As heroes, the ThunderBolts, sprang from the ruins of the old, villainous Squadron Sinister. The Squadron was created by the Grandmaster, who pitted them against the Avengers in a game of cosmic consequence. After their initial encounter, the team operated as individuals, and occasionally as a unit.
Eventually the core team drifted apart, took on new members, change its name to the Thunderbolts, and came under the authority of the U.S. Government (The Commission on Superhuman Activities), as administrated by Carol Danvers, Peter Henry Grych, and former Avenger, Henry Pym.
Recently, the Thunderbolts were coerced by the government's Commission on Superhuman Activities to 'send a message' to the re-formed, and potentially renegade, group of New Avengers. They did what they had to do, though none of them felt particularly proud for having finally defeated their longtime antagonists in a well-planned ambush. The New Thunderbolts are currently Photon, Radioactive Man, Songbird, Atlas, and Speed Demon.
The original Dr. Spectrum died some time back; his alien prism winding up in the hands of others where it was eventually was destroyed. Hyperion devolved and decayed, his flawed cloned physiology failing him during an encounter with his real counterpart. Whizzer took on the identity of Speed Demon. Billionaire playboy-by-day, stalker-by-dark Nighthawk (a good man at heart who was duped into joining the Squadron) wound up betraying them, eventually joining the Defenders. Now, it seems, the original members of the Squadron are attempting to re-form the Squadron Sinister out of the remaining T-Bolts, and are not taking "no" for an answer.
After last issue's trouncing of the Avengers, the T-Bolts are feeling pretty good about themselves. At the HQ for the Commission on Superhuman Activities Dr. Nugent is examining the unconscious body of Doctor Spectrum (who was captured by the T-Bolts at the beginning of New Thunderbolts #13. It is during this examination that Dr. Nugent realizes that Dr. Spectrum's Power Prism (which was thought to have been destroyed years ago) not only still exists, but also still resonates with power, and is now communicating with Dr. Nugent.
While Dr. Nugent is testing the prism, Dallas is showing Eric Josten how his brother (The Redeemer) died, in a battle with Gravaton, via a holographic projector. According to the images he is viewing, the Redeemer (who had the ability to fold between shadows) was shunted into the heart of the Sun by Gravaton's Darkforce, so Eric has some hope that his brother might still actually be alive, just trapped within the light of the Sun. An earth-shaking rumble causes Dallas' wheelchair to tip over but Speed Demon rushes to her side, and stops it from hitting the floor, causing Dallas to remember when she could move that fast.
The scene moves to the outside of Richmond Enterprises, where an armored car is making a payroll delivery, only even with the presence of four armed guards, the money suddenly vanishes. Turns out it was swiped (at high speed) by, you guessed it, the Speed Demon, who has reverted to type, and begun to steal from the rich again. As Jim Sanders pulls off his costume, and marvels at his own ability to move at top speeds, he relives the high he received from beating down Spider-Man and the other New Avengers (see New Thunderbolts #13 and New Thunderbolts #14).
When Speed Demon arrives back at the T-Bolts' Brooklyn HQ, Joystick is already there, and the two of them wind up sparring together and Demon indulges himself, and swipes the top half of Joystick's costume during the encounter, leaving her, ah, "assets" hanging out. (Unavoidable aside, mainstream comics have come a long way since I was a kid.)
Back at Richmond Enterprises, Kyle Richmond (Nighthawk) views the tape of the heist, and has it slowed down enough to realize that it was his so-called teammate S-Demon that stole the money from him. In Manhattan, Mel (Songbird) and Abe (Blizzard) discuss some old T-Bolts business. Mel is actually in the city with Radioactive Man who is receiving treatment for his "condition" at the Chinese embassy, her meeting with Abe is mostly about his leaving the T- Bolts and them catching up on old times. After departing from their lunch, Abe returns to his lab, where Albert (the Fixer with whom Abe hooked up with last issue) is affecting repairs to Donnie's Blizzard costume (which is now operating at 60% efficiency). Abe tells Fixer that isn't good enough if they plan on taking on the Thunderbolts.
Back at T-Bolt HQ, Speed demon is nursing his sore family jewels (apparently Joystick took exception to being rendered topless and extracted a bit of retribution, like I said, these ain't my daddy's comics). Space face is foraging around in the refrigerator looking for something to eat, and Nighthawk is descending upon the building with the night. Across town at the Chinese embassy Radioactive Man is winding up his therapy and is met by Songbird. Apparently siphoning off his excess radiation is working out well for him.
While Space face is still foraging he suddenly asks if the gas attack has already happened (apparently, he is having some trouble distinguishing the order of space/time events. Which is evidence by the fact that both he and Speed Demon fall prey to a gas attack perpetuated by Nighthawk, who is immediately set upon by Joystick, who while she has apparently recovered quite nicely from her beating last issue by Spider-Woman, is brought down quite handily by Nighthawk. Only, no sooner does he put J-Stick down for the count, Songbird and Radioactive Man walk in on him.
Songbird lets loose a wail and knocks Nighthawk for a loop. Speed Demon recovers, and hammers him as he's falling with a right cross that comes up from the floor. Groggy from the hit, Nighthawk, instead of coming back in fighting mode, tells Able to explain to his teammates why he stole $2 million from Richmond Enterprises. Startled, Joystick wants to know why Speed Demon isn't giving the rest of the team a cut of the take. However, before they can sort anything out the T-Bolts receive a frantic call that Dr. Prism's power crystal has taken on a new host (Dr. Nugent) and she, wants to reunite the original members of the Squadrin Sinister, her, Nighthawk, Speed Demon, and Hyperion. Just then the roof is stove in, and Dr. Spectrum and Hyperion appear, demanding nighthawk and "Whizzer."
This is definitely an interesting take on superteams in the modern world. Personally, I'm guessing that (presuming the existence of superheroes) this is closer to the way that our government would "allow" them to operate than, say the Avengers. Fabian plays well with these characters, and there really is quite a bit going on, especially given their rich, long, twisted, and diverse history.
Spidey only appears in a one-panel flashback from last issue as Speed Demon relives the moment that he and the T-Bolts delivered a bitch-slap to the New Avengers courtesy of their government overlords. This comic (as all Marvel comics from January '06) contained a back-up tale staring Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius "Weather or not" where he utilizes one of his dad's hi-tech devices to create snow and other weather patterns in his room so he can go snowboarding inside. (This story may or may not actually appear in the Marvel one-shot of the same name; although I believe that it is an original story.) A Spidey mask appears at the back of Franklin's overstuffed toy box in this story.