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Thunder & Lightning

Alias (Thunder): Gan Williams
Alias (Lightning): Tavis Williams

Titans Allies
Related Links: The H.I.V.E.  • S.T.A.R. Labs

Thunder & Lightning Quick Bio: The offspring of a Vietnamese woman and an alien entity, Gan and Tavis Williams manifested uncontrollable elemental powers. Dubbed Thunder & Lightning, the Teen Titans and S.T.A.R. Labs contained the duo and uncovered the truths behind their origins. Since then, the elemental twins have become trusted allies to the Titans as well as protectors of S.T.A.R. Labs.

Teen Titans File Photos:

A storm is brewing in NEW TEEN TITANS #32 [1983].

Hero History

A Storm Brewing

When an alien spaceship crashed in Cambodia six hundred years ago, a single survivor emerged to wander the Earth in human form. In the guise of Second Lt. Walter Williams, the alien joined the U.S. Army in the hopes of finding his ship again.  Years later, he returned to the crash site as Williams to retrieve his spaceship. There, he met and fell in love with the Vietnamese woman who would be Thunder and Lightning’s mother.

It wasn’t until after the alien had left the country that the woman discovered she was pregnant. After being ostracized from her villiage, she fled to the land of Hsuan in the North China Sea, where she gave birth to Siamese twins Gan and Tavis. A Hsuan wise man named Chan Ti separated the twins with magic, and later discovered the boys possessed powers of thunder and lightning. But the twins were slowly dying from the uncontrolled use of their powers, and when the illness flared up, their pent up pain would release itself in bursts of elemental fury. Chan Ti sent the brothers to the United States to find their father, believing a transfusion of his blood could save them.

ABOVE : The brothers prepare their search in NEW TEEN TITANS #32 [1983].

ABOVE : An explosive debut in NEW TEEN TITANS #32 [1983].

ABOVE : The twins explain their plight in NEW TEEN TITANS #32 [1983].

Elements of Surprise 

Gan and Tavis, now adopting the codenames Thunder and Lightning respectively, created a display of destruction in St. Louis and demanded the whereabouts of their father from the United States military. The twins’ outburst brought them in conflict with the Teen Titans, who were called to quell the brothers’ disruptions. After learning of the twins’ plight,  the Titans placed them under the care of S.T.A.R. Labs, where Thunder and Lightning could tame their destructive powers.

Later, Gan and Tavis discovered their alien father had been captured and was being controlled by the sinister group known as The H.I.V.E. With the help of the Teen Titans, the brothers located the alien who sired them, as the hapless creature was forced to attack his sons as well as the Titans. The battle ended tragically, as Thunder and Lightning were forced to kill their alien father in order to prevent him from killing the Titans. Using his blood for a transfusion, Gan and Tavis were cured of their illness and their powers were brought under control.

ABOVE: Thunder and Lightning are forced to kill their own father in NEW TEEN TITANS #36 [1983].
BELOW: The twins ponder their future at S.T.A.R. Labs in NEW TEEN TITANS #36 [1983].

S.T.A.R. Players

The twins returned to their homeland, but still found challenges in controlling their extraordinary elemental abilities. Gan and Tavis then returned  to S.T.A.R. Labs with the hopes of mastering their powers, and agreed to work for their San Francisco branch as super-human security guards. In that capacity, the twins – with the help of Frances Kane – helped expose a mind-control plot engineered by S.T.A.R. Labs’ own Dr. Alysia Demalis.

Later, the brothers came into conflict with Raven, who had been reborn as an evil avatar of Trigon. Raven  – seeking to continue her father’s fiendish legacy – implanted the souls of Trigon’s unborn children in Thunder and Lightning. Gathered with Raven’s other infected allies, the corrupted Thunder and Lightning clashed with the New Titans. It was through the mystical guidance of Phantasm that the Titans were able to repel Raven and free the heroes from her demonic thrall.

Thunder and Lightning are summoned is called in JLA/TITANS #2 [1999].

Thunder and Lightning later aided the Titans in preventing the extraterrestrial threat catalogued as “The Technis Imperative.” It began when ex-Titan Cyborg – now controlled by the alien collective known as the Technis and calling himself Cyberion – journeyed to Earth to turn its moon into a new Technis world populated with his Titans allies. When the Justice League intervened, a struggle for Cyborg’s safety erupted in a battle between heroes and mentors. Ultimately, the founding Titans reunited and traveled to the heart of the Technis collective to free their friend from its dark influence.

After the Technis conflict was resolved, Thunder and Lightning returned to Vietnam and became two of Southeast Asia’s most prominent defenders. They later helped rescue Martian Manhunter from a prison planet populated with Earth’s most nefarious super-villains – and barely escaped with their lives.

 Powers & Abilities

Gan (Thunder) is able to control thunder, which he releases as rumbling concussive force through his hands. Tavis (Lightning) is able to release bolts of electricity and harness the power og lightning. The brothers also share a psychic link, enabling them to communicate with each other.telepathically.


Essential Reading

New Teen Titans #32 [1983]: Speedy learns that there is trouble in St. Louis, MO, and the Titans go there and battle the reluctant Thunder and Lightning, who are looking for their father; Wonder Girl learns that their father has been declared top secret by the US Government. First Appearance of Thunder and Lightning.
New Teen Titans #36 [1983]: While Dr. Jenet Klyburn is conducting experiments on Thunder and Lightning, a power surge causes Thunder and Lightning to go out of control: the twins battle the Titans, and Raven attempts to help them; While Thunder and Lightning are in Raven’s soul-self, it is revealed that the H.I.V.E. has their alien father; Thunder and Lightning manage to communicate with their father before Trigon begins to take control of Raven; The Titans battle Thunder and Lightning’s alien father and are losing badly, when Thunder and Lightning realize that they must kill their father so that he does not destroy the Titans; The twins are cured by their father’s blood and return home to Hsuan. Origin of Thunder and Lightning.
Teen Titans Spotlight On: Thunder & Lightning #16 [1987]: Thunder and Lightning strive to achieve greater control over their powers at S.T.A.R. Labs, under the direction of Dr. Alysia Demalis. When the Atomic Skull, also at S.T.A.R. Labs, runs amok, it’s up to Thunder and Lightning and Frances Kane to contain him. Dr. Demalis is puzzled by Atomic Skull’s outburst; she had been working with him on controlling his powers and he was showing progress. Lightning is intrigued and volunteers himself for Dr. Demalis’ program. Thunder is suspicious and rightfully so; He saves Lightning just before Dr. Demalis tampers with his mind. Dr. Demalis later reports back to her mysterious boss and they plan to ‘activate’ their next agent. A call is placed to Frances Kane; When hearing the ‘trigger word’, Rumplestilskin, Frances Kane responds as ‘Magenta’ and asks “Who do you want me to kill?” To be continued next issue.
New Teen Titans (second series) #41 [1988]: Wildebeest recruits the Puppeteer, the Disruptor, Gizmo and Trident to attack the Titans. Thunder and Lightning battle the Wildebeest, who kidnaps Mother Mayhem from S.T.A.R. Labs.
New Titans #118-121 [1995]: Raven, now reborn as an avatar of Trigon, is intent on planting the seeds of Trigon’s unborn children into new vessels. She plants ‘Trigon seeds’ in Supergirl, Changeling, Magenta, Deathwing, and Thunder and Lightning. Eventually, Raven and her demon allies come into conflict with the Titans. With the help of Phantasm (who reforms himself, sensing he is needed), the Titans finally destroyed this evil incarnation of Raven (or so they think). Thunder and Lightning are left in the care of S.T.A.R. Labs; It is revealed that they have been purged of the Trigon seeds in JLA/Titans #2, where they aid the Titans once more.
JLA/Titans #2-3 [1999]: Thunder & Lightning are summoned by Victor Stone.
Salvation Run #6-7 [2008]: Thunder and Lightning try and help Martian Manhunter, who is trapped on a prison planet populated with Earth’s most nefarious super-villains. The twins are subsequently captured by Lex Luthor, who uses their energies to power a teleportation device. Thunder & Lightning (along with a score of other villains) are seemingly killed in the explosion, but many of those same villains later resurface alive. One can assume Thunder & Lightning survived as well.


Thunder and Lightning, from VS System Cards


Titans West That Wasn’t

In 1988, Marv Wolfman set the stage for a new Titans West. The New Teen Titans had an adventure with Chris [Dial ‘H’] King and Red Star. At the same time, Sarah Charles relocated to the West Coast, and Vic Stone thought about moving with her. Those three would have comprised the core of the Titans West team.

Marv Wolfman notes, in an interview in Amazing Heroes #135: “I was talking about the West Coast version of the book, that would be in San Francisco. […] DC wants to do a West Coast Teen Titans. In the last run of the book, before I did it, it was Titans East and Titans West. It was a regular feature that pre-dated West Coast Avengers by about ten years. They want to revive that. They asked me if I wanted to write it, or would let someone else write it. Well, I want to control the Titans; I think one of the problems with Spotlight was that I really didn’t do any. I think that’s the reason that led to it eventually being cancelled. There was no sense of urgency to the stories, as good as some of them were. There was no sense of the stories having any effect on the characters. The fact that it lasted 25 issues, I think, is a testimony to the characters themselves- that people still cared about them.”

Cyborg, Red Star, Chris King, and Thunder & Lightning

“Cyborg will be moving to the West Coast. Red Star, who is a re-named Starfire from Russia, will be a member of it. Chris King, who is one of the Dial “H”for Hero character that I had done, and I just reintroduced him to the regular Titans book, he’ll be a member. So we actually have a character who, every time you see him, will be different. ”

In Comics Scene Magazine #8 [1989], plans for Titans West continued; Marv explains: “We’ll probably do the first issue together whenever that finally comes about. Then, depending on George’s schedule, he may take over the book. I didn’t want another young superhero book,” Wolfman notes. “The concept that I had come up with was more of a rescue group-not another bunch of policemen running out and stopping crime-working out of San Francisco. Just before George returned, I set up the San Francisco branch of S.T.A.R. Labs as a place where they’re testing super-people. We had Red Star and Thunder and Lightning out there, and some other characters that we were going to introduce. When the Titans West, or whatever it’s finally called, is formed, they’ll operate out of that, and there will be positive charter in the helping in disastrous situations.”

“Now that I’m coming back as a writer in my mind after a couple of years where I wasn’t too pleased with everything, I don’t want to overdose on Titans. I want to really enjoy what I’m writing so that each issue, when I sit down, I can approach it at the strongest, as opposed to saying, ‘Oh, no. Another Titans story.’ So, if George decides at some point not to write Titans West, at least it’ll be so completely different from Titans that I wouldn’t be bored.”

The last mention of the series was in Comics Scene Magazine #11 in 1990: “Another Titans project is the often-mentioned Titans West series. Perez says it’s still planned. “One of the stories that Marv discussed was a mystery story in which the Titans are missing. That could lead to the introduction or reintroduction of the Titans West set of characters. Then, I would be the writer of the second Titans book if reader interest warrants a second title. It also depends on whether I have the time to write it, or if I would be better off on another title I could write and draw. ”

Marv didn’t recall why Titans West never took off, but he did remember some other ideas concerning the series: “All I remember on this, because it never got to the second stage, was that I designed the headquarters which was a street in San Francisco that was on a hill side. When you looked at the street from street level the houses all looked ordinary. When you looked at them from above — from the sky — the houses were in a T- shape, that is one row of houses at the head of the block and then a second row going perpendicular in the middle of the top row. So we would have maintained the T-shape headquarters but it would have looked like a typical San Francisco street. The HQ would have been a villain’s nest, built deep into a mountain that the Titans took over.”

Titans West seems to be a team that can never hold itself together—both in print and outside of it.


Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Series, The Official Teen Titans Index [published byICG in 1985], The New Titans Sourcebook [Mayfair Games, 1990], supplemented by

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