TNT and Dyna-Mite debut in World's Finest Comics 5, in a story by Mort Weisinger and Al Carreno, which pits them against the Crime Clown.
Tex Thomas and his student Danny Dunbar, come across the site of one of the Crime Clown's robberies. He has knocked out a restaurant full of potential victims using balloons filled with gas. He really couldn't be more like the Joker if he tried.
Tex and Danny touch hands, which causes their clothes to fly off, revealing their costumes underneath. It's kind of creepy, but it does enable them to gain super-powerful punches. They defeat the Crime Clown and his gang. Not much to it, really. Which, sadly, can be said for much of their run.
The one really singular element to this series is that, because of the necessity of them banging their rings together, Dyna-Mite is really more of TNT's partner than sidekick, although nothing much is made of this.
Two months after their introductory appearance in World's Finest, TNT and Dyna-Mite were added to the roster of Star-Spangled Comics 7, where their series would run for just over a year.
The exploding rings are given a vague explanation, a reference to a chemical reaction. A very potent one, it appears.
Star-Spangled 8 gives as much of an explanation as was ever given. Danny is a prize pupil and athlete, the favourite student of Tex Thomas. Together they worked late nights in the lab on experiments. Until one night, their hands touch accidentally...
That's what the text says, look for yourself.
Their hands touch, and off fly the clothes.
It's not really clear what Danny's parents think about their son's late night activities with his teacher, but they are rarely seen.
It's really difficult not to put some homosexual context onto characters whose clothes keep flying off every time they touch. And the stories consistently show this sequence.
Danny gets a fair amount of the focus in the strip, more than just a sidekick. He is the one winning all the gold trophies, although in the story I took the above clip from, in Star-Spangled 10, the trophies turn out to be made of real gold, and get stolen, and Tex and Danny have to track the thieves.
The series had a number of inconsistencies. The costumes change slightly many times. Danny's headgear was omitted entirely in some tales, and the masks came and went almost at random.
In Star-Spangled 14, atomic power is cited as the source of their abilities, although how they kept that in their bodies was not explained.
Star-Spangled 17 sees the pair go up against the Test Tube Gang, lead by an evil scientist. They render the duo unconscious and unmask them. The leader of the gang, Pryall, even recognizes the pair. He decides to kill them, but instead of just doing it right then and there, when he has the opportunity, he chooses to replace the chemicals in their rings with explosives. Fortunately, Tex spots that Danny's ring had been pried open and puts the proper chemicals back. Oddly, despite all the talk of chemicals, this is another story that also ascribes their explosions to atomic power.
The duration of the charge they receive from banging the rings together was also inconsistent. When the story required them to get captured or knocked out, the charge would be short-lived. But in Star-Spangled 19, when Nazi saboteurs disrupt the electricity and cause a blackout, the two are able to channel their power to provide light for the city for an extended period.
While their enemies tended for the most part to be run of mill criminals, in Star-Spangled 21 they go up against the Sparkler, a crime boss with a scientific bent, who uses a static electricity machine against the pair, giving their rings like charges, which repel and prevent them from making contact. By setting off the sprinkler system, Tex is able to nullify the effect. A sprinkler brought down the Sparkler. The comic doesn't have that awful line. That's mine.
Their final story came in Star-Spangled 23, as they go up against "The Clumsy Criminals." You have to wonder why they even bother, with a name like that. The final page of their final story consists of just one tiny strip, jammed above a big ad for the new Boy Commandos book.
TNT and Dyna-Mite would make rare cameos as the decades passed. Dyna-Mite would fare better than his teacher, getting a solo story in Young All-Stars, and a major role in The Golden Age. One later Seven Soldiers of Victory story included them in the line-up of the team, replacing Green Arrow and Speedy. But on the whole, this was a duo whose stories were never as explosive as their powers.
TNT and Dyna-Mite: World's Finest Comics 5 (Spring 42)