Real Name: Fred Hopkins
Identity/Class: Human mutate
Affiliations: Spider-Man (ally);
Irving Stein (old friend)
Enemies: Roxanne DeWinter;
formerly Ludlow Grimes ("the other Smithville Thunderbolt")
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Smithville, Pennsylvania
First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man#8 (December, 1985)
Powers: In his prime, the Smithville Thunderbolt possessed superhuman strength (Class 10-25), speed, agility, and endurance. In his last few years, his powers faded completely, leaving him a middle aged man in average physical condition. He used a crude exoskeleton which maintained his muscular appearance and included tiny servomotors to amplify his strength, granting him athlete to enhanced human strength.
He also may have been able to fly, as he designed his costume with special springs in its boots to allow a semblance of flight.
(Web of Spider-Man#8 (fb)) - Thirty years ago, a meteorite of unknown origin entered Earth atmosphere and split into two fragments, both of which landed in Smithville, Pennsylvania. One landed in a junkyard and was found by Fred Hopkins, a mild-mannered employee for the Smithville Savings Bank. Hopkins had been knocked in the junkyard when he tried to stop some punks who had beat up his friend Irving. Hopkins didn't gain/realize his powers until the next day, and was too late to help Irving, but after discovering them, he designed a costume out of some long johns, a little dye, and a marker. That night he found the same punks, caught them in the act of beating someone else up, and easily took them out. A crowd saw him, proclaimed him a hero, and the Smithville Thunderbolt was born.
(Web of Spider-Man#8 (fb)) - Hopkins maintained his secret identity into the modern era, enjoying his private life, as well as the thrill of being a local hero. Then, about 29 years after gaining them, his powers began to fade. He planned to quit, but found he had nothing else to do, and that he had grown to depend on the hero worship. Reading up on a number of scientific journals, Hopkins ordered parts and designed a crude exoskeleton that maintained a fraction of his original power.
In order to compensate for his decreased power, Hopkins began staging disasters, and setting the location up for himself. He'd set up a smoke bomb in a room where he had partially cut through a wall, so he could smash his way in and save anyone present...that sort of thing.
(Web of Spider-Man#8, 9) - A year later, after "saving" some kids from a false fire as the Thunderbolt, Hopkins was tracked down by Spider-Man, who--as Peter Parker--had been sent to Smithville to investigate the story of the local hero. While Spidey was sympathetic to Hopkins' plight, Roxanne DeWinter, a wannabe big-time reporter who had followed Parker, was more than happy to expose him in order to get the story. Hopkins was also found by Ludlow Grimes, the "other Smithville Thunderbolt," who wanted revenge on him.
While Spidey held off Grimes, Hopkins fled. Certain that he would become the object of ridicule if exposed, Hopkins staged a false rockslide, from which he "saved" DeWinter, in the hopes that her gratitude would stop her from writing the story. His deception was exposed, however, and then Grimes showed up again. While Spider-Man was there to help again, DeWinter's car was knocked over the edge of a cliff in the ensuing struggle. Hopkins risked his life and saved Roxanne from certain death. When Grimes saw how puny and terrified Hopkins was, his rage faded and he let him go.
It seemed like a happy ending, but when the next day's paper came out, Roxanne's expose' of the Smithville Thunderbolt was on the front page. A crowd of the Thunderbolt's fans gathered around Hopkins house to show their admiration, support, and respect, but before the reason for the crowd could become apparent, Hopkins committed suicide with a bullet to the head.
Comments: Created by David Michelinie and Geof Isherwood.
This is probably my favorite story out of the entire (nearly) thirteen year run on the Web of Spider-Man series. I wonderful what ol' Ludlow is up to these days...I can see it now...Ludlow Grimes: Agent of SHIELD...The Fairly Impressive Ugly Kid Brother of the Hulk...Ultimate Smithville Thunderbolt?
Y'know, Pennsylvania always comes off as a state full of hicks in the comics. While that's not completely true (there's actually a nice mixture of red necks AND white trash), I do always find it amusing. It's not uncommon for people to ask me if I'm Amish, since I live(d) in PA. However, I'm saying goodbye to the Keystone State, and moving to sunny Florida, where I can instead be ridiculed for the retirement community and electile dysfunction.
No known connection to:
SMITH - of the Enhanced --Death's Head/Killpower: Battletide I#1
SMITH 2099 - of X-Nation - aka METALSMITH*--[Marvel Vision#1, X-Nation#1], 2
Thunderbolt (William Carver) - hero with an accelerated metabolism, died of premature aging—Power Man #41
Luis ) - duplicate costume and similar abilities to
associated with Justin Hammer --Incredible Hulk Annual#17/5
THUNDERBOLT - drug created by Dai-Kumo from monkey brains--Wolverine II#31
African-America gang, including our old friend, Turk Barret, associated with
THUNDERBOLTS - originally formed by Baron Zemo and Masters of Evil —Incredible Hulk II#449
other "Smith" or Thunderbolts characters
The "other Smithville Thunderbolt"
Ludlow Grimes was happy with his life as a farmer, working by man and horsepower alone, and living in a small house with his wife, Amy, and his two sons by her, Jeff and Willy. Twenty-nine years after the meteorite crashed to earth, Ludlow discovered its second half. His new powers suddenly became apparent when he inadvertently shattered the wall of his house. His wife and kids saw him as some sort of inhuman monster, and Amy immediately insisted that he leave them forever. Ludlow went to see a priest, who branded him as an agent of the devil. Soon after, his former friends were hunting for him, seeking to exorcise his demons...with a touch of the torch.
Ludlow spent lonely months hiding out in caves and other secluded areas, until he learned of the existence of a man with powers like his, inside the Smithville City limits. However, instead of being demonized, this man was a hero. Ludlow, his mind rattled by his recent trials, decided that he would destroy and replace the Smithville Thunderbolt, so that he, too, would be respected and admired.
Eventually, Ludlow did track down the Smithville Thunderbolt in his apartment, but he was fought off by Spider-Man, who had also tracked him down. Ludlow fled when the police arrived. However, he found the Thunderbolt again when he was trying to trick another reporter, Roxanne DeWinter, into thinking he'd saved her life so she wouldn't expose his true identity. After a brief scuffle with Spidey, Ludlow managed to get his hands on Fred Hopkins, the now powerless Thunderbolt. However, when he saw how frail and terrified Hopkins was, he came to his senses, and realized that the frightened man was just like him.
With no harm done, Ludlow was recruited by an agent of SHIELD, who offered to help find the cause of his powers, see if they could be removed, and maybe even reunite him with his family.
Spider-Man also referred to him as the Hulk's ugly kid brother
--Web of Spider-Man#8 ([8(fb)], 9(fb), 8, 9
She was a photographer who dreamed of catching that one story that would get it out of Smithville, and hopefully take her to bigger and better things, in New York City. She planned to expose the Smithville Thunderbolt's true identity, and was highly possessive of the story.
She followed the trail of New York City reporter Peter Parker to the home of Fred Hopkins and discovered his secret identity, as well as the existence of "some deranged clodhopper," Ludlow Grimes, who was trying to kill the original Smithville Thunderbolt.
Later, Hopkins tried to trick her into thinking he'd saved her life from a fake rock-slide, so she wouldn't print the story, but his duplicity was exposed. However, when Grimes showed up again and attacked, Hopkins did save her from falling to her death. Nonetheless, she exposed his identity in the newspaper the next day.
When Parker chastised her for ruining Hopkins' life, she told him that he would be idolized by the town he had helped for so long. While she was right about this, Hopkins committed suicide anyway upon learning that he had been exposed. Roxanne stood there in shock for a few seconds, and then pulled out her camera and took some pictures of Hopkins' corpse, as part of her next story.
--Web of Spider-Man#8 (9
Last updated: 03/11/03
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