Genies! They are a favorite of mine in fantasy and myth. Creatures that can grant you wishes but you better be careful what you wish for. This is a lesson John L. Thunder and Jakeem Johnny Williams know all too well. They are two people who know just how potent that danger is for they wield the power of 5th dimensional entities, The Thunderbolt, for simplicity’s sake, that will grant their wishes. How did these two people from two sides of the 20th century end up wielding some of the most powerful entities in reality? Let’s find out!
John L. Thunder
Born the 7th son of a 7th son under just about every auspice of 7 that could be used, it was prophecised by some that this child was important. He would be kidnapped by people from the land of Badhnesia (yeah…) and they would try to use this special child to bring about the end of the world. How? Well the thing that makes little Johnny so special is that upon his 7th birthday, the 5th dimensional genie-like entity, Yz the Thunderbolt is bound to the boy to do his bidding. Eventually Badhnesia would be attack by a neighboring country and allowing for Johnny to come back to America.
He’d lead a normal life for a few years not knowing of his tie to Yz. He could only get Yz to do his bidding if he said the phrase Cei U (say you), which was how Yz’ name is pronounced backwards I guess. Don’t go trying to figure out 5th dimensional logic, it’s not for us. Anyways, Johnny would come off as extremely lucky since he had this genie looking out for him. Things would get even stranger for his life when he’d start saying “say you” in sentences, such as the time he became a professional boxer for a while thanks to the Thunderbolt.
Eventually, Johnny would learn of his control of Yz the Thunderbolt he’d use it to get into even more adventures. He was eventually picked up by the Justice Society if only to watch out for the two of them. Johnny wasn’t know for his intelligent decisions so having some of the most powerful heroes watching out for him and his nearly omnipotent buddy was probably for the best.
Johnny would retire from the Justice Society and returns to Badhnesia because he was kidnapped. He fights them off and is able to jet the Thunderbolt to summon Superman to aide him. Victorious, Johnny teaches the Badhnesian people democracy and with that leave back for the United States to rejoin the JSA. He’d end up trapped in another reality. When they are rescued years later Johnny would return to find that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Age was hitting Johnny hard and he was beginning to appear as old as he was. Fearing for the responsibility of Yz, he placed him in a pen to make sure that Johnny would forget about him. Jay Garrick, the first Flash would accidentally give this pen to a young man named Jakeem. Jakeem would end up curing Johnny of Alzheimer’s but this victory was short lived as the Ultra-Humanite would take possession of Johnny and use this opportunity to gain control of Yz. In the process of stopping the Ultra-Humanite, Johnny’s body would perish but Jakeem is able to wish for him to be spared. The wish is granted by Johnny merging with Yz (and Lkz, we’ll get to that in a moment) into a new personality that was mostly Johnny, who would refer to himself as Johnny Thunderbolt.
Jakeem Johnny Williams
Jakeem was a latchkey kid who lived with his aunt in Keystone City, one of the twin city homes of the Flash’s Jay Garrick and Wally West (DC no longer acknowledges this guy and I am sad.) Jakeem would befriend Jay as he known to befriend kids in the city and become their mentor. Jay would accidentally give Jakeem the pen that held the powerful genie Yz the Thunderbolt and he would now be able to wield the power of his wishes.
As Jakeem was getting used to the idea of having a nearly all powerful genie, another genie from the 5th dimension arrived, Lkz. This genie was malevolent as all get out and was immediately opposed by Yz. The two fought while Jakeem tried to figure out what to do. Teaming up with the JSA, specifically Captain Marvel, Jakeem was able to merge the two genies into a new one that was under his command named Ylzkz which pronounced backwards was So Cûl (pronounced “so cool”).
Jakeem would befriend Johnny Thunder and Johnny had passed on the responsibility to young Jakeem. Jakeem would go to live with the JSA to study how to be a hero, becoming good friends with Stargirl who would help him out and vice versa. When Johnny was dying Jakeem would make the wish that would allow him to merge with Ylzkz and becoming Johnny Thunderbolt, thus having the two human wielders of genies become master and genie, or more like two friends. Imagine Calvin and Hobbes where the personalities are reversed and the imaginary one is real and made of magic.
Jakeem, who had originally joined the team reluctantly would find many friends withing the JSA and learn that he makes a pretty decent hero. Unlike Johnny back when he was a young man, Jakeem was rather clever and had to be since now Johnny was the genie and needed a bit more guidance in how to wield the power safely.
Jakeem would get trapped in the 5th dimension at one point and an enemy genie named Qwisp, one he’d fought before, would brainwash Jakeem into becoming a tyrant. Johnny would amass and army of Thunderbolt’s to fight Jakeem. Thought the might of the Thunderbolt army and the JSA, Jakeem was able to break out of Qwisp’s control. When the team returned to Earth they’d find the dark wizard Mordru fighting Nabu the benevolent wizard. Jakeem had had his throat slit by Mordru before, so Jakeem decided to do something similar, he stabbed Mordru in the neck with his pen and summoned Johnny. This would electrocute Mordru right in the throat (this wouldn’t kill him, Mordru is kind of a big deal at this point) and Jakeem wished for him to go someplace they’d never see him again. This would not last as magic versus magic can be pretty kooky in DC.
As Jakeem returned to life with the JSA he’d learned that in his absence the team had so many new members that there was no longer room for him at the Brownstone that was their headquarters. He would develop a crush on fellow teammate Lightning but it was unrequited. He would last be seen at Stargirl’s birthday party before being taken out by an undead Terry Sloane (the first Mr. Terrific) during Blackest Night. He would last be seen mourning at the funeral of fellow teammate Damage. He does not seem to exist in the New 52.
So that is the story of two people with the power of magic at their beck and call and how when they learned what they had, used it to try and help people. They could have probably lived as kings or gods but saw it as an opportunity to help the world instead. Kind of have to admire that level of selflessness.
Flash Comics #1
Flash Vol. 2 #134
Justice Society of America
Superman Family #204