The Golden Age of Comics was home to several heroes in the company that became known as DC, with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman rubbing shoulders with the Justice Society of America. However, there have been just as many heroes who have slipped through the cracks and are not remembered 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 marginal reputation as a sidekick and equally easily forgotten hero, Dan the Dyna-Mite received a major upgrade in James Robinson’s The Golden age. In this classic Elseworlds tale, the once smug young superhero has become his world’s evil counterpart of Superman and Doctor Manhattan! With the character returning recently in the pages of Stargirl and the Lost Children #1 (by Geoff Johns, Todd Nauck and Rob Leigh), here’s a look back at Dan the Dyna-Mite’s most explosive incarnation.
The Golden Age turned a forgotten hero into Dr. Manhattan
James Robinson and Paul Smiths The Golden age was one of the biggest Elseworlds spotlights for the Justice Society of America, although the book didn’t focus on the key members of the team. Instead, lesser-known heroes from the golden age of comics took the stage, including Johnny Quick and the original Manhunter. Another forgotten mystery man finally getting his due was Daniel Dunbar, also known as Dan the Dyna-Mite. Former sidekick to TNT hero, Dan found his way around college and life following the death of his partner.
However, his fortunes were to take a turn thanks to Tex Thompson, the man once known as Mr. America. Dunbar has been called the perfect example of Thompson’s special program that would give America a protective superman to guard its borders against foreign threats. This being would have incredible powers beyond mere mortals and would be openly known to the general public, unlike the mysterious men of World War II. The procedure worked, granting Dan escape, tremendous strength, and other abilities. Given his blue and red suit, he’s quite obviously the “Superman” of the story, although the similarities to Dr. Manhattan’s initial “feats” in Alan Moore’s seminal book Guardian are also quite noticeable. That makes sense, given The Golden age‘s resemblance to that book, although the ending leads to a less than heroic development for Dan, unfortunately.
Dan the Dyna-Mite turned into an evil Superman 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 with that of the Ultra-Humanite, who controlled his body and returned to America a hero. Likewise, the body of Daniel Dunbar, now known as Dynaman, housed the brain of none other than Adolf Hitler. When her plan is about to be thwarted by Miss America, the now morale-stricken Robotman kills her and launches the villains’ attack.
Dynaman absolutely decimates the combined forces of the former Justice Society, many of them dying at his hands. The explosive Human Bomb is one of the heroes to fall to the power of the former Dan the Dyna-Mite, and even the high-flying warrior Hawkman has his wings cut off by the evil metahuman. However, Liberty Belle is eventually able to defeat him by ramming the remains of Starman’s Cosmic Staff into his chest. That gruesome end also ended Dan the Dyna-Mite’s brief stint in the spotlight. This is likely because he’s a sidekick to a hero with a fairly generic power set and design. There is the possibility that Stargirl and the Lost Children wants to do more with him, but so far Dan the Dyna-Mite’s only chance of being a real hero has been if he became the ultimate villain.