Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ridiculous Ways To Die, Part the Fifth

(Hey, if you've never read The Golden Age, this is totally going to ruin it for you. Wizard spoiled it for me about a decade ago because they are heartless monsters, and I'd hate to do it to anyone else. That said, it's time for a Ridiculously Patriotic Way to Die.)

Daniel Dunbar, probably better known (though not by much) as "Dan the Dyna-Mite," sidekick to wartime mystery man TNT, thought he deserved a better life than the one he had. Things were looking up on that front when Tex Thompson, Americommando, drafted him to be America's first great post-war superhero. Thanks to comic book atomic science, the Dyna-Mite became Dynaman, capable of flight, impossibly strong, and more or less invulnerable.

Act three of James Robinson and Paul Smith's Golden Age dusts off everybody's favorite JSA plot: the Justice Society versus the Nineteen-Fifties. You know the deal. The post-World War 2 government, whipped into an anti-Communist fervor either by Joe McCarthy or a thinly-veiled stand in for same, demands that the Justice Society unmask. The Society refuses and disbands. Vandal Savage giggles in the background. This time around, the aforementioned Thompson, now a senator, wants all of the wartime mystery men to pledge allegiance to the flag before Congress.

Not really a huge deal, except for the fact that a good chunk of the heroes know that Tex Thompson is, in fact, the Ultra-freaking-Humanite. And they know the Terrible Secret of Dynaman.

Knowing they're hopelessly overmatched by the atomic-powered dynamo, the heroes show up for the congressional meeting with a plan that basically boils down to Hourman, the strongest guy they had handy, going up on stage and telling America that their favorite senator has a super villain's brain before, presumably, getting his ass kicked clear off his body by Dynaman. Unfortunately, a distraught Miss America, who'd been sleeping with Thompson, went on ahead of the Man of the Hour and blew the whistle on the Humanite. Robotman, the Humanite's murderous lackey, shuts her up permanently with an Inspector Gadget extendy arm.

And then things go nine kinds of crazy.Wait for it... waaaaait for it...OH SNAP. Snap and a half, even.

Humanite saved Hitler's brain! And then he cut Dyna-Mite's brain out of his head, jammed Hitler's all up into the now-empty noggin, and gave the resulting mishmosh superpowers. That, my friends, is evil.

Hitler loses his cool in a big way, taking all the heroes on at once. Now, he's pretty well stacked, power-wise. He's a Silver Age character fighting guys like the Black Condor, whose entire gimmick is that he can fly. DynaHitler can fly and punch your head off your body. Tarantula knew some karate - DynaHitler knew how to be pretty much invulnerable. That one ended in a broken neck.

As for the Red Bee, well, he had trained bees. I've mentioned the invulnerability, right? Yeah, pretty one-sided fight, there.

In fact, most of the fight is decidedly one-sided, what with the Society's heaviest hitters being elsewhere when the fight broke out. Ted Knight's in an asylum, feverishly working on a new Cosmic Rod while bugging out over his involvement in the Manhattan Project. Alan Scott hung up his ring after the war, focusing on his business over punching out the Fiddler or whoever. It takes the death of the Sportsmaster - a reformed Green Lantern villain - at the hands of Dynaman to get GL into the action. And, even then, Dynaman drops him. By hitting him with an entire tree.

Johnny Quick runs off to grab the last hero he can think of, bringing a slighty off-kilter Starman in as a last-ditch measure.It doesn't go well. But you've got to love the trademark Starman dramatic flair.

A young Captain Comet rushes Dynaman, but even his mutant powers come up short. He finds himself about a tenth of a second from taking an entire school bus to the face, which is a pretty ridiculous way to go. Luckily, Liberty Belle is on the scene and somebody must've rang her namesake extra hard, because she's ready to kick some Ratzi ass in a major way.Half a Cosmic Rod through the chest plus school bus to the head equals GOD BLESS AMERICA.

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