Bleeding Cool noted that the current Villains For Hire series from Marvel Comics as part of the Devil's Reign series, was a Thunderbolts series in disguise and that this disguise might be dropped pretty soon. Now Marvel has dropped a teaser for an announcement later today.
The silhouettes don't seem to represent any of the usual Thunderbolts characters, obviously, nor any of the recent versions. Is that Cable with the shoulder pad or is it Hulkling? Traditionally the Thunderbolts were villains masquerading as heroes and then actually becoming the heroes they were pretending to be. Or a powerful force wanting to rebrand villains as heroes and using Thunderbolts to do it. Could this be a brand new line of new heroes hiding villainous identities? Could it be heroes masquerading as villains to draw real villains out?
The Thunderbolts first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #449 in 1997 and were created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley. First presented, both to readers and to the Marvel Universe, as a group of super-powered figures who became heroes to help protect the world when the Avengers were declared dead after the events of the 1996 Onslaught crossover. The final page of the first issue of their comic book, however, revealed that the Thunderbolts were actually the Masters of Evil in disguise, a surprise twist carefully guarded by Marvel. In subsequent storylines, the group rejects their leader Baron Helmut Zemo and attempts to become heroes in their own right, eventually under the leadership of the Avenger Hawkeye. The book was reformatted with Thunderbolts #76 in 2003, removing the entire cast and creative team and replacing it with a brand new set of characters, along with a new writer, John Arcudi. It was cancelled shortly afterwards.
Soon after the completion of Avengers/Thunderbolts, Marvel Comics launched a second series featuring the characters with New Thunderbolts #1 in 2005 and returned to the original series concept, reverting to its original numbering. Thunderbolts #110 saw another change to the direction of the series, with writer Warren Ellis introducing a new team of Thunderbolts, villains working for the government, tasked with capturing unregistered superheroes. The Thunderbolts comic book was renamed Dark Avengers beginning with issue #175, but the creative team remained unchanged. Dark Avengers ended with issue #190. As part of Marvel NOW!, a new Thunderbolts series was launched featuring a new team composed of Red Hulk, Deadpool, Elektra, Venom, and Punisher.