Monday, May 10, 2010

My World : Thunder Man

Thunder Man

"HE'S THUNDER-RIFIC!" the newspaper headlines proclaimed in 1938. Archaeologist Ray Bancroft announced to the public that he had discovered a survivor of the lost continent of Atlantis in a tomb nestled in ruins that had recently surfaced from the ocean floor. That survivor had proven to be Thunder Man, a super-powered champion who had been unable to prevent the Atlantean disaster. Seeking to atone for his failure, Thunder Man pledged to protect the modern world as he had his ancient homeland. The seemingly-unaging Thunder Man's amazing deeds would go on to become the stuff of legends as the decades progressed.

At least, that's how it went somewhere else.

Thunder Man is from a parallel Earth, not the one that Captain Satellite calls home. The two heroes first crossed paths when Hugo Beaumont hijacked Thunder Man from his proper universe and mesmerized him with the Hyper Hypno Coin. Captain Satellite and Thunder Man clashed until the Captain unwittingly uncovered the truth and freed his adversary from Beaumont's manipulation. The duo then joined forces to foil Beaumont's scheme.

Thunder Man repaid Captain Satellite months later, when he used his Volt Vimana craft to rescue the Captain after he had been stranded in the Unknown Zone. Since that day, the two have become true cross-dimensional allies. There are still occasions when they find themselves on opposite sides, such as the time they had to engage in a cosmic boxing match with the fate of Thunder Man's Earth at stake due to the machinations of the Astro-Giants. But usually, the pair teams up when they are on the same case.

For the record, Thunder Man had never heard of anyone named "Devil Dynamite" until he spent time on Captain Satellite's world. Whether this indicates that DD's point of origin is a different parallel Earth or that his story's veracity is suspect is a mystery.

Pity poor Thunder Man. He has been running around my shared universe for years, but only today does he earn his actual place in it.

Thunder Man began life as "Thunderboy", a prospective kid sidekick for Ultimate American. Deciding I didn't want to go down that avenue, I elected to alter him into "Thunder Man". Thunder Man was conceived as an adult contemporary of Ultimate American in the Golden and Silver Ages - one who had disappeared before the advent of Captain Satellite's career.

As I've alluded to in the past, I don't want to crowd Cap's world with too many extraneous superheroes. I never found any other characters I liked for this "vintage" backstory, and never especially warmed to Thunder Man either. I toyed with making him a villain, but it didn't seem to work. If I hadn't drawn him in 2007 as part of the Captain Satellite cast, I might have quietly dropped him altogether.

The compromise I ended up arriving at was to shift Thunder Man to a parallel Earth. This allows Cap the chance to interact with a veteran superhero without disrupting his own continuity. Thunder Man's status as a guest star maintains the dynamic of Cap's world very nicely.

Thunder Man is a hodegepodge of elements lifted and recombined from Superman, (the original) Captain Marvel, Sub-Mariner, and the Japanese hero Ogon Batto ("Golden Bat"). His helmet was literally a last-minute change when his profile picture was created, and adds a visual reference to characters like Blue Bolt and DC's first Starman.

Thanks to Sara Denny for Thunder Man's slogan.

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