Jonni Thunder (aka "Thunderbolt")

Created by Roy Thomas, Dick Giordano and Ernie Colon

Yet another P.I. from the folks at DC Comics, and yet another potentially straight-forward P.I. they couldn't help but tamper with.

I mean, like, sheesh! Can't they ever just give it to us straight?

But at least hotshot Los Angeles private eye JONNI THUNDER seems to agree. Working as an operative at the detective agency owned by her dad, Jim Thunder, a former stunt man and cop, Jonni is tough and dedicated, a tenacious and shrewd detective, superb in hand-to-hand combat and a crack shot. She's also decidedly stylish, preferring white suits and driving a white 1957 Thunderbird convertible. And the perfect accessory to all this is her pet white rabbit, Shamus.

Over the years, the father-and-daughter agency has gained an enviable reputation for hard-edged professionalism and unassailable honesty, tempered with compassion. When her dad passes away, Jonni decides to continue the agency.

Great, right?

So why would DC feel obliged to saddle Jonni with superpowers? It's not like the DC universe had an over-abundance of straight P.I.'s in the mid-eighties when Jonni made her debut, or that there was a shortage of costumed super heroes.

But saddle her they do. Once given a small Peruvian statuette by a grateful minor league thug he'd once saved from a beating, Jim is later killed by a gang of criminals who learned that the statue has special powers. Cast in the shape of a beautiful woman, and supposedly struck by Apu Illapu, the Incan god of lightning, the dingus allegedly has a humongous amount of latent electrical power. The criminals have high hopes of somehow turning this power into a powerful weapon.

But Jonni isn't about to just hand over the memento. When the gang tracks the statuette down to Jonni, somehow the power of it is transferred to Jonni, and she becomes a living breathing bolt of lightning, able to transform herself at will. And as she tracks down her father's killers, she discovers she's also become more brutal and violent. One by one, she kills off the gang, unable to control her new-found abilities.

Through a series of incidents too dopey for me to even relate, Jonni is eventually able to shuck the the curse of Apu Illapu, and return to being what DC should have left her as: a straightforward private eye who knows her job, and does it well. Considering the fact this four-issue mini-series came out smack dab in the middle of the 1980's female eye boom, in the wake of Grafton, Muller, McCone et al, and that there'd even been a comic book precedent of sorts (Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty's Ms. Tree, which DC in fact later acquired), you would have thought DC would have left well enough alone.

A BURNING QUESTION

  • Why "Thunderbolt"? Given her powers, wouldn't Jonni Lightning have been more appropriate?

THE EVIDENCE

  • "An animal attack ... too many Camels, too much Wild Turkey."

-- Jonni explains the cause of her father's death.

TRIVIA

  • One of the characters Jonni has to contend with in her short careeer is lowlife private eye Harrison Trump.

COMIC BOOKS

  • JONNI THUNDER
    (1985, DC Comics)
    4-issue mini-series
    Written by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, and Gerry Conway
    Art by Dick Giordano
  • (February 1985, #1)
  • (April 1985, #2)
  • (June 1985, #3)
  • (August 1985, #4)

RELATED LINKS

A listing of all the private eyes who have shown up in DC Comics. PulpArtist: Adolphe Barreaux

Lady Eyes from the Comics

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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