Base of Operations
(original) Unnamed subterranean base; (reorganized) Masada Castle, Symkaria, Europe, (formerly) the Vanguard, a mobile air carrier
(original) Comedy Comics #9 (1942); (reorganized) Thunderbolts #38 (2000) (Penance Council) Thunderbolts #41
The V-Battalion began during World War II as an organization of European civilians led by the first Citizen V. The V-Battalion, the V standing for “Victory,” thwarted many Axis advances, but the organization was ultimately dissolved when the Nazi villain Baron Heinrich Zemo led Citizen V and the Battalion into a trap, where he killed the hero with his bare hands. Zemo even took it upon himself to track down and kill many of the Battalion members.
Years later, the V-Battalion was revived by Roger Aubrey, the Destroyer, driven by the death of his friend, Brian Falsworth, the second Union Jack. The two, with Union Jack’s sister Spitfire, had at times teamed with the Wild Pack to hunt down escaped Nazi war criminals, and Aubrey was determined to continue that mission. He also gathered around him fellow ex-World War II heroes to create the first Penance Council. The V-Battalion became a clandestine group working to apprehend escaped Nazi war criminals, but often the former criminals would be allowed to join the V-Battalion, in such capacities as on-staff scientists, to work for the cause of world peace rather than face public retribution. Over time, as the numbers of Nazi war criminals decreased, the V-Battalion became the watchdog organization it is today, working to make sure that any who would claim to take over the world and manipulate it never succeed.
Paulette Brazee, a French resistance agent and Citizen V’s lover during the war, became the V-Battalion’s chief operative as the new Citizen V, and their son later replaced her. Currently, Brazee’s grandson, John Watkins III, works in the role of Citizen V. Aubrey had established the Battalion’s headquarters in the Masada Castle of the Balkan nation of Symkaria, maintaining close ties with that country’s Wild Pack. While still primarily based in Masada, Symkaria, the Battalion later found and reverse-engineered an alien spacecraft to serve as their mobile headquarters, named the Vanguard.
At one point, Baron Helmut Zemo, the son of Heinrich Zemo, adopted the heroic identity of Citizen V in order lead a team of villains posing as heroes, the Thunderbolts. (At the time, the true Citizen V was in a coma under unrevealed circumstances. It is not known to what extent Zemo was aware of the true Citizen V’s activities and situation.) Zemo later abandoned the guise when it had served its purpose to allow him to nearly succeed in taking over the world. Dallas Riordan, former New York mayoral liaison to the Thunderbolts, was soon approached by the V-Battalion and was told that she was the descendant of the World War II hero. In order to redeem the memory of her ancestor and to bring the Thunderbolts to justice, Riordan agreed to become the next Citizen V on behalf of the V Battalion. As Citizen V, Riordan used a padded costume to appear to be male, claiming to be the true grandson of the original hero, although she later redesigned the costume after an encounter with Captain America convinced her otherwise.
Later, when the V-Battalion determined that U.S. government commissioner Henry Peter Gyrich was planning on killing superhumans of all kinds, Aubrey ordered Riordan to assassinate Gyrich. Refusing, Riordan fled the V-Battalion, believing that her orders contradicted everything she was taught to believe. She was then considered a rogue agent and other agents were dispatched to kill her so that the mantle of Citizen V could be passed on to someone worthy. She eventually managed to make her way to the Thunderbolts, who had since become heroes in their own right, with the full force of the V-Battalion on her heels. Riordan demanded the Thunderbolts' help, revealing her true identity to them. However, before any conclusion to the battle could be reached, Riordan was again kidnapped by the Crimson Cowl, and the V-Battalion left the Thunderbolts. The Thunderbolts originally tried to track Riordan by following the V-Battalion back to Europe with the help of the Sandman. They failed to find their friend but uncovered the truth of the Battalion’s organization as the Penance Council teamed up with the Thunderbolts to defeat the Sandman.
Henry Peter Gyrich continued his plans for killing superhumans of all kinds, creating an elaborate conspiracy that involved turning Nomad into the hero-killing Scourge. Best-selling author and psychiatrist Andrea Sterman stumbled onto the plot by following a circuitous route, and the V-Battalion kidnapped her, taking her to the Vanguard to protect her. However, once the affair came to a head, with Gyrich being exposed as a pawn of the terrorist organization Hydra, it was decided that Sterman knew too much of the Battalion to be let go, and she was granted a post as observer of the Penance Council.
During this time, Baron Zemo was killed by Nomad (as Scourge,) but did not truly die. Due to a failsafe device engineered by his robotic associate Techno, Zemo's consciousness was transferred, thanks to Techno’s perverse sense of humor, into the comatose body of the true Citizen V. Zemo pretended to be the revived Citizen V and assumed the hero’s role as the leading agent of the V-Battalion, a role which allowed him to defeat Baron Strucker and Hydra’s plans for the mind-controlling technology used against Gyrich. For a time, Zemo, as Citizen V, was offered leadership over the Redeemers, team of super-agents organized by Gyrich’s Commission on Superhuman Activities. (Presumably, the V-Battalion remained unaware of Zemo’s existence until the current Citizen V reasserted his consciousness when Zemo was shunted to an alternate world.)
Once, the Vanguard’s technology and engines began distorting, threatening to suck the Earth into the null space of a white hole. Citizen V sought the help of the Thunderbolts, and the two groups ultimately plugged the void and shunted its counterpart, an alien ship from Counter-Earth, into space. In the process Baron Zemo and other Thunderbolts believed to have been lost in another world, were returned to Earth. Citizen V hoped to bring Zemo to justice, but Zemo pointed out that he was already legally dead, and the V-Battalion was forced to part company.
More recently, the Flag-Smasher led ULTIMATUM in coordinated attacks in a dozen different civil war-torn countries around the world. Their aim was to exploit such destabilized countries in their name of a one-world government. In the country of Rumekistan, the Flag-Smasher was confronted by the V-Battalion and Citizen V, who convinced the Flag-Smasher that he should not be forcing his ideas on others but should achieve them through generations of a concerted social agenda. With the Flag-Smasher’s agreement to cease all hostilities, the V-Battalion used their high-tech weapons to cause Rumekistan’s army to fall asleep, allowing the Flag-Smasher to quickly and bloodlessly take control of the country. The Flag-Smasher set himself as ruler, hoping this would be the first step towards his dream of global harmony.When the V-Battalion investigated ULTIMATUM, they discovered their arms dealer to be Oracle, Inc., a company formerly run by Jim Hammond. Aubrey, despite his personal feelings regarding some undisclosed conflict between them, asked Hammond to join the V-Battalion while they investigated. Ultimately, the organization discovered the new CEO of Oracle and financier of ULTIMATUM to be Marduk, an ancient Sumerian god trapped in a human form for millennia. Marduk hoped to cause massive loss of life and absorb the souls of the fallen combatants. In fact, due to a previous contact with Roger Aubrey, Marduk remotely took the soul of Aubrey, effectively killing him. Citizen V soon confronted Marduk and defeated him, releasing the souls he had stolen, reviving Aubrey. Aubrey then decided to retire from active duty, declaring that if he could not even find peace in death, he would try to find it in a new life. He named Hammond his replacement as he stepped down.