November 28, 2021

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #349: Jolt

The Thunderbolts had a plan, but it was all ruined by this well-meaning, meddling kid...

Wow, here’s one I probably should have done ages ago.  The Thunderbolts were a big team from Marvel for a while, probably helped by the fact the book was written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Mark Bagley.  But they had a secret, and that secret was almost ruined by their first recruit.

That was Jolt.  She ruined some plans, and that was a good thing.

See, the Thunderbolts appeared after the Avengers and Fantastic Four disappeared following the attack by Plot Device…I mean Onslaught.  With the world’s most beloved heroes all missing, there was a new need for heroes, and along came the Thunderbolts.  They appeared to be new characters, aside from maybe their leader Citizen V, but it turns out they were rather well-known as revealed to the reader on the last page of their first issue.

Yeah, Citizen V was really Baron Zemo, and these guys were the Masters of Evil pulling a long con by posing as heroes to win over the public’s general trust.

Wow, that was quite the reveal, and I am sure it shocked a lot of readers…but not me, because I had a friend who interned at Marvel that summer and he told me all about the book, up to the fact that Busiek-favorite Hawkeye would eventually join the team to make sure the ones that wanted to be good guys actually had a chance to become one.  Now, my friend could only give me the broad strokes, I didn’t mind the reveal, and it was still a fun read.  But I wasn’t overly surprised they were secretly bad guys.

Oh, and one other thing my buddy clued me in on:  a legit rookie superhero would join the team.  That would be Jolt, real name Hallie Takahama, and she first appeared in Thunderbolts #1 though she wouldn’t join the team for another half dozen or so issues.

Jolt’s story was this:  her parents were killed by Onslaught-controlled Sentinels, and she eventually gained some bio-electric superpowers thanks to experimentation by all around jerk, the headless scientist Arnim Zola.  Hallie was actually one of a group kidnapped by Zola, but she alone survived without turning into a disgusting mutation.  Being a cheerful sort who idolized superheroes, as soon as she was free, she set off to join that new team of good guys the public adored:  the Thunderbolts.

Oops.

As it stood, Jolt’s presence on the team along with the general feeling of being better people actually made a number of the Thunderbolts decide to go straight anyway.  Goliath/Atlas took a shine to the kid who reminded him of his deceased sister while Screaming Mimi/Songbird and Beetle/MACH-1 were falling in love and weren’t quite as bad as the others anyway.  Zemo, meanwhile, outright hated Jolt from the beginning, sensing correctly that she was going to ruin all of his plans.

So, when the Avengers and FF returned and Zemo sprung a mind-control scheme, it fell to Jolt and some of the more moral members of the Thunderbolts to turn on their former leader and save the day.  From there, the Thunderbolts worked to become actual good guys and not just pretend ones.

Now, Jolt had some bad times.  A sniper shot her in the head once, but Thunderbolt member the Fixer built a machine that could bring her back, initially as a bioelectric being and later as a flesh and blood person.

From there, Jolt stayed behind after the team went to Counter-Earth, joining a local team of heroes who were trying to keep the planet from falling apart.  Jolt was last seen getting back to Earth in time to defend the Thunderbolts from a new group of Zemo’s Masters of Evil.  She returned in time to save Atlas from an attack, but she did so with a massive blast of energy that left her as little more than a very small person.

So small that the mysterious villain Ghost literally slipped Jolt into a pocket and then…uh, that’s it actually.

Man, she’s probably covered in pocket lint and biding her time as I type this…

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