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Thunderbolts #42: Review

Sep 2000
Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley

Story Name:

Two ships

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Thunderbolts #42 Review by (June 5, 2020)
This was another of my favourite series. I like team books and in this 1 Fabian Nicieza wove an intricate strand of sub-plots.

The title may refer to "2 ships that pass in the night" and may reflect Atlas and Man-Killer's non-relationship.

Original writer Kurt Busiek has a hand in the plot.

Richard Starkings is aided on the inking by Oscar Gongorra.

Atlas' description of his history with Dallas Riordan shows V-Battalion leaders Roger Aubrey and Elisabeth Barstow telling him about Dallas' time as Citizen V. But I can't find a scene like that in previous issues and can only assume it happened between #40-41.

The 3rd body in stasis will be revived as new char Humus Sapien in #54.

Silver Scorpion was a Timely Comics heroine who Roy Thomas revived in the WWII Invaders vol 2 mini-series. Roy invented Roger Aubrey for his Invaders main series, 1st as Dyna-Mite then taking over the role of Destroyer from Brian Falsworth (who has been retconned to be the original Destroyer in Timely Comics).

There was also a Citizen V in Timely Comics who led a team called the V-Battalion. Destroyer and Scorpion continued the Battalion after CV's death in WWII.

This issue certainly makes it seem that CV was Dallas' paternal grandfather (unlike the way I have phrased it in the Synopsis). But later comics will give the lie to that, saying that CV's name was John Watkins, and his grandson with the same name will succeed Dallas as CV. Dallas' grandfather was a member of the later V-Battalion in a different capacity.

Crimson Cowl will be back in #64 with Man-Killer in her gang. But then MK switches sides in #65 and *does* become a Thunderbolt as Amazon.

Atlas and Wonder Man will crossover to Avengers #32, but the Thunderbolts won't follow them yet.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thunderbolts #42 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Crossover continuing from AVENGERS (1998) #31 where we learned, amongst other things, that Wonder Man is missing.

Meanwhile the Thunderbolts have just had an adventure (#41) involving Sandman. And lots of subplots are evolving which I'll mention as they come up.

Erik Josten (Atlas) is in a bar in Burton Canyon, Colorado below the team's base in Mount Charteris. He's about to unburden his woes on the regular barmaid Wilma, without revealing the fact that he's a superbeing and member of the Thunderbolts - especially as he's recognised her as Man-Killer of Crimson Cowl's Masters Of Evil who they defeated in #25. (But we get the complete details).

He'd fallen in love with Dallas Riordan, their liaison to the Mayor of New York when they were stationed there. But when they were revealed to really be Baron Zemo's Masters Of Evil (#10) they had to go on the run and Dallas lost her job. She then secretly turned up as the heroic Citizen V (#16) but was herself framed as their foe Crimson Cowl (#25), but it was all sorted out after they met CV's team the V-Battalion. However not before she was rescued/abducted by Crimson Cowl's cape (#39), again throwing doubt on her allegiance.

But his outpouring is cut short when someone he recognises attacks the bar.

Meanwhile Dallas in her Citizen V garb is confronted by her captor Cowl, but still finds time to remember her youth when her father, cop Jimmy Riordan, pushed her to become athletically fit. She knew it had something to do with her grandfather who died in mysterious circumstances in Europe after WWII. (We see him lying at the feet of grieving Destroyer (Roger Aubrey) and Silver Scorpion (Elisabeth Barstow).) And she eventually joined the police to please him. Now she attacks Cowl with 2 pieces of pipe but is easily defeated by her formidable cloak.

CC then explains her earlier interaction with Dallas. In #24 Citizen V interfered with her plans and was captured. Then in #25 she teleported Dallas into a non-functioning copy of her Cowl garb and allowed her to be 'unmasked' by the TBolts. This set things up for conflict between the 'Bolts and the Battalion. which unfortunately was over far too quickly and painlessly. Now her usefulness is over and it's time to die. But CV has an em-pulse generator designed just for this eventuality which scrambles the cloak's circuits and leaves its owner vulnerable to a beating.

Back at the bar we see that the assailant is Wonder Man. Erik saves Wilma and she urges him to go fight the foe. It turns out *she* recognised *him* too. Atlas grows taller (and thus stronger) but tries to talk Simon Williams down. After they met in #11-12 the Avengers agreed to give the Thunderbolts the chance to prove they really were heroes. But WM doesn't talk, just punches, and Atlas hits back. Then he tells Wilma he knows she's really Man-Killer and asks for her help in the battle.

Now we turn to TB HQ where the rest of the team are trying to locate Moonstone who walked (flew) out last issue mid-battle, but tech-whiz Ogre is failing miserably. Songbird thinks they should be looking for Jolt's killer (between #34-35) instead. But leader Hawkeye says that won't bring Hallie Takahama back, but Karla Sofen was in a bad way when she left and she might need their help.

We know that Ogre is really their old team-mate Techno (Norbert Ebersol) who remained with Baron Zemo when the rest of the team revolted against him. He replaced Ogre in #33 and stashed him in a suspension tube. There are 2 others in tubes, 1 of which is obviously Jolt's bioelectrical form but the other is as yet unrevealed. However the new Scourge who has been secretly stalking the corridors since #38 knows Techno's secrets too.

But now Ogre picks up a police report on the fight between Atlas and Wonder Man ...

... which Josten is losing hard. At least Wondie's talking now. Erik again tries to get Simon to stop for the sake of civilian casualties. But then kicks him into another building. He has another stab at getting Wilma to help but she doesn't want to become a 'hero' like the TBolts. And she thinks he might also be angling for her to become his girlfriend. She tells him her name's not Wilma but Katrina Van Horn, and she calls herself Man-Killer for a reason which precludes any romantic involvement with him. And then she runs off as Wonder Man slams into him.

Elsewhere Crimson Cowl is running from Citizen V, then showing that she doesn't depend on her cape to fight back. We pull back to see that this is taking place in a lonely hi-tech base atop a sea-cliff. Now Dallas is doubting the reasons why she followed the path which led to her joining the V-Battalion on the invitation of Roger Aubrey after the Mayor fired her, a job which her grandfather had but her father had refused. And she took on the long-dormant mantle of CV, which identity Zemo had borrowed and besmirched in the early issues of this series. But now she realises that it isn't vengeance (against Thunderbolts or Crimson Cowl) that drives her, or honour, guilt or the law. She just wants to fight evil, and Cowl qualifies.

CC has reached a flying craft on a VTOL platform jutting out high over the sea. CV stops her entering and their fight takes them to the edge of the platform. Dallas goes over the railing, clinging to Cowl's cape. The villainess is willing to expose her identity if it means her foe's death, so she slips the cloak and hood off and watches her fall to the water far below. Dallas' last word before she hits is Erik's name.

Burton Canyon High School is hit by the plummeting body of Atlas. Student Charlie Burlingame slips away and changes to Charcoal's flaming form to fly up to fight Wonder Man in mid-air. Again Simon Williams refuses the chance to talk and hits the boy, shattering him into pieces of his charcoal body.

At this point the TBolts arrive. Mach-2 catches Charcoal's head, and Charlie says it hurts but he'll be able to reassemble his body. Hawkeye and Songbird join them just in time to see Wondy flying off with unconscious Atlas. Mach-2 is shocked to see that WM has his hand inside Erik's chest. But Hawkeye explains that it's because they're both made of ionic energy. And now it's time to call the Avengers.

The crossover continues in AVENGERS (1998) #32.

Mark Bagley
Al Milgrom
Joe Rosas
Mark Bagley (Cover Penciler)
Greg Adams (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)

Plus: Atlas, Charcoal, Citizen V (Dallas Riordan), Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer), Mach-2, Man-Killer, Scourge (Jack Monroe), Songbird, Techno (Norbert Ebersol).

> Thunderbolts: Book info and issue index

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