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THUNDER AGENTS #16
"Dream of Doom!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND October 1967; Tower Comics; featuring Dynamo and Andor in "Dream of Doom!", scripter not known, art (pencils and inks) by Steve Ditko.

Concluding my series of reviews of the story arc pitting THUNDER Agent Dynamo against Andor, the superhuman raised by evil Subterraneans to hate his own race.... two previous stories in this series were Ditko/Wood collaborations, but this one is a Ditko solo, and the splash page is very Ditkoesque indeed, as we see a sweating, agitated Leonard Brown in bed dreaming of Dynamo falling through a dimensional void as the faces of a malevolent Subterranean and a grim Andor look on.

In a lab "somewhere under the city," the green-skinned Subterranean Lord Uru, who regained control of his creation Andor at the end of the previous story, completes his work on the superhuman. He has cured Andor's blindness, but also put him back under mental control (and shaved off the beard Andor sported in the last couple of stories). As Uru turns on a light, Andor recoils in pain, and the subterranean realizes the blindness cure has left Andor hypersensitive to bright light. "Never mind, he can wear dark glasses or work at night!" As a final step, Uru directs the awakening Andor to put on a clear plastic helmet over his face. The helmet contains devices to amplify Uru's mental control. "What-- I-- I can't remember anything-- but I know I must obey you--" With Andor his servant again, Uru schemes to force a confrontation between Andor and his archenemy Dynamo. He sends a video transmission to THUNDER headquarters warning that Andor will destroy the U.N. building at his command. To his chagrin, Andor is met not by Dynamo, but only by the THUNDER Squad of non-super operatives. Andor knocks them over like tenpins-- until he catches sight of Kitten, the female agent who once awakened him to his own humanity. Seeing her counteracts the effect of Uru's control; he disregards the subterranean's command to kill the agents, throws away the mental helmet, and picks up Kitten and runs away with her. Outraged that Andor has again escaped his control, Uru vows his death. As he regains his memory, Andor likewise is not happy with Uru; "I have a score to settle with Lord Uru!"

The "tardy" Dynamo arrives on the scene to find Kitten missing and the other Squad members recovering from Andor's attack. As the group scatters to search for Kitten, Uru schemes how to use Dynamo to destroy Andor. Trailing Dynamo to Leonard Brown's apartment, Uru plants a device under Brown's bed that, when he interrupts the search for Kitten to get a few hours' needed sleep, will "give him very instructive dreams!" Dynamo has a strange (and very Ditkoesque) dream, as a shadowy figure follows a path through an alien dimension out of a Dr. Strange story, is shocked by a sudden flash of light, screams in pain and falls into a void. As Dynamo awakens sweating and shuddering, Uru gloats, "Now he has the message! If his simple surface mind can comprehend it, Andor is doomed!"

Meanwhile, Andor has Kitten in a hideout and she is urging him to turn away from the dark side of the Force; "You can't fight THUNDER FOREVER! Give yourself up! Think how much good you could do for mankind!" But Andor rejects her plea; "I don't even know why I saved you....but I've no use for mankind...or for Uru! I think I'll join SPIDER! They won't try to put me away.... and after I've used them for my own ends, I'll turn on THEM!" An outraged Kitten declares "You--you're EVIL! And to think I tried to stick up for you!" but immediately has second thoughts; "He's not really evil...there is something about him...." But "for his own good" Andor must be stopped from doing harm, and so Kitten surreptitiously activates a "homing device" which she has apparently had on her all this time. Its radio signal soon brings Dynamo to the scene of Andor's hideout, and he crashes through the roof. He is slightly taken aback to discover that Andor is no longer blind, but rallies to engage Andor in a knockdown, drag-out fight. As he is hurled against a light switch, he suddenly realizes the message his strange dream was intended to give him; Andor is vulnerable to bright light! (You'd think Uru could have found a simpler way to get this message across.) With all the lights turned on, Andor is blinded and weakened to the point that Dynamo can knock him unconscious. But what to do with him? Dynamo doesn't have the heart to kill him while he is helpless, but he is too powerful to be bound or imprisoned safely. Then, as Kitten pleads for Andor's life, Andor recovers and attacks again-- and Dynamo's power belt clicks off as his power supply is exhausted. Now the tables are turned and Kitten pleads with Andor for Dynamo's life, but Dynamo is not done yet, for he still has a five minute reserve power supply in his belt. Andor decides to flee-- "We'll finish this another time, Brown!"-- but Dynamo pursues him until his reserve power cuts out. Now Dynamo is at Andor's mercy again, but "I could finish you off now, but you once spared me....I can do no less for you! Goodbye, Dynamo!" As Andor escapes across the rooftops, Dynamo looks after him and reflects, "So long, fella....wish we could be on the same side, next time we meet...."

That next meeting never occurred, as the Tower Comics line was on the downslide by this time, and the THUNDER AGENTS title ended with issue #20 without featuring another Andor story. I have a theory (not sustained by any hard evidence) that at some earlier point the powers that be at Tower may have contemplated a solo Andor series and title.... it could have made an interesting hero/villain series with overtones of Marvel's Hulk and Sub-Mariner, not to mention TV's THE FUGITIVE. But Tower's distribution problems limited expansion of their line, and if an Andor title was ever contemplated, it didn't see print.

There were two Andor stories I haven't covered in this series of reviews in THUNDER AGENTS #9 and 10 following his debut in DYNAMO #1, as the renegade superman battled Lightning (THUNDER's super-swift Flash knockoff) in #9 and NoMan in #10. Neither story is especially memorable and I'm not going to review them in detail. In the Lightning story, Andor has fallen back under subterranean control and Lightning helps him free himself, then offers him a place in THUNDER, but Andor refuses; "There are good people in THUNDER....but I've no interest in joining....I don't want my hands tied by rules and regulations when I catch that Subterran!" Lightning merely wishes him good luck, and when another THUNDER agent complains that he let the superman get away, Lightning replies, "Would you like to try stopping him? He couldn't help what he did...now he must follow his own path to make up for it!" But by the NoMan story in #10 Andor is back under subterrranean control yet again, and the tale is a standard hero/villain matchup.