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Avengers/Thunderbolts #2: Review

Jun 2004
Kurt Busiek, Barry Kitson

Story Name:

Two: The final line

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers/Thunderbolts #2 Review by (July 31, 2021)
Joint scripting again by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, joint lettering again by Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne.

So now we know that Tony Stark has been Cobalt Man in these 2 issues. He didn't actually appear as Iron Man last issue, and in this issue 'Iron Man' is just a remotely-controlled armour, which explains why he doesn't do much. When we see Stark's head inside a helmet as he communicates with Yellowjacket it's actually CM's helmet. And the thoughts voiceover is coming from there.

It's all a plan to get someone inside the Thunderbolts. All the Avengers are in on it apart from Hawkeye, because of his sympathies/ties with the T-Bolts. But Hawkeye works it out here (or at least has his suspicions).

When Baron Zemo started the Thunderbolts as a scam he recruited others from his Masters Of Evil team that had taken part in Avengers Under Siege. They took new superhero names:- Zemo -> Citizen V, Fixer -> Techno, Goliath -> Atlas, Moonstone -> Meteorite, Screaming Mimi -> Songbird (although she didn't take part in the actual storming of Avengers Mansion and torture of Jarvis). Abner Jenkins, who we saw in jail last issue, completed the roster changing from Beetle to Mach-1. The fake heroes soon, to different degrees, came to prefer their heroic versions. Atlas, Mac-1 and Songbird retained their new IDs whereas the other 3 have reverted to Baron Zemo, Fixer and Moonstone which gives you a good idea which side of the fence each landed. The team went through many roster changes and now includes 2 later additions.

Dallas Riordan began as the NY Mayor's liaison to the team in their 1st issue, and started a relationship with Atlas/Erik Josten. Later she took over the ID Citizen V as part of the V-Battalion. (The CV title has history back to WWII.) That role ended with her paralysed and ionic-powered Atlas dead. But like ionic Wonder Man he returned, and in this case bonded his energy to Dallas. In that state she/they could walk again and had his powers, using his Atlas ID. Later the ionic energy recreated a powerless Erik, and Dallas retained some of the powers. Then Fixer used Pym Particles to give Erik back his original growing powers. Erik took back the name Atlas and Dallas is now Vantage.

Blackheath was originally Sam Smithers who as the villain Plantman used a ray gun to control plants. He also learned how to create humanoid plant-beings. Later he escaped from jail with Hawkeye (and some others). While most of the Thunderbolts were trapped on Counter-Earth Hawkeye and Songbird recruited more villains, including Plantman, who wanted to be heroes into a new Thunderbolts. During his stint with the team Smithers discovered he was turning into a plant-being with a connection to the Verdant Green, the global plant energy field. He changed his ID to Blackheath, effectively an eco-terrorist. He stayed with the T-Bolts after the 2 teams merged.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers/Thunderbolts #2 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue's thoughts voiceover is by Tony Stark who lets us know that the Avengers have tried and failed to stop Cobalt Man's rampage through nuclear power plants twice already (1st time last issue). Now they have their 3rd chance in New Ulm, Montana. He reminds us that CM is 'playing the part' of a reluctant villain desperate to use the radiation to keep his plasma self cohesive within his armour. But Tony also cryptically says the Avengers have been playing their part as well in *his* plan. Whatever Tony's plan is it's based on distrust of the Thunderbolts, so I don't think the T-Bolts ex-leader Hawkeye is in on it.

Captain America directs the operation. Hawkeye puts fires out with foam arrows. Iron Man and Vision hit the foe, but careful not to crack his armour. Yellowjacket discovers a fluctuation in the aged reactor core (scheduled for decommissioning soon) which Stark confirms from within his armour. Scarlet Witch and Wasp aren't doing anything, and Clint Barton can't understand why the team can't solve this problem. CM knocks IM down and blames the Avengers for interfering.

In Thunderbolts HQ Stormfront-1 in the North Sea Moonstone is listening to news reports about the pending disaster while reviewing her Project: Liberator journal. She's noted that Fixer says they need a nuclear engineer. They've spent months winning the world's trust and admiration, but they need to get Liberator working before that trust wanes.

Fixer himself is test-running the Liberator on Vantage. It is supposed to absorb transnormal energies like nuclear, cosmic, gamma, and he's seeing what it does to her ionic energy. Whatever, it's painful to Dallas Riordan, and her lover Atlas and friend Songbird come running at her cries. Dallas has reverted to being paralysed, but Baron Zemo assures them it's only temporary, and indeed Vantage is recovering. But giant-size Erik Josten has already nearly crushed Norbert Ebersol.

Moonstone joins them and Helmut Zemo stalks off telling Karla Sofen to make the others understand how important this is. Karla says he's right about needing to get things done faster, but she's worried about him cracking under the pressure - she thinks Helmut is already slipping back into his old autocratic ways. She too leaves after urging them to tell her if they see him doing anything suspicious. But the others trust Moonstone less than they do Zemo. The last 'Bolt Blackheath has arrived and agrees. The ex-Plantman is only going along with the plan because draining the dangerous energies from the world will be good for the Green. But he wonders what someone might do with all that energy once they've stolen it.

Moonstone goes to Zemo who (probably correctly) accuses her of sowing discontent as part of a power bid. But she ignores that and points out that they need a nuclear engineer and Cobalt Man *is* 1. Recruiting conflicted bad guys is their bag, and showing up the Avengers wouldn't hurt either. Helmut orders the team to scramble ...

... and Moonstone teleports (or gravitic shifts) them to Minnesota. Songbird encases the radioactive villain in hard sound. Atlas holds up a weakened ceiling. Cap and Zemo face off. Iron Man just stands around while Fixer relays his plan to Yellowjacket who admits it might work. Cobalt Man begs the Avengers to let the T-Bolts try. Steve Rogers and Helmut Zemo are still trying to outstare each other, so Hawkeye tells his old team to go for it. Fixer uses a device (a portable Liberator?) to absorb CM's energy and Moonstone opens a wormhole to send it somewhere. Now Songbird creates a sound-shell around her team and Cobalt Man. The Avengers try to stop them but Moonstone 'ports them all away. YJ reports that the core is now stable. Tony Stark's thoughtover comments that the T-Bolts worked well as a team, like the Avengers *used* to.

In TB HQ Fixer adds a coolant system to CM's armour to prevent his radiation surges, which will do until they can find a permanent solution to his problem. In return he agrees to help them save the world. Tony's thoughtover wonders if the team of ex-villains might actually be on the up-and-up.

Back at Avengers Mansion Hawkeye is simultaneously practising agility and archery when Edwin Jarvis brings him some refreshments. Clint asks Jarv if he thinks it was wise for him to have left the T-Bolts to pursue their own path (in their #75). After some reticence Edwin says that he can't forgive or trust any of the Masters Of Evil who nearly killed him (in the Avengers Under Siege arc in #270-277 - *some* of the current T-Bolts were involved there). Hawk asks Hank Pym if he knows where Iron Man is. YJ says no but makes a feeble excuse to fly off. Clint knows he's lying and follows a shifty eye-movement to the mechanical depot where he finds IM's remote-control armour recharging.

In TB HQ Cobalt Man is asking Atlas, Songbird and Vantage whether they trust Zemo. They avoid answering but Moonstone pops up and suggests there are no easy answers, such as to the question as to whether CM himself is hero or villain. She suggests that they just consider what they can do for each other (and adds a hint of flirtation to sweeten the deal). Alone in his new quarters the newbie removes his helmet and contacts the Avengers to let them know he's 'in'. He's really Tony Stark and his thoughtover tells us his plan's working but he's no longer sure whether it should continue.

Barry Kitson
Gary Erskine
Brian Reber
Barry Kitson (Cover Penciler)
? (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Baron Zemo
Baron Zemo

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Karla Sofen)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Atlas, Blackheath (Sam Smithers), Fixer, Songbird, Vantage (Dallas Riordan).

> Avengers/Thunderbolts: Book info and issue index

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