Thunderbolt Vol 1 1.jpg
cover of Peter Cannon ... Thunderbolt #1 (Aug. 1966), art by Pete Morisi
Publication information
Publisher Originally Charlton Comics, later DC Comics.
First appearance Thunderbolt #1 (1966)
Created by Pete Morisi
In-story information
Alter ego Peter Cannon
Team affiliations Justice League
Abilities Mind over matter (the art of activating and harnessing that unused portion of the brain)
DC Comics:
Low level telekinesis
Psychic control over animals
Ability to ignore pain

Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt is a fictional superhero character originally published by Charlton Comics, notable for containing some of the earliest respectful invocations of Eastern mysticism in American pop culture. The character has been owned by the estate of its creator, writer-artist Pete Morisi, since his death in 2003.

Publication history

Charlton Comics

The character debuted in Peter Cannon ... Thunderbolt #1 (Jan. 1966), part of Charlton editor Dick Giordano's "Action Heroes" superhero line. The series then took over the numbering of the defunct title Son of Vulcan, and ran from issue #50–60 (March/April 1966 – November 1967), after which Morisi, a New York City Police Department officer and time-pressed with police work, left the title, which was canceled along with the rest of Charlton's "Action Heroes" comics line.

There were several backup series in Thunderbolt. "The Sentinels", by Gary Friedrich (writing his first superhero stories) and penciler-inker Sam Grainger, appeared in #54–59, and #60 had the Prankster, written by Dennis O'Neil with art by Jim Aparo.

Morisi, who'd done work for Lev Gleason Publications in 1940s, reported in Comic Book Artist #9 (August 2000) that he had attempted to buy the rights to 1940s superhero Daredevil in the early 1960s. Gleason gave him his okay, but the character's primary writer-artist, Charles Biro, balked, requesting a percentage of future profits. Morisi declined and went on to create Thunderbolt in a scaled-down version of that Daredevil's symmetrically divided, red-and-blue costume.

As a police officer, Morisi signed his work with his initials, PAM, in order to keep his moonlighting hidden.

Peter Cannon — Thunderbolt #1 (September 1992), art by Mike Collins and Jose Marzan Jr.

DC Comics

After Charlton sold its superhero properties to DC in 1983, Thunderbolt reappeared after almost two decades in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover series (April 1985 - March 1986, Thunderbolt appearing in #6, 7, and 10) when he joined the heroes of the Multiverse in their crusade against the Anti-Monitor.

Introducing him into the new DC Universe, DC published Peter Cannon — Thunderbolt, by writer-penciler Mike Collins and inker Jose Marzan Jr. The series ran for 12 issues before cancellation (Sept. 1992 - Aug. 1993). During the series' short run, his recurring foils were the criminal terrorists-for-hire known as Scorpio. He later discovers that his girlfriend Cairo DeFrey was actually in charge of the organization.

The character also appeared briefly with the Justice League.

Dynamite Entertainment

In June 2012, Dynamite Entertainment announced that they are publishing a new series titled Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt starting in September 2012. The series will be co-written by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross, with art by Jonathan Lau.[1]


Thunderbolt was briefly shown in flashbacks in Alex Ross and Mark Waid's comic Kingdom Come as a member of Magog's Justice Battalion, along with the rest of the Charlton 'Action Heroes'. In them, he is wearing an outfit more reminiscent of the Golden Age Daredevil, wearing a full head mask. He was apparently killed with the other members when Captain Atom was killed.

In the 1986 series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics, though not set in the DC Universe, many of the characters were based on old Charlton heroes; the character of Ozymandias drew inspiration from the original Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt character.[2]

Fictional character biography

His origin, as detailed in the original comic:

"Peter Cannon, orphaned son of an American medical team, was raised in a Himalayan lamasery, where his parents had sacrificed their lives combating the dreaded Black Plague! After attaining the highest degree of mental and physical perfection, he was entrusted with the knowledge of the ancient scrolls that bore the secret writings of past generations of wise men! From them he learned concentration, mind over matter, the art of activating and the harnessing the unused portions of the brain, that made seemingly fantastic feats possible! Then he returned to America with his faithful friend, Tabu, and sought out a new life, in a new land, that required the emergence of Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt."

This origin is reminiscent of the Golden Age hero, Amazing Man,[3] and the earlier still pulp hero and radio serial character, The Shadow.

His costume is his training outfit from the lamasary, with an added mask. A recurring villain is the "Hooded One", another monk from the lamasary who resented the fact an outsider like Peter was given access to the sacred scrolls.


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