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Thunderbolts #128: Review

Mar 2009
Andy Diggle, Roberto de la Torre

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

0 stars

Thunderbolts #128 Review by (July 25, 2017)
The cover shows more Thunderbolts than are in this issue. It presumably includes Paladin, Mr X and Nuke/Scourge, 2 of whom won't be added to the team for several issues.

The new President is supposed to be Barack Obama.

Songbird got hold of the backup copy of the security videos in #121 and gave them to Doc Samson to take out of the Thunderbolts base. She used that to blackmail Norman Osborn into letting her lead the team (rather than Moonstone).

Next issue we'll learn that this Green Goblin of course isn't the real 1 (or any of the previous non-Norman versions). It's a villain called the Headsman - more on him next time.

NO asks Yelena Belova how she survived her destruction (as an Adaptoid) in New Warriors Annual #1. She brushes the question aside. But the revelation later in this series that she's really the 'real' Black Widow, Natasha Romanova, doesn't negate the question because YB has been already seen since then in an arc in Marvel Comics Presents v2. The Marvel Chronology Project gets out of this by dubbing the char in NAv#5-6 & An#1 as an imposter, but other sites just seem to treat it as the usual villain recovery.

I'll return to NR when she's officially exposed.

Headsman, Ant-Man and Ghost are part of Belova's Thunderbolts team.

Ant-Man was an Initiative trainee but he was selected for the Thunderbolts in Av:I#20. But Osborn sent him with HAMMER troops to rescue the Shadow Initiative from Madripoor in Av:I#24.

Ghost is an old Iron Man villain who last tangled with him in the IM: Inevitable limited series. But he was then hired by Osborn to break into IM's store of armours when NO took over Avengers Tower in Dark Avengers #1. And now he's in full-time employment.

Osborn and Victoria Hand were last in Dark Reign: Elektra #2-5 where Norman sent his Dark Avenger Bullseye to get rid of another embarrassment. The MCP put the flashback recruiting YB just before that, after NO's involvement in Ms Marvel #39-46 (where Moonstone took over the mag as the DAv's MsM after Carol Danvers' apparent death, through to Carol's triumphant return).

Doc Samson has this habit of turning into a Hulk-lite as we'll see next issue. But with his psychiatrist hat on he was treating Penance in #117-121 and most recently counselling Skrull abductees in Av:I#20-23.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thunderbolts #128 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Norman Osborn, hero of the Skrull Secret Invasion, was given control of SHIELD, the Avengers and the Initiative by the outgoing President. Now the new guy wants to check him out. Now Osborn is waiting with his aide Victoria Hand outside Air Force One as the Pres is half an hour late. When he arrives the President invites them aboard the plane. They can talk on the way to Moscow and the plane will bring Osborn back straight afterwards.

But there's a surprise 3rd party to the 'chat' - Dr Leonard Samson who claims to have a DVD showing Norman reverting to his old Green Goblin ways and killing CSA security guards in the Thunderbolts Mountain HQ.

But we break off for a flashback to an old SHIELD weapons depot 6 weeks ago as a blonde Russian-speaking female breaks in. 2 guards catch her but she easily defeats them. Then Norman Osborn steps from the shadows and applauds her performance. He calls her Yelena Belova, the 2nd Black Widow. She's rightly suspicious but he's here to offer her a job as field leader of his new Thunderbolts.

Back in the present AF1 is flying over Alaska with an escort of 2 fighter jets. Doc Samson accuses NO of a combination of personality disorders which make him unfit for office - in fact be should be in a maximum security mental institution. He claims that Osborn had a psychotic breakdown (#120-121) and attacked his own staff as the Goblin. Norman counters that the HQ was attacked by psychic terrorists (he omits that they were prisoners) who controlled people's perceptions. But Samson responds that his DVD of security camera footage will show that it really happened.

Osborn's next ploy is to point out that anyone can wear a mask and costume, maybe it was even Samson himself. He accuses Doc of smuggling a weapon onto the base as the attack began (#117), and suggests that Samson was in league with the villains. Leonard tries to explain that the ceramic knife was part of his therapy for Robbie Baldwin/Penance, which NO portrays as convincing the patient to try to commit suicide. And then DLS tried to kill Dr Karla Sofen (Moonstone) who intervened (#121).

Samson is tired of these distortions of the truth and suggests they watch the video. So Osborn activates a signalling device in a cufflink.

Suddenly the accompanying jets are hit by missiles they didn't detect. 4 more missiles streak towards the plane but detonate just short of their target. The confused pilot is KO'd by a dart from his co-pilot's wrist blaster - it's Yelena Belova. She triggers pre-planted smoke decoys and claims that all 4 engines are on fire. She's going to try to bring them down on the Bering glacier.

The next move is to call Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady) from his hiding place in her cleavage (his choice obviously). He sneaks out into the body of the plane where the President orders the unwatched DVD to be put in the crash-proof safe. However Ghost materialises to waylay the agent and steal the disk. Meanwhile Ant-Man attaches a gamma emitter to Doc Samson's neck. And Len immediately starts getting green-eyed and angry.

The last phase of the operation now kicks in as someone blasts in through the wall of the plane - it's the Green Goblin!

Roberto de la Torre
Roberto de la Torre
Frank Martin
Francesco Mattina (Cover Penciler)
Francesco Mattina (Cover Inker)
Francesco Mattina (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Albert Deschesne.
Editor: Bill Rosemann.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Eric O'Grady)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Doc Samson
Doc Samson

(Leonard Samson)

Plus: Headsman, Norman Osborn, Victoria Hand.

> Thunderbolts: Book info and issue index

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