Fifteen years ago, Ray Gardener worked as a test pilot for Nolan Aircraft. Fresh from a stint in the Air Force, Gardener had a reputation as a capable and daring pilot. He certainly caught th eeye of his boss’ secretary, Nancy Dumont. Ray was testing Nolan’s new X-14 supersonic jet when he encountered some unusual atmospheric turbulence. A powerful electrical storm sprang up out of nowhere and surrounded the plane. Ray fought to maintain control as the hurricane-level winds and lightning raged all around hi. He nearly made it out of the storm when a massive series of lightning bolts struck the cockpit. The X-14 crashed in the southwestern desert.
Miraculously, Ray Gardener survived the lightning strike. Just as surprisingly, he walked away from the crash site unscathed; he claimed to have bailed out before the jet crashed, and he kept the reasons for his incredible survival a secret. In truth, Ray now crackled with the elecrical power of the thunderbolts, his body supercharged with tremendous strength and a high resistance to injury. He could also absorb or project electricity.
As Ray experimented with his new powers, the source of the mysterious storm made itself known. Dr. Sebastian Stratos, a former R&D employee of Nolan Aircraft, claimed he had a weather control device and would ground the nation’s air traffic unless he was paid an enormous ransom. Creating the costume and identity of Captain Thunder, Ray used his new abilities to track Stratos to his desert lair and upset the mad scientist’s scheme. Dr. Stratos escaped custody eventually and has become Captain Thunder’s greatest nemesis.
For years, Captain Thunder fought crime and aided disaster victims in and around the American Southwest. He maintained his secret identity as Ray Gardener, and a year after gaining his powers, he told his girlfriend, Nancy Dumont, the truth when he asked her to marry him. Their son, Ray Jr., was born little more than a year later. Captain Thunder was one of the heroes who traveled far across the country to resist Omega’s invasion of Freedom City. Afterward, he became a member of the new Freedom League and its de-facto leader.
Two years ago, Dr. Stratos captured Captain Thunder by draining away his electrical power. Holding him prisoner, Stratos revealed Captain Thunder’s identity on a rogue television broadcast that overrode all the major broadcast network signals, ensuring no one would miss the doctor’s humiliation of his hated foe. Although Ray escaped Stratos’ trap soon after that, he couldn’t undo the damage to his personal life. From then on, he and his family were never given a moments’ peace by the media, the public, or other villains with the grudge against him. Eventually, the Gardeners relocated to Freedom City, and Ray became Captain Thunder full time.
Those who don’t respect or like him call him a “boy scout,” but Ray Gardener is a man who truly believes in qualities like honor, duty, honesty, and public service. It never occurs to him to use his powers for anything but the common good and helping others. He makes no secret that he dislikes paranormals who use their abilities for personal gain or believe their powers make them more worthy than the rest of humanity.
Captain Thunder believes in the mission and the true potential of the Freedom League, and is quick to offer praise and credit where credit is due. If anything, he grows more concerned about his own abilities to lead the team successfully. On occasion, he turns to Raven as an advisor and sounding board for his concerns. He feels extremely responsible for the people in his life, especially his family, and he would do anything to keep them from harm.
Captain Thunder’s body is a “living dynamo” of electrical power. His internal energy vastly increases his strength and toughness, allowing him to pick up tanks and resist the effects of most weapons. Captain Thunder can hurl lightning bolts form his hands, which strike with tremendous force and his signature clap of thunder. He can absorb electricity like a human battery and use it to fuel his powers, and Captain Thunder’s body is virtually immune to the effects of electricity. Over the years, he’s learned to use his power in many ways, including overloading any electrical devices and emitting electrical impulses that allow him to take control of electronic devices and manipulate them from a distance.
In combat situations, Captain Thunder usually uses ranged attacks to “soften up” opponents before moving in to fight them hand-to-hand. When he’s dealing with groups of agents or normal criminals, he usually announces his arrival with a deafening thunderclap, followed up by a lightning barrage to shock them unconscious. Until he knows his foes’ abilities, he never attacks with his thunderbolts for fear of killing someone.
Captain Thunder is a tall, muscular man with ruggedly handsome good looks. While his hair and eyes were brown before his transformation, his short hair is starkly white and his lightning-blue eyes shimmer with sparks at all times. Although he’s in his mid-40s, Captain Thunder remains as fit and strong as ever. He wears a dark blue costume and cape with a broad white insert running down the middle. His gloves and boots are white, and he wears golden bands around his wrists and calves. A golden lightning bolt cuts across his chest and the emblem is repeated down the center of his cape. he originally wore a blue cowl but abandoned it when his true identity became known. When he’s “off duty,” Ray usually wears jeans and a tight-fitting T-shirt or tank top under a flannel or denim shirt or sweater.