Thunder Times Two
Part 8 of JSA: A Thunder God Among Us
Johnny Thunder isn’t sure what he of all people could possibly teach Thor, the god of thunder, about heroism. But when Johnny, his Thunderbolt, and Thor help save people from a destroyed skyscraper, Johnny’s selfless heroism shines through!
Continued from The Brave and the Bold: Starman and Patriot: Blood Brothers
In the JSA Brownstone, a nervous Johnny Thunder paced the floor of the meeting room.
“I can’t believe I’m part of this! Me, teaching a god about being a hero? What am I supposed to tell this guy?”
In his heart, Johnny had always felt that he lacked a certain something that his fellow Justice Society members had. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he always had the feeling that at least some of the members were usually laughing about him when his back was turned. Normally, it didn’t bother him; they had always accepted and welcomed his company, supported him when he needed it, and he knew that there had been many times when he and his Thunderbolt had spelled the difference between victory and defeat. But now, with the JSA engaged in the training of the thunder god Thor, Johnny’s self-doubts had never been more evident.
“Say, you would think that someone would tell me what I’m supposed to do when this guy gets here!” No, it wasn’t unintentional. The days of Johnny accidentally calling on the Thunderbolt’s aid were long past (for the most part). Still, the words say you, a synonym for the Badhnisian hex words Cei-U, served to summon the magical entity who had been Johnny’s companion and helpmate for most of the last forty-five years.
“It would seem to me, Master John, that the JSA feels you have something to contribute to the rehabilitation of this would-be god.” Johnny noted the supercilious tone in the Thunderbolt’s reply.
“I take it you don’t think much of this Thor character, do you, T-bolt?” Johnny asked as he settled himself in his seat at the great round table.
“Can’t say as I do. Here he is, a being of such great power, and what has he done? Spent most of the last millennium pouring mead down his throat. Now I’ve had mead, even the Asgardian variety, and I can tell you that it’s not so great that you want to drink it for a thousand years. Now, if it were a good port, perhaps–”
“Enough, T-bolt.” It was nervousness that gave Johnny his short temper. “Sorry. I know you’re just trying to lighten my mood. Still, I hope I don’t make a complete fool of myself with this guy.”
“So do I, Master John. So do I.”
Several hours later, Johnny strolled up the walk toward his home with a large, oddly dressed man.
“I fail to see why such a disguise is needed, young Thunder,” said a very disgruntled Norse god.
“Like I told you, Daisy and I haven’t been married all that long. She’s not used to all the strange stuff that goes on around me and the other guys in the Justice Society. I figure it’s best if I tell her you’re my cousin from Europe. Now, remember, your name for tonight is Olaf.”
“If you say so. So, what am I expected to learn from this? Lying and deceit? I see enough of that in my own realm.”
“I’m still working on that one.”
They entered the small cottage that Johnny shared with his new bride. Daisy Darling Thunder was watching television in the living room as they came in.
“Honey, I’m home! And you won’t believe who I ran into today!” said Johnny, his voice bright and cheery.
“Oh, Johnny, I was starting to worry about — oh!” Daisy’s hand rose to her mouth as she spied the great hulking man standing behind her short, slender husband. Johnny moved to her and took both her hands in his, bringing her closer to Thor.
“Daisy, I’d like you to meet my cousin Olaf. He’s visiting the States from, umm, Norway.” Thor reached out with one massive hand to take Daisy’s dainty hand and gently squeezed it.
“Oh, my, Johnny. I had no idea they grew them so big in your family.” Daisy’s eyes roamed up and down the god’s body. “So very big, and rugged, and handsome,” she said slowly, almost in a whisper.
“Umm, dear, I hate to interrupt your inspection, but I was wondering if we might get something to eat,” said Johnny, just a faint touch of sarcasm in his voice.
“Oh!” Daisy shook her head, clearing the cobwebs that were forming. “I have a chicken in the oven; I hope it will be enough. I was worried about you. I saw the news about the explosion at the Dinkins Building, and I thought you might be, well, involved, you know?” Johnny’s identity as a member of the JSA was never a secret, but Daisy still had not gotten used to talking freely about it in front of others. “I was watching the news report when you came in.” They all turned to face the television, just in time to see the top of a building start to slide off at an angle.
“Say you! We gotta get there to help those folks!” Even as Johnny finished saying the words, there was a blinding flash, and all three disappeared from the room.
Across town, there was another flash of pinkish-white light, and three people appeared, hovering in midair. Next to them, a pink apparition was just visible, a humanoid shape that seemed composed of crackling electricity. Before them, a fifty-story skyscraper was breaking apart. Flames were visible from windows on several floors, and a four-story section from the top of the building had broken away and was starting to fall toward the street.
“By my word! That edifice will crush those below!” Bounding from the platform of light that held them, Thor tore the motley street clothes from his body and hurtled toward the falling debris. Inhuman speed and skill allowed him to dance from one piece of falling stone to another, swinging his hammer and shattering the great pieces to dust that seemed to remain suspended in the air, slowly settling with the air currents.
“Johnny! What am I doing here?!” screamed Daisy Thunder.
“Whoops! Sorry, honey. I wasn’t specific enough giving directions to the T-bolt. I’ll have him take you home,” replied her husband.
“Wait! Have him put me down in the parking lot. I think they need some help tending to folks down there.”
The Thunderbolt looked to his master to gauge his agreement, then pointed a finger at the dainty brunette woman, and she disappeared in a burst of light. Several hundred feet below, there was another burst, and she reappeared, surrounded by stretchers, splints, and boxes of bandages. “What now, Master?”
“Get me inside; I’ll see if there’s people who need help getting out. You help Thor with the debris, and see if you can keep any more of the building from falling.” Johnny found he was now talking to himself in a smoke-filled corridor. “Gee, it’s getting so I hardly have to tell him what I want, anymore. It’s almost like he’s reading my mind.” Johnny started pulling open doors, looking for stragglers.
Outside, the Thunderbolt zipped around the building several times, trying to assess the damage. He noted that all of the flames were at the same corner of the building, though they were visible on the thirty-fifth through the forty-seventh floors. “Something must have blown a hole right up through to the top of the building,” he mused, streaking to the base of the column of fire. “Maybe I can start there.”
Above him, the thunder god bellowed his triumph over the iron and concrete missile that had been hurtling earthward. “Naught but pebbles are left of that portion which broke loose. Now, where is young John Thunder?”
The only reply was a tremendous explosion from somewhere in the middle of the building.
Inside the wrecked skyscraper, Johnny Thunder had found several families stranded, when flames suddenly shot up through the emergency stairwells nearest the column of fire. “Come on, folks — there are stairs on the other side of the building! I’ve been here a few times, and I remember my way around!”
Leading them, he got some volunteers to go down side corridors and check for others who might be trapped. Most of them he sent on down the stairs to the hope of safety, keeping a few to help him. He was working his way down from the forty-fifth floor to the thirty-eighth when the explosion hit.
“Down, everybody!” he cried, diving for the floor. The building shook, ceiling tiles and light panels springing loose and coming down on top of them.
“Master John, let me get you and these people out of here!” said the Thunderbolt, appearing before Johnny.
“No! Get the fires out, and keep the building up! We can get more people out if you can give us more time!” cried Johnny, straining to be heard above the groaning of the building, the shrieking of the fire alarms, and the distant roar of the fire.
“As you say, Master!” Reluctantly, the Thunderbolt returned to the main problem, the great column of fire that reached up from the thirty-fifth floor. “Now, I seem to recall that flame-headed youngster from Earth-One telling how he took care of something like this. What did he use, some kind of foam?” The Thunderbolt gestured, and the destroyed rooms and stairwells where the fire was raging were filled with sodium bicarbonate foam, which immediately started smothering the flames. “Now, that foam won’t hold anything, but how about…” The foam quickly hardened, transforming into steel. A one-hundred-forty-foot-long, twenty-foot-diameter steel rod formed within the building, anchoring the remaining upper floors in place.
At the base of the column, the living Badhnisian Thunderbolt spied something, which he collected to show his master.
As the Thunderbolt left him, Thor made his way through the shattered building to join his newfound friend in the JSA. Johnny continued searching for people in the building. They succeeded in gathering several dozen more from their apartments and offices. Finally, they got below the floor where the original explosion had occurred, and they found that most of the people below that point had already left. When they emerged from the building a hour later, it was to shouts and cheers from the gathered crowd.
“Johnny, you made it! I was terrified for you!” said a weeping Daisy Thunder, throwing her arms around her husband.
“Terrified or not, lady, you did a heck of a job down here,” said one man, holding his son and daughter.
“Your cousin made it, too, I see,” said Daisy, a questioning look in her eyes.
“Yeah, dear, only he’s not my cousin. Daisy, meet Thor, the Norse god of thunder,” said Johnny.
Another cheer went up as people realized that they really did see a giant of a man dancing on falling debris and breaking the falling section of the building into pieces. Thor took in the adulation with a smile on his face.
“Now, I wonder if they know what caused all of this?” asked Johnny.
“Master John, I think I have the answer to that one,” said the Thunderbolt, appearing at Johnny’s side.
“Somebody tried to what?” cried a disbelieving Johnny Thunder at the revelation told him by his Thunderbolt.
“They tried to dissect a shadow demon, Master. Apparently, this one was caught in some sort of magnetic bottle. A group of college students had managed to capture it during the Crisis, and today they apparently tried their own version of alien autopsy on it. I pieced together some fragments of film from a wrecked movie camera in their apartment. None of them survived, of course.”
“What madness be this — youths consorting with demons and holding them for torture?” said a bewildered Thor.
“People will try doing just about anything, Thor, if they think they could get a little fame, money, or power out of it,” replied Johnny.
“And what of thou, John Thunder?” asked Thor. “I see the power thou wields, power sufficient to have easily saved thine life in that building, yet thee sent it off to solve the greater problem. Once all was done, the cheering crowds recognized the contributions of thine fair wife and myself, yet thee were in there to save others, and thee received no accolades for it. Thine humble home is surely proof that thou dost not use this mighty power for thine own means. So what is it that drives a man such as thee, Thunder?”
“Shucks, Thor, I never looked at the T-bolt that way. It’s a gift, a fluke of fate. I figure he’s got a place in everything, just like anyone else, and I can’t use him to make my place. I’m just a regular guy, after all.”
“No, thou art something more. Thee sent that bolt of thine away, when thee could easily have saved thine self. Great bravery, and a sense of right.” Thor nodded his head in approval. “Something I wouldst do well to remember if I am to regain my place at my father’s side.”