Ah, The Thunderbolts. I’ve long had a soft spot for this team of villains parading as heroes (sometimes by choice, other times by force). The roster for the team – if one can even call the largely dysfunctional and disjointed cast such – has changed a number of times over the years, but below I pick the 7 best Thunderbolts, assembling them into a group I’d read.
Baron Zemo and Luke Cage
For leadership, I’d call on Luke Cage and Baron Zemo. Together, they’d cover both brains (Zemo) and brawn (Cage), with Zemo doing the bulk of the thinking while Cage serves as one of two of the team’s moral compasses with more than enough ability to enforce said morality if necessary.
Each of them has, in their own time, lead a Thunderbolts team: Zemo the very first, while Cage was placed in charge of a more recent incarnation by Captain America himself that was designed to rehab prisoners on The Raft.
Both did well in their own right, and each would both foil and supplement the other. Would make for some interesting chemistry and tension, for sure.
Slot number three goes to Venom, and it may surprise readers to see me draft Flash Thompson over Mac Gargan. I’ll tell you why:
First, one morally upright powerhouse on a team consisting of the dubious and dastardly simply isn’t enough. Cage on his own would be peeing in the wind trying to keep my build in line – even with countermeasures, which have proven circumventable and inadequate in the comics.
Secondly, in the newest incarnation of the Thunderbolts lead by General Ross (aka Red Hulk), Thompson’s leash isn’t near as tight as it was in his solo run. When the circumstances call for it, he gives the symbiote some breathing room and takes care of business. With Thompson as opposed to Gargan, you get a better balance of might and right, and this build needs both.
Next up: Deadpool…but on one condition: it’s the Wade Wilson from Ross’s Thunderbolts.
He is Deadpool as he should be: Deadly, calculating, formidable, and jocular – but he’s not an absolute clown. The other team members tire of his antics from time to time, but they also fear and respect him.
That’s the Deadpool I want; not the Deadpool who is too busy cracking jokes and playing games to be taken seriously by any opponent.
In his run as a Thunderbolt, Bullseye was treated only as a last resort because he’s the dangerous combination of psychopathic and supremely dangerous. He’s downright scary, and works just as well from the shadows as he does out in the open.
Anything placed in Bullseye’s hand becomes a lethal projectile. He’s killed people with playing cards and toothpicks. Arm him well, and, thanks to his eye for weak spots and his nigh-infallible accuracy, many will fall.
Often without knowledge that a threat was ever present.
I really want to include Juggernaut in my Thunderbolts, but I need another team player and Marko can be a bit stubborn. Particularly considering I’ve got strength well in hand between Cage and Venom, I’m recruiting Songbird.
Songbird has routinely proven herself as support staff and as a strong number two leader (usually playing second fiddle to Moonstone).
Her “solid sound” ability plays well on offense and on defense as she can manipulate sound to form shields for herself and/or others, as projectile blasts, and for flight.
She’s usually on the up-and-up, too; with Moonstone, you gotta worry about deception and backstabbing. Songbird is much more reliable: Someone you can turn your back on without fear and expect to have your back.
My last spot is awarded to a surprise favorite of mine: Ghost. He’s no fighter, he’s more of the subterfuge and intel type. With the ability to become intangible (and make others so, as well) and the coupling of his inherent genius with his suit’s augmentations that allow him to hack, reprogram, block, or access all manner of technology, he’s a subtle but useful member of a number of Thunderbolts runs.
I didn’t know of him before I started reading the Thunderbolts years ago, but I have developed a liking for him and what he brings to the table.