What's Dial "H" for Hero?

What's This? A rotary phone.

The facts: The alien Dial that turns you into a superhero was first introduced in House of Mystery #156 (1966), used by young Robbie Reed until issue 173. The revival, starring Chris King and Vicki Grant, actually allowed readers to submit heroic identities (and villains, and fashions, and even furniture) for a shot at a t-shirt. It started in 1981's Adventure Comics #479 (after an insert in Legion of Super-Heroes #272), moving to a back-up in New Adventures of Superboy when that book was cancelled (so from #28 to 49 of that series, though issue 50 is also about the Dial). The Dial showed up in the hands of Hero, a member of Superboy's Ravers, as well as in the Reboot Legion where it was used by Lori Morning, but as a strip, we would wait until 2003's H.E.R.O., a connected anthology that used the Dial as a "Dead Man's Gun" element. The series lasts 22 issues. In 2012, the New52 offers us China MiƩville's very weird take in the Dial H series (another 16). And in 2019, a new Dial H for Hero 12-issue maxi-series, starring characters that would end up in Young Justice and Titans Academy, under the Wonder Comics imprint. Robbie Reed has been a part of many of these, grown up, or turned into a villain or mentor, it's his legacy more than anyone else's.
How you could have heard of it: Well, I've covered pretty much every Dial H appearance and transformation in these very pages, so just follow the label!
Example story: The New Adventures of Superboy #44 (August 1983) "Dream a Deadly Dream for Me!" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Bob Rozakis, Howard Bender and Joe Giella
The way I discussed Dial H in all those articles didn't really look at the STORIES or their FLOW per se, so let's look at a random chapter from the Chris and Vicki years, which is what the entry is presenting. It manages to include the 4 Dial H heroes up to that point, right in that top row of panels! Chris and Vicki, of course; in the villain's contraption is Nick Stevens, a teenage comics artist who dreamt up the very identities C&V became and who would end up with Robby Reed's Dial at the end of the storyline (DC never pursued it); and the hand of Robby himself, secretly transformed into the villainous "Master" who threw all those crazy fan-made supervillains at our heroes.

This was, in fact, my SECOND issue of New Adventures, which I was getting 100% because Dial "H" for Hero had entranced me in the previous ish. And how could I NOT come back, seeing Chris and Vicki turned into the worst possible heroes for their (or any) situation! Fuzz-Ball, a Pac-Man/Q-Bert arcade character seen in the previous issue, and Raggedy Doll, not to be confused with the Secret Six's perverse Rag Doll! That's what the Master is capable of when controlling Nick's powers! But thankfully, both heroes are telepathic and made for team work:
Maybe they might even be able to take care of a supervillain or two.
Not a great showing, Golden Web. He gets stomped by Kirby, Super-Smash Bros.-style! As does the Pod!
Power Pirate is next and let's just say he's the wrong villain for the job:
I mean, AT BEST, he would have been able to jump around? He does STEAL their weaknesses, so from then on, Chris and Vicki can speak and Raggedy Doll can move. And they still have their telepathy, which allows them to jam the last remaining villain, the Swarm. And she's/they're trying to tear Vicki apart!
STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! That's the way of all of Fuzz-Ball's foes! But it's been about an hour and...
The cat's out of the bag and the duo is set to become a trio. Alas. While I wasn't a huge fan of the Adventure Comics run after I collected all the back issue - largely due to Carmine Infantino's art, but Marv Wolfman's scripts weren't great either - these later New Adventures stories were great. And reading them over really does make me wish we'd gotten some Chris-Vicki-Nick action. Instead, Wolfman destroyed the characters in New Titans, and Nick was completely ignored. Whether I liked the various post-2000 series (and I did) is beside the point. It was still a waste of these characters.

How did these heroes and villains fare in my earlier analysis? Find out HERE.

Who's Next? The war that time forgot.