Dr. Eliot Franklin was a genius-level physicist, nearly on par with Bruce Banner. He even designed a miniature gamma-ray bomb, a feat that eluded Banner. However, his invention was stolen by an unscrupulous executive at Richmond Enterprises, and Franklin was imprisoned after an attempt to steal it back. While in prison at Ryker’s Island, he met and befriended Dirk Garthwaite, a.k.a. the Wrecker. The Wrecker told his friends of the power he received by Karnilla, the Norn Queen, power enough to take on the thunder god Thor, and they orchestrated an escape. With fellow convicts Henry Camp and Brian Calusky, the group managed to retrieve the crowbar that housed the powers that had been drained from the Wrecker. Grasping the bar in an electrical storm, the Wrecker was restored, Camp became Bulldozer, Calusky became Piledriver, and Franklin became Thunderball. Together, they became known as the Wrecking Crew.
Thunderball initiated their first foray into crime, destroying anything associated with Richmond Enterprises in order to capture his gamma bomb and ransom New York. They were stopped by the Defenders, but Thunderball and the Wrecking Crew were never contained for long.
But Thunderball had always felt superior to his teammates, knowing his intelligence set him apart. He often parted company with them, and was seen acting independently on several occasions. Once, he sought out his ex-girlfriend, Rhonda Taddington, holding her friend, Clytemnestra Erwin, hostage and running into conflict with her boyfriend, Rhodes, James as Iron Man. He later took it upon himself to retrieve the Wrecking Crew’s weapons from the authorities, running afoul of Spider-Man, who defeated Thunderball by overloading his wrecking ball with electricity and knocking him out.
However, if the Wrecking Crew appeared, Thunderball was sure to be seen as well, including in their abduction to Battleworld by the Beyonder and joining with Doctor Doom's army of super-villains. The Crew also joined Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil. After this, Thor used his hammer to draw the Wrecker’s away from the others who divided it, and Thunderball was left powerless.
When imprisoned in the Vault, Thunderball participated in a massive breakout but refused to follow the orders of Venom, battling him over the alliances among their cellmates. However, they were trapped inside with a nuclear reactor that threatened to meltdown, and Thunderball was instrumental in defusing the device with Iron Man.
Months later, the Wrecker freed his Crew and restored their power once more. As before, wherever the Wrecking Crew was to be found, Thunderball was among their number. They performed many other acts of villainy, although Thunderball grew dissatisfied with the Wrecker’s leadership, coveting all the power of the Crew for himself. Eventually, the Crew reconciled, seeking out Hercules once more. But battling them helped Hercules overcome the fear of combat he had suffered since the beating at their hands, and they were defeated.
Once, Thunderball was broken out of prison by Midnight on behalf of the Secret Empire. He served alongside Midnight as their agent, coming into conflict with Midnight’s former mentor, Moon Knight as well as Spider-Man and other heroes, until Midnight was betrayed by the organization and destroyed their headquarters.
The Wrecking Crew’s powers began fading when many of Asgard's links to Earth were separated. The entire Crew received a power boost when hired by Arnim Zola to battle the Thunderbolts (unaware that the Thunderbolts included many of their former allies in the Masters of Evil).
The Wrecking Crew appeared together for various endeavors: hired by the likes of the Doomsday Man, battling heroes such as the Avengers and the Warriors Three, used as lackeys by Morgan Le Fay, among others. When the Crew was imprisoned in the Raft, they joined the massive breakout and escaped.