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Thunderball (comics)

Thunderball (Eliot Franklin) is a Marvel Comics supervillain and a frequent enemy of Thor and a somewhat reluctant (albeit utterly sadistic) ally of the Wrecker and the Wrecking Crew. The character was created by Len Wein and Sal Buscema and first appeared in Defenders #17 (November 1974).

Fictional character biography

Dr. Eliot Franklin was a brilliant physicist whose greatest claim to fame was inventing a miniature gamma-ray bomb, something that Dr. Robert Bruce Banner (better known as The Hulk) was unable to do at that time. Dr. Franklin was often called "The Black Bruce Banner" because of his genius-level intellect and his scientific knowledge in the field of gamma radiation. Franklin used his scientific genius in private employ, and built a miniaturized Gamma Bomb for Richmond Enterprises. Unfortunately, Richmond executive J.C. Pennysworth informed Franklin that under the terms of their contract, all intellectual concepts developed by Franklin (including the Gamma Bomb) were the property of Richmond, and not his. Upset that he couldn't profit from his own genius, Franklin threw a fit and was fired by Pennysworth, and escorted from the building. He later attempted to steal back his plans for the Gamma Bomb, but was caught and sent to prison. It was there that he first encountered Dirk Garthwaite (also known as the Wrecker, who was depowered at that time), Henry Camp, and Brian Philip Calusky.

One night during a thunderstorm, Garthwaite broke out of prison, along with his cellmates Henry Camp, Brian Philip Calusky, and Dr. Eliot Franklin. He recovered his magical crowbar and held it aloft, all four men placing their hands upon it. Lightning struck the crowbar, not only reactivating the enchantment but empowering the other three men as well. The four felons dubbed themselves the Wrecking Crew; Camp became Bulldozer, Calusky became Piledriver, and Franklin became Thunderball. Soon after, Thunderball took an ordinary wrecking ball for an offensive weapon which was energized by The Wrecker's crowbar, making it almost indestructible.

Thunderball then convinced his allies that they should capture the gamma bomb he had created and use it to ransom New York. They began to tear apart buildings owned by Richmond Enterprises to find the bomb, attracting the attention of the Defenders, including Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond himself). The Crew was defeated by the Defenders and dispersed to different prisons. The Crew were broken out and used by a group of villains during the Acts of Vengeance. Thunderball was sent to help a group of villains defeat the Fantastic Four. They were all defeated.

The relationship between The Wrecker and Thunderball has always been somewhat strained at times. Dr. Franklin believes that he's superior to The Wrecker because he's smarter than him, thus causing him to be resentful that the source and total reliance of his power lies with The Wrecker. Thunderball has attempted to usurp The Wrecker's power many times, only to be eventually thwarted. Once, The Wrecker easily crushed Thunderball's hand after he tried to steal his crowbar. Strangely, The Wrecker has always taken Thunderball back, because he considers Thunderball and the rest of The Wrecking Crew as the only family he truly has. On one occasion, Thunderball succeeded in stealing the crowbar and added it to his own powers as Thunderball, but he was defeated by Spider-Man.

As a member of The Wrecking Crew, Thunderball has faced many of Marvel's superheroes, including Thor, Iron Man, The Avengers, and The Hulk. In the past, The Wrecking Crew almost beat The Olympian Demi-God Hercules and She-Hulk within an inch of their lives. They have also been part of other "Super Villain" organizations, such as The Masters of Evil and part of Doctor Doom and his evil alliance in The Secret Wars, but they always stayed together as a team. Thunderball has occasionally operated on his own, working as a scientist for criminal organizations such as the Secret Empire, creating many of the weapons systems that would be used to turn Jeff Wilde, son of the original Midnight Man, into the cyborg warrior known as Midnight. In a battle between the Empire and Spider-Man, Moon Knight and their allies, Thunderball was one of the few Empire operatives to survive the destruction of the organization's base, and surrendered to the assembled heroes soon after.

Thunderball cares about at least one person. During a massive supervillain breakout at the prison called the Vault, the Wrecking Crew meets up with a team from Damage Control. Thunderball did not want to see John Porter, the head of the team, hurt. They trick the others into thinking John has superpowers (really, Thunderball hitting the Crew when the lights are out) and the Damage Control team manages to escape.

They once conquered an entire planet together, Polemachus, which was the home of sometime Avenger ally/adversary, Arkon. They overthrew Arkon and his consort, Thundra, and ruled Polemachus with the help of Arkon's former Grand Vizier, who betrayed them. This was after they briefly lost their Asgardian powers (When Loki took the power originally meant for him from The Wrecker.) and obtained their powers from a totally different energy source. Part of that energy source was Monica Rambeau herself, also known as the Avenger Pulsar (at the time, her codename was Photon).

During a battle in London, Thunderball tries to kill a wounded Captain America. Kelsey Leigh saves him using the shield but dies due to the shock of the impacts. Kelsey later returns as a new Captain Britain and seemingly kills Thunderball but he survives.

Later, the Wrecking Crew breaks into a bank in Los Angeles. They are confronted by the Runaways, who defeat them. Thunderball gets chewed on by one of the team, Old Lace, a dinosaur from the future.

Thunderball and the rest of the Crew are forced into governmental service under the Thunderbolts program.

The Wrecking Crew with Thunderball have since been spotted in Canada fighting the newly created Omega Flight.

The Hood has hired him as part of his criminal organization to take advantage of the split in the superhero community caused by the Superhuman Registration Act. He helps them fight the New Avengers but is taken down by Dr. Strange. He was later seen with the Hood watching the Skrull invasion on television.

Powers and abilities

Thunderball possess superhuman strength and a high degree of imperviousness to harm. He can withstand high amounts of concussive force, and is virtually bulletproof. Thunderball's power augmented his entire body, strengthening his bone, muscle, and flesh. Thunderball possesses a wrecking ball attached to a four foot long chain, capable of projecting electrical energy bolts, enchanted by the Wrecker's power. On at least one occasion when he did not have access to the Wrecker's powers, he used his own engineering abilities to create a suit of power armor that simulated the abilities of the wrecking ball, albeit on a lesser scale. The suit also gave Franklin the ability to shock foes on physical contact. The wrecking ball, when thrown, is capable of returning to Thunderball in a similar fashion as Wrecker's crowbar and Thor's hammer. With effort, Thunderball can even control the path it takes on its return. Thunderball can spin the wrecking ball on its chain fast enough to deflect bullets and automatic gunfire. By slamming the wrecking ball on the ground, Thunderball can cause minor localized quakes, knocking his opponents off-balance. The wrecking ball is also durable enough to be thrown into vehicles, buildings, and other structures, knocking them down with no damage to itself. In the past, The Hulk and Hercules both have, with extreme effort, destroyed the wrecking ball. When this happens, Thunderball doesn't suffer any ill psychic effects from the wrecking ball's destruction. He can re-create the weapon by obtaining a new wrecking ball and having the Wrecker enchant it for him.

As well, Thunderball is highly intelligent. He is a scientific genius in the field of engineering and physics, specializing in gamma radiation, and is of the few super-humanly strong villians with a Ph.D.

Other versions

Marvel Zombies

At the beginning of Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness, Thunderball is seen fighting Daredevil when Ash Williams distracts Daredevil long enough for Thunderball to hit Dardevil with his wrecking ball. He then thanks Ash for his help. He is seen later by Ash and Frank Castle, surrounded and trying to fend off zombified superhumans. Despite Ash's concerns, for he believes Thunderball to be a decent person, Ash is the only one to survive the encounter.

Other media

Video games

Thunderball (alongside the other Wrecking Crew members) appear in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. He and the Wrecking Crew are seen guarding the gates at Bifrost Bridge. A VS simulation disk has the heroes fighting Thunderball.

References

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