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?