Dial H for Here We Go Again

After the experiments of House of Mystery #160, it's a return to normalcy. If you can call any story with a grass gorilla normal. Well, maybe in the DC Universe, you can't really be too surprised about any kind of super-powered ape. He's not even the first green ape to show his face there (that would be Beast Boy). Let's look at the three new heroes offered.

Would THEY have had as much a place in the DCU as a super-ape would?

Case 6: House of Mystery #161
Dial Holder: Robby Reed
Dial Type: The Big Dial

Costume: The grape chainmail clashes awkwardly with the white and blue and yellow highlights. The mask seems to feature bad mascara and there's just no reason for the bat-spikes on his sleeves. Throw in an all too literal chest logo and you have a proper fashion disaster.
Powers: He's a human magnet. Simple enough. Magneto can move metal objects and fly by attracting himself to metal structures (though the chainmail suit should be enough alone, shouldn't it?). Where Magneto fails as a headliner is in his need to recharge after barely a fight's worth of action. Once again, Robby's natural detective skills must fill out this hero's day.
Sighted: In Littleville. Magneto fought the Egyptian God-headed Beket and saved a bus full of people buried under sand. He later investigated Beket and got some nice confidential information from that lady at the Littleville passport office.
Possibilities: In 1966, this Magneto might have had a chance to steal Marvel's thunder, as the villain of the same name had not yet risen to become one of Marvel's most famous. X-Men wasn't even one of their top-sellers. However, the costume is terrible, and the power burnout just the pits. It's even awkward to look at this purple hero sleuthing about Littleville. Unusable.
Integration Quotient: 0% (he's got everything going against him)
Name: Hornet-Man (would definitely work better as just "The Hornet")
Costume: Aside from the striped sleeves and legs, this is a good insect-based design. not too far off some iterations of the Fly/Fly-Man. Thanks to Spider-Man, we don't have to see the hero's eyes for him to be expressive, but Hornet-Man's multi-faceted bluebottles may be pushing it slightly. The wings sort of flop around though. Oh, and that stinger finger is creepy.
Powers: Hornet-Man can fly and is very maneuverable while doing so. What he CAN'T do is move silently. The villains are warned well in advance of his coming by a loud buzz. He also has sting, delivered by touch, that can knock out a human being.
Sighted: In Littleville. He, too, fought Beket, or rather his animated plant creatures (each of Beket's heads has the power to summon and control a different element or environment). Beket escaped again.
Possibilities: Change his name to the Hornet, and we have a possible headliner, at least as marketable as the Fly. Throw in a tweaked costume with heavier blacks instead of blues, and maybe a different delivery system for the sting, and they could squeeze a doomed-from-the-start series out of the concept. Spider-Man rip-off with an intimidating buzz? 12 issues at best.
Integration Quotient: 55% (finally somebody breaks the 50% barrier; classic concept, but Hornet-Man needs a little work before making a second appearance)
Name: Shadow-Man (if it was good enough for a Valiant comics hero, it's workable)
Costume: Suit, fedora and short cape, completely black. And black goes with everything.
Powers: Shadow-Man can easily hide in darkness and even appears less than solid to his opponent who "only see a shadow". Being a few degrees cooler than everything around him, this two-fisted crime fighter is also partially resistant to fire and heat.
Sighted: In Littleville. Shadow-Man was responsible for the capture of Beket and his crew.
Possibilities: Falling into DC's hands well before the Question (and thus, Rorschach), Shadow-Man could totally have filled the role of dark, anonymous avenger. He might have found his full expression in the late 80s and early 90s under Denny O'Neil's direction instead of Vic Sage, his visual darkness extending into the darkness of his violent tales.
Integration Quotient: 70% (definite possibilities, especially if you remove later comers like the Question)

So things are looking up! Or are they? A look ahead makes me think I'm wrong.


Kal said...

I love these posts. I remember thinking that this title was the most creative thing I had ever seen as a kid. "How can they keep coming up with new cool characters?" I would ask myself. It really sparked a young kid to creat characters of their own. 30 years later I realize how lame both their creations and mine actually were. See how the 'man' crushes a brother's dreams when he forces him to grow up.

Siskoid said...

Yeah, I made a lot of them too, coming from what I consider the best of the Dial H era, in the New Adventures of Superboy back-up.

Adventure Comics was for me the weakest era. I don't think Infantino was the best match for drawing submitted costumes (silver lining: Zeep the Living Sponge).

Lazarus Lupin said...

we were big "champions" players so we were always coming up with heroes and villains and naked power gaming. My friend the Druid came up with my favorite with a character who couldn't be touched. Why? Cause he turned everyone near him into ghosts. Very fun indeed.

I really do like the shadow man, give him some noir dialog and there you go. Though I wonder, what would the Shade do to someone made of shadows.

Might not be nice!

Lazarus Lupin
art and review


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