THUNDERBOLTS #6-8 (1997)

The T-bolts first multi-issue story!

It starts with SHIELD’s GW Bridge trying to track down Helmut Zemo, who broke out of prison. Bridge doesn’t know Zemo is actually Citizen V, leader of the Thunderbolts.

Then the main story: The T-Bolts’ headquarters is invaded by the Elements of Doom. (Note that last story, Jolt was introduced as a captive of Doctor Doom–only Doom never appeared. Now Busiek is using the Elements of Doom. And the T-Bolts live in the former Baxter Building. Kurt is clearly messing with reader expectations, and I love it.)

The Elements of Doom are, literally, elements on the periodic table, animated by aliens. It was a dumb idea when it was introduced as a done-in-one back in Avengers #188, but Busiek double-downs on the concept and increases their numbers to include ALL the elements. Ones you’ve never heard of, like Hafnium, Tellurium, and Nobelium.

All 109 of them.

After successfully fighting them off, the Elements flee into the city and SHIELD asks the Thunderbolts to hunt them down, but Citizen V says no…

…Unless the whole team gets Avengers-level security clearance. The tactic works, and the Thunderbolts attack the Elements…

…And lose, and are captured.

They are strung up on the wall instead of put in tubes. Don’t the Elements read comics? Everyone knows in Marvel books, people get shoved in clear tubes when they’re captured!

Songbird ends up being the only one who evades capture, and so she must go it alone.

She succeeds.

In the end, Zemo tells Fixer to use the newly gained security clearance to begin hacking The Avengers’ locked files, saying that once he’s opened them, the Thunderbolts can reveal themselves to the world.

While captured, some of the Elements go on a rampage through New York, allowing for cameos by the New Warriors, Spider-Man, Heroes for Hire, Daredevil, etc.

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