Thunderbolt to the rescue. Artist: Stan Aschmeier.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: John W. Wentworth (writer) and Stan Asch (artist)
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Born at 7 a.m. on the 7th day of the 7th month of a year ending in 7 (1917), Johnny Thunder was destined for a special fate. And indeed he found it. He was kidnapped as an infant by …

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… Badhnisian tribalists who thought he was the key to their mastery of the world. As a result of their mystic rituals, at age 7, he became master of a living Thunderbolt that could do anything — all he had to do was utter the words "cei u" (pronounced "say you"), and the Thunderbolt would do his bidding for an hour.

Unfortunately, Johnny was an idiot, unable to figure out simple things — one of them being what it was, exactly, that triggered his Thunderbolt's power. If the phrase "say you" happened to escape his lips, anything he wished would come true; but to him, the power appeared completely random. Despite this limitation, however, he managed to use it to fend off the Badhnisian spies who tried to recapture him in 1939, and subsequently, to combat crime. One thing he seldom managed to do with it, however, was impress the love of his life, Daisy Darling, or his juvenile companion, a young girl named Peachy Pet. The characters were created by writer John Wentworth (The Whip) and artist Stan Asch (Dr. Mid-Nite).

Johnny's bumbling adventures were played for laughs in the back pages of DC's Flash Comics from its first issue (January, 1940, where he was called "Johnny Thunderbolt") until his slot was taken over by The Black Canary in 1948. He joined the Navy during World War II, but the laughs didn't stop. Adding to the hilarity, the Thunderbolt was a lot smarter than he was — also fairly contemptuous of its moronic master, and occasionally given to sarcasm. The two eventually reached an accord — after several years, in fact, Johnny actually learned his own magic words — but Johnny never got any smarter. In a final insult, a few months after he lost his series, a completely unrelated character, this one a western hero, started using his name in All-American Comics.

Johnny crashed the first meeting of The Justice Society of America, and was treated with amused tolerance by the likes of Green Lantern and The Spectre. But in All Star Comics #6, when The Flash retired from active membership, Johnny was voted in. The official reason, as stated by Hawkman, was "Anybody with his luck ought to be a member." The real reason was that in the early 1940s, "comic relief" was considered an asset to a superhero series.

He remained with the Justice Society until 1948, when, as in Flash Comics, he was replaced by The Black Canary. In the 1960s, when the JSA was revived for annual guest appearances with The Justice League of America, Johnny was revived with the rest. He has made occasional appearances in various DC comics ever since.

When last seen, he was living in a nursing home, afflicted with senile dementia. Of course — with him, it's hard to tell.


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