As many guessed upon the release of last week's "Lightning" teaser, Marvel has officially confirmed that writer Daniel Way (Deadpool) and artist Steve Dillon (PunisherMAX) will take on the Thunderbolts with a brand new number-one, Marvel NOW! issue in December.


The relaunched title more or less replaces the book formerly known as Thunderbolts, which was rebranded as Dark Avengers back in June, but the team in the new title has a distinctly different makeup than the Luke Cage-led T-bolts/Dark Avengers books helmed by writer Jeff Parker. Where those teams were comprised principally of imprisoned supercriminals conscripted into government service, this one brings some of Marvel's best-known anti-heroes and assassins -- Elektra, Deadpool, Venom and The Punisher -- under the leadership of the Red Hulk.The shift toward populating a longstanding team with more A-list characters is reminiscent of what Marvel did with the Avengers at the beginning of the "Bendis Era," and the color-coordinated costumes can't help but draw comparisons to the look of X-Force. But Way told Newsarama that there are some key differences between these new Thunderbolts (led, we should note, by the original "Thunderbolt" Ross) and Uncanny X-Force.

"This is not 'another X-Force,'" Way said. "This is also not a covert ops team. When the Thunderbolts hit a target, they'll do so in the loudest way possible."

Editor Jordan White also noted that this team, unlike the Secret Avengers, is in no way government-sanctioned. He says the team's roster will grow over the first few issues, but only with characters first introduced into the Marvel Universe as villains, in keeping with Thunderbolts tradition.

It should be interesting to see how the Red Hulk will be able to recruit new members while managing the headstrong Elektra, the unstable Deadpool and the loner Punisher (who may complain about how altering the color of his iconic skull t-shirt compromises the strength of his brand) when the book arrives in December.