Thunderbolts (1st series) #148

Issue Date: 
November 2010
Story Title: 
Lightning in Shadows

Jeff Parker (Writer), Declan Shalvey (Artist), Frank Martin and Fabio D’auria (Colour artists), Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), Frank Martin (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: 

Songbird and Fixer lead the Thunderbolts towards the cafeteria. They tell them that Luke Cage hasn’t checked in for a while and they don’t know where he is. John Walker comes up to Songbird and reminds her that they need to find Luke, because he is in charge of the Thunderbolts program. Luke is in Hell’s Kitchen, dealing with Daredevil’s turn to the dark side, when he is attacked by a ninja disguised as Iron Fist. Afterwards, he comes across an old friend of his, who tells him his police officer son, Darris, has gone missing. He found a group of undead ninjas in the sewers and he went to investigate and didn’t come back. Back at the Raft, Songbird and Moonstone sit in the prison cafeteria with some of the other prisoners, who are making fun of the new addition, Gunna. Songbird defends Gunna but they continue joke about her savage ways. The men are sitting nearby. segregated from the women, when one of the prisoners begins making fun of Crossbones. He keeps pushing, knowing that Crossbones can’t fight back or he will be cut off the team. When they suddenly get a call from the guards to go down to Man-Things habitat. Crossbones takes a moment when the guards aren’t looking to jam a spork down the throat of the man who was mocking him. Down in the habitat, they are teleported to Hell’s Kitchen where they meet Luke. He tells them they are going to find Darris and shows them to the sewers. Luke then tells Fixer he is team leader and that they are to destroy the fortress of undead ninjas. They enter the sewers and eventually discover they are surrounded by ninjas. A fight breaks out and Songbird and Fixer are taken out. With their handlers down, the rest of the Thunderbolts prepare to have some fun.

Full Summary: 

(The Raft)

Songbird and the Fixer are escorting the Thunderbolts through a cell block. Karla Sofen, aka Moonstone, asks her wardens what they mean when they say they can’t go into Thunderbolts towers. Fixer says that Luke isn’t in so they will have to have lunch with the general population. Karla says she can’t eat that swill and Cain Marko, aka Juggernaut, asks when Luke is getting back. Songbird replies that she doesn’t know. John Walker, the head warden, comes up to her in his wheelchair and says he was curious about that too. He says if Cage isn’t getting his required hours for the week then he will have to report it to the advisory board. Songbird tells him it’s probably just Avengers business. Walker says that he checked in with the Avengers but it’s nothing to do with them. He tells Songbird he knows she and Fixer are more than capable but it was Luke’s rep they okayed on the program. He would hate to see it end before it even started.
After Walker leaves Moonstone says she bets Luke has gone for a little R+R with some little lady friends. Songbird tells Karla to shut up and then pushes her down the corridor towards the mess hall.

In the Avengers mansion, Jessica Jones is on the phone whilst sitting in front of a window. She phones Luke up and asks what happened and if he got through to Matt. When she hears his reply, she says it doesn’t sound like him and asks if Matt might be an imposter.

Outside Daredevil’s palace, Luke says that it was definitely Daredevil who sicced a whole squad of ninja’s on his friends. He has a palace-fortress and he thinks he can use the Hand to clean up New York. As he walks along a street, he says it’s like the Thunderbolts. They’re supposed to be bringing them up but he fears that he is becoming more like them. He tells Jessica he has to go and says to give Danielle a kiss from daddy.

Iron Fist is perched above him in a tree. Luke looks up at him and says he needed more than five minutes alone. Iron Fist apologizes and asks if they are any closer to a plan of attack. He jumps down from the tree and Luke leans against a garbage can. He says he’s sure Daredevil has a weakness that they can exploit that no one else has thought of. Luke slowly says there is and grips the garbage can tightly. Iron Fist asks what it is and Luke slams the can into him. Looking down at the crumpled Iron Fist he quotes his earlier line of “what’s our plan of attack?” The Iron Fist on the floor is in fact a Hand ninja in disguise and, once knocked out, he reveals himself.

A voice comes from behind Luke and says that they’re tricky… they used a spell to look like Iron Fist. But he could tell by the voice, they don’t fool him. Luke turns to see Lacy Kimbro sat on a box, playing his guitar for money. Luke is surprised to see him and Lacy says that he bets Luke thought he was dead. He tells Luke he hasn’t been back to the blocks in some time. He was hoping they would cross paths… it’s got to be providence. He’s been keeping an eye out for his son, Darris. Luke asks if he’s in Hell’s Kitchen. Lacy calls Luke Carl Lucas and says that there are subways all over New York; a man doesn’t have to stay where he’s raised. Luke apologizes and Lacy says that Darris is a policeman and this is where he works. He corrects himself and says this is where he worked. Luke guesses the Hand grabbed him and Lacy confirms it and says he knows where he is being kept.

He says there a whole other level, rumored to have been killed but still living, called the Underhand. He says he never liked the idea of magic but even his old eye can see it’s everywhere now. Lacy points downwards and says these people are down below. Luke asks if he means the sewers and Lacy confirms it. He says that there is a big castle in the sewers like the one on the surface. It’s like purgatory; they ain’t dead if they stay down there. Darris found out about them and so he and his partner went to investigate and they didn’t come back. Luke tells him he needs to get back home. Lacy says he knows but it’s his boy out there and he has to do something. As he leaves he says he did the only thing he could and he told him. He says he knows him… he’ll do the right thing.

In the Raft cafeteria, Troll sniffs something on a tray. Some of the other female prisoners watch her and comment on what she’s doing. Troll picks up the food with her hands much to the amusements of the others. One of the women says to pour her some water into a dish for her to lap out of. Nearby, Songbird and Karla walks over to a table with some food. Songbird asks what’s so funny and Titania replies that the Songbird and Moonstone show just started. Titania asks what it’s going to be today… Will they beat each other up or will the beat the prisoner instead? Karla says it’s going to be both and Titania tells her not to block her view of the cavegirl. Songbird tells her that her name is Gunna. Titania says it doesn’t matter what they call her she doesn’t understand it. So they just call her Troll.

One of the other prisoners says that Troll seems to like Songbird. If she housetrains her, then she can run around and fetch things for her. Another prisoner points out they have a plant on the team, so why not. Songbird says she’s smart enough to earn points with the warden’s office during the blackout whilst the others keep losing privileges. One of the prisoners sarcastically says that she won’t get to hang out with Songbird and Cage. She says that all they care about is raw power which is why Moonstone gets on the team… again. Karla says to say that to her again in the shower. They start laughing at Troll, who is now licking food off her tray. Titania starts to say something but Songbird tells her to shut up. The women ask Songbird if the cannibal thing is true; that they found her eating a couple of hunters. Before Songbird says anything, Troll puts her tray down, stares at the woman and says “aye.” All the women stare silently back at her in surprise.

In the men’s section of the cafeteria, Ghost, Juggernaut and Crossbones are sat by themselves on a table. One of the other prisoners on the table behind them makes a sarcastic comment about the gods lowering themselves to dine with the rest of them. Crossbones looks over his shoulder and asks who just signed their own death warrant. Before the man can answer, Crossbones says he will just take out the whole table to be sure. The man in question asks if he is going to do it with a plastic spork. Crossbones sneers back at him and says that’s all he’ll need.

One of the guards points a gun at Crossbones and tells him to sit down. One of the other prisoners leans across to the prisoner who made the comment to Crossbones and tells him he killed Captain America. The man, Mason, laughs and says he must have done a suck job because he just saw him on TV. Another prisoner becomes exasperated with him and pleads with him to stop. Mason says that Crossbones can’t do jack or else his little robot thingies will activate. He says that if they touch one of them, then they are off the team and a now slot opens up for someone like him.

Crossbones becomes more irate and tells Mason to keep talking. Cain tells him to ignore him; he only wants what they got. Ghost points out that they are still prisoners. He says the food has saltpeter in it to reduce libido. Cain says it’s not the worse place he’s ever had to deal with. Some of the places he’s stayed in makes solitary look like five stars. He tells Crossbones not to give some punk a chance to take their spot. Most of the time they are up in Thunderbolts tower wearing their own costumes and cracking skulls. He says that running into those cave freaks wasn’t the best time though. Crossbones looks at his corrupted hand and agrees with him.

One of the guards gets a call from Fixer and tells the three men they are needed in the habitat now. Cain taunts the other prisoners by saying it looks like they get to leave the Raft for a while. He tells the rest of them to make some nice license plates whilst they’re gone. Crossbones asks Cain to do him a favor and to keep the guard busy. Cain accidentally drops his food tray on another prisoner, which causes the guard to give him a warning. Hidden behind Cain’s large frame, Crossbones takes his spork and rams it down Mason’s throat. Mason starts to choke and the guards rush around him. Crossbones walks away and tells Ghost he was right about the food.

In the Terrarium, Fixer hurries the Thunderbolts in and reminds them that Man-Thing burned people the last time he got out. As Moonstone closes the door, she admits she never thought that the smell of mold and algae would come to mean freedom. Crossbones is surprised he got a flamethrower and asks if he did all his chores. Juggernaut asks where they are going now and Fixer tells them it’s only to Hell’s Kitchen. Using Man-Thing, they teleport there before Fixer can finish his sentence. They see Luke Cage stood in front of them and Fixer tells him Songbird had to wrap up but she’s flying over now. Juggernaut comments that their missing leader is now hanging out at railway tracks… must be hard times. Luke simply tells them to follow him.

As they walk into a railway tunnel, Moonstone says that she called it. She had heard about Daredevil’s craziness. She asks if they are going into Manhattan and then assumes it must be ninjas. Fixer reminds her they are deadly. Ghost opens up a file on ninja lore and tells the team they are swift, versatile and some have magical abilities. Luke says if it’s true and his source is right, then this pack is already dead. He tells them that somewhere is a black cop, about thirty years old by the name of Darris Kimbro. Ripping off the door to a sewer access tunnel Luke says he wants Darris back. And if the ninjas really do have a whole fortress down there then he wants it leveled.

Luke tells a surprised Fixer that he is mission leader. If the team does anything that he or Songbird don’t want, then it won’t be pretty. Fixer seems shocked and asks if Luke is going with them. Moonstone says they could have provided nose plugs and then says she guesses they will never send them somewhere sunny. Crossbones asks that if the ninjas are dead can they use as much force as they like. Luke confirms they can and says he wants them gone.

The team heads off into the sewers and Man-Thing follows them. Fixer tells Luke that he put this in the mission log as Avengers business. But he guesses that it isn’t. Luke says it isn’t and tells him he has to help the others turn Daredevil around. As Songbird joins them, he tells them both that he knows they can do this.

Inside the sewer, Moonstone jokes that Luke is now using them as his own personal death squad… It’s so different from how Osborn ran things. Crossbones says that he bets when everything hits the fan everything will be pinned on them. Juggernaut doesn’t seem fussed but Ghost says that institutionalized power can only be abused. Crossbones asks what his deal is… he gets that he’s brilliant but nobody’s that paranoid. Ghost replies that what Crossbones calls paranoia he calls heightened awareness. Juggernaut says at the very least he can tell them his real name. Ghost says that his birth branding and federal identification number no longer applies. All the designations try to define who he is but nothing explains that. Only he knows who he truly is.

Fixer and Songbird catch up and he asks Ghost if he has detected anyone down there. He says that his sensors have registered thirty-two life forms ahead. Songbird uses her powers to light up the area and then questions the number Ghost said. He corrects himself and says he now registers thirty-six. They come across a huge swarm of rats in their path.
Fixer finds a junction box and says he can use it to light the way so Songbird doesn’t have to. Juggernaut spots that Man-Thing is now crawling with rats and Crossbones says he could do with some target practice. Ghost says that the life-forms he was referring to weren’t the rats. Just then, two swords are thrust through Man-Thing and the rest of the teams in attacked with shuriken. Fixer lights up the area and the team find themselves surrounded by dozens of ninjas.

The ninjas immediately start fighting and swarming on the Thunderbolts. Crossbones starts firing his guns at them but, when he sees Man-Thing burning them with his touch, he changes tactics. He gets out his flamethrower and starts incinerating them. One of the ninjas commands the rest to group up with him. They starts merging together to form a super strong ninja. Juggernaut goes to attack it but it kicks him in the stomach and knocks him down. Fixer yells for the Thunderbolts to form a row but he is impaled with two swords before he can finish. Songbird rushes towards him but she is overpowered by a group of ninjas. Moonstone stares on and dryly says it looks like they are without their handlers. She tells the remaining Thunderbolts to have some fun.

Characters Involved: 

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

Fixer, Luke Cage, Songbird (all Thunderbolt wardens)

US Agent/John Walker

Raft guards



Numerous female prisoners


Numerous male prisoners

Jessica Jones

Danielle Cage

Lacy Kimbro

Hand ninjas

“Iron Fist” ninja

Story Notes: 

This is a tie-in to the Shadowland event.

The Thunderbolts have nanobots in their bodies that can shock them if they get out of line.

Crossbones breathed in some toxic Terrigen mists last issue.

Issue Information: 
Written By: