As the JSA gets closer to finding the Shade and Eclipso, the stakes are higher than ever. A new super sidekick joins the series as Jim Gaffigan’s Thunderbolt arrives on the scene, and Mike gets to be a part of the action. But will the new JSA be able to take on an ancient villain like the Shade? And how will Pat handle having Mike on the team? Read on to find out!
Jim Gaffigan makes his first appearance in this episode as the voice of Thunderbolt, and it’s clear he’s perfect casting. Thunderbolt functions like a genie, offering wishes to its owner while living in a magic pen. But Thunderbolt’s powers aren’t perfect, as Mike learns he’s literal in his wish granting interpretations.
Though a flashback, we learn that Thunderbolt was once part of the duo Johnny Thunder and the Thunderbolt until the night the ISA defeated the JSA 11 years ago. He’s a powerful ally if used correctly, but the potential for damage is high. Pat even has to help them craft a foolproof wish to find the Shade without causing trouble (set to a glorious music cue of “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel). While Thunderbolt is lovable, it remains to be seen if he will be able to help the JSA going forward.
The Kids Aren’t All Right
Having been proven right about the Shade, Courtney is walking on sunshine. She’s eager to reunite the JSA to take him down, even though they’re skeptical. As Rick notes, you can’t punch a shadow. But Beth is all in when she hears the Shade killed Dr. Mid-Nite.
Not all the JSA members are excited about going after the Shade. Yolanda is terrified she’ll be forced to kill again after Brainwave, and her headaches are back. But Courtney is confident they’ll succeed. They even create a plan that ends with restraining the Shade rather than killing him.
But when the plan fails, everyone’s left feeling as alone as Mike. Beth, upset over her parent’s divorce, is frustrated she can’t catch Chuck’s killer. Rick gets her to open up and gives her the advice to talk to them. Yolanda talks with Mike about Icicle and Brainwave, wanting to know if he feels as guilty as she does. Mike admits killing Icicle was an accident, which doesn’t help Yolanda. Overall, the team is in a tough place as the episode ends.
Mike Joins the Team … Kind Of
Paper route bullies, not being included in JSA activities … oh, and accidentally releasing Thunderbolt. It’s all in a day’s work for poor Mike Dugan. Mike’s looking for a way into the new JSA, and Thunderbolt appears to be his ticket to the big time. When the genie appears to him, Mike quickly uses his newfound powers to get revenge on the neighborhood bullies. But his wishes don’t go according to plan and Pat finds out.
When Pat speaks to Thunderbolt alone, it’s revealed that Thunderbolt appeared to Mike specifically because Thunderbolt can only work with a partner who is “utterly” alone. Pat is heartbroken that Mike feels that way and reluctantly lets Thunderbolt stay. But Pat still doesn’t want Mike in the JSA.
Courtney tells Mike that if it were up to her, he’d be in, but Pat has veto power as his father. Mike asks her to help him so they can be a brother-sister duo together. He points out that Thunderbolt chose him like the staff chose her. He’s meant to be a hero. The JSA votes him in and convinces Pat to let Mike join, even as he’s clearly uncomfortable. But when it’s time to use the location Thunderbolt gave them to go after the Shade, Pat tells Mike to stay behind and guard the garage. Frustrated at being left behind, Mike begins to craft a new wish, but it doesn’t go according to plan. Feeling guilty, he accidentally wishes Thunderbolt was in better hands, and the pen disappears, finding a new owner in Jakeem.
Confronting The Shade
The Shade is located inside the Zarick house, so the JSA heads there to find him. They find Richard Swift, a.k.a. the Shade, waiting for them. He’s creepy, with brilliant acting by Jonathan Cake. The Shade assures the group that he’s just passing through Blue Valley, though he won’t tell them his ultimate plans. He has a sinister charm, but then Mike bursts in. He wishes for Thunderbolt to “zap” the Shade, but it all goes wrong when the Shade’s shadows attack Thunderbolt and knock Mike unconscious.
The JSA attacks, but each member is subdued by the shadows. The staff’s light hurts the Shade, and he warns them all to stay out of his way as he vanishes. But the Shade isn’t the only villain in town. The Shade ominously notes that, “he’s going to kill those children,” as Chuck warns Beth that Eclipso is back.