Thunderbolts: 20 Years of Twists and Turns
Writer Jim Zub counts down his favorite moments in T-Bolts history!
Everyone’s favorite reluctant heroes/sometimes criminals will celebrate their 20th anniversary next month. Original creators Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley will join current writer Jim Zub and artist Jon Malin for the festivities in THUNDERBOLTS #10 on February 22. In preparation, we asked Zub to give us his thoughts on the top 20 moments in T-Bolts history.
“20 years of Thunderbolts,” he exclaimed. “Hard to believe how quickly the time has gone by. The Merry Misfits at Marvel asked me if I could put together my own top 20 list of favorite Thunderbolts moments. Distilling so many wonderful stories down to 20 favorites was tough, so I gave myself a couple rules:
A) The story in question had to include at least one member of the original team. Nothing against the other teams, this just made it easier for me to parse them all down to a manageable list.
B) It had to be one I didn’t write. I’d consider it egotistical and a bit too self-serving to try and insert myself into the Thunderbolts legacy this early on. I hope we’re building memorable tales that readers will fondly remember, but I’ll let someone else decide that during the Thunderbolts 25th anniversary in 2022.
I know I’ll end up forgetting some and shaking my fist when they come to mind.”
- Citizen V VS Baron Zemo?
“We see Baron Zemo as Citizen V, until a new Citizen V confronts him. These kinds of mysteries made the Thunderbolts extra-special as they kept readers guessing month after month.”
- Nuff Said
THUNDERBOLTS (1997) #59
“Songbird has had rich and engaging growth as a character and I’d consider this almost completely silent issue iconic. We see where she has been and what she wants to become.”
- Giant-Size Man-Thing
“A playful nod to a classic comic title. I loved seeing a Giant-Size Man-Thing made manifest as chaos breaks out everywhere.”
- The Thunderbolts Rebel Against Zemo
“The group makes the crucial decision to try and become heroes, even if that means betraying their leader. The fallout from this defines the Thunderbolts and their winding road trying to find redemption.”
- Thunderbolts VS the New Masters of Evil
“The Thunderbolts try to make a go of it as heroes, but they also don’t want the Crimson Cowl trying to horn in on their legacy as the Masters of Evil. I’d call this villain vs. villain scrap a classic.”
- Zemo Kills the Grandmaster
THUNDERBOLTS (2006) #108
“Zemo’s big plan to steal the Grandmaster’s power for himself plays out masterfully here. I love grand schemes and big payoffs.”
- Thunderbolts VS Hyperion
“So much fun—this one really stuck with me. When Hyperion betrays the Thunderbolts and they get their revenge on him, culminating in using Man-Thing’s acidic touch, we get to see such a satisfying comeuppance. Loved it.”
- Green Goblin Goes on a Rampage
THUNDERBOLTS (2006) #120
“Norman Osborn finally cracks and, during a chaotic breakout attempt, he reclaims his identity as the Green Goblin and goes wild. Such a great dramatic moment that the series had built up for months.”
- Moonstone Kills
“While away on Kosmos, Moonstone slays the Primotur and puts the group who witnesses it in a wonderfully awkward situation, as they need to help her cover it up in order to get home to Earth. Manipulative Moonstone makes great stories happen.”
- Luke Cage Takes Charge of the Raft
“Changing the Thunderbolts from prisoners to wardens—a deft maneuver that brought with it new responsibilities and drama and kicked off one of my favorite runs of the series.”
- Jolt Joins the Team
“Jolt’s addition to the team helped set them on a path of redemption. Her optimism and empathy helped them question where they wanted to go and who they wanted to become.”
- The Golden Age Thunderbolts
“The Thunderbolts trapped back in time pretending to be World War II-era heroes and teaming up with Captain America and the Invaders? So much fun.”
- The Secret Is Out
“S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander Bridge attacks the Thunderbolts and reveals to the public the team’s identity as the Masters of Evil in disguise. A crucial turning point for the team and the series.”
- Zemo Negotiates with Captain America
“When Zemo works with Captain America to bring down Tony Stark’s pro-registration crew and free the imprisoned heroes, we see a wonderful bit of drama as both Zemo and Steve have to come to terms with how they’ve changed and the strange allegiances now required to get the job done.”
- Fixer Sacrifices Himself to the Time Loop
“This amazing sequence captures Norbert’s evolution from villain to unsure hero, as he destroys his past self and has to sacrifice himself to save all of reality. A poignant and fitting end to the first long run of the series.”
- Thunderbolts Enters the Initiative
“The intense drama brought to THUNDERBOLTS with this new direction shook the series to its core. Norman Osborn’s leadership brought legitimacy under the government, but also hard decisions and even more corruption.”
- Prison Riot
“The Raft goes wild as super-powered prisoners try to break free and the Purple Man sows discord everywhere. Songbird, Fixer, and Luke Cage all have powerful parallel stories and they all work wonderfully.”
- MACH-1 Turns Himself In
THUNDERBOLTS (1997) #23
“Abner’s desire to become a hero and take the Thunderbolts in a better direction meant he had to confront his own criminal past. Stepping up to his punishment for a murder he committed changed the course of the team as they walked that tightrope between heroism and villainy.”
- Best Intentions
Zemo’s grand plan to deactivate the superpowers of all heroes—and it plays out with a great series of twists, turns, betrayals, and big moments. So sharp.”
- The Original Big Reveal
“When Baron Zemo revealed on the last page of THUNDERBOLTS #1 the team’s identity as the Masters of Evil in disguise, using the disappearance of the Avengers and Fantastic Four as a way to trick the public into accepting them as heroes, it shocked readers and put the series on the map. It made it clear that we weren’t going to hold [the] Thunderbolts to the expectations of classic superhero teams. 20 years and a few hundred issues later, that still holds true. Here’s to many more exciting stories of Marvel’s fascinatingly flawed team of misfit hero/villain/anti-heroes!”
Commemorate 20 years of T-Bolts in THUNDERBOLTS #10 on February 22 with Jim Zub and Jon Malin!
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