After the death of his wife, Baroness Zemo (Hieke Zemo), Baron Zemo began to reassemble a new team of Masters of Evil during the time when Onslaught slew both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. With Captain America becoming one of the deceased heroes, Baron Zemo felt that his goals for revenge were pointless and the obsession over Captain America’s death was what destroyed his father.
Shifting his goals from vengeance to power, Zemo decided to rule the world by gaining world trust as heroes. With the assistance of Fixer, Zemo and the Masters altered their appearance and posed as the heroic Thunderbolts. With the public unaware that the Thunderbolts were in fact villains, Zemo and the Masters managed to perform well as heroes as they found themselves battling Arnim-Zola, the Rat Pack, Hulk, the Enclave, Mad Thinker, a new team of Masters of Evil that was led by a mysterious Crimson Cowl and even former Masters known as the Wrecking Crew. To increase their status as heroes, Zemo recruited their first member known as Jolt during one of their missions.
Even though Zemo purposely disliked having her on the team because of her purposes for publicity for the team, she found herself becoming an influence among the members as hero which slowly began to have the others develop an interest in their heroic roles. Atlas would later develop a relationship with the mayoral aide known as Dallas Riordan, this only set Zemo further into his goals seeing how he had access towards certain information through Riordan. When the Thunderbolts found themselves fighting against the Elements of Doom, they managed to struggle a victory but at the cost of Fixer dying and forcing his conscious into a robotic body. With the Thunderbolts reputation finding itself growing to where Zemo had gained security access, files, and reached a status compared to the Avengers among the public, some of the members of the Masters began have a change of thought towards Zemo’s goals for world domination. Taking notice of this, Zemo decided to act fast by using equipment from the Enclave to have almost the entire world under his command.
During this time Zemo revealed himself and his team to the public their true identities as the Masters of Evil, doing this for the reasons of ensuring absolute loyalty from his team. Even though the Thunderbolts were forced into following Zemo’s goals, nearly all of the Thunderbolts still turned against Zemo as they were force into fighting against Zemo, Fixer, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers for which both teams were mind controlled by Zemo. Yet the Thunderbolts still managed to overcome Zemo’s attacks and foil his plans of world conquest, even though Zemo was badly defeated, he managed to escape with the assistance of Atlas who was repaying his debt to Zemo.
After Zemo’s defeat and with the world saved, the remaining Masters found themselves struggling to rebuild their heroic reputation and still continuing their membership as Thunderbolts as wanted criminals. As for what began as a hoax and a plan for world domination from one of the greatest threats towards the Avengers, it would take a handful of the most dangerous criminals to realize that pursuing a goal as a hero was their true calling and despite the damage that Zemo has done for the Thunderbolts, those who remained loyal to their heroic lifestyle managed to turn what was to be known as a hoax into one of the greatest and interesting teams with the Marvel Universe.
The team was created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, but first appeared in a Peter David's Incredible Hulk #449 (Jan. 1997), drawn by Mike Deodato. Kurt Busiek supposedly chose the Thunderbolts slogan from a Roy Thomas Captain Marvel story.
"Justice, like lightning, ever should appear to few men's ruin, but to all men's fear."
The name Thunderbolts was first used for a Black Supremist gang in Daredevil #69 (Oct. 1970), also written by Roy Thomas.
The team known as the Thunderbolts was nothing more than a mere fabrication of Baron Zemo’s master plan for world domination, however the team known as Thunderbolts found themselves not only acting as heroes, not only defining themselves as being heroes, but showing the true meaning of hope and second chances for those who decided to take the wrong path. Not only has Thunderbolts has taken a new look for the Marvel Universe, but has been one of the most successful team within the Marvel Universe.
Even though the team took a suffering blow when Norman Osborn took full control of the team and publicly disbanded them just so he could remake a new roster for his own purposes that shouldn’t be known throughout public. Even with Normans downfall and the Thunderbolts was thought to be gone, the team was remade with the belief of turning the worst within the Marvel Universe into something good.
Major Story Arcs
Zemo’s attack on the Thunderbolts found itself starting one of the teams most difficult and struggling challenges. No longer accepted by the public and any other villains who were once allies, the remaining Thunderbolts were forced into becoming outlawed adventurers. As Moonstone proclaimed herself leader, the Thunderbolts found themselves taking menial jobs and continuing to pursuit their career’s as heroes and regain public trust that they once had.
Even under Moonstones leadership the Thunderbolts didn’t fair any better because of the lack of trust they had with her and with each other. After managing to elude capture from SHIELD that was led by GW Bridge, a group of amateur costumed heroes known as the Lightening Rods offered their assistance on helping Bridge capture the Thunderbolts. As the Thunderbolts found themselves eluding Bridge once again, they next found themselves led into a fight against the Lightening Rods. Even though both teams fought each other for a great amount of time, the Thunderbolts managed to gain victory over the Lightening Rods and use their costumes to escape Bridge’s SHIELD unit once again. Elsewhere, Baron Zemo found himself being stalked by a new Citizen V, who was actually Dallas Riordan in disguise. Originally after the Thunderbolts were exposed as criminals, Dallas lost her political career because of her ties with them and later was recruited by a secret organization known as V-Battalion because of her heritage being related to the original Citizen-V.
Recruiting and giving Dallas the Citizen-V mantle, she set off on a quest to gain vengeance against Zemo and the remaining Thunderbolts for ruining her life and the Citizen-V legacy. Even though Zemo managed to avoid both Dallas and Captain America who was also searching for Zemo, he managed to locate a signal from Graviton who was trapped in the Microverse and sought to release Graviton as a means for revenge against the Thunderbolts. Designing a robot that resembled the Hulk that could provide enough energy to release Graviton, Zemo sent the robot to attack the Thunderbolts who were still fleeing from SHIELD.
As the Thunderbolts fought against the Hulk robot, the interfering Lightening Rods managed to give Graviton enough energy to escape the Microverse and returned to Earth. Easily defeating both teams, it would take Moonstone to convince Graviton that his attack was meaningless, which caused him to withdraw and leave both defeated teams.
After halting Graviton’s attack, matters would turn for the worst when Crimson Cowl and her formed team of Masters of Evil approached the Thunderbolts. Originally both Thunderbolts and this version of the Masters fought each other under Zemo’s command, yet this time Crimson Cowl decided to make the offer of recruiting the Thunderbolts into her Masters as well gaining the benefits and pay because of their criminal history. Influenced by Crimson’s offer, she gave them time to think of their decision on whether they would want to continue as wanted heroes or return to their ways as members for the Masters of Evil.
During this time they still continued on with their heroic ways when investigating disappearances in a small Colorado town known as Burton Canyon. Upon investigation they found that the mutated enforcer known as Charcoal, who was under the orders given by the Secret Empire to collect people for experimentation, was menacing the town. Even though Charcoal battled and was defeated by the Thunderbolts, he found himself inspired by the team and their display of heroism.
A Second Chance
Still deciding on whether they should leave their careers as heroes, the Thunderbolts would finally come to a decision when encountering the veteran Avenger known as Hawkeye.
Feeling like his stint with the Avengers was proving itself meaningless because of how he currently never resumed any leadership position, Hawkeye would see another opportunity when taking notice of the struggling Thunderbolts that caused him to quit the Avengers so that he could lead another team of his own.
Easily relating to the Thunderbolts because of his former criminal past and the struggle’s he went through to obtain his heroic reputation, Hawkeye’s leadership over the Thunderbolts quickly boosted the teams morale and credibility because of his promise of rebuilding the Thunderbolts as heroes and granting them pardon's. Not only did Hawkeye recruit Charcoal after he left the Secret Empire, but also pressured both Charcoal and Jolt to continue their schooling due to the fact they were still teenagers with no educational background. Hawkeye also convinced Abe Jenkins to respectfully turn himself over to authorities for a murder charge so that he and the team could gain respect among the public and the authorities.
Even though Hawkeye and his team of Thunderbolts still struggled with attacks coming from a vengeful Hercules, U.S.Agent alongside with the Jury, and the new Citizen V (Dallas Riordan), Hawkeye also managed to guide the team towards their desired path of heroism when publicly going against Crimson Cowl and her Masters of Evil, which currently found itself formed into a massive army of criminals. With the efforts of Charcoal, the Thunderbolts successfully defeated the Masters of Evil and was respectfully seen as heroes because of their actions.
After the defeat of the Masters of Evil, the Thunderbolts found themselves on the right track of rebuilding themselves after claiming Crimson Cowls base as their new headquarters. Elsewhere the incarcerated Abner Jenkins was dealing problems of his own at Seagate prison when he became a victimized by occasional assaults from several inmates. Still staying true to his heroic role and serving the remainder of his sentence, Abner successfully prevented a mass escape that was orchestrated by his former employer Justin Hammer.
As the Thunderbolts reputation began to climb with Hawkeye’s experience, he managed to lead the Thunderbolts to work together as a successful team of heroes that was becoming comparable to an adopted ranch of the Avengers. Yet Hawkeye found himself at an awkward situation when Songbird shared her romantic interest in him when her boyfriend Abner was still serving his prison term. Even though Hawkeye denied Songbird’s advances because of his respects for Abner, Hawkeye eventually found himself romantically involved with Moonstone.
After the Thunderbolts managed to defeat and send Graviton back to the Microverse and also saving Charcoal from the Secret Empire after participating in gladiator like fights, the team began noticing a secret benefactor hidden within their base. They would later find out that the benefactor was the former X-villain known as Ogre, who was secretly a resident of Mount Charteris long before Crimson Cowl used it. After Ogre was recruited into the Thunderbolts, he acted as the teams mechanic and tech support which increased the teams status after designing several vehicles and air ships for the team to use.
A New Beetle
Ogre’s participation with the Thunderbolts would find itself cut short when he was secretly abducted and replaced by Techno.
Bored from working with Zemo, Techno decided to secretly partake with the Thunderbolts once again as Ogre while the real Ogre was kept in suspended animation. With Justin Hammer’s recent attempt to cause a mass escape from Seagate Prison capturing the attention of Commission on Superhuman Activities (CSA), they would illegally think of a strategy of using Abner Jenkins to infiltrate Hammer’s operation and help the CSA steal an item known as Omega-32. Not only did the CSA freed Jenkins from prison, but also supplied him with a new, fully armored Mark IV Beetle suit.
As Abner found himself rebuilding his criminal reputation under the orders of the CSA, he eventually managed to steal the Omega-32 from Hammer and set up a meeting with Hammer at a secluded location. However Abner's former teammates would arrive on the scene that forced Abner into fighting against the Thunderbolts. Eventually Abner would change his thoughts about working with CSA because of his lack of trust for them and would find himself rejoining the Thunderbolts once more. Knowing the Abner’s membership would cause problems with the CSA, Hawkeye not only offered Justine Hammer to Gyrich, but also blackmailed him into releasing Abner from their custody for their illegal use of Abner to obtain the Omega-32.
Agreeing to Hawkeye’s terms by ensuring that Abner was no longer wanted from the authorities, he would still be recognized as a convicted felon who was currently serving sentence at Seagate Prison. Because of this, Abner was forced into altering his appearance with not only a new suit of armor, but having Ogre (Techno) alter his facial appearance. However the process was purposely flawed for Techno’s own amusement that caused Abner to take on the appearance of an African American. Because of this, Abner lost his relationship with Songbird, but still became more dedicated to his return to the team and towards Hawkeye for all that he did as a leader.
A Rising Threat
With the Thunderbolts successfully reclaiming their position as heroes among the public, a new threat was awaiting them, a threat that first began long before Hawkeye decided to join and lead the Thunderbolts.
When joining the Thunderbolts, Hawkeye promised the team that they would be pardoned if he publicly lead them, when in reality this was denied by CSA who also advised and warned Hawkeye’s actions if he ever decided on joining the team of wanted criminals.
After the recent incident of blackmailing Henry Gyrich for Jenkins freedom, Gyrich would react to this by plotting the assassination of each Thunderbolts member. Secretly Gyrich had plans of eliminating all super powered individuals by infecting them with hard air molecules. As a way to test this, Gyrich revived Jack Monroe before infecting him with nanobites so that he would be mentally forced into Gyrich’s control. Possibly inspired from the actions of the original Scourge who assassinated a number of costumed criminals, Gyrich had Monroe take up a costumed identity as a new version of the Scourge.
Gyrich used Scourge to test the hard air molecules on the Thunderbolts team member Jolt, who Gyrich disliked the most because of her being a possible threat to his goals. As Scourge managed to kill the young Thunderbolt, this event led to the remaining Thunderbolts in a state of shock and mourn that affected Moonstone, Atlas, and Techno the most.
Gyrich’s actions didn’t go unnoticed when V-Battalion grew suspicious of his activities and discovered his plans of eliminating all super humans around the world. As a response to this, V-Battalion ordered Citizen-V (Dallas Riordan) to assassinate Gyrich. However Dallas felt uneasy with this because of how it wasn’t at all heroic and nothing that Citizen-V stood for. Because of this, Riordan quickly became an enemy for V-Battalion who felt that her role as Citizen-V needed to be replaced.
Fleeing from the V-Battalion, Dallas sought shelter from the Thunderbolts after exposing her identity to them to gain trust. As both Thunderbolts and V-Battalion fought each other over Riordan, Crimson Cowl secretly teleported to the scene and kidnapped Dallas. Eventually both V-Battalion and Thunderbolts realized that Dallas was missing, and because of this V-Battalion left the fight with the belief that the Thunderbolts were responsible for Dallas’s successful escape when in reality she was a unwilling pawn for Crimson Cowl’s scheme.
With V-Battalion leaving the scene and Dallas mysteriously disappeared, the Thunderbolts instantly assumed that V-Battalion were responsible for Dallas’s abduction. After the incident, the Thunderbolts would be offered assistance from the Sandman after learning that they were traveling to the country Symkaria. With Sandman and Thunderbolts finally locating V-Battalion, both teams would realize that either team was aware of Dallas’s existence and would be forced into an alliance after Sandman revealed his true goals on traveling to Symkaria, which was to kill Silver Sable. With both Thunderbolts and V-battalion halting Sandman’s attack, Dallas found herself framed for Crimson Cowls crimes before making her escape. Even though Dallas managed to flee from Crimson Cowl, she was seriously injured to where it cost her to lose mobility. Because of her situation, Dallas respectfully turned herself to the authorities to be sentenced for crimes that she never committed.
Baron Zemo would later meet his fate when Scourge located the criminal mastermind and murdered him under the command of Gyrich. During this time, Techno confiscated Jolt's body and secretly kept her alive because of her genetic powers.
The Nefaria Protocols
With Zemo and Jolt dead, the Thunderbolts found themselves facing another threat when an ionic powered Wonderman attacked Atlas and was kidnapped under mysterious circumstances. They would later discover that the former crime lord of Maggia known as Count Nefaria was seeking ionic powered beings to serve him with his goals on turning the population into ionic beings with an ionic bomb so that he would be able to feed off of their ionic energies.
Forcing both Wonderman and Atlas into his services, Count Nefaria would also force his unwilling daughter Madame Masque into participating with his twisted plans for the world. However the combined efforts of the Avengers, the Thunderbolts, and Madame Masque managed to foil Count Nefaria’s plans. But the victory came with a major loss for the Thunderbolts when Atlas absorbed all the ionic energy from ionic bomb that caused his body to be unstable. Because of this, Atlas was forced into stasis until his body was restored to normal.
Thunderbolts Last Stand
Shortly after Baron Zemo’s death, Zemo would anticipate his own demise with Techno’s assistance by having his conscious sent to the comatose body of John Watkins III, the heir of the true Citizen-V. Because of this, Zemo was found to be the new Citizen-V and founded the Redeemer’s as a response to CSA’s threat.
Thunderbolts would later be assaulted by Scourge at their base and would cause the seemingly death of Techno and Atlas who forced himself out of his stasis to halt Scourge’s attacks that resulted with Atlas sacrificing himself in order to prevent his ionic body from destroying the nearby town Burton Canyon. As a last act before being destroyed by Scourge, Techno managed to revive Jolt, who successfully freed Scourge from Gryich’s control by using her powers to disrupt the nanobots within his body.
Even though Jack Monroe was restored to normal and Jolt was revived, matters would turn for the worst when Jolt previously learned and revealed Hawkeye’s true intentions for the Thunderbolts and that his promises of having the team pardoned for their crimes was a lie. Because of this, the Thunderbolts were uneasy with Hawkeye for this deception, but the Thunderbolts still remained together when trying to stop Gyrich’s plans of ridding all the superhumans in the world.
After Techno’s robotic body was destroyed, his conscious was instantly sent to his real body that was kept under stasis and was still recuperating from his previous injuries from his battle with the Elements of Doom. Even though Techno’s real body was functional, he would be forced to wear his tech-pack because of how his spinal cord still wasn’t fully restored. Because of this, Techno was enlisted into Citizen-V’s group known as the Redeemers and together they would make their assault against Gyrich as well.
With both Thunderbolts and Citizen-V’s (Baron Zemo) Redeemers making their assault on Gyrich, both teams would struggle against Gyrich’s control because of the nanobots and forced into fighting each other. Only Jolt would free both heroic teams and surprisingly Gyrich himself who was also being controlled by nanobots as well. With Gyrich being restored, Hawkeye made another request for the Thunderbolts to be fully pardoned for their crimes.
Because of the recent event, Gyrich would accept Hawkeye’s request only if he would turn himself over to the authorities for his acts of vigilantism and that each member of the Thunderbolts would retire from their costume careers. Agreeing to Gyrich’s terms, Hawkeye successfully fulfilled his promise by respectfully turning himself over to the authorities while the Thunderbolts disbanded and went their separate ways to start their civilian lives. With the Thunderbolts gone, Zemo and the Redeemers continued their new heroic career while V-Battalion pursued the true culprit behind CSA’s plans to annihilate all superhumans in the world, who would later be discovered as Baron Strucker.
With the Thunderbolts disbanded and Hawkeye respectfully serving his sentence at Seagate Prison, the formed Redeemers acted as replacements for the Thunderbolts that was also government sponsored.
Both Charcoal and Jolt continued their heroic careers by joining the Redeemer’s as the new team took over Mount Charteris. The remaining Thunderbolts went their own ways as both Jenkins and Songbird started their new lives as pardoned citizens in Burton Canyon.
As Citizen-V (Zemo) attended to pursue the true culprit of the CSA conspiracy alongside with V-Battalion, Captain America volunteered as an advisor and acting leader during Citizen-V’s absence. The Redeemer’s managed to start off on a great as they found themselves saving Counter-Earth, rescuing the injured Dallas Riordan from Dr Doom’s captivity, and fending off another attack from the Secret Empire. After Citizen-V returned to his role as leader, the Redeemer’s would find themselves facing a greater threat when Fixer found and awoke the powerful mutant known as Humus Sapien.
Even though the Redeemers halted Humus Sapiens attack, another threat would arise when a vengeful Graviton would return to Mount Charteris to seek out the Thunderbolts. Only finding the Redeemer’s, Graviton quickly and viciously murdered each member of the Redeemers besides Citizen-V who managed to escape Graviton’s attack and Fixer who offered his allegiance to Graviton out of an act of cowardice. Assisted by Fixer, Moonstone, and an alien P’Tahh assistant from the Micro-verse, Graviton planed to use his powers for world domination.
Witnessing the incident, both Songbird and Jenkins would be assisted by a seemingly resurrected Atlas (who was sharing a conscious with Dallas Riordan) to form into group to go against Graviton. Eventually, Citizen-V, a revived Jolt, Moonstone, and Fixer who both decided to switch alliance at the last minute would join the trio and form into the Thunderbolts once more to stop Graviton’s attack.
Even though the team did manage to stop Graviton and alien invasion from the P’Tahh, besides Songbird and Citizen-V, all the Thunderbolts were believed to be dead in an implosion. Leaving only Songbird as the sole survivor of the incident, she was unaware that the team did manage to survive as they were transported to Counter-Earth. Zemo’s conscious would also be forced out of John Watkins body and residing in Fixer’s Tech-pack, leaving John Watkins to pursue his career as the revived Citizen-V.
A Brave New World
The Thunderbolts who were presumed deceased would encounter alternate versions of themselves on Counter-Earth. Not only was this version led by a counter-version of Zemo’s deceased father, Hienrich Zemo, but also an alternate version of Helmut Zemo himself who never suffered any full body scars like the Mainstream Zemo did. During this time, Zemo’s conscious would also torment Fixer by tampering with his ability to be mobile, because of this Fixer would send Zemo’s conscious into his Counter-Earth version.
Fully restored and having a normal appearance, Zemo would kill his alternate father and form the Thunderbolts once more to fight against a Nazi threat. Residing on the mobile Attilian, Zemo and his team of Thunderbolts were worshiped as both heroes and saviors, but with Zemo restored and leading the team caused uneasy tension with team because of the suspicion for his goals of world domination.
THE THUNDERBOLT ARMY
The new Thunderbolts engaged and defeated Quicksand in a battle in during the early days of the superhero Civil War . Most of them showed no care whatsoever towards the Registration Act, since all of their identities were mostly public. After this, they were summoned to where they met with Iron Man, Mister Fantastic and Yellowjacket.
The three heroes, all supporting the Superhuman Registration Act, told Zemo and his entire team that they wanted the Thunderbolts to hunt down super villains and recruit them to the Pro-Registration cause, which would be their chance at were all the villains that joined the team during the Civil War. Unknown to Iron Man, the Thunderbolts had been doing this in secret for three weeks. Meanwhile, Reed Richards was working on the new special prison for any villains they managed to catch.
Zemo's Thunderbolt Army grew rapidly, the team vastly expanding because of the villains caught. It now included dozens of other supervillains, including most notably Doctor Octopus, the Wrecker, Green Goblin, Venom, etc. The new team dispersed to battle super-villains, capture them and offer them a choice: join the Thunderbolts or go to prison. It is obvious what almost all of the villains chose, since they wanted to remain free. Baron Zemo convinced Captain America not to stop him from battling the Grandmaster, while Nighthawk was revealed as being a spy for the Squadron Sinister inside Captain America's Resistance.
Zemo then informed Songbird that in the coming battle, he knew that she would betray him, which she had been planning to do all along, in revenge for his killing of Photon, and he would sacrifice himself to save the world. Zemo then saved the Wellspring of Power from the Grandmaster, who planned to use it for his own ends. Believing that all of his visions were subject to the flow of time, and that nothing was set in stone, Zemo defeated the Grandmaster, and boasted to his teammates that the power was now all his and theirs. He insisted that he would use it to help the world, despite the consequences for doing so. Songbird, who had temporarily lost her powers during the final battle, was told by Zemo "... now is when your betrayal would have come." The vision of her betrayal turned out to be somewhat correct after all, though.
Although she could not use her super-sound, Songbird used a simple opera note to crack the moonstones, sending Zemo into a whirlwind of cosmic time/space. In his final words before he was completely sucked into the vacuum, he screamed out that he would never have hurt a world he worked so hard to save.
For further details: Civil War
After the Super Human Registration Act became official and Tony Stark was now Director of SHIELD, he decided to remake the Thunderbolts team after Zemo’s seemingly demise.
As a unique and risky strategy towards the capture of heroes who were Anti-Registration, Tony Stark agreed to secretly set up a team of villains who were dedicated towards hunting heroes.
With the help of Mister Fantastic, each member (besides Songbird) was injected with a nano-chain that entered within the bloodstream. To ensure absolute loyalty and control, if any member chose to disobey or escape custody, by command there would be violent shock throughout the body, and also the shock would find itself being more lethal after the next given shock. Even though Tony approved this team of Thunderbolts, it wouldn’t be himself that would be taking leadership of the team. Even though Songbird was registered, her previous actions haven’t gained any trust among Tony Stark, causing her veteran status to be overlooked and giving the leadership towards somebody else. For reasons kept secret, Tony Stark appointed Norman Osborn as director of the Thunderbolts.
Probably one of the least trusted men within the Marvel Universe, Norman possibly gained his position because of his involvement with the assassination attempt on the Atlantis ambassador. Also injected with the same nano-chains as most of his team, Norman’s status was kept under the strict supervision of Tony Stark himself. Even though the Thunderbolts became one of the most famous icons among the citizens, Tony would later realize that his choices for this team would lead towards one of the most darkest chapters within the Marvel Universe.
At the height of the fight between Pro-registration and Anti-Registration, Tony’s attempt to bring down Steve Rogers and his team took a desperate turn when reinstalling the Thunderbolts. Recruiting former Thunderbolt member Songbird and possibly as the field leader, Stark selected a cast of murderers, psychopaths, and monsters into the team. Kept under strict supervision and each dangerous member injected with nano-chains into their bloodstream, Tony was in full control of this selected and temporarily group.
Because of recruiting the likes of these individuals, Punisher found himself joining the Captain America’s group and even killing two of it’s members Jester and Jack O Lantern when they both nearly killed Spiderman. With the remainder of the group joining Tony Stark's fight against Captain Americas team, this team found itself changed and placed under the leadership of Norman Osborn.
AMONG MADMEN AND MONSTERS
With the end of the Civil War the Thunderbolts were given new members and a new director Norman Osborn.
The new team included Moonstone, Songbird, Penance, Swordsman, Venom, Radioactive Man, and the secret member Bullseye.
Their first assignment was to capture Jack Flag and Moonstone had Radioactive man destroy a number of cars in the area in an attempt to cripple Jack. She then sent in Venom and Swordsman to finish the job, however Jack wasn't out of the fight yet, he shattered Swordsman's sword and kicked the broken piece into Venom.
Mac became enraged and was about to eat Jack when Moonstone activated his nano-chain shocking him. She then had Penance use his energy blast to hit Jack. Jack went into a warehouse were Bullseye had stabbed him in his spine which couldn't allow Jack to walk again. After that they were sent to capture Steel Spider, who Norman is constantly mistaking for Spider-Man. It is also revealed that Moonstone wants to be the leader of the Thunderbolts and asks Swordsman to help her with it. Swordsman too shares a grudge against Osborn for not yet cloning his dead sister. When the Thunderbolts go after Steel Spider, American Eagle and Sepulchre.
They all fought against each other and the Thunderbolts took losses with Moonstone having an arrow shot through her wrist, Swordsman getting tossed into a building, and Penance having a mental breakdown. In the end Venom bit off Steel Spider's arm and ate it. Songbird not wanting to see her team become monsters tried to get rid of everyone, she talked to Bullseye saying that his nano-chain was disabled and he was free.
Bullseye killed his handlers and decided to kill American Eagle anyway, when Bullseye fought him he was easily outmatched. Seeing that Bullseye had killed his handlers, Swordsman informed Moonstone, who ordered his nano-chain to activate. Bullseye was paralyzed from a broken neck, by the combination of electric shock and a punch from American Eagle across his head. With the Thunderbolts most valuable member surgery and medical attention and Moonstone temporarily removed as team leader, the remainder of the team still continued their mission on apprehending unregistered heroes and villains. Secretly, four costumed psychics infiltrated the Thunderbolts mountain by surrendering so they could have the chance to destroy the team. Realizing that Penance was highly unstable in the field, Tony Stark sent Doc Samson to evaluate and help Baldwin overcome his guilt. Dislike having Samson in Thunderbolts mountain, Osborn had no choice but to let him evaluate Baldwin.
Meanwhile the four psychics held in the holding cells started to mentally control and manipulate the team. Changing Osborn into the Green Goblin, having Venom go on a carnivorous rampage, making Swordsman try to overrun the base, causing Radioactive Man to go insane. Unable to control Samson, the psychics controlled Moonstone to attack Samson and Baldwin which ended with Baldwin smashing Moonstone through the walls. Venom was stabbed and defeated by Swordsman, and Osborn, dressed as the Green Goblin attacked and crucified Swordsman. Osborn went on a killing spree, killing any guards that he could find till he was attacked by Songbird who was trying to stop his murdering rampage.
Both Songbird and Osborn fought till both were knocked unconscious. With the team down, it was Bullseye who woke from surgery and saved the team by going to the holding cells and used the psychics as target practice. With the whole incident recorded, Songbird managed to give Samson a copy of it on a DVD after the incident.
A highlight for the Thunderbolts and Norman Osborn came when the Skrulls began an invasion on Earth. Before the attack, Thunderbolts received a visitor and a new member with the team.
Andrea Strucker finally returned to her brother and was kept under the supervision of her brother from the guards and Norman Osborn. Norman instantly realized how this came to be when remembering an earlier mission on capturing Armin Zola, the one guy who could manage to clone Andrea.
Uncomfortable about having Andrea as a member of the team, Norman eventually accepted her stay with the team. It wouldn’t be later until the invasion found itself crashing through the front steps of Thunderbolts Mountain. An attack by a confused Skrull version of Captain Marvel, this Skrull easily took down the entire team until Norman Osborn managed to convince the Skrull that his attacks on the Thunderbolts was pointless and that his meaning was meant for somewhere else. Managing to save the team, Norman was far from being done with the Skrull invasion after learning that the fight was taking place on the front steps of the White House. Probably the most heroic and display of selfishness, Norman gathered his team and joined the battle with the heroes against the Skrulls.
First time ever participating in action, Norman bravely led his team against the Skrulls as they managed to gain the attention of the public. Knowing what his actions would gain, Norman knew that the citizens and the White House would start having more trust with him than Tony Stark and the heroes. As the Thunderbolts continued to defend the White House from the Skrulls, Moonstone found herself attempting to join the Skrulls with Andrea. Believing that Andrea was a Skrull, Moonstone was attacked by her when realizing her traitorous actions. Instantly Bullseye suck up from behind her and killed Andrea, later claiming that it was a Skrull that killed her when Andreas demanded how she died.
As the battle grew more intense and the heroes found themselves in an effortless battle against the Queen Skrull, Norman managed to kill the Queen from a blast of his high-powered rifle. As the war was televised and after seeing Tony Stark fleeing from the fight, Normans display of courage, leadership, and success gained the attention of the President. Seeking another man to fulfill the responsibilities that Tony Stark failed to do, Norman Osborn was instantly appointed to replace Tony Stark and his plans for the Thunderbolts led to another dark chapter for some of the members and the creation of two more teams.
Darkest chapter within Marvel history began when Norman Osborn first took position as the second most powerful man in America. Throughout Osborn's reign, the team of Thunderbolts became something else rather than the meaning of something good for the bad and wicked.
Instantly publicly disbanding the team, Norman Osborn sworn to the public that the Thunderbolts was no more. Far from his promise when Norman changed the former team in disguise and reinstalled a new version of Thunderbolts that followed a different meaning.
Even though this newest version was under the commend and payroll of Norman Osborn, there was still a sense of villain reforming among the team that eventually led towards the members going against each other. Unlike Osborn's own team of Avengers, this sister team was far from reaching Normans good side as he later realized that most of the missions that they go on naturally ended in failure. Disliking anything inferior, Normans plans and newest recruits for the roster led towards more and more uncomfortable situations among the team. Realizing that siding with Norman Osborn was probably not in their best interest.
Norman had plans for just about every member within his team of Thunderbolts. Publicly disbanding the Thunderbolts, Norman needed accomplish one last task before setting his plans into motion.
Norman knew that half of the team would pose as threat to him or better off avoiding what was bound to happen. Out of respect, Norman managed to have Chen Lu be sent back to his home country as a hero among the nation. Not realizing Normans plans, but suspecting something sinister.
Even though Robbie Baldwin fully recovered from his emotional crises, Norman still had Moonstone holding his therapy sessions. Drugged by Moonstone under the orders of Osborn, Penance was taken care of as he quickly found himself ordered into a mental hospital. With Songbird saw her only true friend among the team leave, Chen Lu’s departure was the cue for Bullseye's attack and gain his personal revenge for the incident he suffered from his fight with American Eagle. Managing to escape Bullseye's clutches, both Venom and the psychotic killer chased Songbird throughout Thunderbolts Mountain nearly killing the heroine more than once.
With Moonstone supervising the attack and giving away Songbirds whereabouts through the security, Songbird managed to escape Thunderbolts Mountain with one of the carriers. Even though her escape seemed successful, both Venom and Bullseye were on the carrier. As the harrier crashed and Venom was knocked unconscious, Songbird nearly died at the hands of Bullseye before being saved by Andreas who knocked out the killer from behind with a sword blast. Letting Songbird go out of respect, Andreas claimed that it was he who killed Songbird and took care of Normans most hated member of the team.
Publicly disbanded and with selected members who pose as a possible threat for Norman Osborn taken care of, the remainder of the team found themselves involved with one of the most demoralizing plans for the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Norman needed a team of heroes and to be worshiped among the citizens of America as their savior and hero.
One power that Norman had, the people. And his idea for giving the people heroes who wouldn’t fail involved a team of half disguised former Thunderbolts, Marvel Boy, and two of the original members of Tony Stark's Avengers. Bullseye was disguised as Hawkeye, Moonstone took the disguise of Miss Marvel, Daken posing as his father, and Venom taking on the disguise as Spiderman. As for Norman Osborn, realizing that a team of Avengers wouldn’t be final without a Captain America nor an Iron Man, he designed a replicated Iron Man suit with red, white, and blue design, proudly calling himself the Iron Patriot.
With Thunderbolts publicly disbanded and the former roster taking up roles as heroes among Normans team of Avengers, secretly there would be another roster to take the name Thunderbolts. As the second most powerful man in America, Norman needed a team to work under the eye of the people.
Basically a team that would accomplish Normans dirty work and illegal missions. Carefully selecting each member of the team, Norman kept Thunderbolts Mountain open and in full operation for his newest team of the Thunderbolts.
Even though each member possessed skills, abilities, and something useful towards the missions or situations that Norman had installed for them, it is believed that one of the members was duped into joining the team and dying during one of the missions. Reasons for this was that Norman could take care of two major problems that pose a threat for his current position at once and to rid himself of a useless annoyance. However Normans supposed full-proof plan didn’t go so well for ridding himself of the annoyance and his expression of anger for the team started to grow more and more to where the next failure that this team would be facing was their last. What Norman probably didn’t realize was that half of the team wasn’t fully loyal to his ideas and plans.
Only trust that these few Thunderbolts had was each other, even when Norman began recruiting more violent and obsessed killers later on. Later, one of the members within the team would be exposed as an infiltrator among the team, this however was backfired when Norman was fully aware of the infiltrator from the very start. With knowledge about the infiltrator, Norman used this opportunity to capture one of the most difficult men to find, Nick Fury. Another individual who posed as a serious threat towards Normans position. Even though this new team of Thunderbolts displayed utmost teamwork through means of espionage, it was among half of the team members themselves who had little trust for Normans decisions and those other Thunderbolts who blindly followed him and his chaotic ideas that made this version of the Thunderbolts unsuccessful.
For further details: Siege
Before Norman Osborn’s invasion for Asgard, not only did he send his team on a special mission to destroy the team known as the Agents of Atlas, but also recruited another costumed villain into the team known as Grizzly. Due to his personal experience with the Agents of Atlas, Osborn felt that Grizzly was both useful and expandable, making a perfect candidate for his team of Thunderbolts. As the team managed to track down the Agents, their mission instantly went wrong as the Agents gained the upper hand.
Until the current field leader Scourge managed to save his team and escape. As the mission was unsuccessful, the Thunderbolts were instantly placed onto another mission during Osborn’s attack on Asgard. Sadly, Scourge shot and killed Headsman due to him being brainwashed from the attack on one of the Agents secret bases. Mission given directly from Osborn himself was to retrieve Odin’s staff in one of the treasure rooms within Asgard. As the Thunderbolts managed to obtain the staff, they found themselves going against Hank Pym's team of Avengers.
As the fight progressed between the Avengers and half of the Thunderbolts, Paladin and Ant-Man escaping from the scene while Ghost found himself assisting the Avengers on defeating his own team. Even though the remaining the Thunderbolts were defeated and Osborn’s secret team was no more, USAgent was left with a devastating attack by Scourge as he chopped off two of his limbs with the Odin Staff.
For further details: The Heroic Age
During the Heroic Age Steve Rogers decided to restart the Thunderbolts program as an opportunity to rehabilitate super-criminals.
In order to do this he asked Luke Cage to lead them since he managed to redeem himself and prove himself to be a hero when he was thought to be a dangerous criminal. They will be operating from a tower built into the Raft, the super maximum security prison for dangerous super-villains.
While the new team listened to a lecture from Luke Cage about how important the team was, outside the Raft, it seems as if Cage suffocates, while a ship appears out of the water, and Baron Zemo, the original leader of the Thunderbolts walks out trying to recruit the members into his own team of Thunderbolts. Some members try to flee, others try to fight Zemo, but the result is that it was just a trick by the Fixer, trying to see who was loyal to the team, and who needed some more help.
Luke Cage leads the team to the American Midwest, tasked with capturing Trolls escaped from the remains of the Norse Gods' fallen city of Asgard. Two of the savage creatures are brought down, but the third turns out to be a human. Crossbones tranquilizes the girl, and is given to the Raft to be imprisoned.
The teams next mission involves a squad of Shield agents investigating the Terrigen Crystals, A formation that produces mutagenic gas. When the agents go missing, the thunderbolts are called in to rescue them. The team find many dead bodies, and also many mutated Shield agents. The mutants hurt all but can't manage to hurt Crossbones, Man-Thing, and Ghost controlling Mach-V
Man-Thing saves Moonstone from one of the mutated shield agents, while Crossbones accidentally inhales some of the crystals fumes. The team eventually regroups and Juggernaut seals off the cave. After a quick check up at the doctors on the Raft, Hank Pym and the Avengers Academy arrive to check out the Raft as a " field trip". Ten minutes after the Academy's arrival, the power shuts down in the raft and three of the students go missing. The team splits up to secure the area and find the children. Songbird goes to the women's quarters, and tries to calm the women down, when the Troll-Girl ( Gunna) from their previous mission, escapes her cell to aid Songbird. After many fights between Luke Cage against Purple Man, John Walker (The new warden of the Raft) against male inmates, and Songbird and Gunna against women inmates, the students are found, and the power is restored.
A couple days later, after a phone call with his wife, Luke Cage talks to Iron Fist, but soon kills him. It turned out to be a Hand ninja, posing as Iron Fist using magic. Cage soon strikes up a conversation with a man called Lacey Kimbro, who tells Cage that the Hand have taken his son, Darris. Kimbro said that Darris discovered the existence of members of the Hand that have been killed but are still living (the Underhand). Kimbro also says that Shadowland has an underground fortress where these beings live in a purgatory-like state At the raft, in the mess hall, female inmates are fascinated by Gunna, whom they call Troll. They tell Songbird that Gunna doesn’t understand English, but when they ask Songbird if the rumor that Gunna was a cannibal is true, she stops devouring her meal and says “aye”, surprising everyone.
On the men’s side, an inmate antagonizes Crossbones thinking his nanites will prevent him from touching other inmates. During their meal, Crossbones grabs his hand, the back of which is discolored, presumably from the exposure to the Terrigen crystals from last issue. On their way out of the mess hall, Juggernaut creates a distraction for Crossbones, who then shoves a plastic spork down the throat of the inmate who was irritating him.
The team then assembles and transports via Man-Thing to Hell’s Kitchen where they meet with Cage. He takes them to a sewer entrance and gives them their mission: find Darris Kimbro, and if there is an underground fortress, level it. Cage tells the team Fixer is the lead on the mission since Cage has other Shadowland-related business to attend to. The team, Fixer, and Songbird head through the sewers and are eventually attacked by Hand ninjas. During the battle, Fixer is stabbed through the stomach and Songbird is overtaken, leaving the team without handlers, which pleases Moonstone, who is ready to have some fun.With no authority telling them what to do, the the remaining Thunderbolts try to get the job done their way. As Ghost and Crossbones make their way to the prisoners left in the sewers, Crossbones' new power manifest. His new destructive powers kill Darris Kimbro, a cop and also a friend of Cage's, as Ghost secretly witnesses the man's death. Afterwards, the team goes back to the Raft.
On a routine mission with the Big Three, Steve Rogers, Iron Man and Thor, Ghost along with Crossbones and Juggy concoct an escape plan, that would involve interfering with their teleportation, leading the Thunderbolts and the Avengers into another dimension. The rogue T-Bolts do battle with the Avengers and Luke Cage, while Man-Thing, who was initially used for transportation, lies around. The Avengers come out as victors and Crossbones is off the team, after a failed attempt on Steve Roger's life using his new powers, proving once and for all that Brock Rumlow truly was irredeemable. Juggernaut and Ghost end up complying with the Avengers and Luke Cage, after a brief scuffle and some self reflection on their part.
The Thunderbolts are grounded after Cage finds out that Crossbones killed his friend Darris Kimbro. As an act to lighten up the mood, Moonstone tries to befriend Ghost, and Ghost in return tells her his origin. As he is done with his story, Mach-V comes in and announces that the Thunderbolts have a new mission.
The new mission is to stop the monsters from Monsters Island, from attacking Japan. Needing more man-power, Luke Cage brings Hyperion on the team. During the mission, Hyperion shows his true colors, and betrays the team. Juggernaut and Moonstone, with Ghost manage to stop him and beat him up. Man-Thing, who was sliced in half by Hyperion exacts his revenge on the madman by inflicting his acid touch on him. The Thunderbolts also succed on their mission, thus saving Japan.
With Hyperion off the team, the board behind the Thunderbolts assess Man-Thing's stability and contributions to the team. Jennifer Kale, a sorceress, also a friend of Man-Thing's, decide to bust him out of the Raft and into his home, the swamp. Man-Thing attacks the dimensional intruders who attack the swamp, and transports himself back to the Raft. Jennifer insists that Man-Thing is being used like a machine, but after some solid words from Luke Cage and Songbird, the sorceress leaves her friend with the Thunderbolts. After a good assessment, Man-Thing is able to stay on the team.
Nonetheless, the board behind the Thunderbolts were displeased with the team's vulnerability to magic, as was displayed by Jennifer Kale's break-in. Luke Cage, seeing reason behind this, decides to recruit a new magic based member for the team. Not knowing where to start, he enlists the help of Doctor Strange and Daiman Hellstrom; with the latter suggesting that Luke Cage go find his sister, Satana. After a trip through the Himalayan Mountain Range, Luke Cage and Doctor Strange are able to locate and subdue Satana, who was first unwilling to voluntarily join the Thunderbolts but then became humbled by the idea when she realized that she would be working alongside Man-Thing.
Meanwhile, back at the Raft, warden John Walker is given the approval to gather a second team of Thunderbolts (beta team), whom he appoints Songbird as captain. A number of inmates are chosen as possible candidates for the beta team, some of which include: Blizzard, a Super-Skrull, Black Mamba and Scarecrow. They are all then processed, via one on one interviews with the heads of the Raft (John Walker, Songbird, Fixer and Mach-V). Ultimately though, Mister Hyde, Centurius, Shocker, Boomerang and Gunna are the few that make the cut. Before the newly assembled beta team could progress with their teamwork training, Fixer gets an alert message from the U.N requesting the Thunderbolt's assistance in Iraq. With Luke Cage's primary team already on a mission of their own, Fixer sees no choice but to prep the beta team for their first mission under the surveillance of captain Songbird, Mach-V and himself.
En route to Iraq, the beta team and their captains are met up with Moonstone, Ghost, Man-Thing and Satana, after the primary team's failed mission in trying to stop a German occultist from the First World War. The amassed Thunderbolts engage the enemy, whom turn out to be a horde of zombies resurrected from what was first thought to be magic; although this hypothesis is soon disapproved by Centurius, who concluded that the dead were being reanimated by a combination of an air-borne compound and an energy transmitter. Both sources are destroyed by Mach-V and Moonstone. With the mission accomplished, the Thunderbolts are ready to leave the vicinity, but not before a distress signal from the raft is intercepted by Ghost informing them of a breakout caused by Cain Marko, the Juggernaut.
For further details: Fear Itself
The Thunderbolts arrive back on the Raft to find it completely levelled by the destruction caused by the Juggernaut (who had been possessed by a mystical hammer). In the state of emergency numerous convicts had already escaped, namely Crossbones and the Wrecking Crew. Those that had not escaped in time were rounded up by the Thunderbolts, in an attempt to secure the area. With no power and contact from Luke, Songbird splits the Thunderbolts into groups; each appointed with a certain task to restore the facilities on the Raft. The beta team (Centurius, Boomerang, Shocker and Mister Hyde) make their way towards the medic labs (under the false pretence of bringing it back to the courtyards to treat the wounded) where they planned to remove their nanites and escape. Upon reaching the medical ward, Centurius has the team re-examine their situation; if they decide to escape then and there, they would be immediately caught by their handlers. With that in mind, the team agree that there would be better opportunities to escape in the future and it would be best to play heroes for now (not before Centurius makes it appear as though their nanites are still active).
As of 2012, a new roster of Thunderbolts emerged under retired General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross to rid the world of the evil powers that be - the ones that heavy-hitters such as the Avengers would never have the time for.
Rather than pull together a team of soldiers, Ross convinced the Punisher, Elektra, Deadpool and Flash Thompson to form a team of killers that had no problem engaging in the kind of wetwork involved in ridding the world of tyrants and their private armies. He also wanted the kind of killers that wouldn't ask too many questions...
But although he had the respect of his team from the outset, he did not have their trust and as they set out from Madripoor to the Southeast Asian island of Kata Jaya, it became apparent to Rulk quickly that he could not keep his secrets for long. Not telling the team the real reason for the plans he had and the decisions he made, the first mission fell apart quickly.
Only the capture of Elektra by political despot General Awa saw the mission continue by fate without Ross and by a lucky turn of events, everything had come together nicely.
In the first volume, it is established that whereas Deadpool is happy to work with Ross and albeit too daft to seriously question his deeper agendas, Thompson aka Venom has a problem with trusting Ross, which makes him quite the loner in the group, even next to Punisher. It is his decision, after being roughed up by Ross and seeing the mission fall apart though, to call it quits and the team agrees, so he isn't without relevance to the others.
Now armoured in a suit enhanced with the same gamma particles that Hulk is comprised of, Frank Castle is virtually bulletproof. He tests this theory by strapping a landmine to himself and throwing himself at an enraged Madman (a character experimented on to turn him into a Hulk) to blow him up - breaking his own ribs and thorax in the event although he takes out Madman.
His relationship with Deadpool is also pretty amicable. They take on Madman while Venom rescues Elektra. But as they are split up when Frank is left devastated by his suicide ladmine stunt, Elektra comes to his aid before Awa's army comes for them. It's just another game to them however and they know it.
After the heat of battle, he and Elektra - exhilerated by having taken the whole army between the two of them - have sex right in the middle of the battlefield. Deadpool having a crush on Elektra, accidentally sees this and becomes bitter with the Punisher and the two threaten each other when later alone.
It is later ascertained also that Mercy has joined the team and after the mission becomes a success - Ross's secret plans having worked out for the better despite the in-fighting - the Thunderbolts move onto their next mission.
Counter-Earth is not really an alternate reality. It is an alternate earth in the Earth-616 reality created by Franklin Richards. The members of the Counter-Earth Thunderbolts were: Heinrich Zemo, Chain Lightning, Solarr, Iron Cross, Makeshift and Phantom Eagle (Lloyd Bloch).
Many of the original members have not appear in the MC2 universe, save for Jolt. There is a government sponsored team that was assembled which is very much similar to the Thunderbolts. They are consisting of: Big Man (son of Hank Pym and Wasp), Kaine, Normie Osborn (wearing the Venom symbiote), Quickwire and Raptor.
Earth-811: Days of Future Past
The Thunderbolts are a super-being private security force lead by Baron Zemo employed by the Sentinels. But Zemo is secretly working with Shinobi Shaw and Psylocke as members of the Hellfire Club to bring the Sentinels down.
Earth-2149: Marvel Zombieverse
A zombie version of the Thunderbolts are seen terrorizing . They were later killed by Nova, Thor and the Fantastic Four.
Earth-58163: House Of M
In the House of M reality, the Thunderbolts are super villain outlaws calling themselves "Freedom Fighters". Their known members include Baron Von Strucker, Andreas and Andrea Strucker, Radioactive Man, and Flash Back.
The Avengers and The Thunderbolts
One of the Avengers' greatest foes, Baron Zemo, formed the Thunderbolts as a team of ostensible heroes who were truly super-villains in disguise. When the team's true motives were exposed, some of the Thunderbolts remained together to try to make it as heroes.
Now Zemo has a new plot that teams him with the hordes of Hydra -- and the Avengers and the Thunderbolts must put aside their differences and work together to stop the greater threat of Zemo!
- Written By: Pierce Askegren
- Publisher: Berkley (January, 1999)
- ISBN-10: 0425166759
- ISBN-13: 978-0425166758