Times Past, 1946
Bolt from the Blue
A JSA Classified story
by Nadra Enzi
Johnny Thunder is often dismissed as the sidekick of the Justice Society, the comic relief of the mystery-man set. But the U.S. government knows why Johnny is a force to be reckoned with.
An assessment of Johnny Thunder by an anonymous intelligence agent:
Johnny Thunder isn’t commonly considered the brain trust of the mystery-man set, to put it kindly. He is often thought to be a well-intentioned blunderer whose sidekick, a being made from magical lightning, is actually the brains of the operation. Johnny is many things: a bit dense, even clumsy on average, but beneath the surface lie some pretty impressive qualities.
How many of us, no matter how well-intentioned, wouldn’t misuse a limitlessly powerful being who does whatever we desire? If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, picture the landscape wrought by an eager lightning bolt sent out to impose your version of right and wrong upon the world.
Johnny could use the T-bolt (his nickname for the creature) to make himself rich, or make himself the president or, conceivably, emperor of the world. That he hasn’t speaks either to his character or — some cynically whisper — an utter lack of imagination.
Together, they have saved countless lives, and while not often viewed as a crime-fighter, Johnny Thunder has actually held his own against some pretty tough customers.
“I’m not a Batman, obviously — y’know, real smart, real strong, big-time detective, and all that stuff — or a Sandman. Well, no, I don’t wear a gas mask, or any mask, but I’m no Green Arrow, either. I don’t have any arrows. I’m not a Crimson Avenger, ’cause I’m not really avenging much right now, or a Doc Fate, because I’m not a magician. But I do have a magic lightning bolt I work with. Or a Superman because, well, that’s real obvious, too. Hmmm… but I am me, and that’s got to count for something!“
That’s how he once explained his place in the caped and cowled pecking order during an Unusual Stories interview. And that was the edited version.
Thunder has a heavy responsibility to shoulder. After he utters the phrase, “Say you!” — English translation, of course — he in effect becomes one of the most powerful men on the Earth, a fact not lost on law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies from coast to coast and overseas.
Most people would be surprised to learn that secret studies have been commissioned assessing his strategic value in the event of either dire national emergency, or — should he somehow turn against the United States — the potential he carries for irreparably harming the nation. Plans are in place to secure Thunder in the event of war with the Soviet Union or, should he be deemed a security risk, other measures have been considered.
While it’s easy to think of him as a simpleminded boob in the public eye, one should note that Presidents Roosevelt and Truman alike have quietly sought Thunder and his magical friend for matters where their unique talents could benefit the country.
The FBI, OSS, CIG, Army Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, and other departments, agencies, units, and assorted government groups known and unknown have availed themselves of this remarkably unremarkable man.
By his own admission, Johnny Thunder isn’t many of the things that come to mind when the topic of mystery-men is discussed, but he gets the job done — not always the best way or without his allies’ considerable frustration — but when Johnny Thunder finally does come through, it’s like he’s a bolt from the blue! Even his lightning bolt pal has been impressed by Johnny on a few historic occasions.