Thunderbird is back and badass after 50 years in Giant-Size X-Men special

Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Most comic book superheroes and villains killed in action don't stay dead permanently, but sometimes they stay dead longer than expected. And after nearly five decades of an unusually long death (with two brief exceptions), Marvel's John Proudstar (AKA the original Thunderbird) returned December 22 in the finale of Leah Williams and Lucas Werneck's X-Men: The Trial of Magneto

Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1 cover by Ken Lashley (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The first X-Man ever to die in service to the team early in the 'All-New, All-Different' era, his return decades after his death will be immediately expanded on in the May 4 special Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1 written by the duo of All Elite Wrestling star Nyla Rose and Steve Orlando along with First Nations artist David Cutler.

Cutler has provided a design variant cover featuring Thunderbird's new costume/look, while Ken Lashley illustrated the main cover. 

Here's a preview of the special:

The creative team will deal with the repercussions of Thunderbird's resurrection while setting him up for his future in the Marvel Universe. 

Marvel will be playing with the unusually long period between this comic book character's death and his return to the land of the living, giving him a Captain America-like 'man out of time' quality. According to the publisher, the Marvel Universe Thunderbird returns to is one completely different than the one he is familiar with and seeks out familiarity and comfort from his past at an Apache reservation only to uncover a "horrifying threat to the Indigenous mutant community."

Proudstar must overcome his rage to save his people. 

"At last, the news is out! Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird is coming, and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of it!" Orlando said in the special's announcement. "But this book wouldn't exist without the incredible work of Nyla Rose and David Cutler, who are joining me on this blockbuster to tell a Thunderbird story that's as raw, real, and riveting as possible. 

Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1 design variant cover by David Cutler (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

"With their invaluable help, we're taking Thunderbird on a two-fisted quest to reunite with his family and carve out a place for himself in this brave, new, Krakoan era. The world has changed while Thunderbird was away. The threats might've gotten more complex, but Thunderbird's still sure there's not a problem out there he can't solve with his own two hands."

Thunderbird debuted in May 1975's landmark Giant-Size X-Men #1, only to be killed months later on the new X-Men team's second mission in a storyline in X-Men #95

Like many of the small handful of comic book characters that have stayed deceased for long periods, Thunderbird has been resurrected twice for short periods of time: in 2009's 'Necrosha' crossover, and then a year later in the 'Chaos War' crossover. In both occasions, his return to the land of the living was brief - but in the latter he spoke wistfully of being resurrected sometime again in the future.

John Proudstar/Thunderbird shouldn't be confused with two other Marvel characters who took up the 'Thunderbird' name after him. The first was James Proudstar, his brother, who adopted the Thunderbird name for his own superhero career but who later changed his name to Warpath during his time on X-Force. The second was Neal Shaara, an X-Men member in the early '00s that recently re-appeared as a minor character in the X-Corp limited series.

Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1 goes on sale on May 4.

As we say, death for superheroes and villains is usually fleeting, but here are 10 comic book deaths that still matter.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.