The 6 Characters on My Comic Book Thunderbolts
What an exciting Comic Con! All the big names in pop culture had a great time in San Diego this past weekend, especially Marvel Studios. They revealed a ton of upcoming movies and finally confirmed that they’re working on a Thunderbolts picture. This makes that team the perfect choice for my annual team roster tradition.
Every Comic Con, I have a bit of creative fun by picking my ideal superhero team roster. Someday I’d like to write superhero comics for a living, and that means I might get the chance to pick my dream roster for various superhero teams. I’ve written about my dream Avengers, Justice League, Teen Titans, Fantastic Four and a host of others, including some original X-Team ideas for the Krakoa era. It’s just a fun little game where I get to live my dreams!
And this year I’m going to do my ideal comic book Thunderbolts! I already did a List of Six a month ago for my Thunderbolts roster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But what about in the comics? Join me after the jump to see how I would remake the Thunderbolts on the page! And feel free to share your own dream Thunderbolts teams in the comments!
There have a ton of different Thunderbolts rosters and status quos in the comics. The original team was the Masters of Evil posing as superheroes in order to trick society, only to realize they liked being heroes. There were revivals where those characters just tried their hand at being superheroes. Then there were teams like the one during Civil War, which saw Marvel’s top villains used as a violent peacekeeping force. Or the one that had Red Hulk, Ghost Rider and other red-colored characters. Luke Cage had a Thunderbolts. Wilson Fisk had a Thunderbolts. And there’s a new Thunderbolts coming sometime in the future. No one team has ever really had the same characters or even the same premise.
So what would my team be like?
Premise: One of my favorite tropes in superhero comics is when a villain turns into a good guy. Or, at the very least, when a villain can be reasonable enough to do the right thing at the right time. So if I were to write the Thunderbolts, I think I’d do a premise where a bunch of classic Marvel villains decide they want to be heroes. It would be a new version of the original team premise, only there wouldn’t be any trickery this time. A group of Marvel super-villains decide they want to turn over a new leaf, so they band together to become a new iteration of the Thunderbolts.
I admit the premise isn’t very flashy, but like I said, I just enjoy stories where bad guys try to become good guys. I don’t know if they would create new identities for themselves are not. It would be super fun if they did, and would again call back to the original premise of Thunderbolts. Am I going to invent brand new identities for them right now in this article? Nah! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Who is he: Excavator is the fifth member of the Wrecking Crew, a classic villain team where a bunch of lunkheads all get magically enchanted weapons. Excavator is Ricky Calusky, the son of Wrecking Crew member Piledriver. Dear old dad wanted to get his boy into the family business, and they gave Ricky an enchanted shovel and he went up against the Runaways for a bit. He hasn’t done much, but he has been around a little bit.
Why pick him: I’ve always had a random soft spot for Excavator for no dumb reason in particular. He’s just kind of a funny idea, created as a one-off character for a quick joke in Runaways. But he’s real, he exists and I think he might want to turn his life around. Plus, he’s a dude armed with a magic shovel. That’s good stuff.
Who is he: Roger Gocking was a nobody criminal who was given the Porcupine identity and outfit by the Hobgoblin, as a way to fill in the villain’s ranks. The original Porcupine was a Captain America villain who died a long time ago. Gocking was a pretty lousy villain until hooking up with Spider-Woman, who helped him better himself and turn over a new leaf.
Why pick him: I may be in the minority here, but I very much enjoyed the relationship between Spider-Woman and Porcupine that developed in Dennis Hopeless’s Spider-Woman comic. It was a great run and they were great characters. But then Roger got dropped shortly after the next Spider-Woman comic came along, and I was sad. Now he’s free game, though! I think I’d have Roger be the leader/lynchpin for the team. He’s already become a hero, and perhaps he’d take on a mentor role to other villains looking to become heroes, and he would drive this whole kooky team.
Who is he: Professor Jonathan Ohnn was messing around with the Dark Dimension when he gave himself a new polka-dot covered body. The polka dots are all portals that he can use freely. He’s going to be the villain in the new Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse animated film later this year!
Why pick him: I just love the Spot. He’s been one of my favorite villains since his appearance in the Spider-Man animated series back in the 1990s, and if I’m going to write about a team of villains, I’m going to use him! Spot has been on a rather sadistic streak in the comics in recent years, so I’d have to rehabilitate that. But that’s fine by me. He’d be the team’s transport, and maybe the mole who doesn’t really turn good and betrays them in the end? I dunno. He’s just a great visual.
Who is he: Antonio Rodriguez is a longtime villain-for-hire type character who is easy to use when needed. He’s good for a fight and perhaps even some pathos. He’s just a big hulking monster of a dude, who is still mostly human, deep down.
Why pick him: Every team needs a big strong guy, and Armadillo is the perfect choice for what I’m putting together. He’s even been a superhero before, in a short-lived stint with the Rangers in Texas. Armadillo is the sort of bad guy who still has his head about him, and he’s largely just a normal dude struggling with being a giant monster. So give him a good track in life and I can easily see him wanting to turn over a new leaf and put his monsterness to good use.
2. Lady Stilt-Man
Who is she: Callie Ryan is some kind of maniac who got her hands on some old Stilt-Man armor and decided to become a villain. She’s a clear joke character, with the likes of Spider-Man and Deadpool even pointing out her weird name decision.
Why pick her: I’m a big Stilt-Man fan, but who knows what the actual Stilt-Man is up to these days? I think the original Stilt-Man was dead for a long time, then recently came back as an old man in a recent Iron Man comic. And who knows how deep we are on replacements. So I’d go with Lady Stilt-Man, because she’s funny and crazy and there’s a lot more freedom in using her.
Who is she: Janice Olivia Yanizeski was a minor Spider-Man villain introduced as part of the Great Game in the 1990s. She was an action-junkie who liked video games. She was even a member of one of the previous Thunderbolts rosters, so she’s got team cred!
Why pick her: For one thing, Joystick is a video game-themed villain. We don’t have a lot of those in comics. For another, Joystick debuted right when I was getting into comics, specially Spider-Man comics. She was the main villain for a crossover between Spider-Man and one of my all-time favorite superheroes, the heroic Green Goblin from the 90s. So she’s always had a special place in my heart because of that. Joystick hasn’t been seen in comics in a very long time, so being able to bring her back for some fun adventures would be a real treat!