Citizen V / Baron Zemo
- Aristocrats Are Evil: He is an aristocrat and a supervillain, it comes with the territory.
- Butter Face: A Rare Male Example. Zemo has the physique of a handsome and well-proportioned young man, but his face is horrifically disfigured.
- The Chessmaster: His position as the leader of the Thunderbolts stems from the fact that he has a briliant stragegic mind, which usually keeps him one step ahead of his enemies.
- The Faceless: He rarely ever removes his mask, due to his face being horribly scarred in a accident.
- Facial Horror: His head has been slashed up so badly that it's practically a skull, with ribbons of flesh draping over his eyes and sliced-off cheeks and lips. The sight of his face visibly disgusts everyone in the original Thunderbolts.
- Legacy Character: To his father, Baron Heinrich Zemo XII.
- Disney Villain Death: Many, many times (see Never Found the Body below).
- Joker Immunity: Unlike his father, he can never seem to be put down for long.
- Master Swordsman: One of the best in the Marvel Universe.
- Never Found the Body: During the run of Thunderbolts alone he was declared dead on four separate occasions, all of which turned out to be false. In each instance, his body was never found. By the fourth time, most of the team just assume he'll turn up eventually (not that they want him to).
- Token Evil Teammate: Alongside Techno, he serves as this for the first iteration of Thunderbolts. While most members of the team fall somewhere between The Hero and the Anti-Hero, Zemo shows no signs of having softened whilst playing-hero, and alongside Techno manages to almost conquer the world and turn it into a Darwinist nightmare. He also constantly mocks his teammates for wanting to be heroes, calling them "weak" and "traitors to the cause" when they show the smallest signs of heroism outside of their pubic duties.
- This attitude changes, however, during the run of The New Thunderbolts.
Atlas / Goliath
Starting his super-criminal life as Power Man and then reinventing himself as the size-altering Goliath, Erik Josten has served as a member of several incarnations of the Masters of Evil and the Lethal Legion. It wasn't until he became Atlas and a founding Thunderbolts member that he truly "discovered" himself.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Back when he was called Goliath, he received his abilities from photon energy, which he gained by stealing it from what he thought was the same source as Wonder Man's powers. To his horror, it turned out that his physiology had been changed so as to syphon energy from a hostile micro verse-dimension; and his body served as a beacon to those dimension's inhabitants, and he can hear them talking in his head. While said invaders are repelled by the Earth's heroes, poor Erik is dragged into their dimension against his will. He is so thankful to Baron Zemo for freeing him from the Microverse several years later, that he swears his undying loyalty to him right then and there.
- One Steve Limit: Erik has no relation to that other Power Man, Luke Cage.
- Size Shifting: Though usually only to make himself bigger.
- Super Strength: Even at normal size.
- Undying Loyalty: To Baron Zemo. Serves as the basis for his character arc in the early issues as, being a soldier, he cannot betray his commanding officer (Zemo), but is constantly temped to do so, as he discovers a new side of himself after playing at being a hero and falling in love. Ultimately subverted in issue 12 of the original run, where he helps the badly wounded Zemo escape the space station, but refuses to go with him, deeming their debts to be square.
- The Worf Effect: Suffers this more than any other Thunderbolts member. Almost every new enemy the team faces gets a turn to beat Atlas into unconsciousness in order to establish them as a significant threat. However, this usually leads to...
- Worf Had the Flu: ...this trope. Once the Villain of the Week's plan has been thwarted, they will usually turn around to come face-to-face with a recently revived Atlas. Cue long overdue ass-kicking.
MACH-1 / Beetle
Growing tired of his mechanic job, Abe Jenkins created a suit of armor and became the Beetle. Originally a criminal, he changed his ways as a member of the Thunderbolts, becoming MACH-1 and achieving legitimacy as a superhero. Serving as a mainstay of the group, he would continue to upgrade his armor, eventually becoming MACH-X (and counting).
- Official Couple: With Songbird in the original run.
- Powered Armor: His trademark, which he continually reinvents over the years.
- Put on a Bus: Left the time for a while when Hawkeye convinced him to surrender to the authorities and spend his time in jail as a way to show the Thunderbolts were serious about wanting to be real heroes. He later returned to the team after the Commission on Super-Human Activities tried to use him as a deniable agent.
Meteorite / Moonstone
Dr. Karla Sofen is a founding member of the Thunderbolts and former member of the Masters of Evil. She has flirted with both sides of the law in Norman Osborn's Avengers as Ms. Marvel. She's a control freak with nearly limitless power granted her by moonstones, hence her codename.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Karla is very intelligent and has a wide range of powers, but she has a tendency to overestimate her abilities, often only winning because she is working with others against particular foes and forced to acknowledge that she isn't quite as manipulative as Baron Zemo or as skilled a fighter as Photon when they manage to outmanoeuvre her in direct confrontations.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Karla tends to plot against and betray anyone all the freaking time.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In issue 12 of the first series, she's the one who goes after Baron Zemo when the the Thunderbolts try to free Earth's heroes from his control. In a rare case of Reality Ensues, her Super Strength and his lack of a pre-established edge means that she effortlessly handles him; she crushes his hand so badly the bones are described as snapping like twigs, breaks his jaws, pulverizes three of his teeth, and crumples his ribcage.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Whilst handing out her Curb-Stomp Battle to Baron Zemo, she furiously berates him for his lack of imagination, declaring the Thunderbolts to have been a scam that could have profited them for years, but which he wasted on one single doomed-to-fail scheme.
- Evil Counterpart: After already having been Ms. Marvel, Karla is put into Captain Marvel's costume, making her baffled at how much people want her to be this to Carol Danvers.
- Fatal Flaw: Sloth. Karla always takes the easiest option, even when it could come back down the road to bite her. After the redemption-seeking Thunderbolts turn on Zemo, she uses her position as leader to make several decisions that grant them the momentary victory, but which could clearly come back to bite them, such as her actions on Kosmos and against Graviton. This results in the rest of the Thunderbolts calling her out on this failing, and ends in issue 20 of the original run, where everyone agrees that this trait of hers makes her unsuited to be their leader.
- Femme Fatale: Tall, curvaceous, seductive (slept with Hawkeye while in the Thunderbolts, and Noh-Varr, Bullseye and Daken during her Dark Avengers stint), and very evil.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Karla can summon her costume, and thus starting with Meteorite's metal-like first suit◊ it's often something that showcases her body. When questioned about this, Kurt Busiek replied that Moonstone deliberately uses sex appeal as a weapon.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: She started out as just a henchperson for Doctor Faustus. She's come a looong way since.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: At one point, she actually did try to go straight. It didn't last.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On Occasion; for instance she WAS genuinely saddened when Jolt was murdered despite the fact that Jolt wasn't overly fond of her.
- Lack of Empathy: She outright swore as a youth she'd always put herself first. She's generally held to that.
- Legacy Character: There was another Moonstone before Karla. Karla messed with his head, then took the moonstone for herself.
- Manipulative Bitch: Given she is a certified psychiatrist, Moonstone uses her knowledge of the human mind to goad others - right in her villainous debut, it worked on The Hulk, confusing him enough to make Moonstone go mostly unharmed and Hulk to eventually flee the Gamma Base.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Unsurprisingly, Karla generally used her degree in psychology to screw with people, causing several of her patients to kill themselves.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In a rare slip-up from her, Karla let slip that Norman Osborn was a villain, and his Dark Avengers team consisted entirely of villains, to Noh-Varr, turning the Kree against Norman.
- Not Me This Time: During the Ellis run, Moonstone ran into Songbird's on-the-wagon mother just after she'd had an argument with Melissa. Very soon, Melissa's mother was found dead, from drunk driving. Later on, Norman Osborn asked if Karla was responsible for this.Norman: Did you kill her?Karla: Did you?(awkward pause)Norman: ... Well, then.
- Obfuscating Disability: In a sense; in the early days of the team, she hid her phasing ability so her powers wouldn't too closely mirror those of the villain Moonstone (lest anyone get suspicious).
- Psycho Psychologist: Sofen is practically the ur-example for the Marvel Universe. She used to enjoy convincing suicidal patients to kill themselves.
- Pragmatic Villainy: She actively encouraged her teammates to reform and sided with them when they turned against Zemo, not because she was noble, but because, as explained above, she felt pretending to be heroes was more profitable and comfortable than Zemo's idiotic scheme to Take Over the World.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Her epic chewing out of Baron Zemo for blowing their cover as the Masters of Evil during her Curb-Stomp Battle with him in issue 12 of the original run:Meteorite:Let me explain something, Zemo. Let me tell you why I undermined your leadership at every turn. I've got a pretty simple philosophy of life. You want to hear it? It's this: Don't. Get. CAUGHT! Oh, I was stupid at first - I thought my powers made me invincible... so I ended up getting a record, getting caught. I was willing to ride it out, serve my sentence and start anew — but you press-ganged me into your scheme, and there went that. Still, it was a good scheme — posing as heroes — and we made it work. We had it all — public support, adulation; the perfect cover to pull any number of scams — and you went and blew it over just one! Who CARES about ruling the world?! Who wants to do that much WORK? We could have run this con out for years before it got old! But no, you couldn't be smart — not when you could play Hitler like your idiot father!
- The Starscream: Karla's greatest ambition is to be the one in charge - as much as she likes messing with peoples' heads for fun, it's pursuit of power that drives her manipulations and treachery first and foremost.
- Stripperiffic: She hated having to play Ms. Marvel for Norman, muttering angrily about Carol's old, revealing outfit.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Related to the Fatal Flaw above, she knows when to run away instead of fighting. Sometimes it doesn't work and she's captured.
Songbird / Screaming Mimi
Formerly the super villain Screaming Mimi, Songbird is a founding member of the original Thunderbolts. Melissa Gold grew up in a trailer park with her drunken father, her mother in prison for theft, and was tormented constantly by her peers. She had to develop a tough personality and ended up living on the street after running away from home. After being set up and sent to prison herself, she joined the super-human wrestling scene, being forcibly given surgical implants to give her super-sonic screams. After a brief stint with the Masters of Evil, she partnered up with fellow sound-themed villain Angar.
After the death of Angar, Mel feel into despair and ended up destroying her vocal cords. Approached by Zemo and Fixer, she was given a new set of cybernetic vocal cords which not only returned her screams to her, but allowed her to manipulate sound into hard objects. Becoming the "hero" Songbird, she agreed to help them in their plans. Seeing her Songbird persona as the second chance she so desperately needed, she recreated herself fully, embracing the new mantle she had been given and, as more former villains joined the team, sought to give them the same chance that she had been given at a new life.
- Breakout Character: As Screaming Mimi, Melissa was an infrequently occurring bad guy. Tough, but definitely not an a-list threat. As Songbird, her popularity exploded.
- As of 2016, she is officially a member of the Avengers!
- De-Power: More than once.
- Aforementioned incident with Angar the Screamer.
- During her stay as a "guest" of John Garret in 2015's New Avengers, her powers were deactivated. Good thing she knew some friendly mad scientists who managed to get them back.
- Did Not Think This Through: During her Screaming Mimi days, Melissa once used her scream on Dazzler. Y'know, the Dazzler whose mutant powers are fueled by sound. Once Alison managed to work through the pain, she had a handy power-up ready to go.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Her partner Angar, causing her to be so wracked with guilt that she proceeded to scream for 43 minutes straight destroying the surrounding area and wrecking her vocal cords.
- Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: During her stint on Roberto Da Costa's New Avengers, she claimed to be working for A.I.M., but was actually working for S.H.I.E.L.D., except she was really working for Roberto all along.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Her powers.
- Only Sane Man: During Ellis' run, shared with Dr. Chen Lu (and even he had a slight wobble thanks to some bad guys).
- Skunk Stripe: Inverted; it's white with pink streaks.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Moonstone, during the Ellis run. That Melissa is more popular than Moonstone, and with a greater audience (young girls, as opposed to Karla's smaller audience of single men), has something to do with this.
Techno / Fixer
A technological genius, Fixer pursued a life of crime as a partner to Mentallo and later a member of the Masters of Evil. He later became a founding member of the heroic Thunderbolts and despite hating the idea of being a hero and has remained a mainstay ever since.
- Brain Uploading: He escapes dying when he is seemingly killed by the Elements of Doom by transferring his brainwaves to a recording device in his tech-pack and then using it to create a new cybernetic body for himself.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Techno's original power set is his incredible aptitude for mechanics and seemingly endless stream of ideas for new inventions.
- Neck Snap: The Elements of Doom break his neck to kill him. It doesn't stick.
- Science-Related Memetic Disorder: Prior to his transferal to a robot body, Paul seems to be actually compelled to invent new things, to the point that early on, he gets into an argument with Baron Zemo about not being allowed to indulge his need to make new devices to spruce up their initial lair.
Original Series Members
Receiving her powers from Arnim Zola's cruel experimentation, Helen Takahama joined the original Thunderbolts team as Jolt, unaware of their hidden agenda. She still managed to become a fine hero in her own right, and helped several other members of the Thunderbolts do likewise.
- Ascended Fangirl: Was a superhero fan long before becoming one herself.
- Badass Adorable: A young, cute, good-natured teenage girl who serves as the team's Morality Pet... and also happens to have very powerful lightning abilities.
- Broken Bird: Her entire family died horribly during the Onslaught event (on her birthday no less), she was forced to live in the street with other kids only for them to get captured and offered to Arnim Zola as guinea pigs (which is where she got her powers), and when she escaped, then came back to free her friends with the Thunderbolts, turned out they had all been turned into monsters who could only received a Mercy Kill. Poor girl got it harsh
- Morality Pet: Became one for the team, as they developped a soft spot for her, and she was eventually crucial into convincing them to turn on Zemo; even Karla is rather fond of her despite herself.
- Put on a Bus: She went off to Franklin Richards' Counter-Earth, and stayed there for a good long while.
- Shock and Awe: Her powers.
- Stepford Smiler: She is good at acting cheerful and upbeat, but her backstory is really tragic, and as revealed during her therapy with Karla, she had huge issues.
- Token Good Teammate: While her teammates eventually reformed for the most part, she was the first member of the team to not have any villainous past.
Who better to reform a group of criminals than a criminal-turned-Avenger?
After the Thunderbolts were outed as villains, the team was split between those who wished to remain heroes and those loyal to Zemo. Hawkeye, having just left the Avengers, infiltrated the group, wanting to know if the rumors of their change of heart was really true. If so, he wanted to help the Thunderbolts in their quest for redemption.
At first reluctant, the team evenutally accepted him and he once more accepted a leadership role for the first generation of the Thunderbolts, whom had broken from the influence of Baron Helmut Zemo. Hawkeye trained the team in the fashion of former team-mate and good friend Captain America. He shapes the team into a major fighting force.
See here for more.
Charles Burlingame's father moved around a great deal and had trouble finding work, until he attended a rally of the Imperial Forces of America. The elder Burlingame joined that organization and took his son with him. Arnim Zola, working for the Imperial Forces, discovered that Charlie possessed the genetic potential to develop superhuman powers and facilitated the youngster's transformation into Charcoal, the Burning Man. As part of a group called the Bruiser Brigade, Charcoal fought the Thunderbolts as an enemy, but joined the team soon after.
- Elemental Shapeshifter: Charcoal's primary power is to switch between his human form into a golem-like form of animate carbon, the precise makeup of which he can adjust to any specific carbon formation, from blazing coal to solid diamond.
- Flight: By selectively igniting his feet, Charcoal can generate blasts of flame that propel him through the air like a rocket.
- Healing Factor: Downplayed. Charcoal has the ability to replace lost mass from his monstrous form; this allows him to sustain his fiery battle mode and lets him launch flaming projectiles by literally throwing chunks of his own carbon body-mass at his enemies.
- Killed Off for Real: He bites it during a battle with Gravitron. Due to rights issues, he is one of the few superhero comic characters this can be said to truly apply to.
- Mundane Utility: One of the perks of being in monster form is that it shields him from the cold. He also used a piece of his carbon-form's finger as a tracking device to follow Hawkeye to pitch himself as a new Thunderbolt recruit.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Shifting into diamond form makes him incredibly durable.
- Rubber Man: Downplayed. Part of his monster form's abilities is to extend his arms and reshape them into different structures.
- Super Strength: Charcoal is vastly stronger than a normal man when in his monstrous form.
- Wreathed in Flames: As his moniker suggests, Charcoal's primary ability is to ignite his carbon body, engulfing himself in flame which he can use to make himself more dangerous. Doubles as Elemental Armor.
Ogre is a human inventer who has been classified as a genius. Ogre worked with the Factor Three out of Mt. Charteris, and, after the teams disbanding, remained there awaiting their return. Years went by, and the base was commandeered by many different villains, with Ogre surviving by stealing food and supplies. After the Thunderbolts claimed Mt. Charteris as their base of operations, Ogre took a liking to the group and, using his vast intellect, created a number of devices and upgrades for them, leaving them as gifts when nobody was around. Upon the team discovering him, the Thunderbolts welcomed him to the team as their strategist and technical support.
Citizen V III / Atlas II / Vantage
Dallas Riordan's father and most of her family were police officers so it was natural for her to go into the 'family business'. After some time with the NYPD she became an aide to the mayor of New York City. When the Thunderbolts appeared after the disappearances of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, the city embraced them as their new hero team so the mayor appointed Dallas as liaison between his office and the new team of "heroes".
Dallas quickly began a flirtatious relationship with Atlas, and the two were dating when the team was outed as villains. In order to save face, the mayor chose to blame Dallas for leading him astray and promptly fired her. A short time later, Dallas was approached by Roger Aubrey of the V-Battalion and he offered her the role as their main field operative Citizen V (the original Citizen V, John Watkins, was a Golden Age hero murdered by Helmut's father Baron Heinrich Zemo). Furious over the way her life had been destroyed by the Thunderbolts, Dallas decided to take down Zemo and the Thunderbolts herself.
After coming into conflict with the Thunderbolts many times, and changing identities more than once, she came to acquire a mutual respect for the team members (except Zemo), and would eventually end up joining the team as Vantage (ostensibly to keep an eye on Zemo, and kill him if he gave her reason to).
Amazon / Man-Killer
Katrina was a professional skier with what seemed to be a highly promising career ahead. She was challenged to a race by Karl Lubbings, a rival skier that wanted to prove her supposed inferiority to the males of the field. Karl "accidentally" crashed into her, sending them both off a cliff, with Karl dying in the fall and Katrina left scarred and crippled. She was contacted by a militant group of feminists who provided her with an exoskeleton, allowing her to walk again and increasing her strength tremendously. Taking the name Man-Killer, she sought to take revenge against the world of men.
Later she would resurface, now free of her exoskeleton, facing off against the Thunderbolts as a member of the reformed Masters of Evil. After the group dissolved, she was offered a position on the Thunderbolts, where she hit it off with fellow teammate Skein.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: After Zemo gives her some Pym Particles.
- Brawn Hilda
- Butch Lesbian: Later revealed to be this, and has a clear attraction to her teammate Skein.
- Depending on the Writer: Her sexuality, and her hatred of men.
- In her initial pre-T-Bolts appearances, she was portrayed as a misandrist, even going so far as to destroy her own exoskeleton (which allows her to walk) upon discovering it was designed by a man. All subsequent writers have toned this down, but the extent to which they do varies. Taken to the opposite extreme in the Fight Club Era, where she become a Straw Hypocrite, where despite her claims to the contrary, she very clearly has a sexual attraction to her male teammates and seems to get off to the violence they make. Fans (and writers) tend to ignore this portrayal in particular.
- Fabien Nicieza wrote her as having an attraction to her teammate Skein, despite her showing no clear attraction to women (or anyone) previously. Whether or not this is a case of Suddenly Sexuality, No Bisexuals, etc. is anyones guess.
- Does Not Like Men
- Freudian Excuse: Her hatred for men was spawned by an encounter with a misogynistic athlete which lead to her being paralyzed. That the athlete in question died of his injuries before she could confront him prevented her from getting any kind of closure, causing her to shift her hatred from him to all men in general. That she was given help by a Straw Feminist terrorist group at the time probably influenced her as well.
- The Lad-ette: After joining the Masters of Evil, having ditched the Straw Feminist angle, she is portrayed as this. She was even a member of the Fight-Club Era team because she loved fighting so much, and while more prone to picking fights with them, she does seem to be somewhat receptive to some of her male teammates advances.
- Upon joining the T-Bolts, these elements are toned down somewhat. Also she's only attracted to women.
- Lesbian Jock: Used to be a professional skier.
- Statuesque Stunner
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Skein's girly girl.
Blackheath / Plantman
Samuel Smithers wanted to try to find a way for humans to communicate with plantlife. With his work not taken seriously, Smithers was reduced to taking a job as a gardener. When a bolt of lightning struck Smithers' experimental device, he developed the ability to control and animate plant life. Seeking revenge against those who laughed at him and took his job away, Smithers became Plantman.
Blackheath eventually joined up with the Thunderbolts for some time before they disbanded. At this time, his plantlike powers had taken a new take and Samuel had become more plantlike. He then changed his name into Blackheath.
The third person to bare the name Cyclone, Fresson was a member of Justine Hammer's first incarnation of the Masters of Evil and battled the Thunderbolts and other heroes on numerous occasions. He also has his own family in the Maggia organization. He later joined the Thunderbolts when most of the team were presumed dead.
Harrier / Cardinal
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Donald Clendenon was able to procure a powerful suit of armor and takes up the name Cardinal and worked as a bodyguard and mercenary, where he and his employers frequently came into conflict with The New Warriors. Later, after the death of his daughter, he was tricked by the Crimson Cowl into believing that Hawkeye was responsible for her death. Hawkeyes was able to prove his innocence and convinced Donald to give up his life of crime. He took on the name Harrier to distance himself from his old life.
Skein / Gypsy Moth
Sybil Dvorak was born in Focşani, Romania. She was raised by Gypsies and spent much of her time alone gardening. She was born a mutant, with the ability to telekinetically manipulate and control materials with her mind. She especially liked manipulating fiber, as it felt pleasant to her mental touch while hard objects felt uncomfortable to her. A loner, she wove herself gossamer wings. At one point she served as the leader of her own cult, calling herself Sybarite, but she was thwarted by Spider-Woman.
She has served on many super villain teams over the year, including the Nightshift and the Masters of Evil. It was while a member of the latter that she encountered Hawkeye's Thunderbolts, where she decided to switch sides because she thought it would be fun. She Left the team shortly after for the same reason, as it stopped "amusing her."
"New Thunderbolts" Members
After the failed "Fightbolts" Retool, the comic was relaunched in 2005 with a new #1 as "The New Thunderbolts". The series brought back several longtime series favorites like Atlas, MACH-IV and Songbird and allied them with a brand new team. The series would last for 18 issues before returning to it's original numbering for the landmark 100th issue, with subsequent issues numbered accordingly.
Constantly striving to prove himself to his peers, Donald Gill has wavered between being a lousy frequently defeated crook and a hero desperate to be worthy of the title. Despite all of this, the man behind the mask has a kind heart and only wants to be accepted by those around him.
Cloned from the DNA of the Kree warrior Mar-Vell, Genis-Vell was implanted with false memories making him believe he was instead Starfox's son and artificially aged to protect him from Mar-Vell's enemies. He inherited the title of Captain Marvel eventually; yet Genis succumbed to madness of Cosmic Awareness as he became nearly omnipotent and sought to "fix" the Universe. He redeemed himself afterwards and became part of the Thunderbolts where he took the title of Photon. and was killed by Baron Zemo.
- A God Am I: When you have access to the Power Cosmic, it's not much of a stretch to consider your self as such.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With
- Deader Than Dead
- Fashion Dissonance: Genis is able to change his appearance at will, and does so specifically to try and avoid this. Even he is embarrassed by how he used to dress.
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: In series, Genis himself acknowledges what fans had been saying for years — the Legacy costume was the epitome of tacky.
- Killed Off for Real: By Baron Zemo no less.
- Outdated Outfit: The Legacy suit: a high collared, high waisted jumpsuit straight out of a 1980's music video — in 1994.
There is hardly any information about Janice Yanizeski early life or how she got her powers but what is known is that her father was a degenerate gambler who told her the family creed, always have a card to play. Before she left for college she assisted a mob boss steal money from her father and in return her life would be spared.
She attended the University of Arizona and led a normal, quiet life that she detested so one day she decided to do something about her boring life. She dropped out of college and disappeared for nearly three years and returned under the name Joystick with enhanced physical abilities.
Joystick joined the new team of Thunderbolts but butted heads with the group while trying to save the world and defeat enemies.
For her tropes, see her folder in Spider-Man's rogues gallery page.
Granted extraordinary powers by the Grandmaster, James Sanders was a member of the Squadron Sinister known as Whizzer until he pursued a solo career of crime as Speed Demon. He eventually found himself a member of the Thunderbolts despite being unsure if he even wanted to reform. This indecisiveness came to a head after he was discovered committing crimes in his old guise. He subsequently left the team and rejoined the Squadron Sinister.
- Abusive Parents: According to him, his mother sold his dog for drug money.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Challenged Joystick to a fight, thinking his super speed made it a surefire victory. She proceeded to defeat him handily, using his temper against him causing him to strike blindly at her, giving her the opening she needed.
- Dirty Coward: When danger breaks out, there's a good chance that Speed Demon will run.
- Evil Knock Off: Of the heroic Whizzer from the Squadron Supreme Universe.
- Fragile Speedster: Oh does he know it. In a bit of Character Development, after having his leg broken, Speed Demon lost his Smug Super attitude and was more prone to caution when dealing with other super beings. If he's not completely sure he can take someone, he runs.
- Freudian Excuse: It's implied that his mom was a real asshole.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: During his tenure on the Thunderbolts, he was constantly switching sides between Zemo's team, Songbird's team, and the Squadron Sinister.
- Jerkass: Kind of comes with the territory, but Speed Demon is still a jackass. He spent a good portion of The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man limited series trying to hit on Boomerang's girlfriend, even when Boomerang was in jail.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After spending the entire book as a Jerkass, in the pages of Thunderbolts, Speed Demon gets his leg broken by Joystick just because he bet her she couldn't.
- Manchild: Tends to throw childish fits when he doesn't get his way and acts incredibly immature at times, once getting into a petty argument with a little girl.
- Miles Gloriosus: He talks big, but he's always the first person to run for the hills when fights start.
- Downplayed somewhat in Thunderbolts as he is just as likely to start fights as run away from them. Not so much after Joystick beats him.
- Pet the Dog: In Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Speed Demon ends up growing attached to a puppy he stole from a girl. When said girl's family put a reward for the puppy's return, he reluctantly returned the dog, but not before making sure that the dog is well-supplied.
- Poke the Poodle: A lot of his crimes come off as this.
- Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Started out fighting The Avengers and The Defenders, before moving into Spidey's Rogues Gallery.
- Sinister Shades: The goggles on his outfit.
- Smug Super: Early in his career, due to his super speed, he acted very smug and tended to pick fights with people knowing they could never land a hit on him.
- Sore Loser: Tends to throw fits over being one-upped.
- Super Speed: His main power is to run at extreme speeds.
A nuclear physicist and Communist agent from the People's Republic of China, Chen Lu is a Chinese superhero who's nationality has seen him come into conflict with American heroes. He has the ability to control and emit deadly forms of radiation.
Originally turning himself into a super being for the glory of his country, he developed a rivalry with Thor after the latter formally prevented Chinese expansion into India. Due to his repeated failures in stopping the thunder god, Chen Lu was banished from his homeland, causing him to join up with Zemo's original Master's of Evil. He would eventually be welcomed back to his homeland in order to serve as an agent of Communist expansion, though he still occasionally worked alongside Zemo.
After the the fall of the Soviet Union and the coming relations between China and the US, Chen Lu disappeared for several years only to return again, seeking a new purpose in life. Having never seen himself as a true villain to begin with, Chen Lu made a quick and easy adjustment to the Thunderbolts, often serving as the voice of reason amongst his more hot-headed peers.
- Captain Patriotic: His early appearances had shades of this, with him often rambling on about the superiority of Chinese science and technology, and only initially challenged Thor to show Chinese superiority.
- Put on a Bus: Disappeared for almost a decade in The '90s once Communist bad guys became a no-go.
- The Spock: To Songbird's The Kirk.
Kyle Richmond was a thrill-seeking playboy who became the costumed adventurer Nighthawk. Starting out as a villain, Richmond soon found altruism a greater pursuit. As Nighthawk, he became mainstay of the Defenders, and has also acted alongside the Squadron Supreme, the Redeemers, and the Initiative.
Kyle, after being confronted by former ally Speed Demon, was approached by both Baron Zemo and the Grand Master to join their respective teams. Kyle joined the Thunderbolts for a short time, but, discovering that he was only brought on for his financial support, he left the team.
See The Defenders for more information.
Blackout is a super-villain who can manipulate Darkforce matter and energy and open portals to the Darkforce Dimension. He formerly worked alongside Moonstone and subsequently joined the Masters of Evil, then lead by Zemo. Presumed dead after a prolonged battle, he was revealed years later to be only brain-dead, and kept by Zemo as a source of power and access to the Darkforce Dimension. He would subsequently, if briefly, join the Thunderbolts.
The younger brother of Eric Josten, aka: Atlas. Being the sibling of a know super villain, Conrad's life wasn't easy, and he was often the one who had to deal with his brothers poor choices. After his brother joined the Thunderbolts, Conrad was approached by Henry Peter Gyrich to join his own team of meta-humans, the Redeemers. Conrad accepted and was given a suit which gave him access to the Darkforce Dimension, allowing him to open portals to and travel through the dimension. After a particularly brutal battle with Graviton in which several of his teammates were killed, Conrad was invited to join the then newly reformed Thunderbolts, which he accepted.
Born to Baron Strucker, Andreas Strucker, and his twin sister Andrea, were treated with nothing but apathy and disappointment by their father. Surrounded by Nazis, terrorists and other war criminals, the twins grew up with a rather twisted view on the world. Later, discovering they were both mutants with the ability to fire bio-electric blasts when they were in contact with each other, the twins became costumed supervillains collectively called Fenris. Andreas and his sister were minor pests and nuisances to various superheroes, namely the X-Men.
Andreas von Strucker abandoned his life of evil following the death of his sister. Choosing to become a better man, he became the superhero Swordsman and joined the Thunderbolts. While Andreas wasn't driven by any desire to be an actual hero, he was determined to be the opposite of everything he had been before hand.
- Incest Subtext: With his sister Andrea. He even goes so far as the wrap the hilt of his sword in her skin so that they will never truly be apart (also so that, through skin contact, he still has access to his bio-electric powers).
Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts Members
Starting with issue #110, the book saw a massive Retool and were taken in a bold new direction. Coming off of the heels of Marvel's Civil War, the Thunderbolts were sanctioned by the government as a super-human task force, with it's members hunting down super heroes who fail to comply with the Super Registration Act. Written by Warren Ellis, the book was given a Darker and Edgier overhaul, with several new additions to the team.
Green Goblin / Iron Patriot
See his page for relative tropes.
Bullseye / Hawkeye
Venom III / Scorpion I
Speedball / Penance
Created by Steve Ditko, Robert "Robbie" Baldwin was just your average fun-loving teenager before getting caught in a freak lab accident which granted him kinetic-based superpowers. Calling himself Speedball, he became a teen crimefighter in the view of one of Ditko's more famous characters. He would go on to be one of the founding members of the New Warriors.
However, the good times were not to last. During the filming of a reality shown Stanford, Connecticut, the New Warriors, in a battle with the villain Nitro, accidentally caused the deaths of over 600 innocent civilians, inadvertently kicking off the Marvel Civil War. As the only survivor of the accident, Robbie was blamed by the public for what happened, and was sent to prison.
Suffering from sever PTSD, and having lost control of his powers, Robbie fell into a depression and took to cutting himself (the only way he could still tap into his powers). Having sunk to his lowest point, he was contacted by Norman Osborn, then leader of the Thunderbolts who gave him an ultimatum: join the team, or rot in jail. Taking the offer, Robbie dropped himself in a new suit and took the name Penance.
Tropes below refer to the Penance persona. Tropes regarding Speedball and the New Warriors belong on their own page.
- Barrier Warrior: As Speedball. As Penance, he is...
- The Berserker: In contrast to Speedball, who the Barrier Warrior.
- Beware the Silly Ones: In his Speedball persona, he may look ridiculous with his costume, powers and his attitude but he has proven himself a badass at times.
- When Hummingbird reads his mind in New Warriors Vol. 5 (when he's apparently back in full Fun Personified mode), she sees the deadly serious Penance persona warning her never to do that again.
- Character Development: After becoming Penance as a harmful way of dealing with his grief, Robbie begins his tenure on the Thunderbolts as a sniveling wreck, nearly unable to eve function, let alone be an asset on missions. Over the course of the run he goes to a shrink and learns how to deal with his grief in productive way, finally tearing down the mental blocks he had created preventing him from using his powers. By the time he has left the Thunderbolts (after Osborn is dethroned) he is back to his old self again.
- He manages to track down the one truly responsible for the Stanford disaster, Nitro, and forces him to wear the Penance suit as punishment for his crimes. While this does provide some karmic retribution, it does little to alleviate Robbie's grief, further reinforcing the message that the Darker and Edgier approach won't actually solve his problems, and only time and self healing will.
- Darker and Edgier: To an almost ridiculous extreme.
- Hand Blast: His powers as Penance which he had to hurt himself to work.
- Fun Personified: Used to be this, until he went to prison. Some of his old personality manages to peek through in some of his therapy sessions with Doc Savage.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After the Stamford incident, courtesy of Civil War, Speedball became the grim & gritty hero Penance, blaming himself for the incident, and becoming a psychological trainwreck. Later though, he gets better to an extent, and this leads to...
- The Atoner: He becomes Speedball again and joins the Avengers, as an instructor at Avengers Academy, trying to give the the students the proper guidance they need so that anything like Stamford won't happen again. He still has some issues to work through though. (Such as cutting himself.)
- Meaningful Rename: Speedball to Penance.
- Name's the Same: Generation X had a team member named Penance who came and went long before Robbie took the name.
- Psychoactive Powers: Revealed in the Warren Ellis run; After the Stamford disaster, Robbie discovered his powers had changed and now only worked when he was in pain. Cue the iron maiden styled combat suit. Except, Doc Samson pointed out that people who cut themselves process pain abnormally; the adrenaline rush of self-mutilation triggers an endorphin reaction, in effect making them high. Thus, his powers have the same trigger as always; he can't use them unless he's happy. As the Fun Personified character he had been before Civil War, it makes some sense that this had previously not been noticed. Discovering this helps him start overcoming his depression.
- The Quiet One: In stark contrast to his previous jokester attitude, Penance rarely ever speaks.
- Reset Button: By the end of Dark Reign, he is back to his Speedball persona. Considering how poorly his change to Penance was received, this was probably for the best. See Character Development above.
- Sad Clown: After giving up the Penance persona, he becomes this.
- Self-Harm: Part of the fallout from the Stamford incident was him picking up this habit, with this Penance suit actually being powered by it. Even after he goes back to being Speedball he still does this to cope with his feelings of guilt.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted, though not through lack of trying. Doc Samson is hired by Norman Osborn and assigned as Robbie's shrink, but only so as to fake his psych evaluation. Unfortunately for Osborn, Samson actually cared about Robbie's condition. He worked with Robbie for several months helping him come to terms with his grief, and, helped him regain his Speedball powers (the latter of which he kept hidden from Osborn, hoping that Robbie would use his newfound confidence and returned abilities to undermine Osborn's schemes).
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: How Robbie Baldwin got his Penance powers. Basically after he had survived the explosion but seemingly lost his Speedball powers, Robbie spent many days tormented in prison until the Penance powers came to life when he had a near-death experience from being shot on the way to court.
- Younger Than They Look: Speedball was about 15 when he joined the New Warriors, he looked like he was at least 18 or early 20s when he is in his superhero persona. After joining the Thunderbolts, while he is over 18, due to the trauma he experienced in the months leading up to his transformation into Penance, he looks at least 10 years older.
Andrea von Strucker
Dark Reign Members
Post Secret Invasion, Osborn is made the head of all government superheroes, "officially" disbanding the Thunderbolts and setting up his own team of Avengers made up of former team members. He assembles an off-the-books black-ops team to perform missions that are considered too sensitive or gritty for his team to carry out. This iteration would end with issue #143.
Ant-Man III / Black Ant
See the Ant Man page.
Nuke / Scourge
Following the downfall of Norman Osborn and his associates at H.A.M.M.E.R., the Thunderbolts, now stationed at the Raft super villain prison, serve as an inmate rehabilitation project. Lead 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. Starting with issue #175, the book was retitled to Dark Avengers Vol. 2.
See the Captain America villains page.
See his page.
A career bank robber, Herman Schultz built a DIY battle suit for himself using a set of "Vibro-Shock Gauntlets" that could launch blasts of concentrated air vibrated to high frequencies. Despite defeating Spider-Man in their first encounter - mostly because Peter had a broken arm - Shocker remained a thief and mercenary, acting as a subordinate to more megalomaniacal villains.
Shocker has allied himself with a dozen's of villain, which only made it inevitable that he'd run into the Thunderbolts. Initially enemies (he worked with Speed Demon while the latter was pulling jobs on the side), he found himself running into them again and again (most prominently as a member of the Hood's criminal organization). After the Hood's gang was disbanded, Herman was offered a chance at rehabilitation alongside other costumed villains at the Raft prison.
See here for related tropes.
Gunna's mother was an Asgardian and father was a Troll. Though her mother died, Gunna lived with a wild pack of Trolls and was one day captured by the people of Asgard. Unable to integrate her into civilized life, she was kept in a jail cell with the rest of the trolls until Asgard crashed to the Earth, allowing her to escape. After being captured by the Thunderbolts and taken to the Raft, she formed an attachment with Songbird and was made a part of the B-team.
- An Axe to Grind: She uses a magic axe as her main weapon.
- Bare Your Midriff: After joining the team.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Only joins the team because Songbird was the first person to not treat her with condescension, anger, or pity.
- The Berserker: Her main mode of fighting, and her general attitude when Songbird isn't around.
- Beware the Cute Ones: Don't let her fuzzy clothes and simple speech fool you, she'll kick you ass and feed it to you.
- I'm a Humanitarian: While being teased by some of the other female prisoners, she's chidingly asked if she eats humans. Her response? "Aye."
- Given the circumstances, she might have been joking. Maybe.
- Moe: Depending on the Artist, she can either come off as this or Ugly Cute.
- Morality Chain: Songbird serves as her's, and it's thanks to her that she begins to make connections with other people.
- Pelts of the Barbarian: Her usual manner of dress.
- Ugly Cute: See Moe above.
- Wolverine Claws: Her suit has a pair of claws, made from the finger bones of monsters she's slain.
- Younger Than They Look: Troll, due to her viciousness and style of dress, was initially mistaken for much older (and human), and is sent to an all-female prison. After Thor explains her origins (and age), the guards are left in a difficult situation as it would be unethical (and illegal) to keep a minor imprisoned with adults, but as she has already established herself a top dog of the prison, it would be just as unethical to release her.
Marvel NOW Members
In 2012, following the Avengers Vs Xmen comic event, Marvel relaunched and retooled a number of it's titles, the Thunderbolts being among them. This new black-ops team, formed by former general Thunderbolt Ross, consists of mostly A-list anti-heroes and assassins, selected for their experience in dealing with the worst-of-the-worst and their affinity for "getting the job done." Also they're all red. The book lasted for 32 issues and an annual.
All-New, All-Different Marvel Members
Starting in 2016, a new team of Thunderbolts has assembled, this time lead by Bucky Barnes and featuring the entire founding cast line-up (minus Zemo), as well as new member Kobik. The book serves as a companion piece to Captain America: Steve Rogers, as well as a prequel to Secret Empire.
A combination of Cosmic Cube fragments that assumed the shape of a little girl. Initially used by S.H.I.E.L.D. to create Pleasant Hill. She was later "reunited" with her the Red Skull who, under the guise of her father, manipulates her into reshaping reality to his liking. She is later "recovered" by S.H.I.E.L.D. and placed under the care of Bucky Barnes, the leader of the reformed Thunderbolts team.