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Thunderbolts #126: Review

Jan 2009
Andy Diggle, Roberto de la Torre

Story Name:

Burning down the house part 1 (of 2)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Thunderbolts #126 Review by (December 12, 2016)
This 2-parter isn't bannered either Secret Invasion or Dark Reign, but occurs in the handover period between those 2 events.

I've included this in the Iron Man Library because Norman Osborn will soon become Iron Patriot, and thus an honorary Iron Man. (Well, if it works for Dr Doom.) I'm going to use NO/IP to justify following Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers through Dark Reign.

The Strucker twins operated as villain team Fenris, and needed physical contact to use their joint power. Andrea von Strucker was killed by Baron Zemo occupying the body of Citizen V II in CV & the V-Battalion #3.
Andreas von Strucker became Swordsman but wanted his sister back, and not just for the power (because he had her skin wrapped around his sword hilt which gave him *that*). He became a Thunderbolt even before the CSA created the latest version of the team.
In #122 Andreas got a clone of his sister created by Arnim Zola. But she was killed in #124 during Secret Invasion. He's been told it was by Skrulls, but it was actually Bullseye and Moonstone who thought *she* was a Skrull.
Andreas is angry with Norman Osborn for procrastinating on his original promise to revive Andrea (before he got the clone), and probably for putting her in the situation where she was killed again.

Dallas Riordan has had a long history with the Thunderbolts from their very 1st issue. She has been a Citizen V, her own superheroine as Vantage, and merged with Atlas. But before and between and after she's been a civil servant, currently in the Commission on Superhuman Activities. But this is her very last appearance.

Senator Arthur Woodman has been seen before in the Initiative. In their #3-4 he blackmailed Hardball into stealing a sample of SPIN, which had a knock-on effect in World War Hulk. In #7 he tried to steal gamma ray experimental data. In the Annual #1 we learned he belonged to Hydra. In #12 he was on a board of inquiry about recent Initiative events.
He'll make 1 more app after this in the Initiative Special #1 where he'll turn himself into a lizard and die.

There's a gap between the Committee meeting and the action in Thunderbolts HQ. Norman Osborn has his meeting with the President in SI#8(p22:1) where the Pres asks him to take over Tony Stark's position as head of various organisations. Then in Deadpool (2008) #6 NO hires Tiger Shark to kill DP to hide the fact that it was intel gained by DP in DP#3 that enabled him to kill Veranke (although this doesn't seem to be true). Then there's the press conference in SI#8(p22:2-23) where the Pres introduces Norman as the new head of the Avengers and the Initiative and an unnamed replacement for SHIELD (HAMMER), which is sampled in other comics. Then we have a flashback in DR: Young Avengers #2 where NO 'inspires' Coat Of Arms to create a new YA team. And then the phone call here with Moonstone.
After this NO will hold the Cabal meeting in Avengers Tower in SI#8(p24-26) and SI:DR#1.

Penance won't really be committed to a mental institution. Worse, he'll be brainwashed to work for Osborn in his new Initiative, starting from their #25.

Radioactive Man will join China's People's Defence Force in Mighty Avengers #27-31.

I won't be doing #127 so I'll include a brief synopsis here, as it ends this story and this incarnation of the team.

Songbird fights back against Bullseye but he wrecks the tech which implements her sonic power these days. She escapes but Moonstone sends Venom after her as well. Bullseye asks Moonstone why she doesn't just activate Melissa's nanobots, but Karla informs him that Captain Marvel destroyed the control system in #123. Realising he's free of restraint Bullseye tries to kill *her*, but Sofen whispers something which changes his mind. (I guess it's that they are both going to be part of NO's Dark Avengers, which suits his twisted sense of humour.)
Songbird kills her transmitter to stop being tracked but still communicates with Moonstone via her sonic power. Belatedly Sofen realises this means that Gold has reached her backup tech harness in the team's Zeus aircraft. Melissa has also used her power to overhear Karla's conversation with Bullseye and now knows she's an enemy too. She fires missiles at the control room. Sofen escapes using intangibility, and leaves. Bullseye escapes using agility and resumes the chase.
He and Venom both attack the Zeus as Songbird exits the base. They crash on the mountain. Venom is KO'd but Bullseye attacks her. Until Swordsman zaps him unconscious too. He lets Melissa fly away and then blows up the Zeus. He'll tell the others that her body was consumed in the fire.

Swordsman will threaten Osborn in SI:DR#1, and Norman will kill him with his own sword. He (and his sister) won't be seen again until after the multiverse is destroyed leading up to Secret Wars III. Then they'll both reappear without explanation (other than that the universe has been recreated anew) in Illuminati #2.

Songbird will continue to oppose NO in the pages of this magazine, and will recruit earlier Thunderbolts to her side.

Bullseye, Moonstone and Venom will be part of the Dark Avengers in that comic. This mag will feature a totally new team of villains working for Osborn.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thunderbolts #126 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Norman Osborn led the Thunderbolts to visible success against the Skrulls during Secret Invasion, and was the 1 who gave the killing shot to Skrull Queen Veranke in SI#8. So now he's riding high in public opinion.

This issue opens with Songbird accompanying Swordsman as he burns his sister's body in a spot with a good view on Thunderbolts Mountain. When Andrea died the 1st time she was buried in the family crypt. He doesn't think it appropriate to  repeat that (perhaps because she's a clone).

Andreas von Strucker tells Melissa Gold that he intends to complete his contract with the CSA, and then when he is free he will kill Osborn. Songbird reminds him of the nanobots that will disable them if they rebel against Norman. But Andreas dismisses this and turns to the subject of their leader's intentions.

NO has gone to Washington to meet the President and bask in media acclaim. He's left them behind to clear up the mess in their HQ. But Strucker suggests that Norman is cleaning house in a different way, and warns Melissa to be on her guard.

In Washington Osborn attends a meeting of the Senate Oversight Committee on Superhuman Activities. Dallas Riordan commends his actions in the SI and judges it a validation of the CSA's decision to make him Director of the Thunderbolts. But Norman sees the CSA, SHIELD, SWORD and the Avengers Initiative as all criminally failing to prevent the Invasion. They were all infiltrated by Skrulls and were taken over during SI.

He claims that the Thunderbolts were the only group not corrupted, due to his security procedures and using OsCorp Tech which wasn't affected by the Skrull's StarkTech virus. He goes further and suggests that there were human collaborators in the other organisations.

Senator Woodman protests that there's no evidence of such traitors, but Osborn replies that the Skrulls would have covered their tracks. He proposes an independent group to uncover the villains, which Riordan likens to a McCarthy-style witch hunt.

Osborn says he can't continue to work for the suspect CSA, and resigns and says he's disbanding the Thunderbolts. Then he leaves for a meeting with the President. Outside the crowds cheer him.

Later at Thunderbolts Mountain HQ Karla Sofen (Moonstone) calls Robbie Baldwin (Penance) in for a chat as team psychiatrist. He's nearly at the end of his 12-month tour of duty (like Swordsman since #109). But he's been under the psychiatric care of Doc Samson, and Karla must evaluate whether he's fit to remain on active duty.

Robbie remembers how Moonstone tried to kill him in #121 until he blasted her through several walls. But she reminds him that they were all being messed with telepathically then. Because she didn't have her intangibility power at that point she was severely injured. She asks him how it felt.

Baldwin breaks down and says she must hate him. Sofen responds that everyone hates him. Not for the Stamford disaster that kicked off Civil War, but because he's a whining teen who 'punishes' himself with spikes in his costume to get his power to work. He's turned adolescent angst into a superpower. She suggests if he loathes himself that much he should commit suicide.

Robbie is taken aback. But Sofen softens and and claims she was just provoking him to see if he could be trusted to control himself. She gives him a drink of water. When he's downed a lot of it she asks him if he'd like to see his new costume. Confused Baldwin sees her holding a straitjacket, which she says is de rigueur where he's going.

He tries to stand but falls over. Now Sofen lets her real feelings show. She tells Robbie he's going to a maximum security mental institution. The drink contained a powerful anaesthetic which stops him feeling pain to kick-start his power. And a tranquiliser which sends him to sleep. That'll teach him to punch her through a wall.

Karla rings Norman Osborn to report her progress. Then she tells Mac Gargan to clothe himself in the Venom symbiote and go after Songbird and Radioactive Man (Chen Lu).

Melissa is in her quarters, wrecked like everything else after the telepaths sent Osborn on a rampage as Green Goblin in #120-121 and the Skrull Captain Marvel attacked in #122-123. She's sorting through the wreckage salvaging stuff like a picture of the old Thunderbolts team.

Chen Lu comes to see her to tell her that the Chinese government have recalled him home immediately. They go to the hangar bay where a helicopter is waiting to take him away. He tells her that his 1 regret is leaving her because he thought they might become more than friends. Melissa has been friendly up to this point, but she freezes up and brusquely tells him to go. He leaves thinking he has offended her.

But then we learn that Bullseye is behind her and told her to get rid of him. He has a dagger to her back, and now 1 to her throat. He's seeking revenge for #115 where she tricked him into getting his nervous system fried by the nanobots that keep him in check. He's going to insert a dagger into the nerve cluster at the base of her spine, and make Melissa beg for death.

Songbird tells him Osborn will be very angry if he kills her because she has blackmail tapes of Norman going Goblin in #120-121 which will be released if she dies. But Bullseye informs her that Osborn has dealt with that, and asked him to kill her. She's not part of Norman's plans for the team.

Roberto de la Torre
Roberto de la Torre
Frank Martin
Francesco Mattina (Cover Penciler)
Francesco Mattina (Cover Inker)
Francesco Mattina (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doc Samson
Doc Samson

(Leonard Samson)

> Thunderbolts: Book info and issue index

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