Marvel Brings Back a Bizarre Thunderbolts Member

This week has been a big one for Thunderbolts fans, after the first details and first concept art for Marvel's upcoming live-action movie were revealed at Disney's D23 Expo. The team of villains and antiheroes has boasted a lot of different members over the years, including some who have been a heck of a lot more than meets the eye. This week's Iron Man played off of that in a clever way, bringing back a mantle with a complicated and weird history in Marvel Comics. Spoilers for Iron Man #23 from Christopher Cantwell, Angel Unuzeta, Frank D'Armata, and Joe Caramagna below! Only look if you want to know!

The issue follows Tony and Rhodey in their fight against Source Control, as Tony aims to buy up as many of the evil organization's weapons and resources as possible. Throughout Issue #23, that is taken to a tumultuous turn, with Carl Walker / Force being thrown into the past by Source Control tech, and developing a lot of animosity for Tony and his crusade in the process. By the issue's end, we get more context as to who is working on Source Control's side, with the reveal that Cobalt Man has bought The Mandarin's ten rings from them.

(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Who is Marvel's Cobalt Man?

Created by Roy Thomas and Werner Roth in 1967's X-Men #31, Ralph Roberts / Cobalt Man is initially a scientist studying his titular mineral, which leads to him building an Iron Man-like suit that he hopes to give to the military. Due to a concussion he suffered before trying on the suit, Ralph became obsessed with hurting Iron Man, but was stopped from doing so by the X-Men. He then was given deadly radiation powers, joined the Emissaries of Evil, and fought Hulk on several occasions.

In 2004, it was revealed that Tony Stark had actually briefly impersonated Cobalt Man to try to infiltrate the Thunderbolts, during an adventure that took place in the 1980s. Ralph himself then died in the New Warriors explosion that caused the start of Civil War, and was impersonated by a Skrull and several other non-Skrull copycats. He most recently fought the Mercs for Money, and was later freed by them in a prison escape.

With all of that in mind — and Cobalt Man's proclivity for earning copycats — it will be interesting to see if this Cobalt Man is really Ralph Roberts, or is another character with a bone to pick with Tony.

Iron Man #23 is now available wherever comics are sold.