Johnny Thunder is the seventh son of a seventh son, born at 7 a.m. on the seventh day of the seventh month in 1917. This causes him to be kidnapped and sold to a group of men from the country of Badhnesia who had been looking for someone born at this time on this day. As an infant, Johnny is given possession of the genie-like "Thunderbolt" during a mystic ritual on his seventh birthday, which was intended to allow the Badhnesians to use Johnny to rule the world. However, the plan is soon aborted after an attack from a neighboring country. Johnny eventually returns to the United States and lives an un-extraordinary life until one day, while washing windows, he inadvertently summons the Thunderbolt with the magic words cei-u (pronounced "say you") which he accidentally uses to become a successful boxer. Eventually, Johnny figures out how to summon the Thunderbolt on cue, uses this ability to eventually join the Justice Society of America.
Johnny's appearances with the Justice Society and in his own solo adventures tended to be quite comedic, as Johnny's main personality trait was being fairly dim-witted, which prompts his much-smarter Thunderbolt to possess a sarcastic (if patient) attitude toward his "boss."
The Thunderbolt's abilities, thanks to his magical powers, are quite vast; however, he is limited by only being able to execute Johnny's exactly worded orders—which, thanks to Johnny's lack of intelligence, sometimes create a fair amount of chaos.
Johnny's adventures ceased in the late 1940's when he was replaced in the Justice Society stories by a heroine he had begun teaming up with, the Black Canary. The reason for his leaving the Justice Society is eventually explained to be that his control over his Thunderbolt is weakening, thanks to a spell cast by renegade Badhnesian priests. In the early 1950s, Johnny is kidnapped again by agents from Badhnesia, with the intention of executing their original world conquest plan. Johnny manages to summon Superman, and the would-be conquerors' plans are defeated. Johnny spent some time in Badhnesia afterwards, teaching the native citizens about democracy. He returns home after the country elects its first president.
Johnny rejoins the Justice Society upon its reformation in the 1960's, and joins them on various adventures through the following decades.
The absence of the JSA and of Johnny Thunder did not last long. By the modern day, Johnny has aged as an over-weight man, not as old as his friends, but nostalgic for the past. It is explained that before he had entered into limbo he had lent his foster daughter, Peachy Pet, a few thousand dollars and during his time fighting for the universe, she had created Peachy's Frozen Yogurt, a very successful chain of which Johnny is half owner and now very wealthy. Of greater import to Johnny Thunder was his discovery that the Bahdnesians have all but disappeared. A visit to the island of Bahdnesia (now under the ownership of Pol St. Germain) proves that no Bahdnesians are left there. Johnny states: "There were never very many of them... and the island magic had worn out. T-Bolt was all that was left, and he was with me in limbo. They had to leave or starve to death." This also introduced the young Kiku, according to the Thunderbolt, the last remaining Bhadnesian.
Johnny later suffered from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. At one point he loses track of a pen in which the Thunderbolt was being stored. The pen eventually ends up in the ownership of a young African American boy named Jakeem Williams, who takes up the name Johnny Jakeem Thunder or Jakeem Thunder. Recently, in an attempt to save Johnny's life after the Ultra-Humanite used his body to take control of the Thunderbolt and temporarily remake Earth in his image, Johnny died but Jakeem wished to Yz if he could live so thunderbolt merged with Johnny soul and became one being, which he took the name "Johnny Thunderbolt". This new being has Yz's appearance but Johnny is the dominant personality. He takes the orders now, like Yz, but he is now omnipotent.
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- Reality Alteration: As the Thunderbolt, Johnny possesses all of the powers of a Genie from the 5th Dimension, which includes reality alteration of immeasurable range.
- Jack of All Trades: Johnny would likely describe himself as a Jack of all trades, yet master of none. However, he did possess a small degree of writing talent, and frequently chronicled the adventures of his Justice Society friends.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-Two era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and no longer apply.
- Johnny Thunder has no connection to former Infinity, Inc. ally Jonni Thunder. Nor does he have any connection to the 19th century lawman of the same name.
- All of the Thunder siblings have names that begin with the letter "J".
- As Johnny grew older, he began suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.
- 301 Appearances of John Thunder (New Earth)
- 40 Images featuring John Thunder (New Earth)
- 4 Quotations by or about John Thunder (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: John Thunder (New Earth)
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Justice Society of America member