Alright folks, this is the first issue with Noto taking on art duties. Before I start the review, I just wanted to say that Noto does indeed make the book feel different, and in many ways better. He illustrates some scenes that I just don't think Dillon would be able to do nearly as effectively.
In this issue, we start getting a hint of the CIA picking up on some activity. I'll address that bit last, as it is kind of intertwined in the story.
For our purposes, we pick up in the sub that the Thunderbolts commandeered last issue. We learn that everyone is on edge about something. Rulk is staying in his Rulk form, Deadpool is still gushing over Elektra, the Leader is trying to use his mind, etc. We learn a bit of why some people are so on edge as we cut to the previous night, where the other Thunderbolts discuss mutiny in the form of attacking Ross in his sleep, and forcing him to tell them everything that's going on. Elektra asks the obvious, which would be: Why attack a Hulk in a submarine in deep waters? Deadpool thinks that Ross is so tied to the mission that he wouldn't dare do damage to the sub as that would void the mission. Personally, I think Deadpool is overestimating how much Rulk value's their lives...
Anyway, eventually everyone apparently agrees with Deadpool for some insane reason, and go to attack Ross. Ross obviously expected this, as the next panel shows us all the Thunderbolts defeated in one room. This is the one sore spot of the book, as it demonstrates a recurring problem I'd hoped would be rectified with Noto on art: We aren't really shown any interesting action. How cool would it have been to show Rulk dealing wit his team of mutineers?
Ross obviously didn't kill his team, and he is now explaining that he is aware of what was on the transport from Kata Jaya. Basically, there is the potential for a shitload of gamma bombs to be distributed, each with the capability of causing ridiculous amounts of damage. This is what the team needs to stop. Ross tells them that there are three brokers they need to be worried about.
The next day (where the issue initially starts), Leader has a bit of a brain storm, and realizes that what their looking for - at least for now - is not a bomb, but a gamma powered battery. Ross asks what the battery could be for, and we cut to the three brokers Ross was speaking of, tied and on their knees. There is someone off panel talking to them, basically saying that because they are essentially leaders in their fields, the person off-panel is offering them an opportunity to be its spokesperson. It says that the leaders of the organizations they work for will have two choices: Submission, or death. With that last sentence, the panel pulls back and we see about a dozen Red Dynamo machines, each with what looks like a gamma source powering them. Dun-dun-DUNN!
Alright, now to address the CIA portion. This part is slightly confusing, if only because it's not initially clear if they are looking into an issue caused by the Thunderbolts, or the events that lead up to the Red Dynamo/Broker conversation - or even one of the organizations not choosing submission (this is what I am leaning towards). At any rate, the CIA has become aware of an event in Talas in which a suspected terror cell has been neutralized. While this cell wasn't high up on the CIA's priority list, after examining the who's who of the dead they determine that these are people that they would have definitely been interested in. One of the CIA folk is placing a call to someone explaining this, basically telling them that the CIA wasn't responsible, but wanted to know if the person they are speaking to was. The person says no, the CIA director asks if he'd be willing to take the credit if it became necessary. We then cut to the screen the director is looking at, and we see Captain America's shield with him asking if it looks like he's carrying a broom, and we cut to a kind of hilarious screen of the Uncanny Avengers battling gorilla cyborgs being ridden by AIM agents, and Cap telling the CIA to "clean up your own mess".
Later, the CIA discovers that gamma radiation was present at the site of the attack, and two of the lackeys basically decide that their report will read that due to the gamma radiation, it is apparent that the terrorist cell annihilated itself with the gamma radiation, though they express worry that a weapon they didn't know anyone had has been put into play.
Whew, ok, I think that's all. Overall, I do think this was a much stronger opening issue for an arc than what we've already gotten. The story seems to be going somewhere, with the CIA obviously aware of something (we all know they aren't going to stop looking), and this issue also sets the stage for at least some variation of the Avengers becoming aware of what is happening and the Thunderbolt's involvement. I am thinking it'll be the third arc before we see that confrontation, though.