Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A to Z: D is for Dial H for H-E-R-O

UPDATE: Primewax now has his piece up about the recent H-E-R-O series. It's great stuff and more than worth reading. Head over there NOW and read it immediately to understand how very different the two series are!

This almost became a write-off before it begun, due to one problem or another. Thankfully the brilliant Primewax (who I do believe is writing about the fairly recent remake soon, which I'll link to when it appears) came through with a series I could do as a joke. And of course because I'm unfunny as hell I actually got my hands on the series and here we are, with you reading me writing about a comic from 1966.

Remember when I updated like 39 times in a month? Me neither.

People say originality is dead. Long gone. That all ideas are old hash reformed into something resembling life. Heck moreso that originality is so dead that DC's biggest event of the year is based on an Alan Moore Green Lantern story from about... What, 30 years ago? Well... They're right, for the most part.

The main reason for this is that we have our two biggest companies, Marvel and DC, with an infinitely long history and a veritable hoard of established things to do with their universes. It limits them to certain plots and keeps any creativity tethered to this bugbear of history that I can only refer to oversized. Sure there's the occasional original gem, like Chew or The Great Unknown (more on that one later) but you'll note those are from Image, a company with a much looser universe.

So rather than throw an unoriginal or mainstream series into the ring I'm going to delve deep into the history of DC, to the dreaded Silver Age of DC comics no less, to talk about a series that actually believed itself so original that it declared itself to have 'the most original character in history'. Yes, I'm talking about something that only a few may well know. I'm talking about DIAL H for H-E-R-O!

The series is simple enough to explain in its entirety. Running from 1966 to 1968, Dial H for H-E-R-O told the tale of Robert Reed, a young intelligent boy with a penchant for science who has a mysterious dial fall into his possession, that he learns can turn him into a superhero if he dials in H,E,R and O. The only catch is that each time the power and superhero are different (and utterly unique outside of one example). Oh and that when it's convenient (silver age logic there) the dial won' work. It's all simple enough and weirdly compelling, making for a comic that I don't think I'd have ever even thought of.

Oh and also little Robby Reed says 'SOCKAMAGEE!' ALL. THE. BLOODY. TIME. What does it even MEAN?! SOMEBODY SAVE ME FROM THIS MYSTERY!

*ahem* Er..... Moving on. Another reasons this series warrants being on this alphabet thingy is simple: the heroes themselves! I mean here's just a FEW examples from the series:

A person covered in sawblades! You know, for kids to imitate!

A Squid bloke who fires special super inks when he fingers buttons. Perverse! Also one of the inks makes a FLYING CARPET! THE HELL?!

Not uh... Not touching this one.

A complete tool who looks like a bullet!

Magneto, leader of the evil brotherhood of muta- Oh, er... Just a magnet dude called Magneto... Totally different.

A... A... *sigh* Toddler... Who can make people into midgets with the mysterious substance in his baby bottles...

And my personal favourite RADAR-SONAR MAN! A relatively useless superhero who uses radar and sonar to not fly into trees. That's right, something he could do just as well as ANYTHING ELSE! Other than perhaps the mole but let's not touch that.

... I've completely lost my point here. I mean LOOK AT THIS STUFF! Bah! Who wants originality when it's this bloody crazy?! I'd much rather stick to the safe security of generic crap that rehashes plots beaten to death as early as the 80s! It's less FREAKIN' INSANE THAT WAY! RAAAAAAAARGH!


Seriously though, a weirdly great read from 60s DC and camp as all hell. I'm not actually sure if it's collected anywhere however, so I don't really have a way to promote it to you. Still if you see it in a longbox at your Local Comic Shop or even at a boot sale, you really MUST pick it up.

That's D, what's E? E...lephantmen?... Oh it actually will be. Look forward to that.


  1. SOCKAMAGEE! H-E-R-O makes so much more sense now. lol

  2. In the later run of the comic, readers would submit ideas for the heroes and if they were chosen you'd get your name in an editorial footnote.