In the days before the internet, when news travels instantaneously, and before comics companies sent press releases to media outlets of character deaths months ahead of time, there was word of mouth. The last truly OMG comics moment that traveled via word of mouth in those long ago days was the last page reveal of the Thunderbolts‘ true identities. They were heroes, hailed as such in a world then bereft of the Avengers, and then we found out who they were… the last big shock in comics. Have you figured it out? Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Thunderbolts Revealed.”
In Combat with Klaue
As we open the episode, Captain America and Hawkeye are helping the Thunderbolts take down Ulysses Klaue in the jungles of Wakanda. This is the animated version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Andy Serkis version of the villain as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He may have the powers and the attitude, but he’s not yet the Klaw we know from the comics. This Klaue is more than a match for the heroes despite first appearances, and using all the tactics of his costumed comics counterpart.
Cap and Hawk work well with the Thunderbolts despite Clint’s complaints and suggestions they should be trusted. This is ironic as in the comics, Hawkeye later leads the Thunderbolts team. Songbird works especially well with the two Avengers, again ironic as she actually joins the team in an alternate future glimpsed in the Avengers Forever maxi-series. Through teamwork, the heroes conquer Klaue. It seems, for the most part, the animosity of the last episode is gone.
The Growing Klaw
As the battle winds down, and Citizen V and Klaue are alone together, we see the first chink in the Thunderbolts’ armor. Citizen V is the arms dealer Klaue was meeting in Wakanda, and before he strikes his final blow, V plants a trap on both Klaue and the stolen vibranium. And then the two Avengers unknowingly take both back to Stark Tower.
The devices on Klaue and the vibranium detonate turning the villain into some sort of sound monster. I would have been thrilled if he looked like the Klaw of the comics, one of Jack Kirby’s simpler and more elegant designs, but he doesn’t. He does however grow when hit, just like last episode’s Growing Man. Just when one might start to think about certain stolen tech, the Thunderbolts conveniently arrive.
Once upon a time in the comics, the Avengers had been defeated and seemingly killed by a menace called Onslaught. Long story, not worth recounting, but suffice it to say, they got better. Baron Zemo, with no need to kill the Avengers any more, hatched a new plan. He would fill the vacuum left by Earth’s mightiest heroes, and use it as a position of power from which to conquer the planet.
Zemo reassembled the Masters of Evil, tweaked their powers, and gave them new identities. Goliath became Atlas, Moonstone – Meteorite, the Fixer – Techno, Screaming Mimi – Songbird, the Beetle – Mach IV, and Zemo himself took on the identity of Citizen V. Thus was born the Thunderbolts. Once they had the public’s trust, and that of the governments, as well as S.H.I.E.L.D., they would take over.
The Small Reveal
I talked briefly about the big reveal of the Thunderbolts as the Masters of Evil in the intro. It was truly an OMG moment not forgotten by any who experienced it, a figurative punch in the gut. Here in “Avengers: Ultron Revolution,” it’s quick and obvious with almost no fanfare or even sinister stinger music. Did the showrunners think everyone watching the show already knew? A majority of folks I know who watch don’t read the comics and did not know so perhaps someone should rethink their demographic.
Ironically it’s Hawkeye, who eventually ends up leading the T-bolts, who is suspicious and follows them to their HQ only to see the Thunderbolts revealed as Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil. The rest of the Avengers follow him, and a good old-fashioned Marvel Comics slugfest ensues.
Turning the Tide
As in the comics, the Thunderbolts eventually turn on Zemo. They liked being the good guys, being cheered, being liked, and maybe especially being trusted (well, sometimes) by the Avengers. It’s Songbird, the former Screaming Mimi and potential Avenger in an alternate future, who draws the line in the sand and leads the T-bolts against Zemo.
Zemo however, using the power of Klaw, and later Klaw himself, attempts to destroy them all, while he escapes. More cooperation from Captain America and Songbird saves the day, and the two teams go and prevent Zemo from enacting his master plan. The two teams are victorious against Klaw, with the T-bolts doing most of the heavy lifting and the Avengers saving lives.
Zemo of course escapes. The Thunderbolts agree to turn themselves in and Hawkeye promises training if they continue on the road to being heroes. All’s well that ends well, I suppose. I did ask why no Black Panther with all the mentions of Wakanda, and why no Ant-Man with all these giant-sized threats? You’d think the Avengers would give either of these two guys a call. This wasn’t a bad episode, I just thought it could have been much better, especially with the build up. High marks for the story, but low for the execution.