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Thunderbolts Vol.4 #10

February 2017
Jim Zubkavich, Jon Malin

Story Name:

Return of the Masters part 1: Bonds unbroken

Reviews & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

By Rob on March 11, 2017

The 20thy Anniversary cover contains most of the members of the various Thunderbolts teams.
The current team were also the originals, led by Zemo instead of Bucky and of course without Kobik. Jolt joined them in #4.
Hawkeye took over as leader in #21, followed by a new character Charcoal. Later there was an old char Ogre and a new 1 Humus Sapien (not on the cover).
After lots of back and forth Hawkeye and Songbird started a new TBolts in #65 with more ex-villains with new names:- Amazon (Man-Killer), Blackheath (Plantman), Cyclone, Harrier (Cardinal) (not on the cover) and Skein (Gypsy Moth).
1 important character not on the cover is Dallas Riordan, in any of her various guises. But Cobalt Man makes it even though he was just an undercover Tony Stark in the Avengers/Thunderbolts mini. And Daniel Axum is there to represent the wrestlers who took over the mag in #76-81.
When the real TBolts returned in New Tb#1 they added Blizzard and Photon (Genis-Vell), soon to be followed by Joystick (not pictured), Speed Demon, Radioactive Man and Nighthawk. The series reverted to its original numbering with #100 which brought in Smuggler and Swordsman. During Civil War Zemo led an expanded Thunderbolts Army. I believe 2 small figures are Eel and Lady Deathstrike representing that supergroup.
But things all changed with Civil War and #110 as Green Goblin led a team including newbies Bullseye, Venom (Mac Gargan) (not shown) and Penance (neither). And then GG changed things again in #128 with a totally new team Ant-Man, Black Widow (Natasha Romanov disguised as Yelena Belova), Ghost, Headsman (disguised as GG, and not on the cover unless you count GG) and Paladin. Later additions were Mister X (not here), Scourge (Nuke) and Grizzly.
After Dark Reign Luke Cage took control in #143, running a team including Crossbones, Juggernaut and Man-Thing. This expanded to include Boomerang, Centurius, Hyperion (not shown), Mr Hyde, Satana, Shocker and Troll. In #175 the mag was renamed Dark Avengers and Dark Spider-Man (I think that is the person on the cover rather than Venom or Agent Venom), Ragnarok (not shown), Skaar, Toxie Doxie and Trick Shot (both not here) were recruited.
Then that series ended and a totally new TBolts series began with Agent Venom (missed off cover), Deadpool (who of course is in a prominent position on the cover), Elektra, Punisher and Red Hulk. Plus later Red Leader, Mercy (not shown) and Ghost Rider.
And finally the latest series added Kobik and Winter Soldier.

This issue is divided into 2 stories, but the 1st 1 is just a prologue which runs directly into the 2nd 1, ending when Baron Zemo arrives. The main difference is in the creators. The shorter 1st story is called "... like lightning, a prologue" by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna who had a long run together on the original #12-33. The rest is by the regulars Jim Zub and Jon Malin. Matt Yackey colours the whole thing and Joe Sabino letters it.

The 1st Masters Of Evil team was created by Baron Heinrich Zemo way back in in Avengers #6. There've been many MOE teams since then, serving a variety of masters. But the Baron's son, the current Helmut Zemo, convened a large group to attack the Avengers in #270-277, the Avengers Under Siege story. The next time he assembled an MOE it was the Thunderbolts.
As well as Zemo and Man-Killer this team boasts Klaw, Tiger Shark, Whiplash, and Wrecker and his Wrecking Crew:- Bulldozer, Piledriver and Thunderball - all with previous MOE experience.
Man-Killer in particular was in both incarnations of Crimson Cowl's MOE, regular adversaries of the early Thunderbolts. She tried reforming and joined the TBolts as Amazon in #67-75. She even provided some continuity with the wrestling bunch who took over the next issues of the title by joining *them* in #80-81. Then she joined Zemo's alternative TBolts to fight the main bunch in New Tb#18 and the renumbered #100.

The Counter-Earth mentioned here is the Earth from the Heroes Reborn pocket universe which was brought to the main Marvel Universe by Dr Doom in HR: Doomsday and HR: Doom. He planted it on the opposite side of the Sun, where the 2 previous Counter-Earth's had also orbited. The TBolts went there in #60-75, and Jolt stayed to help the planet's young heroes the Young Allies. But she did pop back to Earth briefly in Av/Tb#5-6.

This series is considered part of the build-up to Secret Empire. It was Kobik who turned Steve Rogers into a Hydra guy in Av Standoff before Bucky 'rescued' her. Steve-Cap has been trying to find Bucky and her ever since. Cap turned Baron Zemo to his side in CA:SR#11 and took him to see Dr Selvig, so presumably that's when Zemo got the containment forcefield. And equally presumably Cap has sent him here.
Erik Selvig has of course been imported from the Thor and Avengers movies. He 1st appeared in the Standoff series where he was also subverted by Kobik. Since then he's been a regular in CA:SR and also cropped up twice in CA: Sam Wilson.


 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Months ago a beam of energy containing a human figure bounced of some satellites near the sun. Now that beam approaches Earth.

In the Arctic Thunderbolts HQ Erik Josten/Atlas is feeling antsy. He goes out for a walk in the snow but it doesn't do any good. He's alright when he's given a job to do by Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (or before that by Baron Zemo or Hawkeye) but he doesn't like inaction. He wishes his young pal Jolt were here - she could always cheer him up.

Fixer has forbidden the use of mobile phones for security reasons. But Erik thinks a few rounds of Candy Crush can't do any harm. However as soon as he turns the phone on he hears the voice of sometime-TBolt and friend Man-Killer (but she spent more time fighting them as a member of 2 of the Masters Of Evil teams). She now appears through a portal with another MOE team, homing in on his phone's signal.

Katrina van Horn asks Erik to (re-)join them (he was part of an earlier group, and of course the Tbolts themselves started off as a disguised MOE) or else ... . But the threat decides him to fight them instead. He uses a tactic he's been taught against a large group - keep dodging around so they get in each other's way. Atlas' version involves using his shrinking and growing power. Until he runs into Man-Killer's fist when human-size. Then the rest of them kick him while he's down.

Then the bolt of energy arrives, scattering the baddies, and out of it steps Jolt. She immediately takes stock of the situation, turns back to energy and carries Josten's limp body a long way away. Dazed Erik can't believe it's really her, so she explains how the Young Allies sent her back from Counter-Earth as electricity. She bounced of various satellites on the way but got trapped in Earth's magnetic field when she arrived. But she somehow detected Erik thinking about her and zeroed in on that. But now Atlas has lost consciousness.

Back at the portal Baron Zemo steps through to join his minions. Van Horn explains what has happened, but Zemo doesn't care that Atlas has escaped. He left his phone behind and the HQ door open.

Inside Karla Sofen/Moonstone is worrying at something like a sore tooth while Abe Jenkins/Mach-X and Melissa Gold/Songbird are bickering over a supply run to get clothes for newbie Melissa. Karla goes to see Norbert Ebersol/Fixer about a previous supply run that Abe and Erik did (#6). She and Bert were left with Kobik the young girl Cosmic Cube. But she thinks she's missing a few hours from that day. Fixer is sure he can remember everything but he'll check his internal logs.

Bucky is in his room brooding over his latest encounters with Steve Rogers/Captain America (#7-8) and Black Widow (in her #9-10) when he gets a text from Erik's phone. He rushes out to tell Josten off for breaking security - and is ambushed by the MOE.

Fixer and Moonstone confront Kobik about their missing time. Mach-X and Songbird come to see what all the shouting is about. Kobik is about to tell them how the pair were being bad to her when there's a sudden power failure. When the backup kicks in they find they have been joined by Zemo.

Kobik is very angry because Zemo attacked her (Avengers Standoff: Assault On Pleasant Hill Omega). He was angry then because she'd imprisoned him, along with the Thunderbolts and many others, in a living dream/nightmare. But now he has another plan. He drops a ball which he says is a miniaturised containment device devised by Erik Solvig. And it expands to entrap her painfully in a force bubble.

While Bucky is outside fighting the MOE, the Baron offers the others a job. They were all part of the other MOE that he turned into the original TBolts. He draws on the bond between them to ask them to abandon Winter Soldier's battle against alien invasions and join his team again - with the power of Kobik at their command.

At this point the MOE drag in a beaten Bucky Barnes - an example of the alternative to accepting his proposal.

Songbird gives her answer with a blast of sound that breaks the device (I think) controlling the forcefield. Freed Kobik freezes everyone but herself and Bucky - and she uses her power to heal him. Then the others unfreeze. Abe sides with Melissa and they run off to get Jenkins' armour. Kobik's power has unleashed a maelstrom - until she vanishes with Bucky.

Zemo sends Wrecker and some others after Mach-X and Songbird. He assumes that Fixer and Moonstone are on his side - but Norbert doesn't sound so sure.

Bucky seems to wake up as his teenage self in WWII.
Elektra


Jim Zubkavich
Jon Malin
Jon Malin
Matt Yackey
Jon Malin (Cover Penciler)
Jon Malin (Cover Inker)
Matt Yackey (Cover Colorist)