The recent SILVER AGE stunt that DC produced sparked some discussion about the DIAL “H” FOR HERO series in one of the e-groups to which I belong. For those who don’t remember, the original series ran in the pages of HOUSE OF MYSTERY (from #156 to #173) and starred Robby Reed as a teenager who discovered the H-Dial after being trapped in a cave-in.
The recent appearance of Robby had the dial with symbols representing ten letters, though it originally had only four. During the course of the first series, there was a story in which someone dialed “V-I-L-L-A-I-N” – which obviously could not be spelled with the letters ‘H-E-R-O” – so there had to be more letters on it. (Not to mention the later series, on which I was a writer, where we explained that Robby had been forced to dial “S-P-L-I-T.”)
Anyway, Robby and his H-Dial (along with his HoM co-star J’onn J’onzz) got swept out the door when Joe Orlando took over as editor and turned HOUSE OF MYSTERY back into the book it had started out as.
For the second incarnation of the series, in ADVENTURE COMICS, it was decided to add a new twist: The heroes and the villains would be created by the readers. Those whose characters were chosen would receive a T-shirt emblazoned “I Dialed ‘H’ For Hero” and recognition in the book. Not surprisingly, the office was inundated with submissions.
Marv Wolfman was the first scripter and I recall that he and editor Len Wein would go through the submissions, choosing characters they found interesting and creating a story around them. [I’ve heard that Paul Kupperberg did not like this method and instead made up the characters himself, but I cannot say for a fact that this is true.]
In any case, I decided to do something a little different when I got the chance to write an issue. We had already gone through the submissions and weeded out all the ones we knew would never be used. (There was a great deal of redundancy: Characters with fire powers or size-changing powers or super-speed differed in name only. Besides, we were looking for interesting and different kinds of characters to use.) What remained was a sizable box of possible heroes and heroines. Villains got a box of their own.
I chose the villains I wanted to use and worked out a plot with Len. Then, to give the story the same sense of randomness that actually dialing ‘H-E-R-O” would provide, I would pull a hero and a heroine from the box and figure out a way that their powers would or would not work against the villain. This approach was both fun and challenging for me as a writer and I hope it made the stories more interesting as well.
DIAL “H” FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL:
- Stephen DeStefano, who later gained fame as the artist and co-creator (with yours truly) of ‘Mazing Man and Hero Hotline, submitted the character Blackjack. This was far from the only character Stephen submitted, but it was the one that got used.
- The character Jimmy Gymnastic (in NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY #37) was created in a 4th grade class in Garden City, NY. Dial “H” artist Howard Bender joined me for my annual trip to the class and we challenged the students to come up with a hero we could use in the series. After much discussion, they came up with Jimmy, who was designed by Howard on the blackboard following the students’ instructions.
- The only people on the DC staff who got the Dial “H” t-shirts were the ones who actually worked on the series. Where many of the other shirts created over the years were distributed to everyone, the Dial “H” one became a much-coveted prize. (Yes, I got one. I wore it. It eventually wore out and went the way of so many other worn out t-shirts.)
- Nelson Bridwell and I collaborated on Dial “H” when it ran in the back pages of NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY. Our first story together had me doing the plot and Nelson handling the dialogue. With the second story, editor Julie Schwartz decided that ENB should do the plot breakdowns and I should write the dialogue. It stayed that way for the rest of the series.
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ:
This is the first part of a four-part trivia theme:
1. For public service purposes, which Vertigo character appeared in a giveaway about AIDS?
2. Ronalds in Montreal is now the primary printer of comic books; where was their predecessor located?
3. Originally, what identity did the Martian Manhunter take on Earth?
4. Maybe the Earth-2 (formerly Earth-3) Ultraman claims to be the first, but who had the identity in ALL-AMERICAN COMICS?
5. Tex Thompson, Chuck Dawson and Scoop Scanlon were among those to debut in what magazine?
6. Hey, back in the 60’s you sent your money to Marvel to join what fan club?
7. Erudite comics strip readers know the profession of Rex Morgan; do you?
8. First appearance of Countess von Bludd came in what Charlton comic book?
9. In many adventures, who was Tomahawk’s kid sidekick?
10. Remember this character’s last issue? Instead of “He’s Here!” it read “He’s Gone!”
11. Stumbo the Giant can usually be found helping the citizens of what burg?
12. Their headquarters was on the grounds of Stellar Studios; name the team.
BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL:
1. There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.
2. The first CD pressed in the U.S. was Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”
3. Walter Brennan holds the record for winning the most Best Supporting Actor Oscars with three for “Come and Get It,” “Kentucky” and “The Westerner.”
FROM THE E-MAILBOX:
Your columns about the contents of CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE left out the last few pages of #2. Weren’t there some covers for unpublished books?
– Howard Margolin [Doctor OHM@aol.com]
Indeed there were, and I even had a note reminding myself to list them when I’d finished with the Secret Society / Freedom Fighters chapter.
The covers section included ARMY AT WAR #2 and BATTLE CLASSICS #3, both by Joe Kubert. Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin did a reworking of the “Flash of Two Worlds” cover (replacing the man about to be hit by the girder with the super-villains tallying their loot) for DEMAND CLASSICS #1. Ross Andru and Dick Giordano collaborated on DEMAND CLASSIC S #2‘s cover featuring Superboy and the Legion and the ghost of Ferro Lad. The (unsigned but it looks like Jim Aparo to me) cover for DYNAMIC CLASSICS #3 is a split between the Goodwin/ Simonson Manhunter and the Phantom Stranger. Michael Golden and Russ Heath teamed up for a really nifty MISTER MIRACLE cover. Joe Kubert provided the cover to RAGMAN #6, while Joe Orlando did the one for WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #25. (The latter, showing an alluring woman with a serpent’s body saying to a
hunky guy, “Come in, my darling – I can’t wait to EMBRACE you!” was eventually used on one of the other titles.) A Michael Kaluta cover was scheduled for WEIRD MYSTERY #26. (This one was also used elsewhere.) Finally, the covers to WESTERN CLASSICS #’s 1 and 2, featuring Bat Lash wrap things up. (The first is by “Sherman and Whitman” and the second is unsigned.)
By having his letter used here, Howard gets the chance to take an extra 10% off anything he orders here at SBC this week. YOU can take advantage of that bonus too. Send your questions using that convenient little box in the column on the left right now!
2. Sparta, Illinois
3. John Jones
4. Gary Concord
5. Action Comics
6. The Merry Marvel Marching Society
8. Scary tales
9. Dan Hunter
12. Infinity Inc.
For more trivia, visit the daily Anything Goes Trivia.
Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.