Marvel’s Next Big Thing: The 15th Anniversary of the Thunderbolts

We round out a week of Marvel’s Next Big Thing events with some T’bolts acton! We’re talking to Jeff Parker, Declan Shalvey and editor Tom Brennan about the 15th anniversary of the Thunderbolts.

April’s issue #172 sees the start of a Thunderbolts vs. Thunderbolts arc! Parker credits Brennan with both recent concepts of sending the team back in time as well as their encounter with another iteration of the team. This return of the classic lineup for an old-fashioned showdown is timed perfectly with the series’ 15th anniversary. This even involves confrontation between past and present versions of single characters like Fixer and Moonstone. “Would [the younger me] like the decisions I’ve made?” Parker muses of the dynamic in what he considers the biggest story they’ve planned so far.

“A Thunderbolt will die!” Brennan interjects. Parker groans, but he doesn’t deny the tease. Another character, it’s promised, will save the world.

Shalvey, a longtime fan of the team even prior to his tenure as series artist is pleased as punch to be drawing the original lineup. He does admit a learning curve with some of the character designs as he believes Mark Bagley went through an extended process before settling on final costume adjustments for those early issues. As for timelines, Parker speaks to the perils of specifically naming a date for past events given Marvel’s constantly evolving timeline. That said, both writer and artist are making direct reference to the narrative and visual style of the 90s. The story opens as if it were an issue from the initial run and Parker says he has some fun with the post-Onslaught milieu, but the creative team is also conscious that too many references to contextual continuity could be distracting from the current story. When pressed for a number, Parker considers the time difference between the two teams is over ten years. Brennan says the math is a little fuzzy, maybe a little closer to five years.

Cover by Mark Bagley

Asked about leadership for either team, we’re looking at the massive egos of Baron Zemo and Centurious. For the latter’s part, that leadership os contentious, with Moonstone and Fixer both evolving in their roles in the team.

We asked Parker about the surprises he’s encountered during his tenure on the book, starting a bit reticent to take the reins on a series previously unfamiliar to him. He singles out Boomerang as a character he considered a novelty when he first brought him into a fold. He’s since found himself looking for excuses to include him. The writer finds that kind of discovery very rewarding and exciting, stumbling on a character that asserts himself in the forward momentum of the plot.

To close things out, Brennan thanks the series’ original artist Mark Bagley for returning to provide covers for this storyline. He expresses pride for the Thunderbolts’ 15 year continuing run, an industry success and a great story in itself.

Cover by Mark Bagley

Look for the new storyline starting in Thunderbolts #172 this April.


  1. YES! Love the way Troll looks in that first cover. This is just damn good news

  2. Every time I see one of those X-Men #100 homage covers, I hear the theme song to the X-Men Cartoon.

  3. Meh

  4. Oh gimmie gimmie!

  5. Watch those hands, Zemo!

  6. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t stop thinking about Moonstone’s right hand placement, it looks like she’s going for Meteorite’s crotch.

  7. I gotta say…I’m kinda burnt out on Bagley art.

  8. I’ve been buying T-bolts since issue #100. Parker and friends are doing a great job on the title. I’m happy to see a little push behind the property, since it has a fairly small, if loyal, constituency. Bagley’s art on this looks great, because along with the finishes and color, the art sums up, for me, an entire era of the Thunderbolts legacy. Parker is a good writer, and I’ve learned to trust his instincts.

    This should be fun.

  9. Thunderbolts is one of my favourite comics, period. Parker has done so much with it in his tenure, can’t see it stopping either. It’s fun, the team dynamics are great, individual characters get the spotlight without leaving anyone out in the long run. Love it.

    Would love to see Parker on Avengers. I know it’ll never happen, but he’d kill it.

  10. Finally a Marvel ‘Big Thing’ I can care about.

    I’ve been enjoying this time travel story for a while now and now doing a homage to the early days of the team should be fun. Glad to hear Declan Shalvey is getting more love too; he’s been getting interviews a lot lately.

  11. Wow, I never realized how little of the original team is left! This looks really neat.