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Feb 2

House to Astonish Presents: The Lightning Round Episode 1

Posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 by Al in Podcast

It’s here! As trailed on our last episode, Paul and I are pleased to present the first episode of The Lightning Round, an in-depth re-read show all about Marvel’s Most Wanted, the Thunderbolts! Each episode we’ll be looking at a few (usually 3-6) issues of the series, plus key tie-ins and guest appearances, checking off a few of the things to watch out for and chatting through all the twists and turns in this twistiest and turniest of series.

In episode 1, we’re covering Incredible Hulk #449, Tales of the Marvel Universe, and Thunderbolts #s 1 and 2. If you haven’t read the series before, be aware that this episode does contain spoilers for the first year of the book, though the intention is that there should be less need for this in future episodes. This episode is also a little longer than future instalments are likely to be (we’re aiming for around 40-45 minutes in future), but that’s largely because there’s an understandable amount of set-up and background to get through.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available through the embedded player below. We hope you enjoy it, but please let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or through our Facebook fan page. And, as always, you can pick yourself up one of our very snazzy shirts at our Redbubble store if the mood takes you.

Bring on the comments

  1. clay says:

    Will this be on itunes? Is it in the main feed, or a separate one? Can’t wait to listen!

  2. Ronnie says:

    I’m excited to hear this.

  3. Mark Coale says:

    Almost expected the pod to stuck with Thunderstruck.

  4. Allan M says:

    I cannot find a quote for this, but I believe Busiek has said that the Thunderbolts’ original designs were meant to evoke different eras of superhero costume design.

    Citizen V was meant to evoke 40s ultra-patriotic costume design. Atlas riffs on 70s Cockrum designs, with bold colours and a great big A in case you forgot his codename. Songbird’s an 80s Byrne-style design with more fiddly detail than Atlas, but we still have an abstracted but clear bird design on her torso. Meteorite feels like a comment on 90s costume trends, where the team member least in need of armour is wearing over designed armour. She mercifully ditches it pretty fast.

    I also appreciate the detail that Zemo’s Citizen V outfit is still gaudily patriotic, but the bulk of the costume is his usual purple. Later iterations switch the body colour to blue, and I just think the purple looks better.

  5. Zach Adams says:

    I’m very excited to see you eventually have to spend 15 minutes explaining the Lightning Rods for like an 8-page appearance.

  6. Zoomy says:

    Awesome! Thunderbolts was so sensational, it got me back into comics when it first came out.

    Kurt Busiek said that to me about the costume designs on the one occasion I spoke to him face to face 🙂

  7. Martin Smith says:

    Bagley’s first ongoing gig at Marvel was Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light (alongside odd bits of New Universe stuff, as it was bi-monthly). It’s incredible how fully-formed his art and style is even then.

  8. Thomas says:

    This was great. I think you hit on exactly what your listeners want, the two of you talking comics. Thanks.

    If I can make a suggestion, what about covering Stern’s under siege Avengers arc? It really is big back story for when the Avengers return and it great comics.

    If you don’t cover it I urge fans not aware of it to give it a read.

  9. Zoomy says:

    This is a fantastic review of an awesome comic! Looking forward to the series!

    A few things I feel the need to share: I also always thought Letha was ‘lethal’ rather than ‘leather’ – is that a thing?

    The “Justice, like lightning” poem was also used in the first issue of Black Lightning in the seventies.

    Bulldozer doesn’t normally have a thing over his mouth, does he?

    My copy of #2 is also the “Masters of Evil!” cover, and I always thought that was the standard version…

  10. JD DeMotte says:

    Great first episode guys. I had started a second read through of this a couple years back, and while my attention drifted after the first year or so of stories. That’s not a comment on the book’s quality, just on my ability to focus, so I’m looking forward to having something to help give me an excuse to read through this (and stuff like the Team-Up which I don’t think I read back in day).

    Can I suggest that, for those who plan on reading along, when you do these posts maybe putting a list of the books you plan on covering next? I know you said it in the podcast, and I imagine most of the time it will just be “Thunderbolts vol. 1 issues 5-9” but for stuff like the next episode, which has the negative issue, the team-up issue and the next two issues a checklist would be helpful.

    Again, great episode, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

  11. Voord 99 says:

    Definitely here for this.

    Although slightly surprised that it wasn’t the New Warriors. Which would also have been great.

    But this is definitely great.

  12. MT says:

    Great show.
    Although I thought you would have mentioned Guilianis appearance…especially after his recent comic turn.

  13. Al says:

    Thanks so much for all the great feedback, folks, and thanks for the suggestions too – we’re unlikely to cover Under Siege in depth but we’re definitely likely to discuss it in the context of issues 10-12.

  14. the new kid says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I should reread those issues before I listen to the podcast. Early TBolts is basically a primer for the Heroes Return era.

    I think I read up through the end of the Redeemers stuff. Then read the Ellis stuff too.

  15. Mark Coale says:

    IIRC, the first Trade has the Tales if the MU story in it.

    They also did that cool trade where they reprinted each of their first appearances as villains, including Zemo as The Phoenix in Cap 174 (or so).

  16. Col_Fury says:

    Great first episode. 🙂

    I was in college working part time at a comics shop when this came out, and I can verify the second issue’s “other” Masters of Evil cover was kept a secret until it was shipped to stores. It’s amazing they were able to keep this stuff under wraps until issue #1 hit stands, really.

    Also, I have a soft spot for Songbird. I always saw a parallel between the father/daughter “we have screaming powers” duos Banshee/Siryn and Angar the Screamer/Screaming Mimi, all of which first appeared as villains. I’m surprised that’s never come up in-story.

  17. the new kid says:

    Zemo Citizen V is basically your fascist uncle who overcompensates by dressing himself in the patriotic stars in stripes like everyday is the Fourth of July.

  18. Adam Farrar says:

    I don’t remember if it gets an editorial note in Thunderbolts #2 but Nathaniel Richards’ removal of everything from Four Freedoms Plaza is also in Tales of the Marvel Universe. It’s essentially Tom DeFalco’s epilog to his Fantastic Four run.

  19. Uncanny X-Ben says:


    I’ve always had a soft spot for the different Thunderbolts books and a love of Baron Zeno.

  20. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Thunderbolts might be the first Marvel series I read in its entirety (well, almost; I skipped the boxing arc). I’m not planning a repeat any time soon, but I’ll gladly listen to a recap and be reminded how fun (most of) it was.

  21. Ross says:

    “They also did that cool trade where they reprinted each of their first appearances as villains, including Zemo as The Phoenix in Cap 174 (or so).”

    Thunderbolts: Marvel’s Most Wanted. Most of the stories collected in it aren’t especially great, but Busiek does a two page intro that discusses how he selected the team which is pretty interesting.

    I also agree with the person who said that Avengers Under Siege provides some set up for a few of the conflicts down the road.

    Loved the episode, and anything that gets Al and Paul releasing more podcasts is only a good thing.

  22. Voord 99 says:

    Spoiler coming up:

    Having listened to the podcast:-

    -There was a word that our hosts used an awful lot, and that was “solid.” And that sums up the first 12 issues of Thunderbolts for me, probably the most solid and reliably executed thing in mainstream superhero comics in its era.

    – It’s an obvious point, but there’s another reason why, if it’s between using Spider-Man to plug the book or the Hulk, you go with the Hulk — Abe has a history with Spider-Man that you can only exploit after the reveal.

    (You can connect Moonstone or Techno to the Hulk, but it’s not the same — and their particular character development in Thunderbolts doesn’t lend itself to using the connection in the same way that Abe’s does.)

    – @the new kid: Zemo Citizen V is basically your fascist uncle who overcompensates by dressing himself in the patriotic stars in stripes like everyday is the Fourth of July.

    The whole “people will latch onto anybody who says they’re a hero and surrounds it with crypto-fascist touches” element — yes, that does read interestingly nowadays.

    One thing about Thunderbolts is that it’s a very effective exploitation of the fact that we take secret identities for granted as a convention of the genre. The twist is only possible because it is possible for someone in a mask whose name you don’t know to be accepted as someone who should be dealing out violence.

    But think about that supposed Randolph quote, and ignore the question of where it really comes from. What is it actually saying? Join that up with the idea of a superhero — we should at all times be terrified of anonymous masked figures who may only bring destruction on a few supervillains, but bring terror upon everyone at large? The point of the superhero is terror, and despite the fact that this is what Zemo is saying, everyone nods and thinks “That sounds great!”, because it’s an elegantly expressed rhyming couplet — and because they assume that somehow this terror is also protecting them and the ruin will always fall on Those Other People.

    It’s one of those points where one remembers that, when superheroes were created in the interwar period, masked vigilantism that used violence and terror against minority populations was not a fantasy (although it trails off in the ‘30s compared to the ‘20s).

  23. brian says:

    Really enjoyed the first episode, thanks guys!

    I think Busiek said on Twitter recently that he drew inspiration from the “Kooky Quartet” era of the Avengers i.e. what if Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch hadn’t actually reformed?

    I’m a big fan of Busiek’s writing during this era. I probably wouldn’t be reading comics as an adult if not for his run on Avengers (it stood out from the other Marvel titles being reprinted in the UK by Panini at the time) and I still love basically everything in Astro City.

  24. Martin Smith says:

    Speaking of Nathaniel Richards taking all the stuff from the Baxter Building, did he bring it back when the FF returned?

  25. Adam says:

    Finally got round to this and quite enjoyed it.

    Will note that y’all spaced on the biggest long-term success Marvel editors produced while Lee and Liefeld took other books off their plate: Kelly’s first issue of DEADPOOL hit the stands that January, too.

  26. David Goldfarb says:

    Not all the way through this yet (I listen to you while out walking) but enjoying so far.

    I well remember picking up the first issue of Thunderbolts in the store: “What is the shocking secret of Marvel’s newest super-team?” Well, in 1997 I’d been reading comics for a quarter century, and I’d seen a thousand covers promising shocks and surprises, and very few of them actually delivered. Well…this one did!

    A few notes and nitpicks:
    While Busiek was probably best known for Marvels and it was a big hit, it didn’t really get him much work immediately because editors thought of him as an “event” writer. The series that established him as a go-to Marvel character writer was Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which isn’t much remembered these days but which allowed him to make that transition.

    He says his name “Byoo-sick”, two syllables, not “booz-ee-ek”. (I’ve heard him say it.)

    I once managed to actually track down the source of the “Justice, like lightning” quotation, or had a conversation with someone who had. It’s not from Thomas Randolph, it’s the ending couplet of act IV scene I of a Jacobean play called “Swetnam the Woman Hater”. Here it is on Gutenberg. Note that the Gutenberg text hasn’t modernized the spelling, so you’ll need to search for “Iustice” if you go looking (or “lightning”). According to Wikipedia the authorship is not firmly established (Gutenberg lists it as “Anonymous”), with the most likely candidate being Thomas Heywood.

  27. I am very much on board with this and enjoyed the first episode!

    I was a bit snooty about Thunderbolts at the time, seeing them as the B-team to Busiek’s Avengers, which is a bit embarrassing with 20+ years of hindsight. Only later did I realise what good work was being done and how, in many ways, it was better than Avengers.

    Basically, I should have been reading both, and I look forward to future episodes of the podcast confirming that and embarrassing me further about my snobbery. 😉

  28. Martin Gray says:

    I loved this series, it was terrific seeing the tensions among the team over time. These first issues were a great set-up… I’m so dim that by the time I got to the reveal in #1, I’d forgotten the Masters of Evil had been namechecked earlier.

    If you could avoid telling us something is significant because down the line something happens, that would be splendid!

    Anyway, thanks for a wonderful listen.

  29. jpw says:

    Oooh, spin off podcast! I can’t wait for a full HTA franchise to develop. Then we can also get solo podcasts for Al and Paul. Then back-to-basics reboots!

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