Marvel Comics (April, 1997)
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Mark Bagley
INKER: Vince Russell
COLORIST: Joe Rosas
LETTERING: Dave & Oscar
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
In the wake of the battle with Onslaught New York City is in ruins. With a number of their heroes believed dead (but actually suffering a worse fate: being drawn by Rob Liefeld in a pocket dimension created by a small boy…because comics), the heroes that remain are overworked. Suddenly a new team of heroes arrives on the scene, the Thunderbolts! Led by Citizen V (who claims to be the grandson of the same named hero of World War II), the team consists of Atlas, MACH-1, Meteorite, Songbird, and Techno. They make their debut squaring off against the Rat Pack, a team of scavengers who are also working for a mysterious employer. While the Thunderbolts technically defeat them, they do manage to send off their cargo, and later lead the Thunderbolts into a trap where they go up against the Wrecking Crew. It’s not an easy fight, but they win not only the battle but the hearts of New York, the Mayor even sending a representative to try to keep them local. However, not all is as it seems, for the Thunderbolts are actually Baron Zemo and his Masters Of Evil…Goliath, Beetle, Moonstone, Screaming Mimi, and the Fixer. Whatever they have planned is not on the mind of one Hallie Takahama. She just saw her parents die during the battle with Onslaught and now finds herself kidnapped and being held prisoner.
What they got right: The concept of a villain team posing as a hero team in order to mess with a city dealing with the loss of heroes is actually a really cool concept. They even go so far as to repair the Statue Of Liberty after the Wrecking Crew smash it. And I like the new superhero designs used for the villains’ superhero identities, MACH-1 (it’s an acronym so that’s why I’m capitalizing it: Mobile Armored Cyber Harness before you ask) probably being my favorite, if only because the Beetle armors were never that interesting.
What they got wrong: Look, even if I buy how easily everyone (except maybe Black Widow, I’m not certain) bought their act this much, how the heck did someone come up with Thunderbolts T-Shirts, ties, hats, and buttons not even a day after their public debut in a trashed New York? I’d say it was put on kind of thick how easily the Thunderbolts are accepted but after the whole Onslaught incident and still dealing with the aftermath I kind of believe it. But having goodies that soon while they’re trying to rebuild is a bit much.
Recommendation: While the concept eventually evolved past this idea because it had to, it’s a darn good one. Worth picking up.