? Where did the drugs and weapons come from?) He declares that there’s no sign of the thunder guy when someone yells that they see some movement in the rubble. Much to our sadness, Thunderstrike rises from the debris holding both his mace and Bloodaxe’s axe.
One of the policeman cries out, “It’s him! It’s the Mighty Thor!” Thunderstrike proclaims, “No. He’s the other guy.” Standing in a heroic pose in the rubble, Thunderstrike announces (in his standard glorious, poetic voice), “My name is...er...Thunderstrike!” And then I think to myself, ‘Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!’ Oh, wait, that’s actually Thunderstrike thinking that. “But it’s better than Sparky -- The Lightning Kid [?!?!] -- and I’ll never get around to that thesaurus the way I’m going. The name was an easy problem, but where’s the real Bloodaxe?” Maybe you should use that tracking thing you did earlier, idiot! “Whatever happened to Bobby Steele? And what am I supposed to do with this dumb axe?” And when will this series be canceled?!
Anyway, Thunderstrike says he must’ve been hit in the head too hard because it actually seems to be whispering to him and, of course, it is. Later on in the series, it’s revealed that Bloodaxe’s axe actually communicates with its wielder and makes them go nuts and- wait, no one cares. Sorry. The issue ends with a promo for Issue 2, featuring a bout with the unstoppable Juggernaut!
Well, that’s it for this review! And what about this brave, wonderful new hero and his heroic exploits? I think I’m going to let the words of Hercules to sum up Thunderstrike #1: