Dynamic Man

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #1 (March 1940).
Golden Age Appearances: Mystic Comics #1-4.
Modern Appearances: None.
Years Active: 1940-?

Dynamic Man made his debut in Mystic Comics #1, and was credited to "Daniel Peters." Peters is yet another of those obscure Golden Age writer/artists about whom there's precious little information currently available--i.e., I don't know nuthin' ‘bout him. He's referred to once, in Jerry Bails' Who's Who (which I don't have), but nowhere else that I can find.

Dynamic Man is described in his very first page as "the Dynamic Man, man of the future, the perfect man of today, devoting his super powers to the progress of civilization and the extermination of all it's (sic) enemies. He constantly endeavors to bring closer the world of tomorrow."

Which is kinda peculiar, since Dynamic Man isn't really a man at all. He's an android. In his first appearance we get his origin. "On a lofty mountain top, unknown to the world, stands a dismal looking castle silhouetted against the sky." In the castle is Professor Goettler, "outstanding scientist," who has created "a perfect creature," which comes to life when Goettler throws a switch an sends "a million volts through his lifeless form."

Goettler throws the switch, but "the excitement is too much for him...he falls dead." Dynamic Man comes to life, ignorant of who and where he is, but he does know "for what I purpose I was brought into this world." (You know he's the man of the future: he's grammatically correct!) Dynamic Man flies from the castle, courteously letting us know what he's capable of: "I can see through walls, change my appearance at will...even create a magnetic field about me to enable me to fly!"

The Dynamic Man takes the examination to become an FBI agent; while taking the test he thinks, "The Professor did a good job on my brain. This exam's a snap!" while one of the other poor unfortunates also taking the exam, some poor schmoe by the name of Mulder, says, "Holy smoke! This exam's tough! What do they think we are, super-brains!"

Dynamic Man, now going by the name of Curt Cowan, aces the exam, of course, does well in the physical examinations, has spotless accuracy and becomes an agent. He also begins fighting crime as the Dynamic Man but "unknown as such, even to the F.B.I."

Then he's given a mission to investigate: a farmer is claiming that someone is keeping the rain away and causing a drought. Dynamic Man flies to the scene and waits for night-fall, when bolts of lightning are said to shoot from the nearby mountains. Sure enough, they do, and Dynamic Man flies to the hills. Using his x-ray vision he looks into the mountain side, and sees a dynamo and some men around the dynamo. D.M. uses his strength to get into the room with the dynamo; the men inside try to shoot him, but he uses his magnetic field to repulse the bullets and deprive the men of their guns. He then fries the dynamo. The men, threatened by Dynamic Man, confess that "King Bascom, the millionaire banker," was using the drought (which was somehow caused by the dynamo, although that's never explained) to enable him to "buy the farmers' lands and control the agricultural produce of the United States."

Dynamic Man flies to King Bascom's island estate, but as he admits, "There's no law by which to arrest him for something like this. Looks like I'll have to take the law into my own hands." Bascom, informed by "advanced television" that Dynamic Man is on his way to arrest him, vows to "teach him to try to interfere with my plans!" Dynamic Man bursts through the ceiling, but is sprayed by one of Bascom's men with "liquid lantholum, a rare earth element which is insulating and corrosive." (A neat combination, that.)

Dynamic Man is temporarily paralyzed by this, and is thrown at Bascom's orders into "the nitrogen room. His electrically charged body will be harmless there." (Well, I can certainly see...huh?) In the room D.M. is trapped, and the room is being flooded with a freezing liquid which numbs his muscles. Bascom gloats and then orders his men to get his plane ready - they're going to "go to the foreign representative, complete the deal, and continue operations from some distant country!"

Dynamic Man, meanwhile, sees the room's ceiling descending to crush him. Dynamic Man uses his "super-herculean" strength (not just Herculean--super-herculean!) to break the roof and fly through the ceiling. He flies after Bascom, tailing them to the meeting with the agent of the "Richonian government." Dynamic Man then changes his appearance to look like one of Bascom's scientists, and infiltrates the meeting. He finds evidence of the Richonian's violation of neutrality, and attacks. But the Richonian agent calls his men, and they swarm D.M, who beats them all, but not before Bascom escapes. D.M. goes after Bascom's plane and shoots it down. Bascom parachutes out, but D.M. catches him when he lands. Bascom confesses to D.M., and then D.M. calls the police. D.M., back at FBI hq as Curt Cowan, says that the farmer's complaints about the drought were "just crank letters." His boss says that in that area a bunch of war smugglers, including Bascom, were arrested. When D.M.'s electricity powers are mentioned, D.M. says "most crooks usually go balmy after a while."

In the adventures after that one, D.M. stops the sabotage ring of the monocled Dr. Vee, catches the dreaded super-criminal The Hood, and stops a group of jewelry robbers who work from a zeppelin and who rob the Bank of England. And that's it for him; Mystic Comics #4 is his last appearance.

The writing and art on "Dynamic Man" are fairly ordinary, but the strip does have a few things going for it. Dynamic Man is one of the more powerful of Timely's heroes; he's capable of damn near anything, really. Admittedly, that removes any tension from his stories, since there's nothing his enemies can do that can really stop him, but most of Timely's heroes, like many of their Golden Age contemporaries, were on the underpowered side, and it's interesting to see an overpowered one.

Dynamic Man's costume goes through some changes in his four appearances, but his final one, all green, with a black belt and with four yellow lightning-bolts radiating out from his chest, two diagonally toward the shoulders and two laterally, is quite felicitous.

The gimmick about the FBI not only being ignorant that Curt Cowan is Dynamic Man, but not knowing that there is such a hero as Dynamic Man, is a new wrinkle; the usual thing to do would be to have the FBI know about Dynamic Man, but not know it was Curt Cowan, so that they would talk about D.M. and his exploits to Curt Cowan, and Curt would have some sort of cutesy-coy comment.

Finally, what particularly caught my eye is Bascom, the millionaire banker and villain in D.M.'s first appearance. It was to be expected that he'd be shown to be the agent of the Nazis; although they are called the "Richonians," their agent is given a German accent, and the implication is pretty clear who they are meant to be. But stressing his stature as a banker, and setting up the opposition between the banker and the poor farmers he's going to drive out of business, interests me. Daniel Peters (whoever he was) is playing the class warfare card a little more strongly than is the wont in the comics of the time; Superman's early appearances were very populist in nature, with him going against evil industrialists and the like, but generally speaking class wasn't dealt with that often in the Golden Age. Bascom is an exception to this. Of course, the reading audience would likely have been lower or middle class themselves, and so Peters was playing to his audience's biases--but it's still interesting, especially since, in 1940, the Depression was still very much a real thing for his audience, and class consciousness, and animus, was, in many parts of the country, quite acute.

Dynamic Man, in sum, wasn't that interesting or memorable - but aspects of his adventures (and his final costume) were.

Write me!

Go back to my Golden Age Heroes page.