The golden age of comics was home to several heroes in the company that would become known as DC, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman rubbing shoulders with the Justice Society of America. However, there were so many heroes who slipped through the cracks, unremembered by even the most ardent fans. One of them was Dan the Dyna-Mite, who wasn’t even a member of the JSA.
Despite his paltry reputation as a sidekick and easily forgotten hero, Dan the Dyna-Mite got a major upgrade on James Robinson’s style. the golden age. This classic Elseworlds story saw the once indifferent young superhero become the world’s evil equivalent of him to both Superman and Doctor Manhattan! With the character recently returning in the pages of Stargirl and the Lost Boys #1 (by Geoff Johns, Todd Nauck, and Rob Leigh), here’s a look back at the most explosive incarnation of Dan the Dyna-Mite.
The Golden Age turned an unsung hero into Dr. Manhattan
James Robinson and Paul Smith the golden age was one of the biggest focuses of Elseworlds for the Justice Society of America, though the book did not focus on the core members of the team. Instead, lesser-known heroes from the Golden Age of Comic Books took the stage, including Johnny Quick and the original Manhunter. Another forgotten mystery man who finally got his comeuppance was Daniel Dunbar, aka Dan the Dyna-Mite. The once childhood sidekick of the TNT hero, Dan found himself groping his way through college and the afterlife of his partner’s death.
However, his luck would change thanks to Tex Thompson, the man once known as Mr. America. Dunbar was designated as the perfect specimen for Thompson’s special program, which would give the United States a superhuman protector to guard its borders against foreign threats. This being would have incredible powers beyond mortal men and would be openly known to the public, very different from the mystery men of WWII. The procedure worked, endowing Dan with flight, great strength, and other abilities. Given his blue and red suit, it’s very obvious that he is the “Superman” of the story, though the similarities to Dr. Manhattan’s initial acts of “heroism” in Alan Moore’s seminal book watchmen they are also quite obvious. This makes sense, given the golden ageDan’s resemblance to that book, though the conclusion results in a sadly less than heroic development.
Dan the Dyna-Mite became an evil Superman in the golden age
The climax of the story revealed that Tex Thompson’s machinations were the work of a classic villain. During the war, Thompson’s brain had been replaced by that of the Ultra-Humanite, who controlled his body and returned to the United States a hero. Likewise, the body of Daniel Dunbar, now known as Dynaman, housed the brain of none other than Adolf Hitler. As her plan is about to be stopped by Miss America, Robotman, now swayed by her morality, kills her, starting the villains’ assault.
Dynaman absolutely decimates the combined forces of the old Justice Society, with many dying at his hands. The explosive Human Bomb is among the heroes who fall to the power of the ancient Dan the Dyna-Mite, and even the evil metahuman clips the wings of the high-flying warrior Hawkman. However, Liberty Belle is finally able to defeat him by driving the remains of Starman’s Cosmic Staff into her chest. This gruesome ending also ended Dan the Dyna-Mite’s brief time in the spotlight. This is probably because he is a companion to a hero with a rather generic design and power set. There is a possibility that Stargirl and the Lost Boys he’ll eventually do more with it, but until now, Dan the Dyna-Mite’s only chance to be a true hero was by becoming the ultimate villain.