Well, this is it, the last entry in my theme month here at Secret Origins. I had a lot of fun telling the tales of some of the funny animal heroes that got me into comics in the first place. I really wanted to end with Hoppy, The Marvel Bunny, but as I said last week, getting a hold of his origin issue is way beyond my price range. Then, as I was digging through my back issues, I found a hero that is both comparable, and more than a bit weird. This hero isn’t a funny-animal per se, as he is humanoid. I wouldn’t exactly call him human though. What I would call him is downright freaky and disturbing, given the context in which he operates. I think it’ll just be better if we dive right in, so here we go with… The Secret Origin of Thunderbunny!
Our tale begins in Boston, where the high winds in the skyscraper district are wreaking havoc with those unfortunate enough to have to check window supports. Wouldn’t you know it, the scaffolding rope snaps, and we instantly have trouble with a capital T. Luckily, young Bobby Caswell sees the danger and even though he is reluctant to do so (we’ll see why in a second), he claps his hands together and an amazing and startling change takes place.
So, Thunderbunny rescues the window worker, who doesn’t instantly die from shock, so credit where it’s due, I guess. Once TB takes him to the roof to meet with his fellow though, question are definitely asked. Well, they are more like exasperated gasps of disbelief, so the Caped Cottontail flies off, looking back with a creepy gaze and a message.
So with the day saved, Thunderbunny retreats to an abandoned alleyway and returns to his human form. Bobby Caswell returns home and since this is his first appearance, his thoughts inevitably turn to how he came to be in the situation he’s in. A few summers ago, Bobby was Uncle’s place, enjoying his favorite pastime of reading comics when what seemed like a shooting star landed at nearby Bald Mountain. Being the impetuous young lad that he is, Bobby searches for what he believes to be some somewhat harmless debris from space. Instead, he comes across an alien craft of unknown origin. Having no common sense whatsoever, Bobby enters the craft. It’s deserted, but there is a conveniently placed alter that has 3-fingered handholds. Of course he touches them, and then he has what I like to think of as a mind trip induced by sugary cereals and Saturday morning cartoons.
Doctor Bar-Ko continues that Bobby will never forget the image of his race’s superhero, Thunderbunny. I think that’s kind of an understatement, Doc. Also, why are you giving away this insane amount of power and your only requirements are intelligence and hands?! By that criteria, we could have ended up with a rampaging super gorilla/bunny, and no one wants that! Ah, there is a limitation to the powers though, and it is a hefty one. Apparently, to return to his own form, Bobby has to keep a clear mental image of himself, and the longer he stays in Thunderbunny’s form, the harder it will be for him to do so. Talk about your catch-22 situation. Bobby emerges from the ship, pretty unbelieving of these occurrences. Bobby tries the handclap thing. Of course it works, so he does what any self-respecting person who suddenly finds themselves with superpowers would do, he tries to fly.
Bobby proceeds to fly around the city, and because he is an archetypal, though odd-looking hero type, he discovers a robbery in progress and decides to intervene. Now, I am not a criminal, but if a 6-foot refugee from Antro-Con decided he wanted to stop me, I think I’d just give up right then. These guys however, don’t waste time trying to fight back. Their efforts come to naught as Thunderbunny finds he is super-strong, invulnerable, and probably has advanced hearing what with the ears and all, so he wipes the floor with them.
The day is saved, but for some reason, people are freaking out. You’d think they’d never seen a super hero before. Bobby/Thunderbunny takes this time to look at his reflection in a shop window. His reaction is calm and measured. A more mature reaction you will never see in all of comicdom. He’s a nice, well-adjusted young man for sure.
I guess I would freak out a bit too, but honestly, he was given the powers by an anthropomorphic dog, who even showed him what he’d look like. If the boy is going to choose now to freak out, maybe Bar-Ko has an even lower standards for “intelligence” then I previously thought. Suitably freaked-out over his appearance, Thunderbunny claps his hands to change back into Bobby, but well… it doesn’t work. He just manages to give his hands the mother of after-clap stings. He decided to give it the old college try again…
So Bobby returns to his old self and engages is some tried and true comic book angst. He doesn’t know if being a superhero is worth it if he has to do it in the guise of a giant pink rabbit. I can’t say I blame the kid, but I would be much more concerned with the fact that he could lose his identity as a human permanently! Maybe that’s because I live in the real world and have to think of things like consequences. Bobby’s story ends there, but it is by no means the end of Thunderbunny. Shortly after this tale was published, Charlton, the publisher would give up most of their properties to DC, but not Thunderbunny. He actually got picked up by Archie for a while, teaming up with that stable of superheroes before getting his own (very) short-lived title from WaRP Graphics, so I guess Bobby overcame his misgivings. Honestly, even without the bunny stuff, the idea of being stuck as a hero is an incredibly interesting concept that I’m curious to see if it was actually delved into in any sort of meaningful way. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed funny animal month. Next week, I’ll be back to my normal randomness. If you have a suggestion for a Secret Origin you’d like to see, drop me a comment!
This story originally appeared in Charlton Bullseye Vol 2 #6 March, 1982. I don’t think it’s ever been reprinted, but I could be wrong.