Thunderbolts: The Nefaria Protocols Nefaria busts loose, from Avengers 34

"The Nefaria Protocols" (2000/09/01)
"And So It Begins..." The Avengers 31 (August 2000)
"Two Ships" Thunderbolts 42 (September 2000)
"Behind the Masque!" The Avengers 32 (September 2000)
"Chasing Your Own Tail!" Thunderbolts 43 (October 2000)
"Tainted Love" The Avengers 33 (October 2000)
"Keeping an Ion the Crowd! Thunderbolts 44 (November 2000)
"The Nefaria Protocols" The Avengers 34 (November 2000)
Reprinted in Avengers/Thunderbolts: The Nefaria Protocols

Reader Rating: Average

Roll Call: Atlas, Charcoal, Hawkeye, MACH-2, Moonstone, Songbird, Techno/Ogre

Summary: When the Avengers close in on a Maggia con-fab, they run afoul of the Grim Reaper’s attempt to abduct Madame Masque. Meanwhile, Wonder Man kidnaps Atlas. While the Avengers beard Masque in her lair, the Black Widow joins the Thunderbolts in an investigation of Zemo’s destroyed hideaway. Behind it all: Count Nefaria, who makes a stand against the combined Avengers and Thunderbolts to launch an ionic bomb that will put everyone on Earth under his mental control.

In subplots: Man-Killer's cover is blown and she shows Erik her true nature; Moonstone breaks in on the Fantastic Four; Scourge begins his assault on Techno; Andrea Sterman interviews Windshear about the work he did with hard air for Roxxon; and, following a bruising battle with the Crimson Cowl, Citizen V washes up on the shores of Latveria.

Heroes include: Captain America, Goliath, the Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, the Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Triathlon, the Vision, Warbird, and the Wasp. Cyclone and the Eel appear briefly.

Continuity: Flashbacks explain how Dallas was offered the mantle of Citizen V (during the gap in "Endgame", 1998/01/01) and how she was substituted for the real Crimson Cowl at the end of "The Eye of the Storm" ( 1999/03/01). Techno discovers "gelatinous residue" in Zemo’s abandoned hideout (a follow-up to "Wanted Dead or Alive", 1998/06/01 and set-up for "Didn't See That Coming", 2003/02/01). Songbird gets a tour of Avengers mansion. Charcoal reveals an ability to reassemble after he has been shattered into pieces. Atlas is given a power-boost, including flight. Cyclone appears at a Maggia meeting, "speaking for the European families," and flees when the Avengers arrive. Man-Killer outs herself by wearing some suggestive buttons ("Indigo Grrrls", "Lilith Fair"). She laughs off Erik's offer to join the T-Bolts and flees. Both Katrina and Pierre will shortly be contacted by Justine Hammer for her new Masters of Evil. For those (like myself) who did not already know, Andie Sterman is identified as the author of American Dreamers: The Lives and Deaths of Jack Monroe (a.k.a. Nomad).

Comments: Choppy and overly dense. Avengers author Kurt Busiek seems primarily interested in re-engineering the history of Madame Masque, with the result that events in the early chapters, emphasizing Masque, are not clearly connected to the later chapters, which focus on Nefaria. The plotting handoffs between Busiek and Thunderbolts writer Fabian Nicieza are shaky, and important plot points are relegated to flashbacks (the Widow’s encounter with Cyclone; MACH-2’s and Songbird’s recovery of Dr. Malus). But there are moments of brilliance: Natasha’s break-in of T-Bolts HQ, and her subsequent mission with the team (including Techno-Ogre) brims with humor and suspense; George Perez turns in tour-de-force artwork for the oversized finale; and, when the brawls die down enough to present opportunities, both writers provide sharp characterizations.

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This page was revised on December 17, 2004

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