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Fred Hopkins was a mild-mannered employee for the Smithville Savings Bank. One day, a meteorite of unknown origin entered Earth atmosphere and split into two fragments, both of which landed in Smithville, Pennsylvania. One landed by Fred, who had been knocked into a junkyard when he tried to stop some punks who had beat up his friend Irving. Hopkins didn't 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. 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 twenty nine 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 had 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.

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.[1]

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.[2]

Powers

In his prime, the Smithville Thunderbolt possessed superhuman strength, 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.




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