Friday, April 01, 2016

I'm not used to the Grandmaster's games going longer than two, three issues...

This one's in extra innings: from 2006, Thunderbolts #106, "Power Hungry" Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Tom Grummett, inks by Gary Erskine.

Instead of the Avengers or Death, today the Grandmaster is challenging Baron Helmut Zemo, for control of a power source called the Universal Wellspring. Whoever wins could use said Wellspring to create an army of super-powered pawns (it's unclear if control was somehow conferred as well...) so the United States government actually gives Zemo a team: his Thunderbolts! This story was set post-Civil War, when bad ideas were the order of the day. Meanwhile, Grandmaster has gone back to an old fave: the Squadron Sinister!

In typical Thunderbolts tradition, both teams are full of traitors: Spidey villain Joystick was working with the Grandmaster, while Kyle "Nighthawk" Richmond was unwillingly reunited with the Squadron. He may have thought Grandmaster the lesser of two evils, and both Songbird and Radioactive Man may have agreed: could Zemo be dealt with if he won? Speed Demon is out with two broken legs, but still leaks the last Wellspring location to M.A.C.H. IV, reasoning better Zemo than an alien get it.

For his part, Zemo may not even be sure what will happen if either he or the Grandmaster get the Wellspring: he had been sniffing paint communing with alien gemstones, and that either way, the "Guardian Protocols" could be enacted. Guardian Protocols?

The weird thing is, this issue predates (by two years or so) the modern Guardians of the Galaxy set in the present day; and recently we've seen the Guardians of a thousand years ago. This team could be from even further back, although I don't recognize the skull-face in the bottom left by the word balloons. I kinda like the Kree barbarian-woman with the skull helmet, though.

On the other hand, anything Zemo says is at least doubly suspect: he was a renowned liar, and any intel you get by "communing" with anything should be double-checked. Moreover, while the Guardian Protocols sound reasonable, wouldn't they have been enacted like five hundred times prior in Marvel continuity?

The T-Bolts pile on the Squadron Sinister, and Zemo seemingly kills the Grandmaster. He also knew Joystick was a traitor, but she still manages to disrupt the Wellspring, blowing up the entire castle! I had thought this would be the penultimate chapter of this fight, but it still had a couple issues to go. Once again, time to keep an eye out.


Dale Bagwell said...

Hmm,looks a damn fine read, and if nothing else, at least you have the return of the 616 Squadron Sinister for a bit. Do you have this whole Baron Zemo part of this series of just this arc?

googum said...

Just this random issue, for this stretch! It was less than fifty cents, I'm not made out of stone.