Kind of counts? She led the team for like a year. And under false pretenses, which makes her like some kind of double-Thunderbolt. My only question was what took her so long.
Tony Stark as Cobalt Man counts too. Even if he screwed up and called them the Thundercats that one time. Nobody’s perfect.
Well, yes she led the team for a year, but that was mostly to neuter it, and we didn’t even realize it was her until she had to GTFO. Same for Tony — neither of them were on the team with the same level of affiliation as, say, Hawkeye or Luke Cage, or even Norman Osborn.
Stark and Natasha joined under the pretense of being interested in the group to serve specific exterior motives on behalf of other parties. For me, that sets them apart from even the most self-interested, sociopathic criminals to ever don the bolt.
This is not necessarily a bad thing.
I have a lot of issues with the Diggle run in Thunderbolts; I didn’t think the rushed ending lived up to the build-up, and I generally really liked the build-up, so there’s kind of a double-crushed nerdfrustration motivating my writings, here, but—
What were Natasha’s exterior motivations? The textual premise says she was recruited to infiltrate the team for Nick Fury (who was actually Norman Osborn, ~plot twist~) and to provide intel back to him. Osborn explains that he wanted to figure out if his shiny new killsquad was loyal to him, so he tricked Natasha into doing it for him. That… well, I think that’s some bullshit, because there’s no way Natasha would work with fake Nick for months without noticing something was up, especially since she was in contact with the actual Nick Fury in other books at the time. In any case, she certainly didn’t think her mission was getting intel on the team for Norman Osborn.
Her mission is getting them to flip on Osborn. And notice, though she tells fake Fury that there’s no real hope on that score, that isn’t what she tells them in the next issue.
The thing is, if getting the other members to flip is her goal, not only is she successful— because O’Grady, Ghost, Paladin and Headsman do— but her mission is the Thunderbolts credo. Since the Thunderbolts are really about reformation and not Norman Osborn’s secret assassin squad, you could make the argument that Natasha was the one real Thunderbolt, even though she was incognito the entire time. It’s not coincidence that Diggle’s finale has Natasha teaming up with Songbird (and Fixer and Abe, sort of) against the Osbolts.
That’s not to say her involvement with the Thunderbolts isn’t heavily asterisked!! She isn’t Hawkeye, or Luke Cage, Avengers who joined the team under their own names without false pretenses. I can definitely see why she wouldn’t be included in an official member list. But I think there was more to it than there was with Cobolt Tony.
The topic of this first women write about comics blogamafest is Women in in Refrigerators, 13 years later. (Subtitle: the freezerburn.) I tackled a lot of what I think about WiR previously, so today I’m going to talk more about what other people think. And then I’m going to tell you what I think again, because I don’t shut up.
In August of 2009, Natasha was appearing in three books: Captain America, Invincible Iron Man, and Thunderbolts. In August of 2009, Natasha was captured in each one of them by the same Norman Osborn. And in August of 2009, quite a few people cried refrigerator.