Justice, like Lightning, should ever appearTo few men's ruin, but to all men's fear...
Thomas Randolph"Joseph Swetnam", Swetnam The Woman-Hater Arraigned By Women; source of the original Tagline for The Thunderbolts.
A Marvel Universe comic book series that appeared in 1997 as a response to the disappearance of the big name heroes like the Fantastic Four and The Avengers as a result of the Onslaught Crisis Crossover and the aborted Heroes Reborn reboot. We are presented with a new group of colorful heroes who swoop in to protect the people from danger.
There's their leader, the swashbuckling patriotic hero Citizen V; the massive size-changing Atlas, the high flying MACH-1, the mysterious Meteorite, the beautiful Songbird, and the machine savvy Techno. They are soon warmly welcomed by New York City as their new heroes, but it is only then we discover that these "Heroes" are in fact former members of the Avengers' archfoes, the Masters of Evil: Baron Zemo, Power Man/Goliath, The Beetle, Moonstone, Screaming Mimi and The Fixer. Their plan is to use the hero ruse to win the trust of the people, so that Zemo will be granted the Avengers' old security clearances, letting him use them to perfect a master plan for domination.
It isn't long before Zemo's plan falls apart, along with the team, as a few of them discover that Good Feels Good and some others find other reasons to rebel; the remaining members are soon led by former Avenger (and fellow former villain) Hawkeye to seek redemption for their past misdeeds.
The series has experienced a fair share of cancellations and Retools since, but has gained particular attention as a result of Civil War as the team is now made up of newer and deadlier villains such as Venom (II, originally the Scorpion) and Bullseye, working for the government under the leadership of Norman Osborn, ruthlessly hunting superheroes who try to elude the Super Registration Act.
After Secret Invasion, Osborn was promoted to the head of all government superheroes, "officially" disbanding the Thunderbolts but retaining some members as his personal off-the-books black ops team. However, he is also having villains (including some ex-Thunderbolts) pose as heroes again, only this time as the well-known Avengers themselves in the series Dark Avengers. Where the Thunderbolts will have a bit of a rotating cast, Dark Avengers features Iron Patriot (Osborn, wearing Iron Man armor with a Captain America (comics) color scheme), "Spider-Man" (Venom III), "Wolverine" (Daken, the son of the real Wolverine), "Hawkeye" (Bullseye), "Captain Marvel" (Noh-Varr, aka "Marvel Boy"), "Ms. Marvel" (Moonstone), Ares, and The Sentry (neither one an impostor).
At the start of the Heroic Age the Thunderbolts are now the Raft (Super Villian Prison) inmate rehabilitation project. Led by Luke Cage, they are a team put together to try to set a number of villains on the path to redemption while giving a place to those who already have switched sides. It includes a number of ex-Thunderbolts who are now heroes (Songbird, Mach V, Fixer) some of Osborn's former crew hoping to use it as a way to earn good publicity (Moonstone), the criminally insane (Crossbones), those who are caught in the Heel Face Revolving Door (Ghost and Juggernaut), and their transportation (Man-Thing). Just before the Fear Itself event, a second 'Beta' team of Raft inmates, the Underbolts, were introduced.
Not to be confused with the Wonderbolts, who manage to be even more colorful while facing far less drama.
Examples from all versions:
Examples from the original series:
- Action Girl: Quite a few, but the one who has stayed constant throughout most of the series is Songbird.
- A God Am I: Zemo and Moonstone at separate points in the series.
- Technically Ares. Because, well, Ares.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Songbird, and when he was a villain named The Beetle, Mach-1.
- Anti-Hero: Most members are type II or III, while Moonstone is a type V.
- Anti-Villain: Meanwhile, even Baron Zemo himself discovered some heroic tendencies from his time on the team.
- Ascended Fanboy: Jolt is an Ascended Fangirl.
- Back from the Dead: Fixer, Jolt (twice), Zemo, Atlas (twice), Smuggler.
- Badass Normal: Citizen V
- Barrier Warrior: Songbird
- Batman Gambit: Tell Joystick that she can't do something. She will do it. She frequently lampshades just how easy it is to pull this on her.
- Becoming the Mask: Kind of the point of the original series.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Graviton -- a supervillain who is to gravity what Magneto is to magnetism, held back mostly by his personal inadequacies. Became a recurring opponent to the team, mostly because of Moonstone repeately manipulating him -- only for the attempts to backfire.
- He later becomes a Cloudcuckoolander villain for Iron Man and Took a Level in Badass taken down a number of Avengers and can take blasts hotter than the sun. Arguably he suffered Badass Decay when he appeared in Thunderbolts for the first time - in his first appearance he was able to beat all of the Avengers and then avert their Hope Spot by defeating Thor when he showed up to save the day.
- Badass Decay? He takes out the entire team, with outside reinforcements, twice. They never won a clean fight against Graviton.
- Black Like Me: Abe (MACH-1) Jenkins was technologically disguised as a black man to cover up the fact he'd been released from prison around the time he upgraded to MACH-2.
- Blood Knight: Joystick. She would fight anybody and do anything if it meant a thrill or winning a bet.
- Changed My Mind, Kid
- C-List Fodder: The Thunderbolts themselves were mostly C-List Villains, as were most of their opponents.
- Contest Winner Cameo/Ascended Extra: Charcoal began as the winner of a Wizard magazine "Create A Villain" contest who made a Face Turn and joined the team. Most of his traits beyond his powers and monstrous superpowered form were created by the series' writers.
- Dark Messiah: Zemo
- Deadpan Snarker: Fixer, the self proclaimed patent holder on snark
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Unfortunately, due to the vague terms of the contest and the winner feeling undercompensated (for various reasons), Charcoal was killed off to prevent a lawsuit over his ownership.
- Dead Little Sister: Atlas has one of these.
- Deader Than Dead: Zemo atomized Photon and scattered him across space and time, claiming that he was like this. Fabian Nicieza confirmed that Zemo is merely Genre Blind, because Photon will return as soon as Marvel feels like using him again.
- Dirty Coward: Blizzard, who spent so much time whining about his suit's freon supply that he was ineffective. He eventually Took a Level in Badass, though.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Charcoal
- Elaborate Underground Base: The vast base within Mount Charteris.
- Evil Costume Switch: Zemo goes back to his old threads.
- Evil Plan: The first reason for suspicion whenever Baron Zemo comes up with a new plan to "save the world" is that every one looks exactly like a villainous plot to take over the world. At least Zemo has stylistic consistency.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Executive Meddling: Humorously, this was both the reason that Genis-Vell (Captain Marvel/Photon) was added to the team and the reason he was killed off.
- The twist ending is an example of Executive Meddling done right. To keep the twist ending of the first issue a secret, he had to convince the execs not to tease at the ending in Previews. He even enlisted Peter David to get his editors to change the solicit for the Hulk's issue where they first appear.
- Face Heel Turn
- Fan Nickname: Fightbolts -- The first massive Retool of the title, revolving around C-List supervillains in an underground fighting circuit.
- Fight Clubbing: At the end of original run, there was brief period when the book stopped being about supervillains turned superhero, and instead became an underground fight club for supervillains.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Spidey and MACH-1
- First Episode Spoiler: One of the most famous in comics. It was a huge surprise that the Thunderbolts were revealed as the Masters of Evil at the end of Thunderbolts #1. Good luck trying to avoid this spoiler now.
- Flying Brick: Charcoal, Moonstone, Abe in most of his armors, Atlas after merging with Dallas Riordan.
- Fun with Acronyms: MACH-$NUMBER
- In the Diggle run it's established that Abe and the Fixer are themselves not entirely sure what it actually stands for, but then settle on "Mechanized Aerial Combat Harness".
- Gadgeteer Genius: Techno/Fixer
- Gambit Pileup: The grand climax of this incarnation consisted of Zemo, Grandmaster, and Songbird trying to enact their own plans while Joystick and Speed Demon followed their own agendas within those plans.
- The end of the "redemption" arc at around the four-year mark involved no fewer than three secret conspiracies, a ton of mysterious masked people hunting down the team for assorted reasons, fully half of the Thunderbolts' major secrets from the rest of the team being outed, and at least one person being mind-controlled to do what he was going to do anyway. It would have given Chris Claremont a headache.
- Good Feels Good
- Green Lantern Ring: Songbird's carapace. Even literally works like a Green Lantern's ring on a less cosmic level, but with additional uses related to her pre-existing sonic powers.
- Handsome Lech: Photon
- Hannibal Lecture: One of Moonstone's specialties.
- Heel Face Turn: One of the major themes in the original run: The team realizes they like being praised instead of booed. Not all of them, but a good chunk of them, anyway.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Atlas' love interest and later girlfriend Dallas Riordan is a redhead.
- Hover Board: The V-Wing
- Karma Houdini: Moonstone, full stop. Hawkeye convinces Abe to serve prison term for murder while Moonstone kept her murder of a Kosmosian king under wraps. She never gets outed for that, nor does she get much comeuppance for her twisted mindgames she plays with her teammates.
- Kid Hero: Jolt, Charcoal.
- Knight Templar: Zemo in Thunderbolts/Avengers and New Thunderbolts. He is constantly making huge grabs for power that are all for a supposed greater good, but his plans always involve forcing his will upon the world as a dictator.
- Not always; his plan in T-bolts/Avengers did involve him stealing huge amounts of power from the citizens of the world, whom he deemed too stupid to wield it...but then, to prove his good intentions and that he didn't plan at all to use the power for his own gain, he offered to turn it all over to Captain America (comics). His old arch-enemy. Pity that Cap hadn't quite overcome his mistrust yet...
- Intangible Woman: Moonstone.
- Legacy Character: Zemo is the thirteenth Baron Zemo; his moniker of Citizen V is also based on an obscure patriotic hero from World War II.
- The Real Remington Steele: There was a real descendant of the original Citizen V who assumed the name and Zemo's costume.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Jolt, the only member of the original Thunderbolts who wasn't in on the masquerade when she joined.
- Morality Pet: Jolt
- Person of Mass Destruction: Photon. Having just ended a period as a Reality Warper with a god complex, he was given a Re-Power that simultaneously drew power from the beginning and end of time; if left unchecked, his powers would have destroyed the universe. He begged Zemo to let him live long enough that he could use his Cosmic Awareness to find a timeline in which the universe survived, but Zemo deemed him too much of a threat to take that risk.
- On a lesser scale, Radioactive Man. One of his reasons for turning to heroism was finding out how many people had been killed or given cancer by his radioactive powers.
- Pet the Dog: How do you reconcile Zemo's newly acquired good intentions with his past Moral Event Horizon moments? Have him use time-travel to give Captain America (comics) all of the personal possessions that he ordered destroyed back in Avengers Under Siege.
- Also, when Zemo jumps in front of a huge incineration blast to save his arch nemesis, Captain America, from the now insane Moonstone, returning his new younger body back to its horribly disfigured state, for the sole reason that he believes that he saving the world means saving each individual person in it. Aww.
- However, this was also implied to be part of his plan since while the final battle of Civil War was happening(Which happened thanks to Zemo giving him the N-Zone prison key), Zemo was trying to defeat the grandmaster to gain cosmic power and take over the world. So he basically played noth sides of the war so they'd be too distracted to stop him. It's possible his reasons weren't completely selfless, which is why Songbird turned against him.
- Powered Armor: MACH-1 and Abe's later armors; the updated "Beetle" suit.
- Put on a Bus: Jolt. "I have to go back to Counter-Earth. They need me."
- Shock and Awe: Jolt
- Sizeshifter: Atlas
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Janice Olivia Yanizeski, a.k.a. Joystick.
- The Atoner: Several.
- The Chessmaster: Zemo
- The Government: The Commission on Superhuman Affairs or CSA for short.
- The Heart: Songbird. She's the moral center of the team who doesn't backslide into criminality or rage like her teammates.
- The Mole: Cobalt Man, secretly Tony Stark, Iron Man.
- Ogre, AKA Techno.
- The Swordsman also counts, having secretly been mind controlled into joining by the Purple Man.
- The Reveal: The end of the first issue, in which Citizen V takes off his mask and reveals his team's real identity.
- The Starscream: Moonstone
- When Zemo took over the team in full Knight Templar mode, Songbird began plotting behind his back to foil his plan and assume leadership.
- The Stoic: Radioactive Man.
- Technopath: Techno. More efficient when his consciousness is put in a robot body.
- Think Nothing of It: Spidey and MACH-1
- Token Evil Teammate: Moonstone. While the rest of the teammates who betray Zemo do so as part of their Heel Face Turns, Dr. Sofen does so for her own agenda. Though she occasionally flirts with becoming a better person, she never really stops being a manipulative schemer.
- Two Aliases, One Character: Just about the entire team.
- Unreliable Voiceover: The first Annual, in which Citizen V tells Jolt about how he brought the team together, without mentioning the parts about them all being supervillains.
- Warrior Therapist: Moonstone
- West Coast Team: Under Hawkeye's leadership.
Examples from the Warren Ellis Retool:
- All-Star Cast: The primary hook for this incarnation of Thunderbolts was it was filled with several big named Antagonists for other established characters.
- Art Shift: The previous incarnation had very classic superhero-style art from Tom Grummett; he was replaced by the hyper-realistic Mike Deodato. When combined with the role shift of the team from The Atoner to Boxed Crook, it is hard to think of them as the same series.
- Also the coloring became very dark.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: American Eagle and Shadow-woman(Sepulchre).
- Badass: While most of the team fit this trope, a special mention goes to Jason Strongbow, AKA American Eagle. He impales Moonstone's arm with his Grapple Gun, fights Venom to a standstill, escapes without a scratch from the entire team, then proceeds to beat the crap out of frickin' Bullseye without breaking a sweat!
Strongbow: You might do okay with those New York city boys. But you and me are in Phoenix, Arizona. So you take a swing at a real American and see what happens.
Bullseye: You done?
Strongbow: Not till I'm paddling in your blood, little boy. C'mon, first shot's free.
Bullseye: First shot's all I need.
Bullseye goes in for said first shot, Strongbow ducks, then beats the hell out of him until he's vomiting Blood From the Mouth.
Bullseye (weakly): What happened to the first shot?
Strongbow: I lied.
- Bald of Awesome: The head shaving of Swordsman marked his new Badassary. It didn't really work, though.
- Batman Gambit: The telepaths letting themselves get captured to get inside Thunderbolt Mountain.
- Boxed Crook: The more blatantly psychopathic members, like Bullseye, were kept under control this way.
- Brain Bleach / Nightmare Fuel: For the security guards who see Norman Osborn in his Goblin costume. Lampshaded: "I'm going to be in therapy for the rest of my life."
- Brother-Sister Incest: Swordman is only a team-member because Osborn promises to clone his beloved dead sister.
- C-List Fodder: The Thunderbolts fight minor characters such as Jack Flag and Steel Spider instead of other (major) unregistered heroes like Spider-Man or Daredevil; justified as that was mainly because they were based in Colorado, while Spidey and Daredevil are over in New York. They do go after Spidey when they head to New York though.
- Curb Stomp Battle / No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: American Eagle to Bullseye.
- Darker and Edgier
- Dead Baby Comedy: Venom attacking innocent civilians and declaring "I got Superhero work to do!" Might've been a Most Definitely Not a Villain moment since he's trying to convince Sepulchre not to get in his way.
- Fan Nickname: "Suicidebolts" - for their thematic similarity to DC's Suicide Squad.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Doc Samson imagines beating up Osborn and Moonstone after learning who they are and what they've done.
- Later Moonstone gives him even an excuse to beat her by attacking him.
- Merchandise-Driven: An in-universe example. Songbird's action figures are popular with pre-teen girls, which is why Osborn keeps her on the team. Moonstone is more popular with males, 18-45, and is made into a sexy collectible statue.
- Only Sane Man: Songbird and Radioactive Man.
- Psychic Powers: The telepaths.
- Psycho for Hire: The whole team.
- Stan Lee: As the host of Who Wants to be a Thunderbolt?
- Super Registration Act: The team's main reason for existence is to enforce this.
- And during the Civil War they were all pro mostly because since they're all former villains (ie have criminal records) the goverment already knew who they were.
- Tempting Fate: Subverted, again in the Strongbow vs Bullseye scenario; see the quote above.
- The Chew Toy: Swordman was utterly humiliated by people like Jack Flag and Steel Spider, then his boss, the Green Goblin broke him physically and mentally, then Bullseye kills his cloned sister, then Osborn impaled him with his own sword and threw his body down a mountain...
- The Starscream: Both Moonstone and Songbird qualify. Moonstone secretly switched Norman Osborn's meds (and he's dangerously psychotic while on them), while Songbird tricks Bullseye into an escape attempt that leaves him paralyzed and later blackmails her way into Moonstone's leadership position.
- To Catch Heroes Hire Villains
- Took a Level in Badass: Swordsman
- Villainous Breakdown: "Steel Spider, man."
- Villain with Good Publicity: Norman Osborn
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Everyone tries to have Songbird killed after the Secret Invasion is over and Osborn rises through the ranks of authority. Just because she became the Token Good Teammate. She held off for a while, but in the end, Swordsman saved her bacon.
Examples from Andy Diggle's Retool :
- Aloof Big Brother: the Headsman's older brother Cody
- An Axe to Grind: Headsman
- Ascended Extra: The Headsman's sole previous appearance was in a few issues of Untold Tales of Spider Man before being bumped up to solidly big league as a main T-Bolt.
- Badass Biker: Headsman used to ride with a biker gang, and learned how to fight in biker bars. Believe it or not, he was the runt of the crew -- his brother was the real badass.
- Badass Normal: Subverted by Mr. X who seems at first to be just an extremely capable, but unpowered close-combat fighter, but is actually a mutant whose uses his mind-reading powers for Combat Clairvoyance. He also uses this ability to get a telepathic high off his opponents as he kills them.
- Barack Obama: appears in the first issue, with Osborn constantly badmouthing him behind his back.
- Berserk Button: Mr. X guesses, correctly, that insulting Headsman's family is all he needs to do to provoke him to violence.
- Blood Knight: Mr. X and Scourge, who are clearly Osborn's favorite members of the group for this reason. Scourge's worst nightmare is a world without war.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: After battling the Agents of Atlas and all the T-Bolts members save Ghost suffering Hallucinations, while the Agents escape, Jimmy Woo and Bob Grayson attempt to brainwash Scourge into being a Manchurian Agent to kill Norman Osborn. It doesn't end well.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Ant-Man, Ghost, and Venom-Spiderman.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Artist Mike Deodato Jr. has a habit of basing his figures off real people. Norman Osborn is based off of Tommy Lee Jones.
- Costume Copycat: The very first mission for this incarnation of the Thunderbolts is for the Headsman to pose as the Green Goblin and attack Osborn. The plan was for the Headsman to be killed, but Ghost interfered.
- Deep South: Where the Headsman was raised, though he hasn't been back in a long while.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When we first see Mr. X, he's attending a ballet. He eventually expresses desire to kill the leading man for dancing like a complete amateur. While he doesn't get the chance to make good on this, he almost certainly would have done it given the opportunity.
- Does Not Like Guns: Mr. X forms an empathic bond with his victims and relishes in their deaths - which is why he prefers his kills to be up close and personal.
- Dumb Muscle: Headsman, and you could probably argue Scourge.
- Eagle Land: The ultimate showdown between USAgent and Scourge is essentially Type 1 vs. Type 2.
- Face Framed in Shadow: The cover of the first issue.
- Fun with Acronyms: H.A.M.M.E.R.
- Norbert Ebersol (Fixer): First rule of government defense spending: You gotta have a cool-sounding acronym.
- Made even more amusing during Osborn's first conversation with Victoria Hand, where he tells her the individual letters all mean something, and then when she asks what, he tells her one of her first jobs is to come up with a meaning for it.
- Norbert Ebersol (Fixer): First rule of government defense spending: You gotta have a cool-sounding acronym.
- Gatling Good: When sent up against Songbird, Paladin brings noticeably heavier weaponry than we've ever (as in "in his entire character history") seen him with before, a colossal minigun.
- Also, the above example with Ares, he IS the God of War.
- Hot Librarian: Victoria Hand, the Deputy Director of H.A.M.M.E.R and Osborn's right-hand.
- Heel Face Turn: Headsman, Paladin and Ghost fight Scourge and Mr.X to give Songbird and the Black Widow time to escape; then Ghost covers their betrayal by altering their short-term memory
- By the end of the run, Paladin and Ant-Man (who had tried to avoid choosing sides up to that point) both appear to be permanently good; Headsman is dead and the Ghost is "a highly conflicted individual".
- Heel Face Revolving Door: Ghost. Called a wild card by 'Nick Fury', he seems to switch sides every issue, with the aforementioned helping of Songbird swiftly followed by him taking some time off to help Madame Masque try to murder the comatose Tony Stark, and still after failing this, he relays a warning to the Mighty Avengers (or what's left of them) about the Thunderbolt's mission to take the spear of Odin.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Grizzly is described as having "rumored cannibalistic tendencies", though we aren't shown any actual evidence of this here.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Mr. X
- Intangible Man: Ghost
- Knight Templar: Seems Osborn really does think he's a good guy and wants to help the world, no matter what it takes...
- Lean and Mean: The Ghost
- Legacy Character: Cody seems to like the idea of redeeming his brother's name and making the Headsman a hero...
- Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: Mr. X explains how his telepathic Combat Clairvoyance works to everyone. This is typically followed by his opponent figuring out some way to bypass it and kicking his ass.
- Thus his Fan Nickname, Mr. Exposition.
- Meaningful Name: Headsman's real name is Cleavon Twain, as in "cleave in twain".
- Nightmare Fetishist: When Songbird and Black Widow are captured, Osborn demands that their beheadings be recorded and given to him so that he can "review" them in his office later.
- Off with His Head: The Headsman really, really likes chopping heads off.
- Only One Name: Paladin and Mr. X.
- Only Sane Man: Ant-Man and Paladin. That's right, the Irredeemable Ant-Man is often the voice of reason here.
- Pet the Dog: Eric O'Grady, who, just to remind you, is The Irredeemable Ant-Man, fulfilled the Headsman's desire to go back to Louisiana and show his brother what he became, extolling Cleavon's virtues all the while.
- Retirony: Headsman - While he isn't literally a day from retirement, in the issues leading up to his death we start to sympathize with his character a lot more as more details on his background are revealed.
- Sunglasses at Night: Mr. X
- Lampshaded by Paladin
Paladin: And you sound pretty cocky for a guy who wears shades ... indoors ... at night!
- The Faceless: Ghost was not seen outside his suit.
- The Mole: Black Widow believes she secretly works for Nick Fury; actually she is being fooled by Osborn into thinking she is working for Nick Fury.
- The Worf Effect: Mr. X seems to exist mainly so other people can come up with clever ways to defeat his ability to automatically dodge attacks. So far successful tactics include grenades, attacks too large or fast to avoid, attacking without thinking about it, and in one case throwing a bunch of arrows. He'd probably do better if he didn't explain his powers to everyone. The Headsman is a more frequent target of this - the largest and most physically imposing member of the team, he tended to be neutralized early whenever a situation went sour, and he's the only one dead by the end.
- Too Dumb to Live: Apparently, the vast majority of the population of the Earth-616 USA, given how cheerful they are that nigh-absolute power over their lives has been placed in the hands of a psychopathic madman.
- To be fair, he is also the greatest American war hero (of the Skrull Invasion) who killed Skrull Queen Veranke , saved Washington D.C. and single-handedly stopped an attack against the Thunderbolts base. Also, Osborn is charismatic and he did point out how some Avengers were criminals before becoming heroes. Though none of them needed medication to keep from throwing women off of bridges...
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Mister X.
- Walking the Earth: Paladin does this after retrieving the Spear of Odin at the end of Siege, to keep it as far away from people like Osborn as possible. Apparently he eventually found a secure place to store it, though, since he's back in action as one of the Heroes for Hire.
- Absolute Cleavage: Satana combines this with Cleavage Window for a truly impressive display of flesh.
- It's really more like an Impossibly Low Neckline that stops just above her crotch.
- The Alcatraz: The Raft.
- And the Fandom Rejoiced: The news that the Fixer and Mach-V would be in the book along with Songbird and Moonstone. Then there was Zemo... although he's actually just Fixer putting the team through a training run. Also, Man-Thing.
- Anything That Moves: Satana, in issue 156, jumps Man-Thing, Juggernaut, Ghost and Moonstone. Luke Cage cockblocks her with a magic gizmo from Dr Strange.
- Interestingly, next issue we see a hallucination from Moonstone's perspective, and she still flirts with her.
- As of the Golden Age Thunderbolts arc Namor.
- Artificial Limbs: The current Warden of the Raft, John Walker. After getting his left arm and leg cut off by the psychopatic cyborg Nuke he deliberately chose to get a low-tech cable activated hook-hand and move around in a wheelchair. A more high-tech prosthetic would make him feel less human, like the man who crippled him.
- Ascended Meme: #162 gives us the long-awaited Giant-Size Man-Thing, stated word-for-word by Songbird.
- Badass Adorable: Troll
- Badass Normal: Crossbones and Boomerang are the only non-super powered team members of the current run.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Luke Cage.
- Centurius seems to have taken the unofficial leader role for the time lost fugitive Thunderbolts team.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: the time lost Thunderbolts team (more directly Mr. Hyde, Satana and Boomerang)were responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders, primarily because the victims were possessed by ancient ghosts of witches trying to take over London.
- Blood Knight: Gunna and Mr. Hyde on the "Beta Team"
- Complete Monster: Everyone is well aware Crossbones has no chance of redemption.
- That's actually why he was on the team, as a Scare'Em Straight for other villains trying to be redeemed.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Ghost, to an insane degree. He once told Moonstone that he believed a crossword puzzle in a newspaper was a form of communication for a secret group. This all comes from his origin which reveals that he was manipulated and nearly killed by the company he worked for. He only discovered their plot by connecting seemingly meaningless facts together.
- Deadpan Snarker: Boomerang and Mr Hyde are both happy to mouth off and complain about their current predicament.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Though it's nothing too bad, Centurius, the only black member of the time-traveling Underbolts, gets some of this. For example, Captain America expresses his happiness that the armed forces are giving more chances for "negroes" to fight.
- Demonic Possession: Ghost completes the platter of powers typical of his namesake by having an "imposition module", which he uses to take over other people's bodies. He first tries it on an unconscious Mach-V. Naturally, Satana later uses it to get inside Juggernaut and free him from the influence of Kuurth in Fear Itself. It doesn't work.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The reason why Crossbones is even on the team is to invoke this and make others more willing to work with Cage, than trying something fishy, which would probably equal siding with him.
- Expy: Hyperion for Superman. He's a solar-powered superhero with almost identical powers, a similar costume, and a weakness to a mineral named after a noble gas.
- Five-Man Band
- The Hero: Luke Cage and Songbird
- The Lancer: MACH-V and Moonstone
- The Smart Guy: Ghost
- The Big Guy: Juggernaut
- The Chick: The distinct lack of one is often a problem for the 'Bolts. There isn't much to stop them from abandoning each other.
- Team Pet: The Man-Thing, who just stands around being Ugly Cute. Moonstone treats him like this, likely resulting in Precocious Crush, below, as well as Satana. Just be sure not to piss him off or show fear.
- Sixth Ranger: So far, Crossbones, King Hyperion, and Satana. Unfortunately, the first two were Sixth Ranger Traitors, making the team suspect Satana to be one as well, but she averts it.
- Tagalong Kid: Troll, a savage, cannibalistic Asgardian child raised by Trolls, who behaves like them.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Ghost went from regular computer engineer to international cyber-terrorist and hacker.
- Future Me Scares Me: The Fixer from the past team after he finds out what has become of the social life of his future self.
- Hand Wave: How do you keep the Juggernaut under control? You de-power him. Why is he de-powered? Probably something to do with Captain Universe...
- It makes sense in context. Juggernaut is powered by a mystical deity called Cyttorak, and recently abandoned him to take up the power of Captain Universe. He then lost the power of Captain Universe and took up being Cyttorak's champion again, it's just that he's mad that Juggernaut would abandon him in the first place, so he gave Juggernaut less power.
- During the World War Hulk storyline Cyttorak himself claimed that Juggernaut powers are related to his adherence to his status as his avatar: thus, whenever Juggernaut engages in acts of wanton destruction without a real meaning, embracing his status as a force of nature, Cyttorak is pleased and pours more power. When Juggernaut tries to act more "cerebral", as in doing full time heroics, Cyttorak is displeased and witholds his blessings. Thus Juggernaut is currently a. guilty of abandoning his Patron God for a stronger one (Captain Universe) and b. misusing a power meant for a Chaotic Neutral alignment (if not a Chaotic Evil) to become a Lawful Neutral, if not a Lawful Good hero. He's just lucky Cyttorak has not depowered him fully...
- Handicapped Badass: John Walker, the former U.S. Agent. He beats up several rioting inmates and scares two more into bringing him his wheelchair when he's done.
- Hot Witch: Satana
- I Hate Past Me: The present day Fixer to an extreme degree when the time lost team arrives in the past just after the first version of the team was formed.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Boomerang sells himself as a candidate for the program by pointing out he is as good a shot as Bullseye, with the added benefit of being sane.
- Les Yay: As mentioned above, the greeting Satana gave to Moonstone.
- Most Common Superpower: Satana and Moonstone.
- Nausea Fuel: Issue 171 has Songbird being kidnapped, having unsolicited brain surgery by a Mad Scientist and waking up later with his mutant minion sucking her toes.
- Nerdgasm: Ghost has some propensity to this, as seen in the mission with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents mutated with Terrigen Mists.
Ghost: (upon finding a S.H.I.E.L.D. data unit) Twelve terabytes of data. Yeeessss...
Moonstone: Anybody else thinks we shouldn't be looking at that pervert?
- The Ojou: Moonstone acts as a Type 2.
- Power Is Sexy: Satana certainly thinks so.
- Precocious Crush: Arguably the only thing you can call Man-Thing's seeming infatuation with Moonstone.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: Take a guess.
- Prison Riot
- Running Gag: Female inmates hooting and cat-calling whenever a male super-hero visits the Women's section of the Raft.
- Say My Name: POWER MAN! LUKE! CAGE!
- Sergeant Rock: They seem to be going for this with Luke Cage.
- Take That: Hyperion, an Expy of Superman is vain, arrogant, incompetent and traitorous. He is horrifically beaten and his broken, bloody body gets a huge panel rendered in loving, graphic detail.
- Token Evil Teammate: Technically not, but this trope was behind the idea of having Crossbones in the team was to invoke this (see Even Evil Has Standards). Guess who is the first to defect.
- Tweener: Fixer, unlike Mach-V and Songbird who are 100% good now. He recently even helped Zemo in his recent plot against the current Captain America. Then again Fixer has always remained loyal to Zemo.
- This comes to a head at the end of the Thunderbolts Fear Itself tie-in, where, after Mach-V walks in on a video-communication between Fixer and Zemo, 'Bert absconds with Moonstone, Satanna, Centurius, Boomerang, Mr. Hyde and the freakin' Thunderbolts Tower.
- Wild Child: Gunna the Half-Troll.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Merlin during the time travel arc; he predicted enough of the future to know that the knights of Camelot's quest for the Holy Grail as a cure all for their kingdom would leave Camelot weakened and prey for Mordred, and collected a legion of various monsters and creatures to use as a last defense. But the Thunderbolts' arrival, capture and later escape led to all of them being freed and slaughtered by the knights and with them his hope to save Camelot.