You can’t keep a good team down. After a year away, Marvel is ready to relaunch their “Thunderbolts” series — this time with a brand new leader, the Winter Soldier. But Bucky Barnes is one of the few new faces seen in the teaser art Marvel’s released. The series actually stretches further back in the T’bolts’ history, going all the way back to 1997’s “Thunderbolts” #1. Yep, the original “Thunderbolts” lineup will reunite in the series from Jim Zub and Jon Malin.
The Thunderbolts made a big entrance when they flashed onto the scene in 1997. The team originally filled the void left by the presumed dead Avengers and Fantastic Four; of course it was revealed that the T’bolts were in fact the Masters of Evil in disguise. Thanks to its strong premise, “Thunderbolts” actually stuck around longer than most of Marvel’s ’90s titles, publishing over 200 issues since the late ’90s. So if a ’90s team like the Thunderbolts can come back in a big way, here are a few other series from the decade that we want to see more of.
Only lasting 12 issues at the end of the ’90s, “Slingers” might be one of the first Marvel comics to receive online petitions calling for its continuation. Those pleas didn’t work, and the series’ four leads — Hornet, Prodigy, Dusk and Ricochet — were dismissed to infrequent guest appearances in other books. “Slingers,” which followed the adventures of four college students after they were gifted four of Spider-Man’s briefly used super-suits, would fit in well with today’s Marvel lineup. It stars a group of young adults, focuses heavily on character interactions, and its concept is built on legacy. Marvel could easily reboot this series with four new college freshmen, with each one assuming a Slingers role.
The ’90s weren’t a great time for Marvel series with female leads. Only three female-lead ongoings were published during the entire decade, with “Silver Sable & the Wild Pack” lasting an impressive 35 issues. For a character that spent that much time in the lead, Silver Sable’s spent the decades since her series’ end as a support player, usually for Spider-Man. Silver Sable’s a no-nonsense, tough-talking, calculating CEO and mercenary. Her ’90s series tackled a number of topical issues as Silver Sable navigated her way through politicians and international affairs. Considering the political nature of current Marvel titles like “Captain America: Sam Wilson,” “Silver Sable” could be ready for a comeback.
There are enough X-Men and mutants with dedicated fans that you could launch a dozen team books and still not feature all of them. But unlike X-Factor, X-Force, Excalibur and the New Mutants, Generation X is the one team that never got a second (let alone third, fourth or fifth) go around as a team. Launching in 1994, “Generation X” was the first major addition to the X-Men line following the early ’90s boom — and it was very ’90s. These teens rocked current fashion trends (so a lot of vests, earth tones and horizontal stripes), spoke in slang (especially Jubilee) and even smoked and drank. Edgy! The cast hasn’t fared all that well since their mid-’90s heyday; Skin and Synch are dead, Banshee became a Horseman of Death, and Penance… well, that last one’s complicated. Marvel could capitalize on never-ending mutant mania and ’90s nostalgia by getting this gang back together; M, Jubilee, Chamber and Husk make a great quartet — and, after all, Emma Frost is still unaccounted for.
This one’s fudging it a little. Speedball’s ongoing series actually lasted from 1988 to 1989, but he became inextricably tied to Marvel’s ’90s attitude when he became the New Warriors’ resident bouncing, wisecracking superhero. After a lab accident, Robbie Baldwin became the kinetically charged superhero Speedball. Marvel’s put Baldwin through the wringer over the past decade, reimagining him as a gritty spike-wearing hero. He’s returned to his old self again and has starred in a few more “New Warriors” ongoings since then. But despite being a massive part of ’90s Marvel’s success, latter day “New Warriors” series have failed to catch on. Maybe it’s time to get weird and give Speedball another shot. His bouncy power and personality would actually make “Speedball” a great companion series to books like “Howard the Duck,” “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” and “Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!” Put Speedball in the hands of a great cartoonist and watch the hero bounce. And if you’re not convinced, know that Speedball also has a bouncing pet cat named Niels. The world needs this.
It doesn’t get more ’90s than “Force Works,” Marvel’s attempt to rebrand the West Coast Avengers as a gritty, pouch-wearing group of heavily armored (and/or scantily clad) superheroes. The name itself — “Force Works” — is so ’90s, you can practically taste Mountain Dew in your mouth when you say it out loud. This potent nostalgia is exactly why the series is ripe for a return, especially as the Avengers continue to dominate the comics line. The team featured a number of big name heroes, including Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man and War Machine. U.S. Agent and Julia Carpenter (the ’90s Spider-Woman) also served on the team, and both of them are waiting for a high profile return. “Force Works” also featured Century, an artificial alien life form stuffed with the 100 strongest minds of his race. He also carried a big teleporting stick called Parallax! If the most radical ’90s notions are in style again, then Century has to make a comeback — perhaps as the figure that once again reunites the team.