Dial H for Halfway Out of the DCU

If the H Dial hadn't made appearances in the DC universe, I would almost be tempted to claim Robby's stories occurred outside continuity. Case in point, House of Mystery #159. Here we are in a universe that contains the Matt Hagen version of Clayface, and yet Robby is tangling with the "Clay-Creep Clan", gangsters made of clay with some shapeshifting abilities. We know why Littleville (and later, Fairfax) has so many super-heroes who appear only once, but what's up with the disposable villains? The Chris & Vicki stories ended up having a rationale for it, but what's Littleville's excuse? Or is the reason they never appeared in any other books the same reason why other books' villains never clashed with Robby? They just didn't live in the same universe. Then again, it was the 60s, and most features were isolated in their own titles. While you ponder these imponderables, let's look at three more of Robby Reed's alter egos...

Case 4: House of Mystery #159
Dial Holder: Robby Reed
Dial Type: The Big Dial
Dialing: According to the cover, Robby Reed is the boy who can change into 1,000 Super-Heroes. A limit to the dial..?
Name: Human Starfish (or Starfish, since the full name is never used in the story per se, and I think it works better)
Costume: Starfish has a monstrous look, but is redeemed by the circus tank top and blond hair that give him a younger, goofier appearance. He's more "teen mutant" than scary monster.
Powers: His four tentacle arms allow him to climb most surfaces, and can use his suction cups to latch onto even a slimy, wiggling clay villain. He probably has the proportional strength of a starfish (and have you seen those things eat shellfish?!) and is acrobatic, easily doing cartwheels with his multiple limbs.
Sighted: In Littleville. Starfish captured on the the Clay-Creeps.
Possibilities: The goofy but distinctive look would make the Starfish a contender for one of those Teen Titan teams I keep hearing so much about. He could act as the soft-hearted bruiser filled with angst over his gruesome appearance until the next crossover event rolled around and he ended up on the wrong side of a massacre. And we'd be sad to see him go, but not particularly outraged.
Integration Quotient: 50% (though disposable, I believe his look alone would make him an endearing minor character)
Name: Hypno-Man (sounds at best like a forgotten Golden Age hero)
Costume: A red number with a cape and cowl, the latter sporting 60s Batman eyebrows that give his face a mystical vibe. The concentric circles on his chest are more than an emblem, they're his gimmick. Overall, a classic "mystery man" look, and he looks natural doing superhero-y things.
Powers: The emblem on his chest is a Hypno-Disc that starts to spin (rather noisily) when he needs to Jedi mind trick criminals into giving themselves up. The disc is broken by a glancing gunshot, so it's not particularly sturdy. Hypno-Man is almost more interesting as he does the whole detective and disguise thing, but since those are part of Robby's every day skills, it's hard to pin them on Hypno-Man. And yet, they work with his classic look.
Sighted: In and just outside Littleville. He stops some petty crooks who shoot at him, and later tracks the Clay-Creep Clan to their magical clay cave disguised as one of the Clay-Creeps.
Possibilities: I could see Hypno-Man as a very minor member of the All-Star Squadron, a Golden Age character only Roy Thomas might have heard about. His stories would have featured the cheesy Hypno-Disc, but would essentially have been Batman-style mysteries where he used his brains more than his hypnosis gimmick.
Integration Quotient: 30% (a convincing Golden Age hero across the board right down to the naively-designed spinning plate on his chest; wouldn't quite have forged a "legacy" though)
Name: Mighty Moppet (a baby super-hero? believe it!)
Costume: It's sometimes hard to decide if the Mighty Moppet is cute or creepy, but he's got a classic spandex look in Christmasy colors. Red and green are definitely NOT nursery colors.
Powers: The Mighty Moppet may be a toddler, but he has some enhanced strength. Enough to jump to a grown man's chin (or maybe he can fly), but unfortunately not enough to hurt that full-grown man. No worries, because one of his Baby Bottles squirts out a liquid that cuts bad guys down to size, turning them into toddlers he can more easily beat up. The other bottle reverses the process once the police are on the scene.
Sighted: Outside Littleville. He's the one to capture the Clay-Creep Clan and their Clay King.
Possibilities: He could possibly have had his own series in the DC Kids line, but if the choice is between Mighty Moppet and more Supergirl in the 8th Grade, well, that choice is clear. Ultimately, he had promise until he started squirting everyone.
Integration Quotient: 15% (silly, but DC has room for that kind of silliness... he just needs a stronger base than the 2½ pages he fills here)

So some strong contenders for integration into the margins of the DCU. See you next week for more!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you think you might use some H Dial characters in your DCU roleplaying campaign?

Siskoid said...

If I were a player, I'd definitely be the guy to use the H Dial. That's right up my alley.

As a GM, if a player were interested, I'd make a bunch of heroes, and he/she would pick a random one each time the dial was dialed (perhaps choosing the best of three when rolling well).

I'd probably make the choices a mix of new characters I made, characters the player suggested, and my favorites from Dial-dom (like Zeep the Living Sponge and Trouble Clef & Venus the Flying Trap).

 

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