Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dynamo #1

In addition to launching the THUNDER Agents as a group, Tower also published a few solo books for Dynamo (four issues) and NoMan (two issues).

This one starts out with a Wally Wood-illustrated story. Somebody is bombing radar installations and space observatories. We can rule out the commies:

So it appears to be coming from space. They decide to send NoMan on a one-way trip to the moon, as he can always beam his mind back to another android body on earth. This is an imaginative use for NoMan's powers. They've even planned for the possibility of the rocket crashing early:

However, he does not report back immediately, and so Dynamo volunteers to go on a second rocket:

Just after he blasts off, NoMan returns. He radios Dynamo to land on the light side of the moon, as the dark side is crawling with aliens. However, even on the exposed side there's a welcoming committee:

Using his strength, he hurls a boulder at the alien ship. When robotic tanks arrive, he hops into one of them and gets a ride to the alien HQ. But he is captured and imprisoned in a glass tank without a helmet, so he can't escape. But NoMan pops back up to his android body that is already on the moon and gives him a helmet. Dynamo defeats the aliens and rides back to earth on one of their flying saucers.

Comments: An entertaining story featuring good use of the NoMan character.

The second story is A Day in the Life of Dynamo, drawn by Mike Sekowsky. Len Brown wakes up and decides to ask for a raise due to all the risks he's taking as Dynamo. His boss sends him via a teleporter to Hong Kong, where the local THUNDER office turns out to have been taken over by a communist hero:

The reds have planned this so that Dynamo will be unable to prevent a giant robot from running amok in New York City. But then some apparent THUNDER Agents come up through the floor and chase off the communists. Unfortunately for Dynamo, they're not really with his group:

They have an old acquaintance of his with them:

But when she learns that the Subterraneans' plan is to start a global thermonuclear war, the Iron Maiden frees him. She sends him back to New York via a missile, and he defeats the robot to save the city.
Here's a little cultural reference that non-Boomer readers might miss:

In the 1950s and 1960s, "Made in Japan" meant that the product was shoddy and of inferior workmanship. Of course, ironically in the intervening years it became synonymous with high quality and dependability.

But he gets little respect from his boss:

Comments: Clearly intended to be an off-beat tale. Len never does ask his boss for that raise.

We get a super-villain team-up by Crandall and Wood in the next story, as Demo and Dr Sparta meet:

Dr Sparta's assistant has an interesting way of springing them from jail:

The villains manage to send Dynamo to a valley that time forgot, with cavemen and dinosaurs. But he convinces the cavemen that he's a legitimate god with the strength he gets from his belt and they show him the way out of the valley to where Demo and Dr Sparta are.
Comments: Solid, entertaining story and Crandall and Wood work well together.

The fourth story came as a bit of a surprise. Here's the splash:

I have to admit, I was unaware that Ditko worked for Tower. What a treat the art is in this story! We learn that 20 years earlier, the Subterraneans had captured a human orphan, and raised it to have incredible strength and mental abilities:

But despite his supposed cold-hearted nature, he reacts instinctively to save a young woman:

Who just happens to be a THUNDER agent, getting him into the headquarters, where he attacks Dynamo:

And Dynamo looks doomed until:

Andor returns to the Subterraneans, where he kills the scientist responsible for raising him.

Comments: Beautiful art and an entertaining story. There are hints that Andor might return, but if he did, it was not during the 1960s run, according to the GCD. Correction: As pointed out in the comments by Earth-Two, Andor does return in Thunder Agents #9 in a Lightning story. Discussion here.

The final story is another offbeat tale about Weed, a THUNDER agent with no special powers. He senses this is causing him trouble with the ladies:

Fortunately for him, it's an urgent call requiring the services of Lightning, who was just about to drive away with his "beautiful chick". She decides to go out with Weed instead, and they stop at a nightclub for a magic act:

The magician is a hypnotist, and convinces Weed that he has super-powers like flying and enormous strength. Obeying the comic book law of delusions, the other THUNDER agents humor him:

They follow him back to the hypnotist, but a caught off guard by a sleeping gas.
Meanwhile, Weed has discovered that he doesn't really have super-powers. But:

He rescues Dynamo and Lightning, and in the end he even gets the gal:

Comments: Amusing ending. Weed must surely be one of the very few heroes to smoke cigarettes.


earth-two said...

Thunder Agent tales had a special flair for story telling. And Wood/Ditko artwork...yowza!

earth-two said...

Just checked on and Andor appeared once more in Thunder Agents #9: "Andor is making a new life for himself as a steelworker until he comes under the mental domination of a Warlord who causes him to run amok, and Lightning steps in to oppose him."

Blog into Mystery said...

I had no idea that Ditko did work on this title - another book to add to my ever-growing wish list.

jdk_007 said...

Looks like Batman no longer holds the record for most expensive comic book. Superman has taken that record back - $1.5 Million !!!

Anonymous said...

Haven't the DYNAMO issues been reprinted in a hardcover edition that came out a few years ago?