The Thunderbolts team itself begins as a spoiler. A well-written and genuinely shocking twist is a key part of the team’s earliest appearances. Suffice to say, spoilers are ahead.
“Replacing” origins, characters and even whole teams is a long-establish trope in comics. Long-running stories run the risk of getting too popular, oversaturated, and/or predictable and need to be shaken up. From a business standpoint, these overhauls give characters time away, freedom to change, and hopefully come back creatively refreshed. It also allows for new characters to be introduced, expanding the company’s line. After the Avengers were seemingly killed at the hands of Onslaught, the team was ripe to be “replaced.”
Spoiler, this newest superteam was actually the villainous cabal the Masters of Evil with long-time Avenger nemesis, Baron Zemo, in charge. And a much better marketing campaign.
Since then, the role and purpose of the Thunderbolts organization has changed shapes many times to fit into these replacement cycles.
Related Reading Orders:
Support For Comic Book Herald:
Comic Book Herald is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a qualifying affiliate commission.
Comic Book Herald’s reading orders and guides are also made possible by reader support on Patreon, and generous reader donations.
Any size contribution will help keep CBH alive and full of new comics guides and content. Support CBH on Patreon for exclusive rewards, or Donate here! Thank you for reading!
The Birth and Rebirth and Rebirth of the Thunderbolts
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #1-5 and #-1, Incredible Hulk (1968) #449, Tales of the Marvel Universe #1, Spider-Man Team-Up #7 & Thunderbolts Annual ’97.
The early days of the team as the Thunderbolts seek fame and fortune with the Avengers being believed dead.
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #6-14 & Heroes for Hire (1997) #7.
The Avengers return and the truth is revealed.
Collects: Thunderbolts #15-22, #0; Captain America & Citizen V Annual 1998; Avengers (1998) #12
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #23-37, Thunderbolts Annual 2000, Avengers Annual 2000.
Hawkeye joins the ranks and tries to keep the team of villains on the straight and narrow by promising pardons.
Collects: Thunderbolts (1997) #38-50, Avengers (1998) #31-34.
Avengers/Thunderbolts Vol. 2: Best Intentions
Collects: Avengers/Thunderbolts (2004) #1-6.
After a fairly uneventful and uncollected stretch, it was obvious that Thunderbolts was losing steam. In an attempt to shake things up, Kurt Busiek introduces a “reformed” Zemo back into the mix, returning him to team leader, and having the despot lead his team on a mission to depower every superhero. But Iron Man plays double agent under the guise of erstwhile villain, Cobalt Man
New Thunderbolts Vol. 1: One Step Forward
Collects: New Thunderbolts #1-6.
A new Thunderbolts team is formed with a mysterious benefactor.
New Thunderbolts Vol. 2: Modern Marvels
Collects: New Thunderbolts #7-12..
The Thunderbolts square off with Purple Man and Swordsman which is a Public Relations dream in how to raise your Q rating.
New Thunderbolts Volume 3: Right Of Power
Collects: New Thunderbolts #13-18.
Zemo returns from the shadows and resets the Thunderbolts.
Collects: Thunderbolts #101-105.
During the early days of the Civil War, Zemo looks for any advantage against the Grandmaster.
Thunderbolts: Guardian Protocols
Collects: Thunderbolts #106-109.
Zemo raises a Thunderbolts army as the Civil War reaches its boiling point.
The Era of Osborn
Thunderbolts, Vol. 1: Faith in Monsters
Collects: Thunderbolts #110-115, Thunderbolts: Desperate Measures, & Thunderbolts stories from Civil War: Choosing Sides and Civil War: The Initiative.
Norman Osborn takes over as director of the Thunderbolts and shakes up the team.
Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo – Born Better
Collects: Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo – Born Better #1-4.
A rare Zemo-focused mini-series that goes deep into his history.
Thunderbolts, Vol. 2: Caged Angels
Collects: Thunderbolts #116-121.
The Thunderbolts are manipulated into fighting each other and things get bloody.
Thunderbolts, Vol. 3: Secret Invasion
Collects: Thunderbolts #122-125, Thunderbolts: Breaking Point, Thunderbolts: International Incident and Thunderbolts: Reason in Madness.
The Thunderbolts get a major public victory during the events of the Secret Invasion.
Thunderbolts: Burning Down the House
Collects: Thunderbolts #126-129.
Norman Osborn takes over Shield and looks to clean house. The Thunderbolts are publicly disbanded while privately rebuilt as a black ops hit squad.
Spider-Man: Brand New Day: The Complete Collection Vol. 2
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #565-577, Amazing Spider-Man Annual (2008) #1, Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man #1-3, and material from Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #1.
Moon Knight Vol. 4: The Death of Marc Spector
Collects: Moon Knight #21-25.
Dark Reign: Deadpool / Thunderbolts
Collects: Thunderbolts #130-131 and Deadpool #8-9.
Collects: Thunderbolts #133-137.
Collects: Thunderbolts #138-143.
Osborn plans start to unravel during the events of Siege.
The Thunderbolts: Live From the Raft!
Collects: Thunderbolts #144-147.
After Norman Osborn’s inevitable meltdown, the Thunderbolts are repurposed to the Raft and get a new leader in Luke Cage.
Collects: Thunderbolts #148-151.
The Thunderbolts feature during Daredevil’s Shadowland event.
Thunderbolts: Violent Rejection
Collects: Thunderbolts #152-157.
Collects: Thunderbolts #158-162.
The Thunderbolts are thrown into the deep end during the events of Fear Itself.
Thunderbolts: The Great Escape
Collects: Thunderbolts #163-168.
The Thunderbolts get transported back to Nazi Germany to team-up with the original Invaders.
Collects: Thunderbolts #169-174.
The Thunderbolts get transported even further back in time to Camelot.
Dark Avengers: The End is the Beginning
Collects: Dark Avengers #175-183.
The Dark Avengers try to take advantage of the time-lost Thunderbolts.
The Thunderbolt Ross Thunderbolts
Thunderbolts – Volume 1: No Quarter
Collects: Thunderbolts (2013) #1-6.
General Thunderbolt Ross (who was also Red Hulk at the time) reboots the Thunderbolts with Elektra, Punisher, Deadpool, and Agent Venom.
Thunderbolts Volume 2: Red Scare
Collects: Thunderbolts (2013) #7-12.
Ross’s attempt to expose The Leader’s body to Red Gamma goes horribly wrong as expected.
Thunderbolts Volume 3: Infinity
Collects: Thunderbolts (2013) #13-19.
The Thunderbolts flood New York while the Avengers are off-earth and run into the Black Order.
Thunderbolts Volume 4: No Mercy
Collects: Thunderbolts (2013) #20-26.
Deadpool tries to kill Ryan Reynolds. Yes, you read that correctly.
Thunderbolts Volume 5: Punisher vs. the Thunderbolts
Collects: Thunderbolts (2013) #27-32.
The Punisher quits the Thunderbolts and Ross tries to blow him up.
Thunderbolts Strike… Like Lightning… (Again)
Thunderbolts Vol. 1: There Is No High Road
Collects: Thunderbolts (2016) #1-6.
The Winter Soldier forms a new Thunderbolts team and they go after Shield’s “Kobik” program.
Thunderbolts Vol. 2: No Going Back
Collects: Thunderbolts (2016) #7-12.
In a surprise to absolutely no one, members of the team turn on the Winter Soldier.
The Punisher Vol. 3: Street by Street, Block by Block
Collects: Punisher (2018) #12-16.
Zemo pitches New York’s Mayor Wilson Fisk on reforming the Thunderbolts in an effort to finally rid New York of the Punisher.
Collects: Thunderbolts (2021) #1-3
During the events of King in Black, The Kingpin forms a new Thunderbolts for a very specific mission.
Leave a Reply