Jakeem Thunder

Created by Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Paul Ryan and John Nyberg

Written with Aaron Severson

NAME + ALIASES:
Jakeem John "J.J." Williams

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed mother (deceased), Phil (father), Jennifer (stepmother), unnamed half-brother, Jimmy (older brother, deceased), unnamed grandmother (deceased), Jenny (aunt), Lashawn (aunt) see note*

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice Society of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
As Johnny Thunder II:
Kingdom Come #1 (1996)
Cameo:
Flash v.2 #134 (Feb. 1998)
Full: JLA #26 (Jan. 1999)

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come was a groundbreaking series by Mark Waid and Alex Ross that was originally an out-of-continuity "Elseworlds" story. It was later said to have taken place in an offshoot of Hypertime (a divergent timeline). Hypertime was a concept introduced by the Kingdom event in 1999. After Infinite Crisis, the DC multiverse was recreated and the Kingdom Come universe was assigned to the parallel Earth-22.

Wonder Woman coerces Superman out from his long retirement. first appereance of Nightstar, Stars & Stripes, Phoebus, Thunder, Lightning, Nuculoid, the female Judomaster, Magog, the hawk-faced Hawkman, Swastika, Manotaur, Trix, 666, (Jakeem) Thunder, Mister Terrific, Tusk, N-I-L-8, Joker's Daughter II. In battle with the Parasite, Captain Atom is torn open and most of Kansas is destroyed. NOTE:

 

J.J. Thunder gets the luckiest autograph from the Flash. From Flash v.2 #134 (1998); art by Paul Ryan and John Nyberg.

Johnny began suffering the effects of Alzheimer's disease and somehow trapped the Thunderbolt within a fountain pen, which he then unwittingly gave to Jay Garrick. Jay then accidentally lost the pen while signing autographs. (Flash v.2 #134) The recipient was a boy named Jakeem Johnny (J.J.) Thunder. (JLA #26)

Without his Thunderbolt, Johnny's dementia worsened. He briefly appeared to have been cured and even rejuvenated, but he was actually under the mental control of the Ultra-Humanite. When they were separated, Johnny passed away. Despite J.J.'s pleas, the Thunderbolt was unable to resurrect Johnny, but he was able to merge Johnny's soul with his own essence so they could continue to aid and advise J.J. In the Fifth Dimension, however, Johnny and the Thunderbolt existed as separate entities; they merged again each time they returned to Earth. (JSA #80, 83–84)

...

Jakeem John Williams, aka "J.J. Thunder," grew up in the Keystone-Central City area. His mother died of cancer when he was young, leaving the boy in the custody of her older sister, Lashawn, and Jakeem didn't meet his father until he was a teenager. (JSA #38) Jakeem also lost his grandmother and an older brother, Jimmy (whom Jakeem never knew) in a fire. (JSA Secret Files #2, JSA #83–84) Note: Jakeem's full name was not revealed until JSA Secret Files #2: Jakeem J. Williams. JSA #29 gave his middle name as John.

While getting an autograph from the original Flash (Jay Garrick), Jakeem accidentally received a pen that had belonged to Johnny Thunder. Unbeknown even to Johnny, the pen contained his magical Thunderbolt, who had somehow become trapped in its ink. (Flash v.2 #134) Upon discovering the pen, Jakeem stumbled on the magic words to summon the Thunderbolt (JLA #26), who revealed that his name was actually Yz. His magic command, Cei-U ("say you") was actually his name said backward (more or less)! (JLA #29) Note: This was a concept of Mr. Mxyzptlk, who could be banished from Earth by speaking his name backwards.

Soon afterward, the Earth was besieged with other entities from the Fifth Dimension, led by a blue djinn called Lkz. At first, Jakeem erroneously believed he and the Thunderbolt were responsible for the chaos, but they aided the JLA, JSA, and Captain Marvel in defeating LKZ, who turned out to be a pawn of Qwsp (originally spelled Quisp), a magical being who had once befriended Aquaman (Aquaman v.1 #1) and now hoped to lay waste to the Third Dimension. In the climactic battle, Yz and Lkz merged into a new purple Thunderbolt, Ylkz, with a new magic word: "so cool," his name backward. (JLA #28–31) (Although the Thunderbolt's magic words remained "so cool" in future stories, he was only occasionally depicted as purple rather than pink and there was no indication that Lkz's personality survived the merger.)

Afterward, Jakeem became a part-time member of the JSA in hopes of learning to use his new powers. Because of his young age and school obligations, he only occasionally participated in the JSA's adventures, but he befriended some of its members and their families. Joan Garrick was particularly fond of him. (JSA Secret Files #2) Jakeem helped the JSA defeat Johnny Sorrow (JSA #19–21) and later joined the Justice Society's struggle against the Ultra-Humanite, who had taken mental control of Johnny Thunder's body. (#32–36)

After the villain was defeated, Johnny Thunder died, but the Thunderbolt managed to merge their souls together; they would mentor Jakeem as Johnny Thunderbolt, often taking Johnny's appearance. (#37)

When Jakeem admitted that he was lonely, with little family other than his disapproving, resentful aunt, Johnny used his magic to help Jakeem find his father, Phil, who was now an electrical engineering student at the University of Michigan. He had married a woman named Jennifer, and had a younger son. Dismayed, Jakeem decided not to tell Phil who he was, fearing the imposition. (#38)

Jakeem later joined the JSA's battle against Mordru, Obsidian, and Eclipso, but was nearly killed when Mordru slashed his vocal cords to prevent him from controlling the Thunderbolt. Fortunately, Dr. Mid-Nite II was able to keep Jakeem alive and implant an electronic vocoder that allowed him to summon the Thunderbolt and heal his injuries. Jakeem decided to leave his head shaved after this. (#46–50)

Jakeem and Johnny faced their greatest challenge when the Spectre allied himself with Eclipso to destroy all magic-users. When the JSA confronted the Spectre in Kahndaq, the Spectre offered to spare the Thunderbolt if he would stand by and not interfere. When Jakeem and Johnny attacked and attempted to banish him, the Spectre instead stranded them in the Fifth Dimension. (#74)

With the help of Nabu the Wise, the JSA followed their friends, only to discover that Jakeem was possessed and was now battling the Thunderbolt as well as his son, Shocko; Shocko's wife, Peachy Pet (apparently Johnny Thunder's adoptive daughter, transformed into a djinn). Their allies included others called Mkny, Rklz, and a man called Saradin, who claimed to have once been the first to command the Fifth Dimensional entities. (#78–79)

Jakeem used his control over the Thunderbolt to attack the JSA, but Mister Terrific encouraged the Thunderbolt to resist. The being possessing Jakeem turned out to be QWSP, who was imprisoned by Saradin. Everyone had learned that in the Fifth Dimension, Johnny and the Thunderbolt still existed as separate entities, although they merged again each time the Thunderbolt returned to the Third Dimension (Earth). (#80)

Soon afterward, Jakeem encountered a ghost in Keystone City. He and the Thunderbolt learned that this was Jakeem's older brother, whom he had never met or even known about. (#83–84) Jakeem then helped the JSA battle the Gentleman Ghost. (#85–87) Afterward, the JSA disbanded for a short time; Jakeem rejoined months later, quickly developing a crush on new recruit, Jennifer Pierce (Thunder, Black Lightning's daughter). (Justice Society of America v.3 #12)

Jakeem eventually found himself having a philosophical disagreement with the JSA, troubled that they didn't use their great powers to make people's lives better rather than simply fighting evil. Alan Scott (Green Lantern) warned him that the new rules of magic imposed after Infinite Crisis demanded balance, meaning that each time Jakeem altered material reality to help someone, it produced a negative change somewhere else. After a week-long spree of trying to magically do good deeds for ordinary people, Jakeem reluctantly accepted Alan's advice. (JSA: Classified #28)

Notes

JSA Secret Files #2 and later issues of JSA give conflicting information about Jakeem's mother, whose name was never revealed. The profile in Secret Files indicates that she had Jakeem when she was still in high school, turning to her sister Lashawn to take care of Jakeem and later abandoning him to leave with his father; that account gave no indication she was dead.

JSA #38 told instead that she left Jakeem's father before telling him she was pregnant; she died of cancer while Jakeem was young. JSA #84 complicates the issue further, indicating that she also had an older son, Jimmy, who died before Jakeem was old enough to remember him. Their ghostly forms suggest that Jakeem's mother was a middle-aged woman and Jimmy was a teenager at the time of their respective deaths. If that's true, his mother appeared to be significantly older than his father.

The storyline in JLA #28–31 (1999) that introduced Jakeem was the first to indicate that the Thunderbolt was from the Fifth Dimension, or that he was a djinn. None of the Thunderbolt's previous appearances had ever characterized his actions as "granting wishes," nor was he bound to any third-dimensional object or liquid. (Even Superman Family #204, which explains that the shaman of Badhnisia made it harder for Johnny Thunder to summon the Thunderbolt when he wasn't wearing his zodiac belt, did not suggest that the Thunderbolt was imprisoned in or bound to the belt.) All of the later additions are retcons, and are somewhat at odds with past stories.

Powers

Neither Johnny nor Jakeem had any powers of their own except the ability to command the Thunderbolt, a djinn (or genie) from the Fifth Dimension (also home to Superman's nemesis, Mr. Mxyzptlk). Speaking the appropriate magic word — originally "Cei-U" ("say you"), later "so cool" — summons the Thunderbolt, who will do his bidding for one hour before returning to his home dimension.

The Thunderbolt is extremely powerful, able to alter third-dimensional space/time in ways that appear magical to humans. He can fly, project energy, reshape reality in large or small ways, and even change history.

Although he's only supposed to offer advice if asked, the Thunderbolt would give Johnny the occasional hint and is much more forthcoming with Jakeem, especially after merging with Johnny.

The conditions under which someone can command the Thunderbolt have never been consistently established. The Badhnisians believed that someone needed to be born with certain numerological traits and then receive ritual preparation to summon the Thunderbolt, but that was not true of Jakeem.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • 52 #1, 50, 51
  • Action Comics #873
  • Blackest Night #1
  • Countdown #20
  • Infinite Crisis #6
  • JLA #26, 28-31
  • JSA All-Stars #7
  • JSA Secret Files #2
  • JSA vs. Kobra #3-6
  • JSA: Classified #28
  • JSA: Our Worlds at War #1
  • Justice Society of America v.3 #12, 14-16
  • Superman v.1 #683
  • Titans Secret Files #2
  • World War III #3-4
  • Young Justice #49-51

» SERIES:

  • JSA #19–81