Superhero Registration is now the law in the Marvel Universe, so many of the good guys have become bad in the eyes of the law. Who better to track down these law breakers but other lawbreakers? The cast of “Thunderbolts” is a colorful collection of lawbreakers who have been tasked by the government to hunt down rogue heroes and each member does so for a variety of reasons: redemption, madness, and sheer bloody fun. CBR News spoke with “Thunderbolts” editor Molly Lazer about what’s next for the book and the team.
“Thunderbolts” began its new direction as government hero hunters with issue #110, which marked Warren Ellis debut as the book’s writer. “Readers both old and new seem to be responding well to the new direction,” Lazer told CBR News. “I’ve read letters and message board posts from people who weren’t expecting to enjoy the new story, but who are finding themselves pleasantly surprised and wanting to keep reading. And I’ve also heard from lots of new fans who have picked up the book for the first time and are enjoying it.”
When the direction changed on “Thunderbolts,” the team’s line-up changed as well. Some characters left, some stayed, some joined for the first time and one character even returned. Some readers might take one look at the current line-up and mistakenly dismiss the T-Bolts as a collection of hardcore villains. “There is a variety of characters in the group now, ranging from those who actually want to do good and better themselves (though sometimes in not-so-good ways) like Songbird, Swordsman and Radioactive Man to the schemers like Moonstone to those who you could consider pure evil like
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Bullseye,” Lazer said. “And we can’t forget Penance, who is probably the most psychologically damaged of all of them.”
The new team of Thunderbolts is answerable to their new leader Norman Osborn. Osborn may technically be the leader of a superhero group, but readers shouldn’t assume that he gets his orders from people like Initiative leader Tony Stark. “While the Thunderbolts are technically part of the Initiative, the team is still affiliated with the Commission on Superhuman Activities,” Lazer explained. “And people very high up in the food chain put Norman in charge. Norman doesn’t report to Tony. So while Tony is probably aware of some of the goings on within the structure of the T-Bolts, there are certainly many things that go on that he never hears about. But as the public has seen, the T-Bolts get their job done – they have been successful in bringing in unregistered superhumans.”
Osborne may be the leader of the Thunderbolts, but that doesn’t mean he should rest easy. Double dealing and backstabbing is a time honored tradition in the T-Bolts. “There is more than one person on the team who would like to be sitting in Norman Osborn’s chair,” Lazer stated. “Moonstone wants to lead the group because she likes being in charge and would be able to use the team to her advantage and for her own purposes. Songbird would like to regain her leadership position and take the team back in the direction it was going before the civil war. And Norman isn’t quite ready to give up his seat of power yet.
“He’s a free man with a lot of power,” Lazer continued. “And his agenda, well, it’s not that secret. He wants to get Spider-Man. His little verbal slip-ups have let the rest of the team know that already. Add to that his dependence on prescription drugs and the fact that Moonstone is messing with his medication, and you have a leader who is on the verge of a breakdown. Par for the course with the T-Bolts, really.”
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If and when Osborne has that breakdown readers, can expect Moonstone to be the first one scrambling to grab his fallen crown. “Moonstone wants power and if she’s the leader of the Thunderbolts, she not only could control the team members and who they go after (as Norman does), she would also attain a measure of power in the CSA,” Lazer said. “And if she has to kill a few team members to do it, then so be it.”
With one leader wrestling with his mental problems and the power hungry Moonstone plotting to take his place, some fans might wonder why former team leader Songbird even stays with the Thunderbolts. “As we saw early in the first arc, Songbird was not given a choice of staying with the Thunderbolts,” Lazer explained. “She was essentially blackmailed by Norman into staying on the team. But her heart is with the group, and she desperately wants the team to do good. Unfortunately, this current roster hasn’t exactly been living up to what she’s hoped the team would be.”
One things for certain when it comes to the Thunderbolts – the media loves them. However, fame can be very fickle and those who are famous can quickly become infamous. Lazer told CBR News readers will see some of the fallout from their mission in Phoenix at the beginning of issue #116. With a team that doesn’t really get along, that often leads to disastrous results. “Things can only get worse before they get better…if they get better,” Lazer stated. “There may have to be some changing of the ranks before this crew can actually manage to work together.”
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The Thunderbolts’ inability to work together could lead to some dire consequences for the team in issue #115, the concluding chapter of “Faith in Monsters” and the next story arc “Caged Angels.” “In issue #115, it really hits the fan. It’s a brutal fight, and not everyone makes it out in one piece,” Lazer stated. “Caged Angels, the next arc, is going to deal with the goings-on when it’s decided that Thunderbolts Mountain is going to be used as an overflow holding location for the 42 prison in the Negative Zone. We’ll delve into Penance’s psyche and someone from Moonstone’s past will be making a reappearance.”
But where is Baron Zemo? He’s returned to the present and has a new outlook. Will he make reappear? “Stay tuned,” Lazer said. “You never know !”
Topical issues will play a role in future issues, much like how in a recent issue it was revealed that corporations were recruiting unregistered superhumans as independent contractors for work overseas. “As we’ve seen in ‘Thunderbolts’ and his other titles, Warren often uses real-life issues in his writing,” Lazer stated. “I would expect more topical storylines to come, whether it’s that particular issue or something else.”
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