Dial H for Heeeeere's Robby!

H-E-R-O's last storyline runs through 8 issues, but it'd been brewing long before that, with regular appearances by an adult Robby Reed, in prison and exhibiting all sorts of powers. Seeing reports of one-shot heroes in America's Rust Belt, he recognized the H-Dial's influence and escaped. His goal is to get the Dial back, even though it's stopped working for him, to prevent it from getting into the hands of a psychotic killer, something he knows about thanks to a past identity that had traveled to the future and seen his deeds first-hand. The Dial then stops working, and he drops back into the cave where he found it, but he starts to develop powers without it, and in trying to prevent the course of history is thought of as a madman, and incarcerated. So of course, the Dial DOES get into the wrong hands, leading to the villainous hero trying to kill past Dial holders, just as Robby tries to assemble them into a team to fight this monster.

As the series ends, I can say I thought the stories it told were interesting as well done, but the way heroic identities were treated was mostly disappointing. Rarely any code names, very generic powers... they were an afterthought, a means to an end, which was telling stories of how the Dial might be used if it were real, and how it might upend a person's life. There's nothing wrong with that, but I long for different times.

Case 76: H-E-R-O #15-22
Dial Holder: Robby Reed, "Brown", Tony Finch, Andrea Allen (one each, in order below)
Dial Type: Push-button Dial
Dialing: Retcon Alert! Robby Reed is now a redhead, and his original Big Dial IS (and was always) the Push-button Dial. His story is much the same as before, but ends differently, never becoming the Master. How Vicki and Chris got their Dials much have changed after Zero Hour (the last continuity-changing event), but they still got them, as they have appeared in post-Zero Hour comics. Possibly, he simply took it back from Nick. Robby here says his Dial has no morality, allowing anyone to use the dialed powers anyway they want. In his opinion, his heroic identities were more imaginative than the latest crop of users', suggesting the identities are tied to the user's imagination in some way. He also says that on very rare instances, a Superman-level identity is summoned. Somewhat consistent with what happened to Chris and Vicki, it appears a long-time user of the Dial has the ability to invoke some of the powers they once had, though these come back slowly over time, or require a moment of great stress. In Jerry Feldon's case, he eventually becomes the old identities for a moment. His child also exhibits powers, transferred genetically. The Dial completely stopped working for Robby at some point, he doesn't know why (perhaps there's a limit to the number of identities one can summon in one's lifetime). While one cannot dial for another person, one can use the person's hand, even if not attached to the body, to do so. When a splitting hero is dialed out, his copies remain alive and in the world for some reason (with his personality); they cannot dial themselves out of existence. As pure beings of the Dial, they can sense and track past Dialers. In the end, the Dial is sent back in time and lands in prehistory, a story we've already told. So it seems the Dial is part of a paradoxical time loop and has no origin point.
Name: Future Boy (would that Legionnaire sound redundant?)
Costume: Stolen and modified from Blue Beetle's closet, this blue superhero suit shows a clock at 3 o'clock as a chest emblem, and has two pocket watches on long chains hanging from the belt. Unlike Beetle's costume, it has a cape and a smaler mask. The watch motif also appears on the gloves.
Powers: The ability to time travel to the future (although later, Robby taps into this power to send the Dial back to the far past). Future Boy is relegated to the role of observer, but can use his knowledge of the future to fight crime. One might imagine he could use those dangling watches as weapons.
Sighted: In Chicago, past and future, witnessing the crimes of a Superman-level villain.
Possibilities: A Legion ally. He comes from our time, but Adam Strange-like, is drawn to the 30th Century from time to time to help them on cases. Especially if he can pierce the iron curtain put up by the Time Trapper and warn them of coming danger. Once Dream Girl is on the team, not so much, maybe. But enterprising writers might have him show up in Kamandi, Atomic Knights, or Space Ranger stories.
Integration Quotient: 35% (I like the look, but we have Rip Hunter, goodie Chronos, and DC 1M Hourman for those kinds of stories)
Name: Stars and Stripes (no name given, but someone calls him this, which is crazy because that was the name I was going to give him anyway!)
Costume: Red, white and blue spandex, plus cape, the motifs are clearly those of the American flag.
Powers: This superman has flight, super-strength, telepathy, heat vision, freeze breath, quick regeneration, some invulnerability, mind control, the power to change form and look like other people, the ability to split into many selves (sharing the power, so each weaker than the whole), a power blast projected from his entire body, the power to stop a person's heart or to filet them into cauterized pieces,
Sighted: In Philadelphia and Chicago, on a murder and destruction spree. He fights Robby Reed and Jerry Feldon, killing the latter, but dying in the process. Except two of his duplicates survive, one of them kills the other, then starts tracking H-Dial users to kill them. Many succumb, but he is eventually destroyed by Tony Finch, who sacrifices himself in the process. Only the Allens and Robby survive.
Possibilities: As a villain, he would be some crazed alt-right psychotic, the darkest of America's underbellies. Perhaps he's a dark mirror of Superman, an alien who fell to Earth, but was very badly raised.
Integration Quotient: 60% (held back because he is overpowered, he is nevertheless a villain for our time)
Name: Blacklight (unnamed, but it would fit his powers)
Costume: In dark blues and grays, this spandex suit has ringed metal at the wrists, ankles and upper torso, a visored hood, a dark cape, and a symbol (on chest, forehead and shoulders) that looks like Timber Wolf's upside down.
Powers: Blacklight can fly and create discs of purplish light he can stand on, or use as weapons.
Sighted: In Chicago, breaking into a museum to steal a favorite painting. He chooses not to, in the end.
Possibilities: Scientist plays around with ultraviolet light, figures out how to make black light "hard", maybe have a visor that lets him see in the dark. Fight/commit crimes. It's a story as old as time.
Integration Quotient: 90% (could easily see as a utility villain)
Name: Pulse (unnamed, couldn't think of a less generic name)
Costume: A white and blue leotard with flowing open sleeves, a cape, lightning motifs around the shoulders, and up/down triangles on her thigh and forehead. It's a bit busy, but not unpleasant.
Powers: Electromagnetic in nature, they include flight, magnokinesis, and lightning vision.
Sighted: In Chicago, fighting Stars and Stripes and rescuing a news helicopter from the carnage.
Possibilities: Like other "elemental" heroes, would work better as part of a team, perhaps Young Justice or Young Heroes in Love. It's easy enough to imagine a proper accident to trigger her meta-gene.
Integration Quotient: 30% (I'm struggling with finding something interesting to say about this one)

Next: That's classified.



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