Osborn's Thunderbolts 2.0, a black ops team

Norman Osborn was given a second (or third or fourth, who's counting?) chance at redemption when he was appointed as the Thunderbolt's Director by Tony Stark at the conclusion of the Superhuman Civil War.  This shot at legitimacy was whole-heartedly embraced by Norman and he took his new role very seriously.  He did some good things, he did some bad things, he made some friends, and he made some enemies.  Eventually, Norman used his team to help defeat the Skrull invasion, a deed which made him a national hero.  As he approached this pinnacle of power and prestige, he did not forget where he came from and certain members of his team entered the spotlight alongside him.  When Norman's presence was requested in Washington D.C. to appear before a Senate Oversight Committee, he used Bullseye, Moonstone, and Venom to dismantle the Thunderbolts team back in Colorado.  Once he was handed the reigns to S.H.I.E.L.D. (which he renamed H.A.M.M.E.R.), he then constructed his new team of Avengers using some of his former-Thunderbolts.  Moonstone, Bullseye, and Venom all received promotions to this new team, while Penance, Songbird, Swordsman, and Radioactive Man received less appreciable gifts.  Penance was drugged and placed in a mental institution, Radioactive Man was deported to China, Swordsman was killed by Norman himself, and Songbird was believed to be dead as well.  Unbeknownst to Norman, the Swordsman saved Songbird from Bullseye, allowing her to escape.    

With a new era of legitimacy underway, Norman transformed the Thunderbolts Initiative into H.A.M.M.E.R., which was a very public and transparent peace-keeping task force...or so it seemed.  Osborn, of course, would need a black ops team, working under the radar as to not upset his delicate PR.  Enter his new Thunderbolts, a group with an initial roster consisting of the Headsman (aka Cleavon Twain), Ant-Man (aka Eric O'Grady), Black Widow II (Yelena Belova), Paladin, and the Ghost.  The group's base of operations was the facility known as The Cube, positioned at an undisclosed location.  Their enlistment in the Thunderbolts was different from previous regimes, for they were not looking for redemption, simply, to be paid.  These folks were on Norman's private payroll, and he made sure he got some bang for his buck.  Once assembled, Norman did not hesitate to use his team and their first mission involved duping the President of United States.

Norman had been appointed to replace Tony Stark by a lame-duck President and once the new President (who had a striking resemblance to President Barack Obama) was inaugurated, he immediately requested to meet with Osborn.  In Thunderbolts #128, Norman was summoned to meet the new President and because of the statesman's busy schedule, they were forced to have their meeting on Air Force One en route to Moscow.  After they exchanged some pleasantries, the President cut right to the chase and told Norman that he had 'grave misgivings' regarding the amount of power Norman had been given.  Having been apprised of Norman's spotty past, the President wanted Osborn to address the claims made by Dr. Leonard Samson, a recent guest to the Thunderbolts facility.  The President arranged for Norman to address these accusations one-on-one, as he soon found out that Dr. Samson was also a guest on Air Force One.  Norman was not very pleased to see the gamma-irradiated doctor.  Samson claimed to have video footage of Osborn terrorizing Thunderbolts Mountain as the Green Goblin.  Norman refuted his claims stating that the investigation into those recent events had uncovered an attack delivered by a group of psychic super-terrorists who manipulated the memories of security personnel on site.  The conversation between the three gentlemen was beginning to get heated and Norman knew it was time for his Thunderbolts to strike.  Suddenly, Air Force One's fighter jet convoy was shot out of the sky and Black Widow II is revealed to have been the co-pilot on the plane.  She killed the pilot and took control of Air Force One, she then released Ant Man into the cabin of the plane.  Osborn must have anticipated this meeting with the President and Samson, because his Thunderbolts were prepared for the likes of Samson.  Ant Man placed a gamma-emmitter on the neck of Doc Samson, which induced a 'hulking-out' episode for the doctor.  But Norman saved his best surprise for last, just as it seemed things could not get more out of control onboard Air Force One, the cabin is blasted open by none other than the Green Goblin!

Things were in complete disarray at the start of Thunderbolts #129, as Norman and the President found themselves staring into the eyes of the villainous Green Goblin.  To make matters worse, Doc Samson's induced hulk-out has caused him to pulverize the secret service agents on board the plane.  As part of Norman's plan, the Goblin unleashed a neural scrambler, which caused everyone on board to pass out.  Everyone except Norman Osborn and his team who all had devices in their ear to inhibit the scrambler.  The Ghost arrived on the scene and abducts Doc Samson, tossing him from the plane.  Osborn used the Ant-Man to wake only the President from his neural scrambler-induced sleep, just in time to watch Norman toss the Green Goblin from plane.  

The President was impressed with Norman's strength and conviction, he even goes as far as to command Norman to detain Samson for the threat he made on the his (the President's) life.  Norman, of course, lied to the President as to how Samson was removed from the plan, he blamed the Goblin for doing so.  The Black Widow than crash-landed the plane on the Bering glacier, saving all those on board.  H.AM.M.E.R. forces arrived quickly on the scene of the crash and escort the President safely to a rescue helicopter.  Before the President left, he gave Norman his full endorsement, citing the effectiveness of the Thunderbolts program to help reform this former villain (if he only knew the truth...).  It appeared Norman's first mission for his new Thunderbolts team was successful, they tricked the President into believing Doc Samson was a threat and that there was no longer a connection between the Green Goblin and Norman Osborn.  

A Green Goblin stand-in sound familiar?  It should, check out the first time Norman utilized this tactic after his return from exile here.

Norman's new team was now one-for-one in their missions, but their next task would prove to be much more difficult as they matched up with another demon from Norman's more recent past, Deadpool.  The merc with a mouth had a vendetta against Osborn after Norman had intercepted a transmission that was destined for Nick Fury, featured in Deadpool V2 #3.  Deadpool had been contracted to infiltrate the Skrull Bio-Ops Center inside Cheyenne Mountain and steal a large amount of Skrull biological data, specifically, how to kill their queen.  After Deadpool was successful with the task, he sent the data to Fury, unfortunately for both of them, Norman intercepted that transmission.  He then used the data to kill the Queen and become America's favorite reformed villain...which Deadpool resented greatly.  In Deadpool V2 #6-7Osborn hired Tiger Shark to kill Deadpool after the merc attempted to tarnish Osborn's 'heroic' reputation.  Tiger Shark failed to kill Deadpool and later tried to extort Norman for hiring him after Osborn took over the Avengers (post Skrull-Invasion).

In Deadpool (V2) #8, the mercenary decided that it was time to collect on the debt the Norman owed him, so he decided to take him head-on at the Avengers Tower.  Norman, of course, was waiting for him and when he arrived at the door-steps of Avengers Tower Osborn greeted him with a hail of bullets.  In a brief moment of comic relief, Deadpool relapsed into a delusion involving Norman as the evil giant from the Jack and the Beanstalk tale.  Oscillating back-and-forth between reality and delusion, Deadpool was able to evade Norman's arsenal of pumpkin bombs and razor bats and make his way through the Tower.  Deadpool, thinking he had found a safe haven within the Tower, soon realized he was in for a world of hurt as he was greeted by the Thunderbolts who had been waiting for his arrival.  Meanwhile, Norman informed Deadpool that he was not even in Avengers Tower, rather a safe distance away in one of his Oscorp buildings in lower Manhattan.  

The Thunderbolts get the best of Deadpool at the Avengers Tower, nearly killing the merc in Thunderbolts #130.  Deadpool was able to narrowly escape the team by using a teleporter he had stolen from one of the research labs in the Tower.  Little did Deadpool know that that teleporter was planted there for him to take, leaving Osborn with the ability to track him once he left the Tower.  Later, Norman scalds his team for their lack of stealth and for nearly killing Deadpool.  Apparently, Norman did not want Deadpool killed, he wanted him alive so that he could find out everything that Deadpool has told Nick Fury regarding Norman's operation.  Soon after, Black Widow led her team on a second attempt to detain Deadpool, this time she was armed with an anti-cancer bullet, which would inhibit Deadpool's ability to regenerate himself.  Interestingly, Osborn must have been able to develop a cure for cancer in order to make this bullet, so he had weaponized an incredible benefit for mankind.  Unfortunately for the team, Deadpool led them right into a trap, giving him the drop on the Thunderbolts.  Fortunately for the team, Deadpool was useless against them as he became incredibly smitten with the team's field leader, Black Widow II.  The vulnerable merc asked the lovely lady, 'Do you have a boyfriend?'...weak!

The action continued in Deadpool (V2) #9, where the love-struck merc was luckily able to escape once again using the teleporter.  Tired of running for his life, Deadpool devised a plan and enlisted the help of the Taskmaster to defeat the Thunderbolts.  As a side note, the Taskmaster would later became a loyal ally to Norman, helping him to reform the Avengers Initiative and even joining Norman's infamous Cabal.  Of course, all of that takes place after these events, in fact, its unclear if Norman ever found out who it was that helped Deadpool attack the Thunderbolts.  In any event, Deadpool used the Taskmaster as a 'Deadpool stand-in' so that he could effectively be in two places at once.  Unfortunately for Taskmaster, the Thunderbolts eventually catch up to the two of them and they take him in as a prisoner, believing him to be the real Deadpool.  

The Taskmaster (still disguised as Deadpool) was now in Norman's custody and he was about to be executed when the real Deadpool arrived to save him in Thunderbolts #131.  The two Deadpools and the Thunderbolts traded blows and eventually Norman took matters into his own hands as he piloted the Thunderstrike (the Thunderbolts fighter jet) toward Avengers Tower.  Norman commanded his deputy director Victoria Hand to assemble his Avengers to fight Deadpool.  However, the merc made his way onto the Thunderstrike and he and Norman go at it.  Norman turns the tables on Deadpool (who had the drop on Norman) and he nearly killed the merc, but the Thunderstrike goes crashing into the ground.  This left Norman vulnerable and Deadpool had a chance to kill him, but Norman was bailed out by the Black Widow who shoots the merc.  The Headsman then chopped off Deadpool's head, and Norman believed the Deadpool situation to resolved.  But that was not the case, it turns out that someone sewed Deadpool's head back on to his body and he was able to regenerate the tissue damaged from the wound.  To make matters worse, Deadpool had swiped Osborn's gold card (an atm bank card) and was able to withdraw money from his account to pay Taskmaster for his services.  After realizing that the Taskmaster was not the one responsible for sewing his head back on, Deadpool deduced that it was the Black Widow who did so.  His final thought, 'She does love me!'...even weaker!!

Norman Osborn had not seen the last of Deadpool however, and he eventually decided to send his Avenger Hawkeye (aka Bullseye) after the merc.  That series of events is outlined here

Norman has a habit of keeping those in his employ in the dark, this new team of Thunderbolts was no exception.  Unfortunately for Norman his team is a bit more capable than he thought, namely, The Ghost.  The intangible member of his staff has plans of his own, he'd like to take down Norman's team from the inside.  Toward this end, he informed the Headsman that Norman had intended for him to be killed during their ruse with the President aboard Air Force One.  The Headsman's distrust for his boss began to grow.  In Thunderbolts #132, Norman informed his team about their next target, a man by the name of Mr. X.  Located in Madripoor, the team set a trap for him at the ballet.  What looked to be a mission to kill Mr. X turned out to be a recruitment mission instead.  The team helped Mr. X to fake his death publicly and soon after he was on board the Thunderstrike as the newest member of the Thunderbolts.  Interestingly, it was a battle between Mr. X and Wolverine that initially caught Norman's eye for Mr. X's potential.  The two sparred mercilessly in the one-shot Mr. X Wolverine and Norman contacted Mr. X shortly after to join his Thunderbolts.

Once the team was back state-side, The Ghost revealed his intentions for Norman's team to the Black Widow in Thunderbolts #133.  He goes on to tell her that he is aware of her real boss, the Black Widow was unnerved by The Ghost's conjecture.  Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Ohio a group of H.A.M.M.E.R. soldiers charged with closing down a shanty-town runs into a bit of trouble.  After the homeless folks that they are trying to move began to resist, violence ensued as the H.A.M.M.E.R. opened fire on the group.  Luckily for the homeless vagrants, Songbird (aka Melissa Gold) was amongst them and she saved them from the hail of bullets.  She decided it was time to make her stand against Osborn, but her public resistance to H.A.M.M.E.R. landed her on the news.  This exposure tipped Osborn off that she was not dead, and Norman decided it was time to send his Thunderbolts after her.   However, he does not send the team out until he added one more agent to his roster, a man who goes by the name Scourge (aka Frank Simpson aka Nuke).  Later, at a secure location within The Cube, the Black Widow sends a transmission to her true boss, Nick Fury!

Songbird quickly sought our her old Thunderbolt allies MACH-1 and Fixer at their research facility in Portland, Oregon during Thunderbolts #134.  The duo agreed to help her against Osborn, but it was too late for Norman's team was already en route to detain her.  Osborn placed Scourge as the new team field leader and instructed him to follow his orders without question, Scourge agreed.  After locating Songbird, the team used the Thunderstrike to launch missiles at their target.  But Songbird redirected the missiles into the air craft, causing it to crash land in the Oregon woods below.  The Black Widow made her way out of the wreckage first and found Songbird.  She insisted that Songbird follow her instructions or she will die, she also revealed her true identity to the former Thunderbolt...she was in fact the original Black Widow (Natasha Romanova)!

Norman was about to begin a war on multiple fronts, as he was in the process of bringing in Songbird another enemy resurfaced, Nick Fury.  Osborn was drawn into conflict with Fury after Baron von Strucker had requested that he (Osborn) kill Fury for him in Secret Warriors #7.  Norman agreed to do so, but only after grilling Strucker about his recent attacks on military bases and the subsequent theft of helicarriers, all of which were under Norman's jurisdiction.  Strucker conceded to being behind those attacks and after taking a few shots at Norman's mental instability, Norman informed Strucker that he killed his son with his own sword!  The two then agree to a temporary alliance.  Meanwhile, the Black Widow had sent a desperate transmission to Nick Fury, but unfortunately it does not reach him.  However, two members of Fury's secret warriors were there to receive her message, J.T. James (aka Hellfire) and Alexander Aaron (aka Phobos aka son of Norman's Dark Avenger Ares) and the duo devised a plan to help the Black Widow.  

Things went from bad to worse for Songbird and the Black Widow after the Thunderbolts had caught up to them in Thunderbolts #135.  But the duplicitous Ghost was able to bail the two ladies out by sending incorrect GPS coordinates back to the team after spotting them.  This bought Songbird and Black Widow some time and they were able to leave Portland and make their way to one of Nick Fury's safehouses underneath Yankee Stadium.  This base aptly named 'Homerun' by Fury.  Nick was waiting for the duo when they arrived, however, unbeknownst to them, Ant-Man had been trailing them the entire time.  He contacted the Thunderbolts and provided the location of Fury, Songbird and Black Widow.  It was only a matter of time before the Thunderbolts blasted open the doors to Homerun and took the trio into custody.  Norman wasted no time to begin Fury's torture, making sure that both Songbird and Black Widow watched.  Hawkeye administered the torture while Ares and the Thunderbolts enjoyed the show.  Soon after, Norman revealed to the Black Widow that he created the Nick Fury holograph and used it to fool her into thinking she was working for Fury.  All of the private transmissions that she believed to be sharing with Fury were in fact directly shared with Osborn himself.  He had double-crossed the double-crosser, using the Black Widow to gauge the loyalty of his team and eventually track down Fury.  After sending Songbird and the Black Widow off with his Thunderbolts to be 'dealt with', Osborn pulls out a handgun and shoots Fury point blank in the head, seemingly killing him.

Seemingly being the operative word, because one does not ascend to the pinnacle of the spy game without creating a boat-load of L.M.D.'s (life model decoys) to bail yourself out of trouble.  Secret Warriors #8 revisited the conclusion to Thunderbolts #135, providing a bit more dialogue between Osborn and Fury just before Norman pulled the trigger.  After gloating to Fury about his recent meteoric rise to power and why his ruthless tactics will allow him to succeed, Osborn fired the kill-shot on Fury.  Ares, who witnessed the shooting, expressed his disappointment that Osborn killed Fury, citing that he was the only person who knew the whereabouts of his son, Aaron.  Much to the surprise of Norman and Ares, Aaron (aka Phobos) emerged from the 'dead' carcass of Nick Fury.  Once again the L.M.D.'s proved to be handy as it quickly discovered that Aaron had been impersonating Fury the whole time and that the kill shot Norman fired went straight through the head of a lifeless robot.  Of course landing Phobos into your custody is not such a bad thing either, so Osborn wasted no time in questioning the young boy for the whereabouts of the real Nick Fury.  But Phobos turned the tables on Norman, grabbing him and unleashing his power of 'empathetic fear generation' that knocked Osborn unconscious.  While Norman struggled to recover, Hawkeye decided he was going to kill the boy, but Ares stepped in and told him to hold.  Ares then turned to his son and informed him that he has one minute to escape, at that point, he was going to come after him.  Osborn soon recovered from Phobos' attack and he was quite angry that Ares allowed his son to escape.  Moments later, Osborn called his Avengers together and soon they were en route to find the Secret Warriors and destroy them.  

While Osborn and his Avengers chased down Fury and his team, Songbird and Black Widow remained in the custody of his Thunderbolts in Thunderbolts #136.  But dissensions remained prevalent amongst Norman's black ops team and soon they were bickering back and forth with one another over the best way to handle their prisoners.  Some team members (namely Paladin) did not want to kill them in cold blood, he believed they were soldiers not assassins.  Others disagreed (namely Scourge and Mr. X) and Scourge ordered the Headsman to decapitate Songbird.  In a bold move against his teammate, Headsman faked a swing at Songbird and instead struck Scourge directly in the chest with his axe.  Much to the surprise of the entire team, Scourge did not fall to the ground and it was revealed that he was actually a cyborg with a robotic body.  All hell broke loose at that point and the team fought brutally against one another.  Paladin eventually freed the Black Widow and he then helped the Headsman to neutralize Scourge.  The Ghost saved Paladin and the Headsman from Mr. X, zapping his brain using his intangibility powers.  With Scourge and Mr. X down, the remaining members of the team devise a plan to lie to Osborn about how Songbird and the Black Widow escaped.  The Ghost then volunteered to erase Mr. X and Scourge's memory of the events to protect against this mutiny, Ant-Man, however, had witnessed the whole thing while hiding in an air duct.  After a failed attempt by Songbird and Black Widow to breach the blockade on Fury's Homerun base, the two ladies are rescued by MACH-1 and the Fixer.  The two remained safely in their custody.  Meanwhile, Scourge reported back to Osborn about their failure with mission and their captives' escape, the news enraged Osborn.  Soon after, however, Osborn revealed his latest secret...that he was in possession of the true Black Widow II (aka the real Yelena Belova)!

Norman Osborn's hunt for Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors continued in Secret Warriors #9.  Osborn, alongside Hawkeye, Ares, and a slew of H.A.M.M.E.R. forces, had ambushed Fury's team atop the roof of their secret base.  The base's defense protocols were soon initiated and a self destruct mechanism was in place, the base was due to explode in less than five minutes.  The Secret Warriors were able to escape easily though, with the help of a seemingly endless array of Nick Fury's L.M.D.'s.  Osborn was forced to retreat with an injured Hawkeye, while Ares was forced to watch his son escape yet again.  Fortunately for Ares, he was able to eventually track his son down once again, and this time Norman was not there to interfere.  In Dark Avengers #9, Ares was able to infiltrate Fury Safehouse 7, located in SOHO, at which point he confronted Fury head-on in regards to his son.  Ares gave Fury his blessing to keep Aaron among the Secret Warriors, but not without offering a stern warning as well.  He informed Fury that if anything were to happen to his son, that the boy's grandfather (ie Zeus) would strike down from the heavens and cast Fury to burn in the eternal fires of Hades...nice!

Despite Norman's numerous attempts on Fury's life, the two did share a brief moment of collaboration in the one-shot Dark Reign The List: Secret Warriors.  Fury had discovered that a federal employee, named Seth Waters, was not the patriot that he had claimed to be.  Fury viewed Waters as a threat to both H.A.M.M.E.R. and the Howling Commandos.  Fury was forced to collaborate with Osborn in order to neutralize this threat and uncover who Waters was working for.  Instead of knocking on the Avenger Tower's front door, Fury decided to break into the stronghold...spy style.  Fury eventually made his way to Norman's bedside, after Ares had allowed him to pass (the uneasy truce between Fury and Ares began in Dark Avengers #9).  After a few snarky comments were exchanged between Osborn and Fury, they agree to work together on this national security threat.  H.A.M.M.E.R. soon broke into the Department of the Treasury and abduct Waters just as he was about to kill himself.  After his abduction, H.A.M.M.E.R. soldiers confiscated a data storage device from Waters.  However, Norman was able to decode or retrieve any viable information from the device.  Fury coaxed Osborn into handing the device over to him, Norman (foolishly) agreed.  While in Norman Osborn's custody, Waters was subjected to torture by Hawkeye (apparently Hawkeye was Norman's go-to torture guy).  

Eventually Waters coughs up the name Leviathan after Hawkeye had decorated his face with tooth picks.  After hearing the word 'Leviathan', Fury ordered his cyborg agent John Garrett to fire a shot (from outside the Avengers Tower) that immediately killed Waters.  Fury then punched Osborn and made his escape from Norman's home base, after being bailed out once again by Ares on his way out.  Fury acknowledged that he now owed Ares a favor, and Ares loyalty to Norman was questionable at best. 

With his pursuit of Nick Fury temporarily on hold, Norman soon returned his focus toward Thunderbolt objectives, which usually involved destroying the lives and reputation of various super heroes.  To that end, Osborn paid a visit to Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist) at his offices in Manhattan in Thunderbolts #137.  Osborn used his Thunderbolts to quickly subdue Rand and take him into custody.  Osborn then ordered the murder of anyone who Rand had spoken to in the previous three hours.  Rand was then subjected to intense brain-washing, which had the goal of turning him against his former allies and believing heros like Spider-Man and Wolverine were actually villains.  The brain-washing was also designed to make Rand loyal to Osborn and to serve Osborn's objectives, he had planned to make Rand a Thunderbolt.  Norman dubbed this new strategy of brain-washing heros to serve his agenda The Hero Program.  As an added bonus, he was going to use Rand to take down Luke Cage (since the two were long-time friends) and force Cage to serve as a Thunderbolt as well.  Cage had recently revoked a pact he had made with Osborn after Osborn had helped locate Cage's abducted daughter.  Osborn, of course, held a grudge against Cage for that and because Cage had him incarcerated a few years back as well (see Osborn is Finally Caught!).  Norman then sent Iron Fist and his Thunderbolts to abduct Cage in Harlem, they were successful.  

While in Norman's custody, Paladin decided he was going to exact some revenge upon Cage, but much to Paladin's (and Cage's) surprise, someone had freed Cage from his restraints.  After pummeling Paladin, Cage made his escape from the Thunderbolts base of operations, The Cube.  Norman watched Cage's attempted escape while pondering to himself the ramifications of Cage's actions years ago.  Norman took great pride in sending Cage's best friend to kill him as revenge for Cage's hand in having Osborn placed in jail.  Iron Fist eventually tracked down Cage, but it appeared as though Osborn's brain-washing was not very effective.  Iron Fist used his focused Chi to break through the mind control and he and Cage quickly neutralized Osborn's Thunderbolts.  Cage and Iron Fist were still stuck at the Cube, since they had no idea where they were or how to get home.  Suddenly, the duo was transported to safety and it was soon revealed that the Ghost was the one responsible for that as well as freeing Cage earlier from his restraints.  Later, Osborn berates his team for yet another failure and he even claimed to have placed falsified documents out as a trap for any disloyal employees.  Osborn was bluffing of course, and the Ghost knew it.  The Ghost apparently sabotaged this Hero Program because the end goal was to have the heroes replace and kill the current Thunderbolt roster, something The Ghost was not interested in seeing happen.

The group camaraderie was at an all-time low and the Thunderbolts found themselves without a mission for a few days, which led to much unrest within the group.  In Thunderbolts #138, the Ghost provoked Mr. X to leave The Cube without authorization and the team soon found themselves with a new mission, to track down Mr. X.  They were successful in finding him after tracing the coordinates from his teleportation, which landed him at the Venezuela/Colombia border where he was joyfully slaughtering numerous guerilla soldiers.  The team is forced to work together as they soon found themselves under attack from the soldiers.  After successfully defeating them and safely returning to base with Mr. X, Osborn sent a private transmission to Ghost.  He implied to his employee that he was aware someone may have orchestrated Mr. X's escape and return as a tactic to force the group to bind together as one.  Norman seemed to be on to the Ghost and his covert plan.  Norman then addressed the entire team and gave them their next mission, to take down the Agents of Atlas.

Osborn's hostility toward the Agents of Atlas dates back to his earliest moments at the helm of the defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. and his rise to power.  Soon after Norman addressed the nation in the one-shot Dark Reign: New Nation, Master Woo and his Atlas agents broke into Fort Knox and stole 5,000 tons of gold ingots.  Osborn had planned to use this gold for weapons manufacturing, and even if he did not already have a use for it, this type of offensive gesture against him would not be tolerated.  But Woo was simply playing the role of a worldwide criminal empire to oppose Osborn's agenda, either way, Osborn was going to go after him.

In Agents of Atlas #1, Osborn's thug-for-hire Man-Mountain Marko raided an artillery facility in Eureka, California that was believed to be associated with the Agents of Atlas.  Marko was a federal employee now (working for the ATF) and after breaking into the facility he was greeted (and quickly subdued) by the Agents of Atlas.  Marko reported back to Osborn about the failed mission and soon after Norman decided to send the Atlas foundation a little message.  He destroyed the artillery facility from a safe distance aboard an aircraft carrier.  But the Agents of Atlas quickly responded and shortly after, Venus, a member of the Atlas team confronted Norman at the Avengers Tower.  Venus used her emotional coercion powers to manipulate the Sentry into doing her bidding, while Osborn wisely placed inhibitors in his ears to prevent her mind control.  But Venus arrived on a reasonably peaceful mission, to deliver a message from Master Woo himself.  Woo offered Osborn a proposition, he would prefer that his operations go unchecked by Osborn's forces and in exchange he would use Atlas Agents to perform tasks that Osborn would not able to procure via legitimate channels.  Osborn was reluctant to comply, not until he had done a fact-check on Woo's agency, a fact check which involved Man-Mountain inspecting the Agency's facilities.  During the inspection of Atlas' hidden city, Man-Mountain was killed, yet a glowing report was sent back to Osborn.  Norman did not trust Woo, but he appreciated the benefits he'd receive from an alliance, so he accepted Woo's pact.

Osborn quickly found a replacement for Man-Mountain as ATF lead in Max Markham (aka the Grizzly).  But he too ran into trouble when confronting the Agents of Atlas, although he did not pay for it with his life the way Marko had.  Osborn continued to keep tabs on Woo's group and in Agents of Atlas #3, Norman arrived at their mobile weapons production plant (aka a boat in the Hudson river) to supervise their progress.  Norman was happy to see their weapons production working efficiently and he even sampled the particle beam gun that they had recently created.  While aboard their ship, The Uranian (aka Bob Grayson) peered into Norman and The Sentry's psyche.  The Uranian found Norman's monstrous past as well as The Sentry's inner struggle, both were disturbing bits of information.

The Agents of Atlas continued to push the facade of a criminal empire, so much so that they eventually caught the attention of Captain America and his team of Avengers.  Cap's team decided to go after the Woo's operations in Agents of Atlas #5.  After Cap and company arrived at Atlas Global to confront Woo, Spider-Man sensed that something was awry and that the Agents of Atlas were not who then pretended to be.  Spidey realized that the weapons the Agents were producing contained no power cell, and were essentially useless.  However, before Woo could come clean and explain their covert mission, all hell broke loose after M-11 identified Wolverine as a threat.  The ensuing melee destroyed the Atlas stronghold and Woo parted ways with Cap's team as enemies.  Norman was borderline sympathetic to Woo's loss but decided he was not going to pay him for weapons Woo's team failed to deliver.  Woo told Osborn that he planned to exact his revenge upon Cap's Avengers.

Shortly after, Woo canceled his pact with Osborn when he returned the stolen gold bullion to Fort Knox in Agents of Atlas #8.  Norman was not expecting this gesture, but he was unhappy about their breach in contract.  Norman then decided to place Woo and his team on his infamous list.  In order to retaliate against Woo's insubordination, Norman sent his Thunderbolts team.  Due to the Grizzly's history with the Agents of Atlas and with Osborn himself, Norman decided to enroll him as the newest member of the Thunderbolts.  

Norman delivered the news in person for the team's next mission in Thunderbolts #139.  Osborn instructed his group to exterminate the Agents of Atlas and he sent the team to Bayou Choupique, Louisiana to a chemical manufacturing plant that was owned by Atlas.  The mission was simple, destroy the chemical plant to draw the Agents out of the woodwork.  The Thunderbolts were successful with the first part of the plan, but after destroying the plant they soon realized that it unleashed a flesh-eating gas that could kill them all.  The Ghost quickly immunized the team before they were injured, and as he was finishing, the Agents of Atlas arrived on the scene.  The team had held their own for a bit, but then found themselves outgunned and outmanned by the Agents.  The team was clearly not prepared, but Scourge mustered up one last bit of strength and gutted the Uranian.

This act had caught the Agents off-guard, and the Thunderbolts seized the opportunity to counterstrike in Thunderbolts #140.  After Agents were neutralized, a distraught Venus let out an intense cry after seeing the slain body of Bob the Uranian.  This cry had the opposite of effect of her siren song and caused the Thunderbolts to experience something that could best be described as a bad acid trip.  The Agents of Atlas had been hit just as hard by the toxic fumes unleashed from the plant's explosion, Namora, for instance struggled to breath and became quite vulnerable.  The Agents are able to escape and the Uranian woke from the dead, he claimed that he was not injured at all, rather, playing possum.  The Thunderbolts were able to slowly recover after Venus stopped her cry, but before the Agents evacuated Woo wanted one last thing done.  The Uranian made his way into Scourge's psyche and implanted a mission to kill Norman Osborn the next time he saw him.  Later, the Uranian confessed that the 'programming' they gave Scourge may not work as planned, they could only wait to see.  Meanwhile, the Thunderbolts (minus the Ghost) gathered themselves and returned to base aboard The Zeus.  Once they landed at their headquarters they received an urgent transmission from Osborn, he told them that they should get well-rested and that they would be traveling to Broxton, Oklahoma for their next mission.  Norman had appeared to his team as a holograph, and upon seeing the image of Osborn, Scourge's 'programming' caused him to pull out a handgun and fire at the holograph.  The bullet whizzed right through the holograph and hit the Headsman point blank in the face, killing him.  

It was a pre-recorded message so Osborn was unaware that his Thunderbolts team was now short one man.  This was the beginning of the end for Norman's second generation of Thunderbolts, their next mission would be their last...a siege on Asgard. 

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Swordsman saves Songbird from Bullseye, allowing her to escape alive while Osborn believes her to be dead, as seen in Thunderbolts #127

Norman meets the new President for the first time, as seen in Thunderbolts #128

The President asks Osborn to defend himself from Doc Samson's accusations, as seen in Thunderbolts #128

Ant-Man places a gamma emitter on Doc Samson causing him to Hulk-out, panels are from Thunderbolts #128 and #129 respectively

The Headsman, disguised as the Green Goblin, wreaks havoc aboard Air Force One, as seen in Thunderbolts #129

Top panel:  Norman pummels his latest Green Goblin decoy in front of the President of the United States, as seen in Thunderbolts #129
Bottom panel:  Osborn's Goblin decoy, Green Goblin V, attacks Norman at the Daily Bugle requesting that the ransom on Normie Osborn be increased to $10 million, as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #255

Norman receives a vote of confidence from the President after saving him from the Green Goblin, as seen in Thunderbolts #129

Deadpool ponders Norman's rise to power and brings up a very good point, as seen in Thunderbolts #130

Deadpool's delusion of Osborn involves the latter being the foolish Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, as seen in Deadpool (V2) #8

In order to defeat Deadpool, the Black Widow II arms herself with anti-cancer bullets that Osborn had created, as seen in Thunderbolts #130

Deadpool struggles to come up with the cash pay Taskmaster, good thing he had Norman's gold card, as seen in Thunderbolts #131

Norman recruits Mr. X to join the Thunderbolts after his battle with Wolverine, as seen in Mr. X Wolverine

The Ghost comes clean to Black Widow II about his plan for Norman, as seen in Thunderbolts #133 

Norman argues with Baron von Strucker before striking a deal to kill Fury, as seen in Secret Warriors #7

Songbird protects a group of homeless people from a hail of bullets coming from H.A.M.M.E.R. forces, as seen in Thunderbolts #133

Norman gloats to the Black Widow while she was (once again) in his captive, as seen in Thunderbolts #135

Phobos emerges from the Nick Fury L.M.D., as seen in Secret Warriors #8

Phobos knocks Osborn unconscious, allowing him to escape, as seen in Secret Warriors #8

The Iron Patriot fights off a slew of Nick Fury's L.M.D.'s while in pursuit of the real Nick Fury, as seen in Secret Warriors #9

Fury wakes Osborn and warns him of a national security threat, as seen in Dark Reign The List: Secret Warriors

Norman brainwashes Iron Fist and forces the former Avenger to work for him, as seen in Thunderbolts #137

Norman rides his glider while setting up dominoes in his office, all the while contemplating the fate of Luke Cage, as seen in Thunderbolts #137

Master Woo and his Atlas Agents steal gold reserves from Fort Knox, Norman had his own plans for the gold, as seen in Dark Reign: New Nation

Woo and Osborn work out a deal for mutual benefit, Woo is putting up a front, as seen in Agents of Atlas #1

Norman inspects the Agents progress in developing new weapons for his use, as seen in Agents of Atlas #3

Spider-Man discovers that the weapons the Woo's team is producing had no power cells and were essentially useless, unbeknownst to Osborn, as seen in Agents of Atlas #5

Master Woo returns the stolen gold to Norman and ends their pact, Osborn places the Agents on his hit list, as seen in Agents of Atlas #8