The Thunderbolts were a team of reformed super-criminals. However, the team was originally conceived by Baron Helmut Zemo under the identity of Citizen V in a cover to steal the cities resources and to place themselves in a position of trust by convincing the authorities that they were heroes. He recruited Goliath as Atlas, Moonstone as Meteorite, Beetle as Mach-I, Fixer as Techno, and Screaming Mimi as Songbird. However the team later reformed and became a true force for good in the world.
Conceived as a new incarnation of the Masters of Evil, the Thunderbolts were initially formed by Baron Zemo. Attempting to save his familial henchman, Erik Josten (Goliath), Zemo summoned the help of several MOE alumni: Beetle, Fixer, and Screaming Mimi.
Feeling the "reunion" an omen to exact revenge on Captain America and the Avengers, Zemo began organizing his team. However, before he could strike, his hated rivals and the Fantastic Four seemingly died battling Onslaught. Exploiting the absence of public champions, the Masters of Evil began masquerading as heroes, scheming to work themselves into a position of trust and power.
Particularly desiring access to the Avengers' and SHIELD's files for personal gain and for-profit underworld distribution, Zemo dubbed them "Thunderbolts", finding the name "crypto-fascist but friendly". Adopting new code-names, Zemo became Citizen V, an ironic homage to one of his father's World War II adversaries. The Beetle modified his flying armor suit to pose as MACH-1. Undergoing facial reconstructions, the Fixer became Techno as Goliath took on the role of Atlas. Former female wrestler, Screaming Mimi, made herself over as Songbird, with alterations to her powerset similar to that of Klaw. Helping the team stay in character, Zemo staged a breakout for their final member: the criminal psychologist, Moonstone (assuming the identity of "Meteorite").
Genuinely succeeding as superheroes, most members began to actually think of themselves more heroically. Shortly thereafter, they encountered Jolt, an Asian-American teenage girl orphaned during the Onslaught incident and given bioelectric powers by crazed geneticist, Arnim Zola. Honestly believing her new friends at face value, Jolt's presence and infectiously upbeat nature only reinforced these new-found noble inclinations.
In an ironic coincidence, as the Avengers and Fantastic Four returned, Zemo revealed his own team's identities. Sensing his allies were getting to like being heroes, the Baron attempted blackmail to ensure their loyalty. All but Techno turned on him as Zemo used the mind-controlled Avengers and Fantastic Four against his former underlings. As the Thunderbolts freed the heroes and thwarted the plot, Atlas, unbeknownst to his teammates, helped a wounded Zemo escape out of a sense of obligation.
Still fugitives, the Thunderbolts made their own escape in a very unlikely manner, accidentally transporting to the dimension of Kosmos. During the chaos, Meteorite altered her costume, changing her code-name back to Moonstone. In Kosmos, they learned that Moonstone had no intention of reforming, only turning against Zemo out of an amoral sense of self-preservation. She also committed regicide while there, swearing the others to secrecy. Returning to Earth, they set up shop in Colorado, pondering their next move.
The Most Wanted
Joining at this time was another Arnim Zola experiment, African-American teenager Charcoal and the Avenger Hawkeye, himself a reformed 'super-villain'. Hawkeye convinced his new team that he could get them pardoned, providing MACH-1 agreed to turn himself in. Jenkins was, at the time, the only member wanted for murder. Given a suspiciously all-too-tempting opportunity to join the mysterious Crimson Cowl's new Masters of Evil, Jenkins agreed to Barton's terms. However, what Hawkeye hid from the group was that even despite MACH-1's surrendering, the U.S. Government refused to give them their pardons.
After a final confrontation at the Masters of Evil mini-army's mountain headquarters, wherein the Thunderbolts discovered the Cowl to surprisingly be Dallas Riordan, Mayor's office liaison/friend from earlier days, the would-be heroes then took the base for their own.
While exploring, the group discovered Ogre, a former member of Factor Three, an obscure group of X-Men villains and the base's original owners. Tasked as caretaker when the group disbanded, Ogre was also left in custody of a highly dangerous mutant teenager, (Humus Sapien), who Factor Three had kidnapped and placed in suspended animation when it became apparent his powers were uncontrollable. Accepted into the Thunderbolts, Ogre was then promptly stabbed by Techno who placed him in stasis alongside his charge. Assuming Ogre's appearance, Techno once again became the team's "new" mechanic.
In exchange for stealing top-secret weapons technology from evil industrialist Justin Hammer, MACH-1 was freed from prison. As a "witness protection" maneuver, Techno altered Jenkin's body, making him appear African-American and giving him a new set of "MACH-2" armor.
Meanwhile, brainwashed CSA agent, Henry Peter Gyrich sought to destroy the team. Gyrich, using a mentally-manipulated Jack Monroe as the new Scourge of the Underworld, began a systematic assassination campaign against the Thunderbolts. Jolt, the first target, was killed in a diner with a bullet between the eyes. Monroe then traveled to South America and killed Baron Zemo. Finally entering the Thunderbolts' home, he destroyed Techno and allowed Atlas to implode into a storm of ionic energy.
In actuality, all four survived in some form: the robotic Techno used Jolt's electrical powers to resurrect her from the dead. Zemo's mind was transferred first into the comatose body of the male Citizen V and later into Techno's mechanical "Tech-Pack". Although remaining deactivated, Techno's "Tech-Pack" also cybernetically replaced the broken segments of his real body's spine, soon becoming government property. Atlas merged with Dallas, crippled in a vendetta battle with the real Crimson Cowl, becoming an ionically-charged hybrid super-being.
As the Thunderbolts reeled from the unfolding murder mystery, Jolt learned of Hawkeye's lie about their pardons, straining relations. Meanwhile, Moonstone found herself going insane due to her alien power source. She began falling in love with Hawkeye and learned that the spirit of the original Kree Moonstone was trying to turn the unrepentantly amoral Dr. Sofen into an honest woman.
Confronting Gyrich just as Dr. Valerie Cooper gathered her own team of government-sanctioned heroes, the Redeemers (including the Baron Zemo-controlled Citizen V and resurrected Fixer), the Thunderbolts stopped his plan to utilize experimental nanite technology to kill off all known superhumans. While his scheme was defeated, it was quickly revealed that Gyrich was infected with the nanites himself and that Baron Strucker was the real mastermind. Hawkeye used the events as leverage to get pardons for the Thunderbolts but Gyrich threatened to go public with the way Hydra used him just to spite Barton. Ultimately, Gyrich agreed to stay quiet, giving the Thunderbolts their pardon. However, Hawkeye had to go to jail for aiding the then-fugitive heroes evade capture. Hawkeye agreed as the team disbands.
Jolt and Charcoal, the only Thunderbolts without criminal records, were folded into the Redeemers program under the leadership of Captain America and Zemo-possessed Citizen V. The Redeemers, save for V, Fixer and Jolt, were promptly slaughtered by the super-villain Graviton. The Thunderbolts reformed to defeat him but in the process, several of them (Citizen V/Zemo, Fixer, Jolt, Moonstone, Jenkins as MACH-3, and the merged Erik/Dallas Atlas) were transported to Counter Earth, the world where the Avengers and Fantastic Four resided after the fight with Onslaught. There, the Thunderbolts encountered their own analogues, including that world's versions of both Heinrich and Helmut Zemo and the Phantom Eagle, counterpart of the original Moonstone.
Transferring Zemo's disembodied mind from the Fixer's "Tech-Pack" into his double's body, he killed his Counter-Earth "father". After the Thunderbolts destroyed a rocket, exposing it as a plot by Counter-Earth's Nazi Germany to control their world's computers, Zemo convinced them to stay and act as planetary leaders. In the meantime, Moonstone stole the alien gem of the mentally unstable Phantom Eagle for herself, causing her powers to increase to cosmically dangerous levels.
Rebirth and Endings
Meanwhile, Hawkeye escaped from prison alongside several super-villains. SHIELD contacted him with a pardon offer. Justin Hammer had died and his daughter, the Crimson Cowl, has found a chemical weapon making every super-villain the Hammers ever employed into part of a loyal on-call army. Helping create the serum and the only one capable of activating it was the villain, Plantman. With the telepathic terrorist Mentallo serving as a middleman, Hawkeye reluctantly helped Plantman escape so the Cowl could get her hands on him. The plan failed miserably and Hawkeye was forced to watch as Plantman murdered an innocent prison guard to escape. However, before Crimson Cowl could kill Hawkeye or acquire Plantman, Songbird saved the two. They then formed a second group of Thunderbolts. Plantman adopted the name "Blackheath" as several former members of the Crimson Cowl's Masters joined with new identities: Carinal (Harrier), Gypsy Moth (Skein), Man-Killer (Amazon), and Cyclone. Hawkeye motivated the group by revealing that unless they stop the Cowl, they would become her slaves, as they've all been exposed to the poison.
These Thunderbolts finally defeated the Crimson Cowl but not before she captured them with help from Cyclone and vivisected Plantman, who mutated into a plant creature neutralizing the toxin in all the infected people. Soon after, the group was sent to the V-Battalion's base regarding a spatial rift disturbance. Returning home, the Thunderbolts closed the spatial rift from the Counter-Earth side, leaving Jolt behind in the process to join the Young Allies. As the two teams united and the rift was closed, the V-Battalion's base was destroyed.
In the aftermath, Atlas and Dallas fond themselves separated again into their respective bodies. However, Dallas gained Atlas's ionic powers. Hawkeye, Amazon and Skein left the team while MACH-3 and Harrier returned to prison. Zemo was left to lead after convincing Hawkeye that he wanted to reform, helping the world instead of ruling it. Zemo then went on to reveal to his team that he lied. He still wanted to conquer the world... just to save it.
Avengers/Thunderbolts: The Best Intentions
Zemo led the Thunderbolts (which included Dallas Riordan, under the code-name "Vantage") in an attempt to deactivate the powers of all other superhumans on Earth. The Avengers, once more counting Hawkeye among their ranks, opposed them. During this affair, Iron Man infiltrated the Thunderbolts, assuming the identity of the "Cobalt Man". Ultimately, it was revealed that any power the Thunderbolts siphoned was channeled into Moonstone, who was caught in an overwhelming spiral of madness from possessing two alien gems. Despite summoning Jolt as a last minute attempt to pull Sofen back from the edge, Iron Man had Hawkeye lobotomize her in order to stop the destructive rampage.
While saving Captain America's life during the conflict, Zemo's face was again severely burned. He took Moonstone's twin gems and fled, vowing revenge for the way the Thunderbolts and Avengers "destroyed" her. Jolt returned to the Young Allies and Counter-Earth as a de-powered Blackheath returned to prison. The Fixer fled as well while Vantage retired to a government job. Songbird was offered reserve membership in the Avengers but turned it down. MACH-3 was paroled from prison and decided to form a new team of Thunderbolts.
Zeroes to Heroes
Abner Jenkins reformed the team after being released from prison. Along with Atlas and Songbird, the team's new recruits included formerly insane alien hero, Captain Marvel, now calling himself "Photon" and several former villains: Speed Demon, Joystick, Blizzard and the Radioactive Man. The new team battled Atlantean super-terrorists Fathom Five and Baron Strucker's Hydra organization, secretly the team's financial backer.
After defeating the plot, Purple Man was mysteriously teleported away and brought before his real boss, Baron Zemo. Zemo tortured the Purple Man by inducing rigor-mortis in his body and threatened to send him back to prison, nullifying his powers.
Attack on the New Avengers
As part of the CSA, Hank Pym and Warbird offered to pardon the members of the Thunderbolts who still had outstanding legal problems. Their bargain was in exchange for the group publicly attacking the New Avengers, looking to humiliate the latest incarnation of the self-sanctioned franchise.
Only "Spider-Woman" escaped the sneak attack, beating Joystick senseless. The rest of her team was beaten by the Thunderbolts. Songbird told Captain America that her team could beat the New Avengers any time. In the end, it was discovered that Baron Zemo was the mastermind behind the entire scenario- not only to humiliate Captain America but also testing to see how far the Thunderbolts would go for a chance to be pardoned.
Fixer, The Squadron Sinister and Zemo's Revelation
Fixer resurfaced and recruited both MACH IV and Blizzard to work with him on a top secret project. Meanwhile, Speed Demon was confronted by the new female Doctor Spectrum, looking to reform the Squadron Sinister and take over the world. Speed Demon accepted, quitting the Thunderbolts. Former Defender (and former original member of the Squadron Sinister) Nighthawk was offered membership into the Thunderbolts by Songbird. Also at Zemo's request, Man-Killer returned to the team.
Zemo revealed himself to be leading Fixer, sending his group to confront Songbird and the others about Photon's increasingly unstable powers. Citing him a risk to reality, Zemo ended up killing Photon. He then resumed control of the consolidated team.
Operation: Justice Like Lightning
As Baron Zemo's Thunderbolts prepared for their final battle against The Grandmaster, Dallas Riordan met with Songbird privately to discuss the the team's future and potential incorporation into the 50-State Initiative. Songbird was told that she could take a few current Thunderbolts with her when establishing a new team. Working under the auspice of the Initiative, Zemo amassed a veritable "Thunderbolts Army" for his personal showdown against the Elder for the "Wellspring of Power", ultimately becoming lost in a dimensional nexus created by his pirated moonstones' unwieldy energies.
During a battle between the Pro and the Anti-Superhuman Registration forces, Goliath was killed by a clone of Thor. As an eye-opening moment for many, the Pro-Registration side lost more members than anticipated, necessitating a fast-tracking of the 50-State Initiative. The CSA, with help from Songbird, gathered Bullseye, Lady Deathstrike, Jack O'Lantern, Jester, Taskmaster, and Venom (Mac Gargan) to capture the underground "Secret Avengers". Not taking chances, Mister Fantastic tagged each member with nanobot technology to monitor and curb their actions. Before fighting as a unit, Jack O'Lantern and Jester were deployed to capture Spider-Man but were promptly killed in the process by the Punisher.
As the heroes' Civil War ended, Norman Osborn was named Thunderbolts Director, persuading various villains to join his new incarnation on a more permanent basis. Moonstone, Radioactive Man, and Swordsman agreed under Songbird's CSA arrangement. However, any presumptions of authority Gold may have entertained were short-lived as Osborn laid down his bold new order, nominating Sofen as deputy leader.
Their first official mission as specialized superhuman marshals was to capture the fugitive Jack Flag, who had come out of retirement defiantly unregistered. During the mission, Moonstone had the Thunderbolts manipulate the situation to save face on a television broadcast, making Flag look like a genuine threat to the public. Still besting his pursuers, Jack was ultimately unable to escape the wrath of Bullseye, the team's "shadow operative", and was viciously paralyzed.
The team's next target was the Steel Spider in the Southwest. Through the timely intervention of Sepulchre and American Eagle, he was able to hold them off. Steel Spider defeated Swordsman and threw Venom off a building. American Eagle harpooned Moonstone's hand to the Thunderbolt's Zeus aircraft, taking her away from the battle. The three unregistered heroes were finally beaten by one of Radioactive Man's blasts. During this time, Songbird also tricked Bullseye into believing that she had disabled his nano-chain. Bullseye then killed his two handlers and tried to kill American Eagle. The Eagle beat Bullseye badly and, upon learning of his escape, Moonstone fired his nano-chain, causing the assassin seemingly-permanent paralysis. While American Eagle and Sepulchre escaped, Steel Spider became the battle's other casualty, his arm being ripped off and devoured by Venom though he survived.
Later on, four telepaths held captive in Thunderbolts Mountain used their powers to turn the team members against each other. They coerced Swordsman into blowing up the Zeus transport, killing countless support staffers in the hangar, urged Venom on a carnivorous rampage, induced Radioactive Man into threatening to give everyone in the base cancer and unhinged Norman Osborn into resuming his Green Goblin persona, also killing many in the wake of his madness. Moonstone was nudged into attempting to kill the visiting Doc Samson and her troubled young teammate, Robbie Baldwin. However, Samson and Robbie remained unaffected by the rampant madness and were more than ready for her.
Swordsman defeated Venom, although he was himself defeated and seriously injured by Osborn. While using his "Penance" powers to defeat Moonstone, Robbie rediscovered some of his seemingly-lost "Speedball" abilities with Samson’s help, using them to save Sofen from a crash. Meanwhile, Osborn continued his Goblin massacre until he was confronted by a very angry Songbird, who deduced the source of the insanity. Gold defeated Osborn yet both collapsed.
As the telepaths though their plan a success, Bullseye, recovering from nano-surgery to repair his damaged spine, walked away from the operating table. Grabbing some scalpels, he headed to the detention area and killed the four telepaths for practice, unaware he was actually saving the team.
As the dust settled, Samson wanted Robbie out of the Thunderbolts program. Baldwin refused, believing it was the best place to earn his redemption for being involved in the cataclysmic event which began the Civil War. Osborn tried to downplay and dismiss the entire incident but Songbird and Samson revealed incriminating footage, using it to force him into giving her total command of the Thunderbolts.
As Arnim Zola delivered a newly-cloned Andrea Strucker to her twin brother, the Swordsman, in an unsanctioned deal circumventing Osborn's leverage over Strucker, the group was thrust into the Skrull Invasion.
Thunderbolts Mountain was attacked by Skrull sleeper agent, Khn'nr, aka "Captain Marvel". Barely surviving the fight due largely to Khn'nr's mental instability, the group went on the offensive against the invaders in Washington, D.C.. During the fight, Andrea was paired with her brother, Moonstone and Bullseye under suspicion that she was a Skrull spy. However, when Moonstone feinted betrayal, joining with the Skrulls in order to bait Andrea into revealing herself, she was shocked to realize that Andrea was indeed truly a clone. This culminated with Bullseye murdering the female Strucker in order to save Moonstone. With Norman's help, Sofen framed the Skrulls for the deed.
Defeating the Skrulls in DC, Norman began playing up his team's role in the defense effort to the media, making them out as the force saving the Earth from Tony Stark's bungling. The Thunderbolts journeyed to New York, reluctantly aiding in the final battle against the Skrulls. Osborn gained greater publicity as he was seen getting the "kill shot" on Skrull Queen Veranke across worldwide broadcasts.
After Songbird went off on Norman Osborn for leaving her alone to deal with a Skrull who nearly killed her, Osborn and Moonstone reached an agreement to get to do some "house cleaning". Their plan came into effect while Norman was in Washington, preparing to assume control over the disorganized remains of S.H.I.E.L.D. Radioactive Man was deported back to China after Norman had his work visa revoked. Moonstone drugged Penance and revealed her plans to send him to a corrupt maximum security mental institution, where he was to be held prisoner for the rest of his natural life. Moonstone then aided Bullseye and Venom in attempting to kill Songbird. Nearly neutralizing Moonstone and Bullseye, Songbird was attacked by Venom as she attempted to get away on the Zeus. Bullseye managed to sneak up behind Melissa for the kill but she was saved by the Swordsman's intervention. Destroying the jet, Swordsman ordered Songbird to run, telling her that he would tell the others she was vaporized in the crash.
Swordsman confronted Norman regarding his not being offered a slot on the new "Dark Avengers" team. As suspected, Norman never planned on fulfilling his vow to resurrect Swordsman's sister or to give Strucker a full presidential pardon upon completion of his Thunderbolts contract. Norman responded to Andreas' threats by murdering him with his own sword, dumping his body out a nearby window.
With Bullseye, Moonstone, and Venom transferred to Norman's new Dark Avengers, the Thunderbolts were "officially" dismantled. However, in actuality, Norman redesignated the unit as his personal "black ops" covert squad. The new Thunderbolts members included "Black Widow (Yelena Belova)" (actually the original Black Widow, Natalia Romanova, undercover as a plant for Nick Fury), Ghost, Paladin, Headsman, and Ant-Man. Norman Osborn threatened to fire and secretly execute any member of the team for making mistakes or becoming insubordinate.
As revenge for attempted blackmail against Osborn, one of the hit-squad's first missions became killing Deadpool who thwarted the hit with unlikely assistance from the Taskmaster. The Thunderbolts then traveled to Madripoor to recruit Mister X. Osborn also added a mysterious new incarnation of Scourge. Songbird eventually returned and he again had his team try to kill her. "Yelena" abandoned the team after Scourge took over, revealing to Songbird her true identity and intentions. Escaping, the two only ended up leading Osborn to Nick Fury. Osborn ordered the Thunderbolts to kill Black Widow and Songbird, shooting Fury himself. However, "Fury" was revealed as a Life-Model Decoy. After Black Widow and Songbird escaped again, Scourge was revealed to be the former Super-Soldier, Nuke.
Norman Osborn later placed new recruit Grizzly on the team as they fought the Agents of Atlas. The fight between the Thunderbolts and the Agents raged on as deadly chemicals caused both teams to retreat. As the Thunderbolts returned to their new Cube base on the Zeus, their pilot informed them that there was an important message from Osborn. Holographically, Norman informed the team that there was an important assignment in Broxton, Oklahoma but didn't disclose any details. Upon seeing Osborn's face, latent programming in Scourge misfired and he began shooting. The bullet went right through the hologram but hit Headsman in the cranium, horrifying his teammates.
During the Siege of Asgard, Norman ordered his Thunderbolts to infiltrate Asgard's armories and steal Gungnir, Odin's spear, capable of turning the tide in his favor. Running afoul of Dr. Pym's Mighty Avengers, Scourge used the spear to sever U.S. Agent's left limbs.
After Norman Osborn's fall, a new team of Thunderbolts formed at the behest of Steve Rogers. Based out of the Raft maximum security super-prison, this team was spearheaded by Luke Cage and included veteran members (Songbird, MACH V, and Fixer) as handlers, providing support to an all-new field team of rehabilitating prisoners (including Moonstone). Operating from the island prison, the team utilized a very unique transportation system: none other than the dimensional-warping abilities of Man-Thing himself, now housed at the Raft in a special swamp-like terrarium. His friend Jennifer Kale broke in to free the shambling muck monster, believing him mistreated. Although Man-Thing returned of his own accord, it became apparent how susceptible to magical attacks the Raft was. To this end, Cage worked with Doctor Strange to recruit Satana.
After acting out on a mission, the Juggernaut ws benched. While the Thunderbolts and the new Beta Team, derogatorily dubbed "Underbolts" by Moonstone, were on a mission in Iraq, the Hammer of Kuurth struck and destroyed the prison. The Juggernaut was transformed by the mysterious weapon into Kuurth, Breaker of Stone. Heavily damaged, many prisoners escaped the Raft in the ensuing chaos. The Thunderbolts returned but were too late to stop the largest group of escapees.
Attempting to aid in the global panic, a handful of the 'Bolts managed to transport their command tower, the Raft's only remaining undamaged structure, from the island to a crisis in Chicago using Man-Thing's powers. However, due to enchantments placed upon him by Satana, the creature was also in the throes of evolution. Caught in an accidental teleportational vortex, the team and their tower were cast backwards through time, giving their handlers the impression of a most elaborate jailbreak.They ended up in World War II teaming up with the Invaders to battle Nazis.
They next ended up in Victorian London where the presence of Satana awoke the Iceni. They possessed local street walkers, and Satana with the help of Mr Hyde slew the creatures killing the women in the progress. This lead to Mr. Hyde revealed to be "Jack the Ripper" allowing history to follow course leaving the Whitechapel Murders to remain a mystery.
They went even further back in time ending up in King Arthur's court in Camelot. They eventually bounced back to the time of the original Zemo lead Thunderbolts team. After the Fixer killed his younger self this began to cause a collapse in reality which forced Fixer to assume his younger self's place. Zabo returned to the future with the rest of the Thunderbolts.
Winter Soldier's Thunderbolts
In exchange for this, they joined forces with him and Kobik to clean up and make sure that S.H.I.E.L.D. would never continue the Kobik Program ever again. After attacking a S.H.I.E.L.D. base and destroying all S.H.I.E.L.D. files Bucky saw S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn't be trusted and kept the team together to aid him in eliminating potential threats to Earth as the Man on the Wall. Songbird later joined the Thunderbolts after helping them free Winter Soldier from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
When the Masters of Evil attacked the Thunderbolts' base, the Thunderbolts were defeated and captured. Fixer, Moonstone, and Atlas decided to join the Masters of Evil. Kobik was destroyed by Fixer (albeit unintentionally) when her powers raged out of control, and Mach-X was seemingly killed when Kobik's rampage destroyed the Thunderbolts' hideout. Winter Soldier was taken prisoner by the Masters of Evil while Songbird was left stuck out in the middle of the Arctic. Winter Soldier was later apparently killed by Baron Helmut Zemo by strapping him to a drone plane rigged to explode as both revenge for the death of his father Heinrich Zemo back in World War II, as well as preventing him from interfering with Hydra's plan to take over America.
Thunderbolts vs. the Punisher
Hydra's leader Baron Zemo and Mayor Fisk came up with a plan to deal with the Punisher once and for all. Baron Zemo, who was once again under the alias of Citizen V, introduced a new incarnation of the Thunderbolts during a press conference to the citizens of New York where he promised that they would end the Punisher's reign of terror and restore order to the 'greatest city on Earth'.
Mayor Wilson Fisk's Thunderbolts
After being humiliated by his decision to disregard the Avengers' warning that the dark god Knull was invading Earth, Mayor Fisk travelled to the Bar with No Name and forcibly recruited several of the supervillains taking refuge there. While the villains were promised a choice between prison and signing up, Fisk had Incendiary summarily executed when he chose the former option.
Initially consisting of Taskmaster, Star, Batroc the Leaper, Mister Fear, Ampere, Snakehead, and Rhino; Snakehead was eaten by a symbiote-dragon, Ampere quit before being murdered by Mister Fear, and the Rhino left unopposed. Despite misgivings from the members - particularly over Fisk's no masks rule - the team's first mission was to travel to the Ravencroft Institute and solicit a strategy for defeating Knull from Norman Osborn. When the Ravencroft Institute was attacked by symbiotes, the team was joined by several inmates - including Man-Bull, Figment, Foolkiller, Grizzly, and Mister Hyde.
When Osborn's strategy turned out to be sending the Sentry to fight Knull - Osborn having been unaware that the Avengers had already tried that to disastrous results, the team recovered the Sentry's corpse and set out to use it as a nuke to destroy Knull's lair atop the Empire State Building - well aware that it was a suicide-mission. Foolkiller was taken over by a symbiote and subsequently killed, and Taskmaster seemingly betrayed the other members of the team before using Figment's illusion powers to trick Fisk into thinking they sacrificed themselves in a failed attempt to kill Knull. Once Fisk released a televised news statement proclaiming the Thunderbolts as heroes, the Thunderbolts revealed the deception and blackmailed him into not only increasing their pay but giving them further missions once the Avengers inevitably defeated Knull.
Deciding to crack down on superhero vigilantism, Fisk partnered with New York Senator Arthur Krane - leader of the Friends of Humanity - and other backers to expand the Thunderbolts, recruiting the likes of Electro, Agony, the Rhino, U.S.Agent, Doctor Octopus, and the Shocker into Thunderbolt Units that were dispatched to assist the NYPD and take down superheroes.
Each Thunderbolt teammate's arsenal.
T-Bird, Thunderjet, T-Wagon, Zeus.
- During the super-hero Civil War, an army of captured criminals was organized under the Thunderbolts moniker (often referred to as the "Thunderbolts Army"). Divided into numerous groups, they were stationed around the US and kept in contact through Overmind as they worked to quell the number of super-powered individuals created when the Grandmaster accessed the Wellspring of Power. As the number of super-powered civilians rose, the majority of the members deserted the ranks, hoping to save themselves.
- Steve Rogers gave a list of criminals who he was planning on enrolling into Cage's Thunderbolts team in Heroic Age: Villains #1. This list consisted of Absorbing Man, Answer, Badd Axe, Bison, Bloodshed, Constrictor, Doctor Sax, Grizzly, Hydro-Man, Mad Dog, Man-Killer, Redeemer, Ruby Thursday, Skeleton Ki, Vector, and the Young Masters.
- 287 appearance(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 8 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 13 minor appearance(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 59 mention(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 18 mention(s) in handbook(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 239 image(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 101 member(s) of Thunderbolts (Earth-616)
- 4 item(s) used/owned by Thunderbolts (Earth-616)