Dial H for High Score

This is it! My very first Dial H comics. And I was hooked. It may seem sad that I got bitten so late in the game, with merely 7 issues left to Chris and Vicki's proper journey, but truth be told, this last arc is just about the best it ever got, by a mile. Had I come in during some earlier chapter, or even their run of Adventure Comics, I'm not entirely sure I would have been as entranced. Then again, I do so love the premise...

Case 50: New Adventures of Superboy #43-44
Dial Holders: Chris and Vicki
Dial Type: Watch and Pendant Dials
Dialing: The Master wants to exploit Nick Stevens' apparent connection to the H Dials by connecting him to a machine to possibly control the transformations. For the first time, the Master's villainous creations also appear to be characters drawn by Nick, but there is no explanation for this. Nick is obviously being monitored, so is he providing inspiration? Or is there also a connection between Nick's mind and whatever process the Master uses to create supervillains? Possibly because Nick is cut off from the Dials while strapped in the machine, Chris and Vicki dial near-useless hero identities. One of these is a video game character Chris was playing earlier, so is this a case of the Dial looking for inspiration elsewhere because Nick's mind is unavailable, or does Fuzz-Ball exist in Nick's mind and the machine has selected it? Had Vicki's room been shown with a Raggedy Doll in it, it might have provided an additional clue, but alas. This episode also makes clear that Chris has started giving his heroes different ways of speaking, rhythms, and so on so that no one toggles to the fact they are all the same heroes. In other words, that aspect of the heroes' personalities does not come automatically upon dialing.
Name: Turnabout (a good catchy name)
Created by: Larry Schultz, of Springville, KY
Costume: A red and white bathing suit with matching gloves, boots and domino mask, each with a subtle design evoking the letter "T". It suits this redhead well, but there isn't much too it.
Powers: Turnabout can, using a gesture, turn any attack on the attacker. Bullets, knives, even fists bounce back to hit the thing or person that shot or threw it.
Sighted: At the Fairfax pizzeria/arcade, stopping a hold-up by three street toughs.
Possibilities: In the hands of a good write, Turnabout's defensive powers could be used to great effect and to generate interesting subplots. I mean, what happens when someone tries to hurt her feelings? Drop her into a Titans team filled with angst and watch the open sores to bleed tears!
Integration Quotient: 65% (an intriguing power and perfectly acceptable design means she could see some play)
Name: Spheror (old-fashioned, but not unusable)
Created by: Darren Costello, of Troutdale, OR
Costume: In a blue and silver armor with metal pads and bubbles in relief on arms, shins and hips, there's really no accounting for Spheror's pink booties and shorts. A spherical glass helmet completes the ensemble, but all you really remember is the big, honking moustache.
Powers: The ability to create floating orange bullet-proof glass sphere to catch malefactors in, or parts of their bodies (isolating a gun, for example).
Sighted: At the Fairfax pizzeria/arcade, capturing three street toughs committing a hold-up.
Possibilities: The retro design and old-fashioned moustache put me in mind of another era. Spheror looks like he might be a Victorian gentleman kidapped by aliens and given a super-armor based on early sf literature they acquired. He comes back to Earth in our time and becomes a crimefighter, wot! One to show up in the background in the Knight & Squire mini-series.
Integration Quotient: 40% (from another time, it's a bit harder to get him into place, but not impossible)
Name: Raggedy Doll (there's a Rag Doll, so this is plausible)
Created by: Bob Mercer, of St. Joseph's, Newfoundland
Costume: A life-sized rag doll with buttons for eyes, a green open-shouldered dress, yellow gloves and boots, a red belt, fishnet stockings, a red heart on her chest, and braids tied with red bows.
Powers: Stuffed and completely boneless, Raggedy Doll cannot be crushed or hurt by conventional means, but she also can't stand on her own two feet! She can only move a bit. Thankfully, she is telepathic and can communicate with others mentally.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting the Master's villains to free Nick Stevens.
Possibilities: In the story, Raggedy Doll loses her weaknesses to the Power Pirate, which makes her a more useful character. I think it would be a HOOT to have heroes like her and Fuzz-Ball in the DCU proper, magically enchanted toys who come alive at night or when only children are in the room, but revert to inanimate (yet still telepathic) form otherwise. They'd start off as comedy characters, then find themselves into a Sandman comic or something.
Integration Quotient: 60% (I love the idea, but I recognize its limitations)
Name: Fuzz-Ball (descriptive and silly, which is appropriate)
Created by: Steven E. Talbert, of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH
Costume: This Pac-Man rip-off looks like a fuzzy yellow ball with a simple cartoon face, antennae, and feet made for jumping.
Powers: Fuzz-Ball can jump and plow through things with a great deal of force. He cannot speak however, or really in electronic bleeps and bloops, so good thing his partner is telepathic.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting the Master's villains to free Nick Stevens. Gamers will recognize him as the hero of a popular arcade game that bears his name.
Possibilities: See the Toy Story for Superheroes delineated under Raggedy Doll. Of course, his cuteness might make him a silly Silver Age mascot for some hero, but no one really comes to mind.
Integration Quotient: 30% (unlike Raggedy Doll, the video game theme makes him less universal and not as easy to implement in a magic scenario)

Bonus Supervillains
Name: The Pod (shades of Body Snatchers, creepy)
Created by: Jim Coon, of Portland, OR
Look: Something like an evil green corn husk, the Pod has bulging insectoid eyes, squirming sets of tentacles for arms, talons on its feet, and a warty skin. Kind of like one of those rude Doctor Who monsters people like to chuckle about.
Powers: The Pod is a vegetable monster with all that must surely entail. Its tentacles can envelop and crush opponents, or combine into makeshift wings that allow the creature to fly.
Sighted: In Fairfax, kidnapping Nick Stevens for the Master and later losing a fight to Raggedy Doll and Fuzz-Ball.
Possibilities: The physiognomy is more alien than strictly plant-like, so I imagine the husk crashing to Earth, the Pod opening and revealing the creature beneath, a small town terrorized until the hero arrives. But like most alien invasions, the species is never seen again.
Integration Quotient: 25% (easy to integrate, but no return appearances)
Name: The Golden Web (might work better for an evil organization than a single character)
Created by: George Schneider, of Philadelphia, PA
Costume: Fir for a hero, I was surprised to find the look on a villain. It's a classic blue and gold costume, with a spiderweb design on the chest and belt, and an open head mask letting out flowy blond hair. I like it, but deserved to be the costume worn by Impact's Web some years down the line.
Powers: This villain can shoot webs from his fingers to catch or trap opponents, and can create functional bat-like wings of the same material. No, I'm not entirely sure it makes sense, but it's still pretty striking.
Sighted: In Fairfax, kidnapping Nick Stevens for the Master and later losing a fight to Raggedy Doll and Fuzz-Ball.
Possibilities: DC has integrated the Archie heroes into its line (both in and out of universe) a couple times, but the Golden Web could fit the tradition of making villains based on another company's heroes (Heroes of Angor, Squadron Sinister, League of Super-Assassins, etc.). He's the Web, of course, and it shouldn't be too difficult to create villainous versions of the Fly, the Shield, Black Hood, the Comet, the Jaguar, etc.
Integration Quotient: 30% (just doesn't look like a baddie, which makes my head hurt)
Name: The Swarm (sorry, but Marvel's version will forever wear this name ever since it terrified me in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends)
Created by: by Barney Torres, of Brooklyn, NY
Costume: Just a lilac one-piece (plus boots), on a yellow-skinned girl with reddish hair, pixie wings, ad what might be insectoid eyes.
Powers: The Swarm is an adult-sized woman who can fly, but she can split into a swarm of tiny, mosquito-sized replicas of herself armed with spear-like darts she uses to prick opponents. Her selves communicate through telepathic means, and true telepaths can jam her signal and confuse the drones.
Sighted: In the Master's lair, defeated by Raggedy Doll and Fuzz-Ball (the shame!).
Possibilities: An alternate to the Queen Bee, but not one that's scientifically explainable. Wait--neither was the original, Silver Age Queen Bee. Well, the Swarm can certainly act as a one-shot assassin, best matched to H.I.V.E.
Integration Quotient: 25% (has an obvious patron, but once used, no real repeat appeal)
Name: Power Pirate (a strong alliterative name)
Created by: Kathleen M. Lang, of Mauston, WI
Costume: Red, gold and black, the pirate look is achieved with a mask tied behind the head and a sash coming off the belt. The two black dots on his right side evoke duplication without putting a bow on it. Simple, but definitely one of the better designs to come out the pike in a long time, and could work for either hero or villain.
Powers: The Power Pirate can steal the powers of his opponents, which he does by aiming a wide transparent beam at them. The number of targets he can affect at once isn't known, but it's at least two. However, he may also inadvertently steal a hero's weaknesses, and in fact, will if the hero concentrates single-mindedly on them. There may be a telepathic component to the power that would allow a victim to hide (and keep) certain abilities as well.
Sighted: In the Master's lair, defeated by Raggedy Doll and Fuzz-Ball (it was all his fault, the double-shame!).
Possibilities: A good jobber for any supervillain team, such villains shouldn't be overused (the same problem crops up with Neutrax and Rogue), but his power's drawbacks allow for some fun and a way to dispose of him variably from fight to fight. Are there enough pirate villains to make a whole crew? Psycho Pirate, a ghostly Captain Fear, Captain Stingaree... even Terra-Man might do.
Integration Quotient: 80% (the slick design and scalable power set should net Power Pirate some action)

Next: The amazing origin of the H Dials!


Anonymous said...

The name "Raggedy Doll" would never fly today. Now "Waifu", on the other hand ...

Anonymous said...

Part of me wants to make custom action figures for all of these Dial H concepts!


Siskoid said...

The next heroes they become are my favorites of the entire canon, and I might be convinced to commission such figures!

Kurt Onstad said...

Fuzz-Ball reminds me of the little "toys" we'd get from the MS Read-a-Thon when I was a kid:

Bradley Walker said...

Who among us remembers Cutlass Charlie, one-time foe for Aquaman in JLA?


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