Dial H for Have We Done This One Already?

More than 4 years ago, before I ever started doing these Dial H case files, I did indeed review Adventure Comics #487, calling its Dial H strip possibly the worst job in comics. We had a good laugh at Marv Wolfman's expense (and the characters' creators too) and that was that. Of particular note were the fashions submitted at DC's behest for Chris, Vicki and their friends which, after months of begging for them to come in, are blown all in one load. But the time has come to actually pay TRIBUTE to the issue's stories and characters. My hypocrisy knows no bounds in this. And in case you've been wondering since last week, Chris and Vicki make up.

Case 33: Adventure Comics #487
Dial Holders: Chris and Vicki
Dial Type: Watch and Pendant Dials
Dialing: When the Dialers see a superhuman in the sky, the only way to be sure it isn't the other Dialer is to check if their Dial glows or not. Useful in this line of work.
Name: Kismet (very good, and so stolen by Marvel's Her and a parallel-world-seeing character in Superman)
Created by: Richard Jones, Age 15, of Homer City, PA
Costume: Kismet has an interesting look, half in white and half in black or dark blue, including long boots, puffy sleeves and thick hoop earrings. The blast of black on her torso is kinetic, but is also a highly stylized "K". She has a slick, short hairdo seldom seen in superheroines.
Powers: Kismet is clairvoyant. She can see possible (preventable) futures as well as perceive, for example, where a certain vulnerable control panel is hidden under a missile's hull.
Sighted: In Fairfax, helped prevent Crimson Star and Radiator from destroying the ozone layer.
Possibilities: Prescient heroes aren't an easy sell as a headliner, but Kismet could easily act as a supporting character in the Madames Web and Xanadu mold. Finding a character to tie her fate to will be the most difficult thing to do.
Integration Quotient: 35% (she has to wrangle her name back from an entity, and find a hero who'll take her help)
Name: The Avatar & Sahri (bit generic, like, the avatar of WHICH Hindu god? The tiger's name works fine)
Created by: John Mattson, Age 14, of Portland, OR
Costume: The Avatar dresses in white, with a short blue cape clamped by a green gemstone on his belt, a red turban and shash-like belt, and red boots with curly white designs on them. His sleeves end in blue bracers, but he wears no gloves, and his pants are puffy like a genie's. Sahri is a tiger made of golden energy.
Powers: The Avatar taps into Hindu magics for a variety of elemental effects, including conjuring a flame that reflects energy blasts, lifting people with air, melting ice by summoning the heat from the Earth's core, and creating prisons out of rock. He rides a spirit tiger through the air, a magical beast that follows his every command.
Sighted: In Fairfax, captured Crimson Star single-handed, and helped prevent Crimson Star and Radiator from destroying the ozone layer.
Possibilities: India deserves a champion, and Avatar can certainly fill that niche.
Integration Quotient: 70% (yes, he works as an ethnic hero, but not a particularly innovative one)
Name: Plant Mistress (a tad villainous, but maybe it's because I was raised on the Plant Master)
Created by: Paul Pereira, Age 9, of New Bedford, MA
Costume: An apple green bathing suit tied to the neck, with long gloves and short boots, cut in a frayed leafy pattern. The wide domino mask and half belt pattern at the back and diamond chest cut-out are likewise patterned. I'd show more restraint on the mask, but otherwise nice.
Powers: Plant Mistress can control vegetation, bending and animating trees and vines to her will.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting a giant snake (Snakeman).
Possibilities: Tough to sell the name, but she'd probably make a good teen hero. An environmentally-conscious hipster might ironically take an old-fashioned name. There, she's got a personality, lets get her a series.
Integration Quotient: 65% (Chlorophyll Kid's gotta have taken his inspiration from somewhere)
Name: Wind Rider (workable, of potentially confusing with Waverider)
Created by: Mark Ramsey, Age 12, of Huber Heights, OH
Costume: A standard blue uniform with red gloves and boots, and yellow gliding flaps tied to his arms. The belt resolves into the letter "W"and is a mix of red and yellow, similar red accents appearing on his open-haired mask.
Powers: Wind Rider has power over the winds, so can fly and create vortices that can lift weight up to a car's.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting a giant snake (Snakeman).
Possibilities: Another viable teen hero, and since he and Plant Mistress are used to working together, let's keep them together. Maybe in a younger version of Primal Force?
Integration Quotient: 65% (what's good for the goose...)
Name: Psi-Fire (rather Image-y, but as you will see, has very little to do with the character's concept)
Created by: Daniel E. Carroll, Age 23, of Worcester, Mass.
Costume: Extremities in gold; head, torso and shorts in white; neck, arms, belt and legs in dark red. The boots have interesting straps. The chest emblem is a combined "P" and "F". Fine, if ordinary, until you get to that silly symbol.
Powers: Psi-Fire may SAY he has developed "advanced psionic powers", but they sure have nothing to do with fire! He can manipulate his own molecules so as to become diamond hard or insubstantial so he can phase through solid matter.
Sighted: In Fairfax, helped cure Professor Ralston from his Snakeman condition.
Possibilities: Gotta throw in a better explanation for his name. For example, his powers could make his brain feel like it's on fire. Or he could have powers we don't know about. Maybe he's cursed and he keep developing more and more. That's a classic story.
Integration Quotient: 10% (the above attempt is really cheating)
Name: Sea Mist (I hope she has her own line of cosmetics)
Created by: Dean Spezzaferro, Age 13, of Kenner, LA
Costume: A pleasant dark blue and deep purple ensemble with almost mystical dark patterns on her chest, arms and legs. The interior of her cape is white to better silhouette her figure, and her hair is light blue.
Powers: Sea Mist can produce watery vapors. That's it, though there are opaque enough to affect vision. Thankfully, these seem to have a high salt content (see Snakeman).
Sighted: In Fairfax, cured Professor Ralston from his Snakeman condition.
Possibilities: A pretty young thing with elemental powers? I'm sending her to that Primal Force idea directly.
Integration Quotient: 65% (what's good for the gander...)

Bonus Supervillains

Name: Crimson Star (in the Crimson Dynamo and Red Star vein)
Created by: Karen Long, Age 18, of Ashtabula, OH
Costume: A red costume with black rings from feet to hands and a circular stat burst on the chest. The full mask has white streaks going back over the head from angular goggles and white circle over the ears. On Crimson Star's wrists are thick bracelets, the apparent source of his powers.
Powers: The Crimson Star's bracelets emit "solar-stunning energies" (the hyphen may not be appropriately placed) which can also melt oncoming bullets. The most powerful example of his power sinks an entire lab into a star-made chasm.
Sighted: In Fairfax, his plans to destroy the ozone layer were foiled by The Avatar, to whom he gave up his partner, the Radiator.
Possibilities: With a name like that, he should be a communist villain from the Cold War days. Personally, I'd tie his powers with the Tunguska asteroid strike.
Integration Quotient: 70% (I'm afraid the Cold War isn't very topical anymore)
Name: The Radiator (can't help but think of car parts here)
Created by: Brian McCoy, Age 12, of Charleston, WV
Costume: A green leotard with red mask, gloves and boots. There are gemstones on his wrist and boot bracers. The yellow belt's buckle shows four colors in quadrants, as does his chest emblem from which his powers emanate.
Powers: Radiator can fly and through his chest emblem can fire blasts of various forms of radiation, not all of them scientifically probable. One beam can trap a person in ice, for example, and another creates an invisible pushing force. Only the heat beam seems remotely in keeping with the powers' premise.
Sighted: In Fairfax, his plans to destroy the ozone layer were foiled by The Avatar and Kismet.
Possibilities: Forget the radiation angle, this guy has to be about magic gems or something. Maybe they dropped out of Gemworld, or he's a goon-level Mandarin. Maybe he's not really worthy of the DC Universe.
Integration Quotient: 10% (the powers and costume are all over the place, but I suppose he could feature as a minor threat in some one-shot back-up feature, like Air Wave's)
Name: Snakeman (simple, but I'm retro enough to like almost any animal+Man combo)
Created by: Chuck Spotti, Age 16, of Slovan, PA
Costume: The green leotard is supported by pieces of golden banded armor at the extremities, joints and head. Snakeman's ears are covered by a large piece that goes up into a point. Green scales encroach on his face, but it is still visible (a dead ringer for Tony Stark). As a giant snake, Snakeman is similarly green with golden armored bands.
Powers: Snakeman transforms (involuntarily) into a giant snake, with animal intelligence, until he tires out. When he is rested, he becomes the snake again. It would seem that the costume is a part-way transformation, and once cured, it disappears. The condition is cured, simply enough, by salt.
Sighted: Snakeman is famed biochemist Professor Ralston (and by famed, I mean that Chris and Vicki recognize him) who accidentally got a snake blood/venom serum into a cut and became a monster that attacked Fairfax. He was cured by Sea Mist's salty vapors.
Possibilities: He could be DC's answer to the Lizard (more so than Killer Croc). A well-meaning scientist who turns himself into a monster accidentally and who invariably becomes that monster again no matter how much he thinks he's cured (hm, I also described the Hulk, didn't I?). When he next turns into Snakeman, I think he should have a more humanoid and more intelligent form though. There are just so many times superheroes can fight a giant snake (though I wouldn't mind finding out how many times that is).
Integration Quotient: 60% (a man-monster with potential)

I'd tell you where Dial H is going next, but I don't want to Jinx it!


Bully said...

This was my first DC comic. They got better, though.

Siskoid said...

DC in general, or Dial H?

The next issue wasn't by Marv Wolfman, so maybe he was burnt out on the project..?

chiasaur11 said...

The Avatar?

Pssh. Sure he's a master of Earth, Wind, Fire, and Air, but you know when the world needs him most he'll vanish.

Siskoid said...

If that's a reference to the James Cameron movie, you'll have to excuse me for not seeing it/getting it.

chiasaur11 said...

The James Cameron movie?

For shame, Siskoid.

It's a reference to Avatar: The Last Airbender (and the sequel series, The Legend of Korra), one of the best cartoons of recent years.

There was also a movie, but that sucked. A lot.

Asian influenced fantasy world. Some people have the natural ability to remotely manipulate one of the four classic elements, but only the Avatar, the reincarnating champion of the world, can use all four. Which makes the Avatar going missing for a century while the fire nation goes on a murderous rampage kinda a bad thing. Series starts when the protagonists find the latest Avatar frozen solid and thaw him out.

Where they find out he's an impulsive, easygoing ten year old who doesn't even want to be the Avatar. Not the most promising start to a plan to fight the most powerful empire in the world.

It may be the only show I've watched where one of the biggest badasses is a sheltered little blind girl.

Siskoid said...

That was my second thought, and it makes more sense with the elemental thing. Never seen it either, though someone watched the film in my presence once. I am skilled at ignoring screens when I need to.

chiasaur11 said...

Well, then, watch the cartoon if you can.

It's good.

And the sequel, Korra?

It's set in a fantasy version of the 20s, with fast talking radio announcers, cool cars, and social unrest. Nice change from the medieval stasis that's the norm in fantasy worlds.

And it has JK Simmons and Kiernan Shipka.

MOCK! said...

I'm late to the party so I will only quote, for posterity, "His tiny crippled arm wasn't going to stop him."

Siskoid said...

Mouseover jokes FTW.

Anonymous said...

PAUL Pereira, not Paula Pereira. And I'm not just saying that because I'm the pathetic 41-year-old that 9-year-old grew up to be, and who still occasionally googles "Plant Mistress". Hahaha

Siskoid said...

Oops! Sorry about the typo Paul! The fact she was a heroine probably crossed a wire in my brain (the wire that makes me imagine each hero's secret identity is its creator, heroing in the creator's hometown).

My dream is that this series of posts brings all those creators together.


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