Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird

Issue Date: 
May 2022
Story Title: 
And Then There Was One

Steve Orlando & Nyla Rose (writers), David Cutler (penciler), Jose Marzan jr & Roberto Poggi (inkers), Irma Niivilla (color), VC’s Travis Lanham (letterer & production), Tom Muller with Jay Bowen (design), Ken Lashley & Juan Fernandez (cover artists), Anita Okoye (assistant editor), Sara Brunstad (edior), Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Feeling somewhat lost after his resurrection, John Proudstar goes in search of his one lone surviving relative – his grandmother, Lozen Proudstar. He arrives at Camp Gozhoo to learn that the elders - including Lozen - have been arrested for shielding their mutant population. Donning his new costume, Thunderbird goes to cause some mayhem at the police station. Soon they are joined by the force behind the arrest: the Heritage Foundation, headed by John’s old foe Martynec (who is working in concert with Orchis). The now shapeshifting Martynec and Thunderbird fight for the prisoners. When John is about to kill Martynec, Lozen appeals to his humanity and better side, and Johns shows mercy. Later, John plants a Krakoan gate in Camp Gozhoo to have his brother Warpath join them, who didn’t know of their grandmother’s existence and the three have a family reunion. John feels a lot more optimistic about his future.

Full Summary: 

Not long ago, the Scarlet Witch created the Waiting Room, enabling mutants who had died before the alteration of Cerebro to be resurrected as well. One of the first ones to return to life was John Proudstar aka Thunderbird.

Sometime later, John is walking down a road in Arizona, on his way home. He muses about being the first X-Man to die. To many people, he turned into some kind of myth. He isn’t sure he ever was the man they believe him to be. For him, the point is not what could have been but what will be.

He muses about the nature of Krakoa. While he was dead, two white men built themselves a reservation and called it freedom. Far as answers go, his won’t be on Krakoa, John figures. Those people don’t know him, but he hopes a few here still do. He tried talking to his brother, but James was a kid when John died. Most Proudstars are dead, thanks to him not being around to protect them. Thanks to people hating Apaches. Or mutants. Or both. But there’s one relative James doesn’t know. He was too young to remember the divorce. Their grandmother Lozen Proudstar. She kept the name. She taught John all he knew about life. He figured she’d survive them all.

John reaches Camp Gozhoo and hopes he was right.

The neighborhood is empty except for some teenagers sitting listlessly in front of a house. Where the hell is everyone? John asks rudely as he drops his bag. Who’s asking? one of the kids retorts belligerently. John introduces himself and adds Lozen Proudstar is his grandmother. He came for a reunion. Fees like a funeral.

Ain’t he dead? of the kids asks. Not anymore, he replies. The kids vaguely explain that someone cut a deal with the government. Sold the rights of any Native’s X-genes. As if those were theirs to sell! The cops came to collect. The Elders went out to meet them and refused to give up their mutants. Wouldn’t identify them. So, the cops arrested them all.

John asks if Lozen was with them. They don’t know him! one of the boys spits. Says he’s back from the dead? Bet the muties didn’t even bury him right! Is he even human now? Does he think they owe him answers? Something smells like apple

He’s red outside and in, John replies, but go ahead and sulk! Seems useful. He’ll be back with their people. All of them. He opens his bag containing his new costume.

A little later, dressed in his new outfit, Thunderbird walks up to the police station. The cops tell him to stop. If he has a problem with what went down at Gozhoo, take it up with the BIA, not them. John grins and ignores their orders.

He enters the station. Horse parking in the rear, the sheriff tells him. Thunderbird orders him to let the people of Camp Gozhoo go. He’s got orders, the sheriff replies. Holding them for collection. They are coming with him, Jogn replies. So he can pick them up the next day again, the sheriff scoffs, for public intoxication.

Anyone not looking to pay for those words, find the door, John suggests, and several people obey. Is that some kind of threat? the sheriff asks from behind a plexiglass wall.

John’s hands smash the glass and he reaches for him and drags him out.

In the meantime, the other cops phone for back-up. Where the hell’s the Heritage Initiative?

Said Heritage Initiative is already enroute, as one of them, John’s old enemy Martynec assures Judas Traveller via online call. Martynec promises the mutants will be weeded out and the processing of their genetic material will be swift and brutal. Remember the Heritage Initiative was worth every penny. Traveller replies Orchis is satisfied with the acquisition but, besides delivery, their ventures are far beyond Martynec’s paygrade. Martynec is getting another call; it’s the panicked cops demanding where they are. They are getting torn to pieces.

Actually, so far Thunderbird has only been destroying objects but, when bullets bounce off his skin, he gets really annoyed and kicks in the wall.

He steps through into another room, where a cop is trying to shoot him with an automatic and manages to hit a colleague instead. Thunderbird grabs his gun and destroys it. He is doing his work, he tells the frightened cop and orders him to stop. He likes his work. He throws what’s left of the gun after the fleeing cop.

A car from the Heritage Initiative tries to hit him and he hits back.

Outside, he finds several confused people and a clapping Martynec, who congratulates him on the show. He didn’t know John was back. What a specimen, and so considerate. He went and hand-delivered his X-gene.

John realizes this is Martynec’s deal and scoffs that Martynec is no mutant, just a freak who likes experimenting on himself. Killing Camp Verde, killing John’s family wasn’t enough. He’s got to sell their bodies! Now he owes him some blood!

In the meantime, the prisoners free themselves from the car and run. The freed people wonder who he is but take the opportunity to flee.

Thunderbird wrestles Martynec, who mocks that people get avenged, not property. All they are owed is a spot on the slab! John is surprised at Martynec’s strength and it gets worse, as Martynec transforms into a beast-man. Doesn’t he want to defend his people? he mocks John. And who are they exactly? Those that remember him as a martyr or those who don’t remember him at all?

While Martynec get the upper hand, the other members of the Heritage Initiative stop the escapees and demand they surrender their mutants. Martynec asks how he thought to save them. He couldn’t even save himself!

The new X-Men’s second mission. Count Nefaria was escaping with his plane. Thunderbird jumped onto it and held on, while trying to destroy the plane. Professor X telepathically ordered him to get off. John told him to butt out. He’s been dumped on by everybody he met, but he is a man! A warrior of the Apache – and today he is gonna prove it!

Xavier screamed in horror as the plane detonated and John died.

John calmly tells Martynec he’s got a lot of ideas about dying and coming back for a guy who’s never gonna make it back! He runs at Martynec and breaks his arm. He deliberately hurts him threatening to kill him, until a voice asks if it is really him. Who? John asks dumbly. A tough-looking, elderly native woman asks if he is real. Grandma Lozen! John exclaims.

Lozen tells him she doesn’t care how this happened. She trusts her eyes. And she knows his rage… they all do. But he doesn’t need to follow it.

Holding open Martynec’s jaw, John demands how many of their people he killed. He is treating them as products! This is justice! Something they’ve always had to take for themselves! Unimpressed, his grandmother asks whether he thinks she needs a lesson on what they’ve been through.

“No killing?” John scoffs. Who is she – Xavier? She orders him to watch his mouth and slows down. He is an Apache and a mutant. She never bothered with the distinction. But right now, there is a difference. His mutant gifts might protect him from the consequences of his actions, but they are not bullet-proof. Kill Martynec. He will be fine. But they will be targets! A good choice for the selfish and shortsighted. Is that who he is?

John ponders her words, then throws Martynec against a wall. He guesses not. Let’s go, they are done here. Lozen tells him to look at all those guns, all that gear, and all the cops can do is watch them go free.

Martynec mocks, is that all there is from the great Thunderbird, Krakoa’s sainted dead? Proud warriors bending to the word of a dusted antique. This is why they lose - they let t do it! Grandma Lozen kicks him in the face and tells him not to confuse mercy with weakness. Thunderbird grabs him and tells him, that woman just saved his life! Everyone saw it! The whole world saw what he did to them! Maybe it will matter. If he ever sets foot in their world again, there won’t be a power on Earth to save him.

The prisoners leave led by John and Lozen. As John kisses her on the cheek, she tells him that she doesn’t know what that terrible man with the island told him, but this right now, this is when he is really home.

John plants a Krakoan flower outside Lozen’s home to create a Krakoan gateway. They both sit on the roof, sharing some beers. So that flower will grow into a magic door? Lozen asks skeptically. That’s what the terrible man with the island said, John retorts. First useful thing he did for John, she snorts. John reminds her that he brought him back, but that has to be kept secret between them. Small price to pay for having him back, she replies, and walloping werewolves. John teases the word “walloping” died before he did. Like hell! she snorts, and she should know. Did he forgot who taught him walloping? He thought he was self-taught, is John’s wry reply. She playfully hits him and orders him not get wise. She wiped his ass. She can still kick it.

The doorway grows.

He bets she could, John laughs. He turns more somber and admits it’s been a strange ride. He thought coming here would help. But the kids when he showed up… Martynec… they all said the same thing. He was dead. No ceremony, no rites. He didn’t rise from the grave, he popped out of an egg. Didn’t die right. Didn’t come back right. He’s here… but who or what is he?

Lozen thoughtfully replies she doesn’t know what goes on on that island, but they all got their own ideas about dying. Where the spirit goes… how it is reborn. Ask her? His weird old egg is just a way of describing the same thing. She told him she doesn’t care what’s Apache and what’s mutant. When she sees him, she sees a man of two worlds who doesn’t need to choose. A man who is as brave as he is stubborn. A man who may not always be kind, but who’s fair to the bone. She sees her Johnny. She sees Thunderbird. She sees her grandson. And she’s proud.

That’s good, he smiles, because she is about to see one more. That moment, his brother James steps through the Krakoan gate, asking why John wanted… He sees Lozen and asks if she is his grandmother. Little Jimmy? she grins. Hasn’t seen him since he was nursing. She tells him come up, unless his brother has all the jumps. He could dream, James scoffs and jumps to the roof. Lozen looks at him: he has his grandfather’s height and her attitude, she decides, then hugs him.

He stammers he should have visited her. He shows his phone. He thought this picture of him and John was all he had. Lozen points out she wasn’t exactly beating down the door in Westchester. Their grandfather pissed her off. She wasted a fair amount of time being angry about it, but they are all here now thanks to John, and that picture is due for an update. They replace it with a picture of the three of them.

So, when does she get a snappy name and costume like them? Lozen jokes. Like Titania or Screaming Mimi from UCWF? James points out those are wrestlers; they have mutant names. She still wants a costume, she insists and passes him a beer. Until then, she’ll take having both of them.

John muses that coming back is always a strange ride. You get there and it’s never what you thought it would be. He figured he had a decision to make. Turns out he was wrong. A smart woman told him that and he knows better than to argue. He’s Apache. He’s a mutant. Two people preyed on by thrash like Martynec. Fools who think they are above consequence. But they are not. And maybe he won’t win all the fights ahead, but he’ll damn sure pick every one of them!

Characters Involved: 


Lozen Proudstar

Dr. Edwin Martynec
Judas Traveller

Story Notes: 

The issue includes:

  • a letter from John to Jumbo Carnation explaining what he is looking for in his new outfit
  • a message from Martynec to Judas Traveller

Further notes:
This is the first appearance of Lozen Proudstar

Thunderbird was resurrected in X-Men: Trial of Magneto #5.

John and James first ran afoul Martynec in X-Force (1st series) #minus1

The Proudstar family as well as the rest of Camp Verde were massacred in New Mutants (1st series) #99. While at first the Hellfire Club seemed to be behind it, the true culprit was revealed to be Martynec. [X-force (1st series) #68-73]

The letter mistakenly states that John chose his codename Thunderbird, while actually it was given to him by Xavier.

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