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Thunderball is a supervillain in Marvel comics. He is a member of the Wrecking Crew, who is notable for being one of the few "strongman" style villains to hold a PhD. He is in league with both Thunderbolts and the Masters of Evil.
Dr. Eliot Franklin was a brilliant physicist who's 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. To fund his research, Dr. Franklin would often commit robberies, which eventually landed him in prison. It was there that he met up and became cellmates with Dirk Garthwaite, also known as The Wrecker. Their association in prison was unusual in the fact that most inmates segregate themselves according to their race and ethnicity.
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.
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.
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 Demigod 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. 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). Despite his chaffing under The Wrecker's leadership, Thunderball, along with the rest of The Wrecking Crew remained a persistent and enduring super-villain team in The Marvel Universe.
The group showed up in Los Angeles to fill the power vacuum left by the Pride alongside Excavator, Piledriver's son, but were interrupted and defeated by the Runaways, the Pride's children. After this defeat, they were sent to the Raft, an island prison. When Electro attacked the facility and made a break-out, the Wrecking Crew escaped. The Wrecker separated from them and got captured, but the group reunited as members of the Hood's criminal empire, but were defeated twice by the New Avengers.
Powers and Abilities
Thunderball possesses various superhuman physical attributes as a result of the Wrecker sharing his powers with him. While the Wrecker shares his powers with Thunderball and the other members of the Wrecking Crew, Thunderball is superhumanly strong and can lift approximately 10 tons. While empowered, Thunderball's musculature generates less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of an ordinary human. He can exert himself at peak capacity for several hours before fatigue begins to impair him. While empowered, the tissues of Thunderball's body are much harder and more resistant to injury than that of an ordinary human. He can withstand high amounts of concussive force and is capable of withstanding a .45 caliber bullet without it penetrating his skin. Thunderball possesses a genius level intellect and is a gifted physicist and strategist. He is also a formidable hand to hand combatant. He utilizes street-fighting techniques that enable him to make full use of his strength.
Thunderball possesses a highly durable wrecking ball, altered because of exposure to the Wrecker's power, much in the same way the Wrecker's crowbar. The ball is attached to a four foot long chain and is capable of projecting electrical energy bolts and an energized exoskeleton suit. The suit is only used when not in possession of his regular wrecking ball and superhuman powers. The wrecking ball, when thrown, is capable of returning to Thunderball in a similar fashion as Wrecker's crowbar and Thor's hammer. Thunderball has sufficient strength to spin the wrecking ball on it's 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. It is also durable enough to be thrown into 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 with their bare hands. When this happens, Thunderball doesn't suffer any ill psychic effects and simply obtains a new wrecking ball. However, the wrecking ball then has to be energized by The Wrecker himself to gain the increased resistance to damage.