Marvel Comics (May, 1997)
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Mark Bagley
INKER: Vince Russell
COLORIST: Joe Rosas
LETTERING: Dave Lanphear & OG
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
In a short time the Thunderbolts have begun winning people over and fighting bad guys, recently stopping a fake charity event by the Circus Of Crime. Even the Thunderbolts themselves are surprised at how easily they’ve fooled the public. Their goal is to gain the same level access that the Avengers and Fantastic Four once enjoyed from the government. If Techno can keep himself from already building them a top level headquarters, that is. Meanwhile Songbird and Mach-1 seem to be getting closer but Screaming Mimi’s past makes that uncomfortable with that. Meanwhile, the Mad Thinker decides to kidnap Franklin Richards (not Four Freedoms as the cover suggests) now that the Fantastic Four isn’t there to protect him, but the Thinker’s currently in prison. Mentally controlling his robots from his cell, he sends them to attack during a dedication to the lost heroes but the Thunderbolts arrive to stop him, the battle going to the gutted Four Freedoms Plaza, the former home of the FF. (Franklin’s grandfather had Reed Richards’ stuff removed so the government wouldn’t take it.) The Thunderbolts manage to stop the Thinker’s robots and the mayor offers them the former FF headquarters with the approval of the grateful Franklin, but Meteorite/Moonstone is worried some of the Thunderbolts are enjoying being heroes, and she’s even more worried she’s one of them. Meanwhile, it’s Hallie who really needs rescuing as her mysterious kidnapper is performing experiments on her.
What they got right: I like the opening shot of one of the Circus members being knocked out of the panel borders and even into the publishing information. That’s cool artwork. I also like the idea of heroes pretending to be villains but possibly enjoying it, especially the ones who became bad guys because of their lives.
What they got wrong: Robot duplicate head or not, having Citizen V with Mad Thinker’s head on the tip is just kind of creepy. Granted this is actually Baron Zemo and it makes sense for him to do the “head on a pike” think with real people.
Recommendation: I still really like this story. It’s worth checking out the origins of the original Thunderbolts team.