Thunderbolts (1st series) #146

Issue Date: 
September 2010
Story Title: 

Jeff Parker (Writer), Kev walker (Artist), Frank martin (Colour art), Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), Marko Djurdjevic (Cover Artist), Damien Lucchese (Production), Rachel Pinnelas (Assistant Editor), Bill Rosemann (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher), Alan Fine (Executive Producer)

Brief Description: 

Just before Ghost is killed by the girl in a troll suit, Crossbones shoots her in the head with a tranquilizer dart. Back at the Raft, she is hospitalized and identified by the visiting Valkyrie, who says her name is Gunna. She is from Asgard but her mother was kidnapped by trolls and Gunna is half troll. She belongs in Asgard but John Walker says she will have to stand trial on Earth, as she ate people. Gunna is left with them until the trial is over. The next day, Cage meets with his Thunderbolts team and tells them they have a new mission. They are going to a cave complex in New Guinea to find a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. and U.N. agents. They were investigating a report of some new Terrigen Mists and they have now gone missing. The team teleports there and enters the cave, where they find the body of one of the agents impaled on a stalactite. They find more bodies, all of which look like they starved to death, even though some of them have only been missing a day. Mach V, who went elsewhere with the caves, radios that he’s in trouble. Luke Cage runs off to save him as the rest of the team decide what to do. Cage saves Mach V from being killed by a huge creature but in turn he is injured. Moonstone saves him before he’s eaten and Ghost says that the creature was one of the agents they came to save. Moonstone is taken out and so Ghost overrides and possesses the unconscious Mach V and uses him like a puppet. He kills the creature but realizes more are on their way. Juggernaut runs in and kills a bunch but is now covered in their blood which starts to burn him. Crossbones and Man-Thing arrive and it’s up to them, along with Ghost, to save the rest of the team.

Full Summary: 

(twenty miles outside Broxton, Oklahoma)

As the girl dressed as a troll prepares to swing her axe down on Ghost, he radios Luke Cage for assistance. He says that a godly weapon has damaged his suit and he can’t go intangible. As the girl yells and swings the axe, Ghost says he’s about to be bifurcated. Before the axe hits him, however, the girl is hit in the head with a bullet. She collapses in the ground and Ghost thanks Crossbones for saving him. As crossbones puts his gun back in its holder, Cage as what that was. He grabs Crossbones by the neck and pins him to a tree. He asks if any of them can follow orders and says the trolls were to be brought in alive.

Gasping for breath, Crossbones says he didn’t kill her. Picking up on the fact that it’s a female, Cage drops Crossbones and walks towards the hunched troll. Crossbones says he used a dart and shot her in the ear to make sure it would penetrate. Ghost and Cage look at her, lying on the ground and wonder why she doesn’t look like the others.

(Thunderbolts Tower)

The girl, now out of her troll skin suit, is lying in a hospital bed. Valkyrie, Cage and Songbird stand over her. Valkyrie says that she is one of theirs and her mother was captured by the Magzi, the most feral type of troll. Her father was a troll and so the Magzi raised her as their own because of her heritage. Recently she was captured alongside some of her tribe. She was given the name Gunna after her late mother but attempts to bring her into the Norse culture failed. That’s why she was being held with the trolls when Asgard was destroyed. Cage thanks Valkyrie for coming to identify her. She says it her responsibility to the All-father. She can have Heimdall take her to her new home.

John Walker enters in his wheelchair and says that won’t be happening. She, along with the other trolls, apparently ate U.S. citizens. She will be held there until a jury can rule on her fate. Valkyrie points out that, had one of their governments’ experiments-gone-wrong not destroyed Asgard, then they wouldn’t be in this situation. Walker retorts that he seems to remember a soldier field being wiped out full of his people. Cage steps in at this point and tries to calm things. He says that they are going to need Steve Rogers to step in and weigh in on this, as it falls under his authority. Valkyrie says she will accept that. It will be a while before he has the time for it, so in the meantime Gunna will remain there. Walker leaves and says he expects Rogers to “render unto Caesar.” Valkyrie says they will abide by his judgment too and then leaves.

Looking weary cage tells Songbird he didn’t think he’d have to deal with the prison stuff. She says he defused the situation nicely. He thanks her and turns to leave. He has just gotten word on another mission for the morning. Songbird informs him that one of the boys will have to water Man-Thing, as she has to orientate Gunna in the women’s wing. Cage says to welcome her to the prison and to try and not eat anyone.

(the next morning)

In Thunderbolts Tower, Cage tells the team they’ve got two dead bodies on the last mission. They’re either hopeless or stupid; he doesn’t know which. Juggernaut pipes up and says they were eating people but Cage cuts him off and informs him that the only reason he’s back is because they have a priority mission and there isn’t time to process a new member.

He clicks a button and the computer screen brings up a map. He tells them that, when H.A.M.M.E.R. took over from S.H.I.E.L.D., they shut down a lot of critical operations without warning. One of those was high clearance, only known to a few directorates. So, when it was closed down, no one knew to follow up on it. Months ago, a squad of agents was investigating what they believed was a new vein of the Terrigen Mists. Ghost informs the others that the Terrigen Mists form mutagenic gas. Cage confirms this and says that some of them may know the Inhumans. When an Inhuman child comes of age, they are subjected to the Mists to trigger their powers. The squad was there to confirm if there were crystals and then to seal off the caverns. No one has heard from them since.

Yesterday, a U.N. team went in and now they haven’t been heard from since. Moonstone makes a sarcastic comment and Crossbones asks Cage if they are getting rid of them and starting a new team. Cage jokingly tells Crossbones that he’s right; he wants them all dead and for the program to look like a complete failure. Fixer walks in carrying a tray. Cage tells Crossbones that everyone except for him should be able to resist mutation from the Mists. Fixer says he has a micro-oxygen supply for him to wear and the rest should be fine with filters up their noses. Ghost can attach oxygen canisters to his suit. Cage says they are going to look for survivors and to finish what they started. As they head down to Man-Thing’s habitat, Moonstone asks if they have to go down there every time. Ghost tells her he likes it. Fixer informs Cage that Mach V will be steering Man-Thing on the mission.

(New Guinea)

Using Man-Thing, the team teleports to the jungles of New Guinea. They appear outside a huge cave entrance with a U.N. truck parked nearby. Cage points to another vehicle hidden under some camo tarpaulin and says that the S.H.I.E.L.D agents never got back to their transport. Man-Thing heads into the cave ahead of the team. The rest follow and Juggernaut tells Moonstone she can hang with him if she’s scared of the dark. She calls him a white knight beneath the armor but says she’s got all the light she needs. With that, she emits a red glow from her hands and flies above the rest of them.

Mach V tells them to head down the tunnel to the left as he’s picking up a signature close to what they have for Terrigen. He gets Crossbones to put his mask on. Crossbones informs him he better check on Man-Thing, as he’s going down the other tunnel. He turns to see Man-Thing wandering off in the other direction and so he tells Cage he knows how to contact him. With that, he heads off after Man-Thing. With his hand phased into the tunnel wall, Ghost says he believes he can also detect the crystal signature. Cage chastises him and mutters under his breath that he will zap him when he’s tangible.

Moonstone flies up to cage and tells him they’re an undisciplined lot but some of them know about teamwork. She puts her hand on his shoulder and says that she responds well to alpha males. Her attention is suddenly caught by something on the roof of the tunnel. The corpse of one of the U.N. crew is impaled on a stalactite. She flies up to him but Cage yells for her not to touch it. Cage then radios to Mach V and informs him of the discovery and that he did not die of natural causes. Ghost suddenly phases through the tunnel next to cage, surprising him. He says he’s also found bodies.

He leads them down the tunnel to the emaciated bodies of the S.H.I.E.L D. agents. Juggernaut comments that they look like mummies now and they practically starved to death. Crossbones says that the team only got there yesterday and he would know that if he paid attention in the briefing. Juggernaut starts to pick a fight with Crossbones but Cage interrupts and tells them to cool it or he will face plant both of them. They see another U.N. agent impaled on a stalagmite. Ghost stares at him and guesses that the emaciated condition may have been caused by the Mists. Cage tells him that doesn’t account for the one stuck on the ceiling.

Moonstone suddenly yells that she’s found the crystals. They enter an area of the cave that is covered in white crystals growing from the walls and floor and a think veil of gas hangs in the air. Cage tells Crossbones to get his mask on. Ghost flies to the crystals and theorizes that the agents were there to gather crystals to create a private army. He spots something in the crystals and grabs it. It’s a hard drive from the original S.H.I.E.L.D. team. He takes a moment to access it and determines it has twelve terabytes of data on it. Ghost seems a little too excited at the discovery and Moonstone looks away, feeling she shouldn’t be watching him access the drive. Juggernaut asks if they will get more powers if they use the crystals, but Ghost tells him not all Terrigen is suitable and some doses can be damaging. Many who are exposed to the gases become mindless individuals known as alpha primitives. He suddenly finds something useful on the drive. There is a vein of uranium underneath the crystals and they have channeled it, corrupting the gasses.

Hearing this, Juggernaut realizes the place is radioactive and Cage tells them they don’t need to stand there any more; they can send a robot in to finish the job. He radios Mach V but he gets a broken and crackly response. He can only make out the words “surrounded” and “need” before the line goes silent. Cage runs down the tunnel towards where Mach V is and he tells the rest of the team to head outside and wait for him. Ghost says his suit protects him so he’ll go too. Crossbones goes to leave but Juggernaut says he ain’t buying it. He thinks it’s another fake out to see what they’ll do. Moonstone disagrees and says she thinks he’s following procedure. Crossbones asks whether the test is to see if they will go outside or help Cage. Juggernaut says he doesn’t know but Moonstone says that they don’t grasp the concept. Cage is a hero and he puts himself before others and with that she goes to fly after Cage. Juggernaut asks if she’s heroic all of a sudden but she replies she isn’t but she recognizes it when she sees it.

Juggernaut yells after her and says he’s saved the day plenty of times and re-asserts his belief that it’s some stunt to make him act noble. Crossbones suddenly spots a bag dropped by the S.H.I.E.L.D agents. He opens it to see what goodies they left. After looking what’s inside, he says he will back Cage up if he gets to use them.

Cage runs down one of the tunnels with a flare to light his way. He tries to contact Mach V and finally gets a response. Mach says they have him pinned and they knocked his helmet off. Cage soon spots Mach V fighting with a twisted mass of organic material. He jumps at it and tries to rip it off Mach V, who tells him not to let it touch him, as it almost made him pass out when it touched his face. As he fights it, he sees that it contains lots of tentacles and mouths and has numerous dark red eyes scattered over it. The creature grabs Cage by the arm and he screams in agony. As it takes hold of him by an arm and leg he asks what is on them as it hurt. He suddenly realizes he can’t see. Mach V spots that Cage is about to be fed to a huge mouth, full of sharp pointy teeth. He shoots the tentacles holding him and Cage crashes to the ground. The mouth lurches after Cage as he lies on the floor. He can’t see it but he can feel it’s close, as it hovers over his head, dribbling on him.

Moonstone suddenly enters and punches it away using an energy blast. She rips it open and throws it towards the other side of the tunnel. Ghost phases through the wall and examines the creature. As Moonstone keeps the creature down with ranged blasts, Ghost goes up to Cage. He says he believes the creatures are the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents they came there to find. Another creature grabs Moonstone round the neck as Ghost explains that they are likely feeding off the radiation as well as other organisms. The creature throws the screaming Moonstone towards Ghost. Elsewhere in the cave complex, Man-Thing hears the scream.

As a dazed Moonstone lies on the floor, Ghost goes up to an unconscious Mach V and hovers over him. He says he would rather he remain unaware of his armor override feature as he phases into Mach V’s suit. The creature is now licking Moonstone but Ghost, operating Mach V, blasts it apart with his gun. Cage, thinking it’s Abe operating the armor, commends him and then points down the tunnel at more creatures crawling along the walls and ceiling.

They are suddenly distracted by a rumbling sound. Juggernaut crashes into the area at high speed and slams into one of the creatures, spraying the area with blood and guts. He stands up and looks around. He eggs the creatures on as he drips with blood. However, he suddenly cries out in pain as his arms start to burn. Crossbones, carrying a handheld rotary cannon, and Man-Thing enter the scene. They meet up with Mach V and realize it’s up to them now, as the rest of the team lies injured around them.

Characters Involved: 

Luke Cage

Crossbones, Ghost, Juggernaut, Man-Thing, Moonstone (all Thunderbolts)

Songbird, Fixer, Mach V

John Walker aka U.S. Agent



Mindless creature in cave complex

(on computer screen)

Black Bolt, Medusa, Triton, Gorgon, Karnak (all Inhumans)

Story Notes: 

Asgard was destroyed during the Siege event when Norman Osborn decided to take down the city.

Juggernaut killed two of the trolls they were hunting for in the last issue.

Fun fact: Stalagmites form from the ground upwards and stalactites form from the ceiling downwards.

Issue Information: 
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