Thursday, March 5, 2015


This is not the best measure of our ability to stay in a war.

I guess American Sniper seems like a pretty exciting movie, but he doesn’t really hold a candle to Dynamite Joe – the Blast-Crazy Marine! Call me when Bradley Cooper’s firing arrows laden with thick pimprolls of TNT wildly at unknown targets. Now we got a movie!

A product of the Harvey Thrillers line overseen by the legendary Joe Simon, Dynamite Joe made his home in the line’s sole military production, “Warfront” magazine (In three issues, No.37 through No.39, released between September 1966 and February 1967). Warfront split its entries between a handful of colorful khaki characters, including soldier of fortune “Dollar Bill” Ca$h (sic) and The Lone Tiger, a dogfighter operating in the Japanese-held skies over China.

Now is that polite?
Neither of his co-stars could match the enthusiasm and high ordinance of Marine sergeant “Dynamite” Joe Boomer, tho. Stationed in the Pacific, the tough-as-nails, cigar-chomping leatherneck made it a point to keep his signature explosives in ready supply. Appointed a lowly messenger in the middle of a warzone, Joe seethes as his jeep bounces wildly across the uneven jungle floor. “Makin’ Dynamite Joe a messenger! I’ll show ‘em! I saved me a box of sticks!” he complains bitterly, adding “A guy can’t go naked in a war!” I dunno about that, man, I saw 300.

Dynamite isn’t Joe’s only resource – he’s also backed up by The Die-Hard Patrol, four men who are united by their shared love of the 1988 action classic. Making up the crew are “Specs,” a nattering brainiac who serves as the squad’s walking Wikipedia, the Native American “Scout” who makes himself heard in broken English, the gung-ho “Hero” whose tremendous strength is equal only to fellow member “Kid”’s deep-seated desire to get murdered overseas before he hits puberty (Kid lied about his age to get into the army, which is pretty hilarious since he’s drawn so as to look about ten years old).

Dynamite Joe needs his crew and his beloved bombs more than ever when, in their second appearance, they begin to be consistently menaced by a master Nazi scientist named Half-Mask. Once a brilliant scientist for the Reich, an explosive accident claims half of his face, embittering him deeply - Oh no, a bitter Nazi! When cosmetic surgery apparently makes matters slightly worse, he replaces half of his face with a gadget-laden metal mask and goes around shooting people with beams from his eyes. Sort of like a cross between Doctor Doom and Richard Harrow.

Firing his, um, sleep ray?
Half-Mask brings a little color to Dynamite’s hoary WWII adventures, if not only for his bizarre appearance. Besides being able to put all sorts of unconventional ordinance against Joe’s lobbed bombs – Half-Mask’s artificial eye can fire laser beams, heat rays, freeze beams, paralysis rays, tickle beams, vibro-massage and gender-switching rays (I made half of those up) – the Nazi commander also gets a kick out of putting his face on every vehicle he drives. He’s got a sub with his face on it, and a tank, and I like to imagine a recumbent bike.

Half-Mask’s hatred of Dynamite Joe follows the boom-happy Marine all the way to Europe and a change of branch – now in the regular army, Dynamite Joe’s a G.I. acting as bait to lure the disfigured fascist to an Army ambush. It doesn’t seem to work out in the end, with Joe and his army buddy Mike sitting alone in a field, having driven the enemy forces away – for now.

What happens to Joe and Half-Mask after that is anyone’s guess. Heck, the final fate of the Die Hard Patrol is left up in the air too. He doesn’t even get to blow up anything in his final appearance, poor Dynamite Joe. His story didn’t even end with a bang …



Unknown said...

Been waiting for you to get around to this guy! Years ago, when Len Kaminski and I had an unofficial competition to see who could unearth the wackiest forgotten funnybooks, we stumbled upon one of these for sale at a convention. We almost came to blows over who would take home the one lonely copy. I'm pretty sure Len won that one---but I'm equally sue it's because I let him. That's why they call me DYNAMITE JAMES, The Courtesy-Crazy Cartoonist!

BillyWitchDoctor said...

C-LPPP! BLIP! ZIPP! FLPP! Such are the sounds of war!

RMB said...

Where did you come from, Dynamite Joe?

Popular Posts