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Avengers/Thunderbolts #5: Review

Aug 2004
Kurt Busiek, Tom Grummett

Story Name:

Five: Truth and consequences

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers/Thunderbolts #5 Review by (August 14, 2021)
Scripting continues to be by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, and lettering by the Richard Starkings/Albert Deschesne combo.

Baron Heinrich Zemo's face was scarred in WWII when his hood was bonded to it by his invention Adhesive-X. Helmut Zemo's face was also scarred by Adhesive-X in Captain America #168, after which he too wore a hood. After losing control of the Thunderbolts Helmut was killed by Scourge but Fixer saved his consciousness in a computer. After a while occupying the revived comatose body of Citizen V (John Watkins III), Zemo was stuck back in Fixer's computer again. But then when the Thunderbolts were on Counter-Earth Fixer transferred his mind into the brain of the unscarred Counter-Earth Helmut Zemo. But now that body's face has been mutilated too.

Jolt joined the T-Bolts without knowing that they were really villains only pretending to be heroes, and she was a large reason why they tried being real heroes instead. She too was assassinated by Scourge, and she too was restored to life by Fixer, with the enhanced electric powers she has here. When the 'Bolts left Counter-Earth she chose to stay behind with the Young Allies. That's where she lives now, and Abner Jenkins/Warbird/Starcore presumably contacted her there and got her here.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers/Thunderbolts #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue Songbird takes thoughtover duties.

Previously Baron Helmut Zemo's Thunderbolts have built Project: Liberator to absorb all transnormal energies from the world. This will free the world of threats from nuclear weapons as well as super-chars like the gamma-powered Hulk (so Zemo says). The Avengers came to stop them but they'd already done a test run and absorbed a lot of energy. Meanwhile Moonstone had inserted a failsafe so she could take the stored energy if Zemo tried to use it wrongly (so she claims). In the ensuing fight last issue the Liberator device was damaged and the failsafe triggered and gave all the energy to her. Faced with suspicion from both teams she released a blast of energy ...

... which it turns out *didn't* destroy the T-Bolts North Sea base Stormfront-1, it merely KO'd all the Avengers except Karla Sofen's old lover and the 'Bolts old leader Hawkeye who tries to talk her down. As Songbird and Vantage join him Zemo surreptitiously urges Fixer to find a way to get Moonstone's energy back into the Liberator. Norbert Ebersol points out that would still leave Karla powered by her 2 Moonstones, which would still make her the most powerful person here.

In Parson's minimum security prison Abner Jenkins (ex-Thunderbolt Mach-3) hears about the gravimetric storm on the News, realises that Moonstone must be behind it and desperately asks to be put in contact with Warbird (at Homeland Security) to get a message via the Starcore solar lab to the only person who can stop her.

The Avengers are starting to wake but Moonstone's gravimetric force field keeps them out. Yellowjacket tries to shrink small enough to slip through but fails. Helmut buys time for Fixer by talking to Karla. He says the plan would never have worked because the Avengers are too jealous of them to let it succeed, but they can still make it work. Moonstone takes that as a hint to shift part of the building into Null Space. Clint Barton objects that the Avengers will still track them down, so Moonstone proposes to take the other team along. Zemo thinks that's a good idea. Then the heroes can meet with a 'tragic accident' and the 'Bolts can return to 'honour their memory'.

But something stops Karla taking the building away. It's plant-being Blackheath who has generated huge roots to anchor the place to Earth. He tells her that her powers are threatening the Green. But she counters by ripping him apart. Then Songbird resolves her conflicted loyalties and attacks Sofen with hard sound weapons, including ramming solid sound down her throat. Helmut attacks *her* but Melissa Gold retaliates and makes him drop Captain America's shield that he got hold of last issue. Karla lashes out at Melissa, but Cap throws his shield and shouts "Avengers Assemble".

He attacks Moonstone alongside Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp and YJ, but she repulses them all. YJ and Tony Stark, still in the Cobalt Man armour he used to infiltrate the Thunderbolts, help Fixer to remove Karla's failsafe from Liberator, but the damaged HQ doesn't provide enough power to get it working again. Wanda Maximoff tries to use her Chaos Magic to cause Blackheath's body to generate more roots and branches to tangle their foe, but MS throws Vision at her. Ionic-powered Vantage leaps to attack Moonstone who replies by snapping her bones. Atlas has been his usual indecisive self but seeing Dallas Riordan hurt finally prompts him into action, and he grows enormous and hits Karla with a fist larger than herself. But Hawkeye, who's also been keeping out of the battle, hits him with an arrow with a Pym Particle payload which shrinks Atlas down to size.

Meanwhile Stark has sent a signal to a self-propelled briefcase in the Avengers' quinjet which brings him his Iron Man armour. (Very) quickly changing suits he provides the power to restart Liberator. Moonstone now knows that everyone is against her. She sends an angry blast at Baron Zemo, but Cap stops it with his shield. So now she sends 1 *his* way. But now it's Zemo's turn to play hero and he interposes his body to take the fire.

Iron Man isn't providing enough juice for Liberator to function. But then a bolt of lightning lands and materialises as the ex-Thunderbolt teen Jolt arrives. Innocent Hallie Takama had been the only thing that kept Moonstone on the side of good, and now Karla thinks she's come to help her. But instead Hallie pours all her electricity into the Liberator. It bursts into life and sucks all the transnormal energy out of Sofen. But Stark has removed the block which protected the T-Bolts from Liberator, and it also starts to remove the gemstones that power her. However Fixer remarks that this will kill her or at least shut down her mind.

Tony asks Cap what he should do. Steve Rogers thinks she's too much of an unstable menace to be left. Hawkeye notches an arrow, but neither he nor anyone else knows exactly what he's going to do with it. Zemo, with a fire-scarred face, also urges him to shut Karla down. Songbird's thoughts tell us she trusts him to make the right decision. And Clint lets fly.

And on that cliffhanger this issue ends.

Tom Grummett
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)

(Karla Sofen)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Atlas, Blackheath (Sam Smithers), Fixer, Jolt, Mach-3 (Abner Jenkins), Songbird, Vantage (Dallas Riordan).

> Avengers/Thunderbolts: Book info and issue index

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