|First appearance||Captain America #269 (May 1982)
(as Team America)
R. U. Reddy
Thunderiders, originally known as Team America, is a fictional superhero/motorcycle team from Marvel Comics. They first appeared in Captain America #269 (May 1982) as Team America. They were renamed the Thunderiders in Thing #27.
Captain America writer J. M. DeMatteis described Team America as "another one we kind of got forced into doing." The month following their May 1982 preview appearance in Captain America, the team's monthly self-titled series launched. It was canceled with Team America #12 (May 1983).
The mothers of James McDonald, Wolf, Winthrop Roan Jr., Leonard Hebb and Luke Merriweather were exposed to mutagenic agents by the terrorist organization HYDRA as part of an experiment known as Project: New Genesis. HYDRA hoped to create mutant children which could later be trained as super-agents. The project was apparently unsuccessful for all test subjects other than these five.
Early days/The Marauder
Honcho, Wolf and Reddy initially came together at the first "Unlimited Class Racing" event in Daytona Beach, Florida. Unknown to them, they had first manifested their collective self, a masked motorcyclist dressed in black and known as The Marauder, who was also known as the Dark Rider, a few days earlier. The Marauder invaded a HYDRA facility and destroyed the files on the five. Deducing the subjects of the missing files, HYDRA set out to assassinate Honcho, Wolf and Reddy in the belief that one of them was the Marauder. Each of them escaped the assassination attempt and, having each received a note from the Marauder stating their destinies were linked, decided to band together as Team America. They entered and won their first competition, and moments later foiled an attempt by HYDRA to steal an advanced guidance system from another team.
The original three teammates met Wrench and Cowboy at an Unlimited Class Racing event in the Rocky Mountains. Recognizing the rapport they shared, the original three members invited the other two to join the team and they agreed.
The team temporarily disbanded but yet another attack drew them out of retirement. While performing at a charity exhibition, Cowboy, Wolf and Reddy intervened in an attack on the New Mutants by Viper and the Silver Samurai. The three unconsciously manifested the Dark Rider persona onto Danielle Moonstar, the New Mutant known as Psyche. Psyche was captured and Viper tried to force Team America to steal for her. Before they could formulate a plan of action, Professor Charles Xavier and the rest of the New Mutants joined with them to rescue Psyche. It was then that the five learned they were mutants and of their ability to project the Dark Rider persona. They trained with Xavier for several weeks until they had complete conscious control over the manifestation and the recipient.
Following this adventure the five decided to remain together again. Having lost the rights to the name "Team America," they renamed themselves Thunderiders.
Powers and abilities
The five original members of the Thunderiders are mutants. They have no powers which function individually, but collectively have the power to project their strength, skills and knowledge onto another party without diminishing their own skills in the process. The person, who retains no memory of having been the recipient, is transformed into a black-clad motorcyclist known as The Marauder. Initially the Thunderiders had no conscious control either over the manifestation of the Marauder or the person upon whom it was manifested. Training by Professor Xavier gave them greater control. For instance, they learned how to voluntarily transform into the Marauder themselves and retain the memory of being in that form.
The Thunderiders are all expert motorcycle riders.
The Team America comic books were based on a toy line by Ideal Toys. The Team America toy line was an attempt by Ideal to replace their successful Evel Knievel toy line after Knievel served six months for battery in the late 1970s, and it used many of the same molds and designs.
- Cowboy (Luke Merriweather), equally adept at trick-riding on the rodeo as well as the motorcycle circuit.
- Honcho (James McDonald), a former agent in the CIA.
- R. U. Reddy (Winthrop Roan, Jr.), disinherited son of a millionaire industrialist, Reddy also has dreams of Rock 'n Roll-stardom.
- Wolf (real name unrevealed), nomadic biker with street-fighting skills.
- Wrench (Leonard Hebb), a mechanical genius who designs & repairs the team's vehicles.
- The Thing joined the team for a while but quit before making any public appearances as a team member.
- Sharon Ventura was a Thunderiders member for several months prior to her assumption of the identity of Ms. Marvel.
- Georgianna Castleberry, Wrench's girlfriend, and later wife, was an unofficial member of the team. She often served as the host body for the Marauder persona, although she retained no memory of it.