Wilson Fisk former mayor of New York made the Thunderbolts his personal hit squad and not allowing superheroes to act in his words as vigilantes. At one point he even had them hunting the Purple Children who were under Jessica Drew’s protection. Rhino left the team at that point, to be replaced by the Abomination. Now Luke Cage is mayor, yes, Power Man, Hero for Hire. The man who chased after Doctor Doom back to Latveria, borrowing the Fantastic Four’s to pay him his fee. As mayor, Luke wants to revamp The Thunderbolts’ image. And he’s chosen someone a bit unexpected.
Actually, Clint Barton/Hawkeye wants to get the West Coast Avengers (the comic book ran from about 1985-1994) back together. He mentions the original roster, seemingly unconcerned with where each of the former team are currently at in their own drama-riddled lives. But getting a call from Luke he changes his plan to lead the Thunderbolts instead. Turns out that Clint was rather far down a list of folks Luke wanted to lead the team. He wanted Monica Rambeau. Currently known as Spectrum, Monica has had a long history of leadership and heroism. Created in 1982 by writer, Roger Stern and artist, John Romita Jr. this Black woman from her origin story in ‘The Amazing Spiderman Annual” issue 16, has been battling racism, and misogyny, has also been chairwoman of the Avengers. During a conversation between her and Luke in ‘Thunderbolts’ he still wants her to lead the team, but the trauma Monica has endured, between mind manipulation and being nearly fatally injured herself, she doesn’t feel capable of being a leader. Still, she accepts Mayor Cage’s offer of being part of the team.
In attempting to reimagine the perception of the Thunderbolts from villainous henchmen to helping the people of NYC it gets meta as there is a public relations team with a system to create the perfect crew. They have contracts and are getting paid, they might even have a healthcare plan. Still, with the exception Kara Killgrave/Persuasion, this team is riddled with unknown factors, unstable powers and a ‘classified’ hero who seems to be unraveling. The first assignment causes a lot of monetary damage, and the marketing campaign isn’t going well. Worse yet, Clint appears to be haunted.
This may not be the West Coast Avengers, but it has the feeling of it, especially with the practicality of being a superhero, having a job and what happens when you’re too famous to have a secret identity. In this case you work for the city. There’s also an old school drama vibe where the personal lives may just be as intricately involved as their being on-the-clock heroes for hire. For those who haven’t heard of the West Coast Avengers, the initial roster had Wonderman/Simon Williams, Hawkeye/Clint, who founded the team, Mockingbird/Bobbi, at the time Clint’s wife, Tigra and Iron Man, James Rhodes was in the suit at the time. Each Avenger on the WCA team has had a complicated relationship with each other and at times it has caused conflict, sometimes ending in deaths and divorces.
What is there to look forward to in future issues of ‘Thunderbolts?’ With the established history of key characters anything is possible.