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Thunderbolt (I). The Thunderbolt (I) was created by Johnston McCulley (The Avenging Twins, Bat (II), Black Star, Jim Bodney, Crimson Clown, Captain Goodwin, Green Ghost, Richard Hughes, Man in Purple, Mongoose, Peter Noggins, Peanut Pete, Spider (I), Thubway Tham, Terry Trimble, Whirlwind, Zorro) and appeared in six stories and three novels and story collections from 1920 to 1927, beginning with “Master and Man” (Detective Story Magazine, May 4, 1920).
The Thunderbolt (I) is a Costumed Avenger. John Flatchley is thirty years old and has a taste for excitement; he is athletic, strong, handsome, and is the scion of wealth and society. Before World War One Flatchley had been a big game hunter and had trekked to the North Pole. During World War One Flatchley was an air ace and won metals for bravery under fire. But when Flatchley returns from armed service he discovers that his massive inheritance, the $200,000 he was due to receive from his uncle’s estate, is gone as the result of his uncle’s dealings with six crooked financiers, the Big Six. Flatchley is outraged that these men, the Big Six, could get so rich off of widows and orphans (literally—“You are thieves who robbed widows and orphans”) without anything being done about it. Flatchley puts on a black hood (slits cut for eyes, yellow lightning bolt pained on the forehead) and becomes The Thunderbolt, a masked crusader who will right wrongs, steal all the money from the Big Six and return it to its rightful owners. The Thunderbolt is assisted in this by his valet, Saggs, a failed petty crook with no redeeming features but who is faithful to Flatchley for having redeemed his life. The Thunderbolt is hunted by Detective Martin Radner, who is eager to catch the Thunderbolt but inevitably fails.
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