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Avengers/Thunderbolts is a 2004 Bat Family Crossover between the The Avengers and the Thunderbolts, written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza. The series lasted for 6 issues (May-September, 2004). The Thunderbolts comic book was cancelled at that time, but the success of the crossover allowed a new comic book, New Thunderbolts, which retrieved the original title some time afterwards.
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In the story, the Thunderbolts take a proactive action against banana republics with Weapons Of Mass Destruction. The Avengers do not trust them, because they are led by Helmut Zemo, and spy on them in several ways. The Thunderbolts create a huge machine, the "Liberator", which would absorb all the dangerous energies of the world: atomic bombs, gamma boms, superpowers, everything. Captain Amerca does not trust them, and thinks it's all an Evil Plan of Zemo to Take Over the World. The Avengers storm into the Thunderbolts base and make a mess, igniting Moonstone's failsafe against Zemo, a code that channeled all the stolen energy to her. She gets nuts and starts an all-out fight with both the Avengers and the other Thunderbolts.

In the end, the machine is destroyed, Moonstone is left in a coma, the Thunderbolts break up... and Zemo escapes with the moon stones that made Moonstone so powerful.

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Tropes:

  • Ascended Extra: Dallas Riordan got ionic powers from Atlas and joined the team as Vantage.
  • Berserk Button: Atlas is a good friend and can't bring himself to attack his teammates... but when Moonstone attacks Vantage (a Flying Brick against a mere acrobat, that ends just as expected), then that's it: let's grow more than , and crush Moonstone like an ant!
  • Breaking the Fellowship: The Thunderbolts broke up after this fiasco, but Mach IV organized a new team just one month later.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Thunderbols, led by Zemo, forced a Banana Republic to give up their secret atomic plans. The President Evil sent his navy, to no avail. He kept nagging, that he would gather allies, go to the UN... and Zemo interrupted him by showing him and his cabinet a porn video of the president having sex with the wife of his minister (standing right next to him). Vantage asks, What the Hell, Hero?. Well, Zemo ended the conflict swiftly, decisively, and... let's hope... without loss of life. Isn't that what heroes do?
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  • Covers Always Lie: The cover shows Zemo wearing his classic pink hood... but, as his face had been restored in previous arcs, he does not wear the hood during most of the story. As Status Quo Is God, he would end this series with his face burned and wearing the hood once again.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Averted. Captain America began the fight before the Thunderbolts could announce the use of the Liberator.
  • Evil Plan: In what became a consistent MO for Zemo, he tries to "save" the world with approximately the most supervillainous style possible. He may have changed his motives, but not his methods.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Averted. Zemo had a Heel–Face Turn, became a full superhero (and not merely posing as a superhero, as in the early Thunderbolts issues), and organized a great plan to save the world from the weapons of mass destruction. Everybody was so damn sure that, when the moment was due, Zemo would reveal himself as Evil All Along and reveal that his plan to save the world was actually an Evil Plan to Take Over the World. But no. Zemo was doing good things for real, and never changed his mind.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: The Avengers continue to want absolutely nothing to do with Zemo, even after he saved Captain America's life. As a result, he decides to be evil once again.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: If the Avengers (or, more exactly, Captain America) stayed at home and trusted in the Thunderbolts, or just made a polite "What the Hell, Hero?" instead of going to the attack without waiting for answers, things would have ended SO differently...
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The final scene. "I! AM! ZEMO!"
  • Switching P.O.V.: Each issue is narrated by a different character.
  • Taking the Bullet: One of the most unexpected examples in the franchise. Baron Helmut Zemo saved Captain America's life! Heinrich Zemo must be turning in his grave.
  • The Bus Came Back: The return (and departure again) of Jolt, who had been absent for years.
  • The Mole: Cobalt Man turns out to actually be working for the Avengers, as he is Tony Stark in disguise.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Harvin Zemo, the first Baron Zemo, stopped an army over a bridge all by himself in 1480, during the introductory flashback.
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