Founding Members: Baron Zemo, Goliath, Beetle, Fixer, Screaming Mimi
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk #449 (January, 1997)
Created By: Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley
Did You Know: The Thunderbolts are a team of villains disguised as heroes.
A Little History
The conclusion of the Onslaught storyline saw Captain America die. Seeing that his father’s thirst for revenge against the now dead Captain America was pointless, Baron Zemo shifted his life’s trajectory from revenge to immense power. To do so, he took his mighty Masters of Evil and with the help of Fixer, altered their appearances to look like heroes rather than villains. This was done to achieve the public eye and trust in his newfound team.
To make their appearance more believable, he and his Masters of Evil began doing battle with known villains, Arnim-Zola, Mad Thinker, and others. To further increase their presence as heroes, Zemo recruited the hero, Jolt. What Jolt didn’t know was that the Thunderbolts were merely parading as heroes to gain public approval.
As time passed, Jolt began to voice more of an opinion in the matters of the Thunderbolts. Her influence became so large, that eventually, the other members began to question their own morality. This influence created a rift in the team and some members wanted to discard the villain title that they once had to become full-fledged superheroes.
As the team received more notoriety, so too did their access to security, confidential files, and other things. At one point, the public even compared them to the Avengers. This perception, coupled with Jolt’s influence led some members to become even more discontent with their actions.
Zemo, noticing what was happening to his team, revealed to the public just who the Thunderbolts were. His hope was by having the public forcibly change their perception, the members of his team would end up more loyal to his cause. Unfortunately, this did not work and nearly all of the members turned against him, ultimately foiling his plans.