Armagideon Time

Dynamite Magazine was a popcult touchstone for the Generation Known as X; the publication’s rainbow script logo has been indelibly seared into our nostalgia cortexes and referenced in various hep artifacts of ephemera. The magazine was a beloved staple of pediatric waiting rooms, injection elementary school libraries, and mail-order “book club” flyers, its ad-free mix of celebrity news and quasi-educational content was aimed at transitionary tweeners too old for Highlights yet too young for the more sophisticated fare found in Tiger Beat or MAD.

In addition to the uber-tame satirical content and hypervarnished truths about Shaun Cassidy and the Fonz, each issue Dynamite included some value added in the form of posters, papercraft geegaws, stickers (some of which still adorn the headboard of my wife’s old bed in our spare room), and iron-on transfers. Comics also played a prominent part of Dynamite’s content mix, primarily through the “Super-Hero Confidental” feature which ran during the early years of the magazine’s twenty-eight year run. The feature reprinted an “iconic” sequence — typically from some Silver Age superhero story — along with a brief Q-and-A session about the characters involved.

It was a neat concept, as well as a fine example of the kind of cross-media outreach which kindled and reinforced affection for the genre from an early age — especially for an audience who lacked easy access to the source material. The feature was eventually dropped, however, in favor of an ongoing strip starring Dynamites own pair of homegrown superheroes…

Nightglider and Dawnstar, a.k.a. The Dynamite Duo!

The Duo were a blonde brother and sister act who’d gained a matching set of magical rings from a mysterious carny. By pressing the rings together, hothead Bill and snarky Pam were transformed from a pair of all-American teens into gaudy, gravity manipulating grownups with a mystical mandate to slam evil wherever and whenever it should arise.

The super-siblings’ serialized jihad against injustice was about what you’d expect from the era and the venue’s cleared-for-the-classroom context — a slighly savvier spin on Spidey Super Stories married to the trouble-prone teen formula familiar to anyone who has ever come within ten yards of a Hardy Boys novel, with (decent enough) art and light melodrama drawn straight from the House of Ideas’ 1975 playbook.

When not foiling the schemes of the nefarious…um…Nefario, whose evil scheme for global conquest paled against his crimes against fashion…

…they dabbled in the high-stakes world of ventriloquil-political intrigue…

…yet still found time to thwart horse rustlers and evil circus folk.

The Duo’s long string of adventures came to a close by the dawn of the Reagan Era, thanks to a pair of perils that no superpower could overcome — shrinking pagecounts and a fading interest in superheroes in general.

Though occasionally remembered as a “favorite part” of the Dynamite package, it’s doubtful Dawnstar or Nightglider would make anyone’s Top 500 list of “superhero concepts to save should a memetic plague threaten to wipe all knowledge of the genre from human memory.”* If that doesn’t qualify the Dynamite Duo for Nobody’s Favorites status, I don’t know what would.

*No, I don’t spend long nights contemplating such a wonderful horrible event. What makes you think that?

6 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Blast from the past”

  1. De

    Was it Dynamite that had the Joe Kubert drawing columns or am I remembering something else?

  2. bitterandrew

    Yes, indeed.

    The magazine was also the brainchild of Jenette Kahn, who became publisher of DC Comics shortly afterward.

  3. Rottgutt

    Ah, the 70’s when a Secret Service man could sport a white fedora with a pink jacket and ventriloquists (evil or otherwise) were thought of as a entertainment to suit the highest office in the country.

    Willie Tyler and Lester couldn’t have been happier.

  4. Jack Fear

    Oh, God. I had successfully blocked all this out. But now, it’s all returning in a horrible flood…
    There was a genie, wasn’t there? A black genie named — “Jive Turkey.” JESUS.

    I will always love you, Andrew, but sometimes I seriously hate you.

  5. JasonK

    Wow, that’s the second worst character named Dawnstar I’ve ever seen.

  6. Sanctum Sanctorum Comix

    While, it is sadly true that I’ve no real love lost for the Dynamite Duo, I did have (and thought cool at the time) a 3-D poster of the duo from an issue tacked to my bedroom wall (circa 1975ish).

    I remember Dynamite Magazine fondly.
    Not just for the “Count Morbidus” monster comic strip but it was kinda-sorta where I was first exposed to comic-book superheroes (kinda-sorta).

    This would have been mid 1970’s, so right at the dawning of my entry to comicbook love.

    Yes, I do own some issues of the mag today – but only the few that contain Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange content.
    Gotta feed the monkey, man.


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