Monday, January 19, 2009

I Loves Me Some Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt

I've been spending a lot of time with a certain Amazing Man/Gleason Daredevil mash up lately and it's been a lot of fun. Pete Morisi (aka. P.A.M) created this character as part of Charlton's line of action heroes, but it's pretty clear that he doesn't fit well within the Derbyverse (If that phrase has yet to be coined, I'm happy to take credit for it!), as he's a reluctant hero, dabbling in Eastern philosophy and only engaging in crime fighting when there are no alternatives. It seems that every issue begins with Cannon and his friend Tabu politely trash talking which fencing, boxing or shooting hoops. This serves as the calm before the storm that always seems to be on the horizon.

The plots can be repetitive and the pacing can be a bit slow - but there's an undeniable charm here. Morisi's artwork 100% original, and it's a lot of fun reading the letter column where fans are trying to identify the mysterious P.A.M. I love everything - from his slightly awkward use of profiles to the occasional circular panel. It's immediately apparent that a lot of thought and effort went into this strip and kudos to Charlton for giving full credits to Morisi, while not identifying him. I love everything about these stories from the crazy Man-Ape villain to the search for a rare flower in the Dinosaur/Mongol/Pygmy filled mountains of Tibet to cure an ailing Tabu. My first exposure to Thunderbolt was through a Modern reprint in the late 70s. I don't think I knew what to make of him back then, but Mr. Cannon has patiently waited for me to acquire the taste for his singular adventures and I'm hooked.

If I sound too much like a lovestruck schoolgirl, let me offer some snark. I just don't get the Friedrich/Grainger Sentinels strip - it's like something out of a bad fanzine. Even a Charlton apologist like can't find anything nice to say about it.


Chris Gumprich said...

Always liked this character, although I've only read one of the original Charltons.

The short-lived DC series was highly entertaining, and I was sorry to see it go.

Nice of DC to give the rights back to PAM. It's a shame he passed away before being able to do any new stories.

Neil Anderson said...

I think this should be under your "Reprint This!" heading. I would happily pay for an Archive-quality reprint of this. I agree with your assessment of the Sentinels, but I liked the Prankster back-up in the last issue, by Denny O'Neil and Jim Aparo...

Anonymous said...

Peter Cannon....Thunderbolt is as you described not just another super powered (radioactive or from another planet) hero running around in tights. His power comes from the realization of the human brain's capability. Of course reluctance would play a part, as would nobility. He's been out of circulation for a while, but I wouldn't count him out.