Thunderbolts (Justice Like Lightning)

By  Phil Perich for The 'Nuff Said Universe

The year was 1997.  The Avengers and the Fantastic Four were missing presumed dead (they were in the midst of Heroes Reborn).  The citizens of the Marvel Universe were scared.  Who would protect them the next time Galactus or someone decided to attack?  Spider-Man? Daredevil?  Those untrustworthy mutants in the X-Men?  Then a new team appeared.  Their first mission was to battle a rampaging, now Bruce Banner-less Hulk in Incredible Hulk #449 (January 1997). 

Who was this new team?  Atlas? Mach 1? Meteorite? Songbird? Techno? And their mysterious leader, the man only known as Citizen V?  I had my suspicions, especially after the big clue dropped in this issue.  The Hulk seemed to recognize Meteorite.


The battle ends in a draw with the Hulk escaping.  I’d have to wait until the first issue of the Thunderbolts own series.  Issue #1 hit the stands on June 1997.

The issue features the Thunderbolts battling the mercenary Rat Pack and the super villains of the Wrecking Crew.  Also during a press conference, Citizen V tells the world that the team get’s its name from a poem by Thomas Randolph: “Justice, like lightning, ever should appear, to few men ruin, but all men fear”.  It isn't until the last page of the issue that my suspicions  were proven correct, the “Thunderbolts” were actually the Masters of Evil in disguise, hoping to use the world’s fragile state to manipulate and eventually conquer.

So what happened?  After defeating other super villains (including the Mad Thinker, the Elements of Doom, another version of the Masters of Evil and more) and taking in a newly orphaned teenage asian girl who because of her new electrical powers takes the name of Jolt, the Thunderbolts are conisdered some of the world’s greatest heroes.  But then, once the Avengers and the Fantastic Four return, the Thunderbolts are outed as the Masters of Evil.  After Citizen V’s (Baron Zemo) latest plan for world domination fails, he and Techno (the Fixer) escape to plot more deviousness.  But the others, having discovered the value of being heroes, decide to keep going as the Thunderbolts.  At first it is very difficult,  being hunted by super heroes (seeking to arrest them) and super villains (looking for revenge).  It isn't until the Avenger Hawkeye takes over as their leader that the world starts to see them as real super heroes.  

Even the road to being heroes is bumpy, especially when a hero like Hawkeye starts to date former super villain Moonstone

The team would change line ups over the years, from a team led by Mach (by then 4) and Songbird, to a once again villainous line up led by Norman Osborn (where Moonstone went back to her villainous ways), to the last Thunderbolts team led by Red Hulk that included Elektra, the Punisher, and Deadpool.  But I’ll always remember that first version of the team fondly (the first 75 issues), those were MY Thunderbolts!!  Share your thoughts of the Thunderbolts, 1990’s or anything Marvel at:

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That’s it for this time.  Until we meet again…Nuff Said!!!blog