“Dial H for Hero!”

A mys­te­ri­ous tele­phone dial-like device that is capa­ble of trans­form­ing whomev­er dials the let­ters H‑E-R‑O on in into a super­hero, or, rather, a series of dif­fer­ent super­heroes. (Of course, its a lit­tle hard to so describe the H‑Dial now, as tele­phones don’t have dials, they have key­pads.) Boy sci­en­tist Rob­by Reed first dis­cov­ered the H‑dial in a cave in Col­orado and used it to pro­tect the town of Lit­tleville. Sev­er­al years lat­er, teenagers Chris King and Vic­ki Grant would dis­cov­er a dif­fer­ent pair of dials marked sim­i­lar­ly, which they used to become super­heroes. Lat­er, oth­ers, too, pos­sessed one of the H‑Dials. Cur­rent­ly, the pow­er of the H‑Dial is pass­ing among ordi­nary peo­ple in the New 52 DC era.

As might be expect­ed, a few of the heroes these peo­ple trans­formed into had hyp­not­ic powers.

Robby Reed

Rob­by Reed was a smart teenag­er, which is why he was able to trans­late the mark­ings on the dial he found, but all it said was “Dial H for Hero”. Press­ing the but­tons that spelled out H‑E-R‑O, he was trans­formed into a series of super­heroes, includ­ing the Gold­en Age hero, Plas­tic Man.

Hypno-Man (House of Mystery #159) ‘The Clay Creep Gang’

Hypno-Man

Hyp­no-Man was one of three super­hero forms Rob­by used to bat­tle the Clay­face Gang, a group of crim­i­nals who dis­cov­ered a way to turn them­selves into clay-like forms that helped them com­mit crimes. Hyp­no-Man’s pow­er of hyp­no­sis was cen­tered around the spin­ning hyp­no-disk on his chest, which was shat­tered by a bul­let, stop­ping it (and him.) It was only because he could turn into anoth­er hero after­ward that he was able to cap­ture the criminals.

Com­men­tary: Hyp­no-Man is rem­i­nis­cent of many mys­ti­cal Gold­en-Age super­heroes, albeit with a tight cowl instead of a tur­ban for head­gear. Cer­tain­ly his ‘hyp­not­ic ges­ture’ motif is straight out of Man­drake the Magician.

Ref­er­ences:

Adden­da: The ori­gin of the H‑Dial is a mys­tery, but accord­ing to the mini-series, it has was used sev­er­al times before Rob­by dis­cov­ered it. It (and he) have also made a num­ber of appear­ances in the DC Uni­verse, most espe­cial­ly one where he helps out the Jus­tice League when the Injus­tice League is able to tap into their minds and know exact­ly how they can fight. Rob­by’s H‑Dial trans­forms the Jus­tice League into entire­ly new super­heroes with entire­ly new pow­ers and com­bat abil­i­ties, frus­trat­ing the Injus­tice League. It has been sug­gest­ed that the lan­guage on the dial was Inter­lac, the lan­guage of the 31st Cen­tu­ry and the Legion of Super-Heroes. It is also known that the H‑Dial sur­vived until that era and was used then.


Chris King and Vicki Grant

Sev­er­al years after the dis­ap­pear­ance of Rob­by Reed and the H‑Dial, Chris King and Vic­ki Grant, an unlike­ly pair of high school stu­dents, dis­cov­er a pair of mod­i­fied ver­sions of the H‑Dial in an old trunk in Chris’ attic. The H‑Dials only had four but­tons, spelling out the H‑E-R‑O sequence that would trans­form them into super­heroes. (Chris would also exper­i­ment once and spelled out H‑O-R-R-O‑R and was trans­formed into a monster.)

These heroes were cre­at­ed or sug­gest­ed (either or both con­cept and/or cos­tume design) by the fans and read­ers of the com­ic, which led to a con­stant stereo­type run­ning through the series in which Chris’ male char­ac­ters were more often the more phys­i­cal char­ac­ters where­as Vick­i’s were more often the more men­tal or ranged attack char­ac­ters. That cer­tain­ly is in the case with Hyp­no-Girl, below, where her part­ner Star Flare was a phys­i­cal char­ac­ter, but not so much with Hyptel­la, whose part­ner Elec­tro-Sta­t­ic was also a ranged attack character.

Each char­ac­ter was also an adult, not only phys­i­cal­ly but also in duties, which meant that the hero trans­for­ma­tions could also be called a tan­gi­ble wish-ful­fill­ment of any teenag­er, even for the fans cre­at­ing the characters.

Hypno-Girl (Adventure Comics #480) ‘Thunder Over Fairfax’

Hyp­no-Girl had the pow­er to project a wave of hyp­not­ic ener­gy that car­ried her tele­path­ic com­mand so that she did not need to vocal­ize one. She used it to take con­trol of sev­er­al mem­bers of a gang that had kid­napped her par­ents, caus­ing them to fight amongst them­selves. Vic­ki at this time, being very new to her pow­ers, was ini­tial­ly hes­i­tant about using them but bat­tled against her fears and inse­cu­ri­ty to hold her end of the bat­tle, leav­ing her part­ner Star Flare to bat­tle the main vil­lain, Thun­der Axe.

hypno_girl_picture_1

Hyp­no-Girl was unusu­al in that for some rea­son, she was­n’t able to fly as could most of her oth­er forms, even if flight was­n’t a part of their super­hero motif.

hypno_girl_picture_2

It is also inter­est­ing in that Hyp­no-Girl was in the sec­ond issue of their appear­ances, mak­ing her one of the first char­ac­ters to be shown in the series. That says some­thing about the pop­u­lar­i­ty and pres­ence of hyp­not­ic super­heroes and supervil­lains in the comics.

Note:Accord­ing to the foot­note, Hyp­no-Girl was cre­at­ed by a 16-year-old boy.

Hyptella (Adventure Comics #485) ‘The Evil Eight’

Hyptel­la’s hyp­not­ic pow­er was pro­ject­ed through her eyes. Even after this short of time, Vic­ki was now more con­fi­dent in using her pow­ers, plus more will­ing to use them in non-super sit­u­a­tions, espe­cial­ly here. (She could also fly, which her pre­vi­ous hyp­not­i­cal­ly-themed hero­ine was unable to do.)

hyptella_picture_1

She would use her pow­ers in two dif­fer­ent scenes in this issue, a rar­i­ty for this fast-paced sto­ry­line. The first time was before she knew of the men­ace of the Evil Eight and their boss, the Mas­ter: a friend of her was being attacked by a gang and she trans­formed to defend him, using her hyp­not­ic pow­ers to make the leader of the gang act like a donkey.

hyptella_picture_2

(Vic­ki) “No, my stu­pid friend … it is time for you to pay for hurt­ing this person.”

(Gang leader) “What? Who said that?”

(Vic­ki) “You’re tough when you’re tak­ing on some­one weak­er than you. Now let’s see how big you are when you take on Hyptel­la, Mis­tress of Hypnotism!”

(Vic­ki) “You are the leader of this child­ish gang … you think of your­self as some­one pow­er­ful, but you are not. What you are — is a jack­ass! So act — just like the jack­ass you are.”

(Gang leader) “Hee­haw! Hee­haw! Hee­haw! Heehaw”

There is an inter­est­ing dichoto­my here, in that Vic­ki is doing exact­ly the same thing to the gang leader as she is accus­ing of him doing to her friend. There is a def­i­nite sense of bul­ly­ing and vengeance in her pun­ish­ment here, as she is obvi­ous­ly much stronger than her oppo­nent, forc­ing him to humil­i­ate him­self, where­as a less vin­dic­tive per­son could have sim­ply made the gang leader and his gang for­get about the entire inci­dent. It is quite like­ly she was bul­lied in her youth, too.

The sec­ond time was when she and Chris (as Elec­tro-Sta­t­ic) inves­ti­gate a mys­te­ri­ous force field that had cut off their city. While inves­ti­gat­ing, they are attacked the Evil Eight. Elec­tro-Sta­t­ic is struck by one of them, K‑9, and Hyptel­la comes to her part­ner’s aid.

(Vic­ki) “K‑9. You can­not hurt him … you do not want to hurt him. Lis­ten to me, K‑9 … Feel my hyp­not­ic gaze burn into your mind. You will not kill my friend!

How­ev­er, despite her dia­log, the art for this pan­el def­i­nite­ly shows that K‑9 is not look­ing into her eyes. The next pan­el, is more ambigu­ous though.

Note: Accord­ing to the foot­note to the pan­el, Hyptel­la was cre­at­ed by a 13-year-old boy.

Com­men­tary: These sto­ries were drawn by indus­try great Carmine Infantino.

Cobress (Superboy and the Ravers #13)

Cobress was a female ser­pent with a hyp­not­ic stare. She used her pow­er to try to force Chris into hand­ing over his H‑Dial.

His­to­ry: After their series end­ed, Chris and Vic­ki went their own sep­a­rate ways. Vic­ki wound up as a mem­ber of a cult named the Chil­dren of the Sun which seri­ous­ly affect­ed her men­tal state. She attacked Chris to steal his H‑Dial, rapid­ly switch­ing between forms dur­ing the fight, one of which was Cobress, an act she would­n’t have been able to do when she first had the dial. How­ev­er, she even­tu­al­ly over­loaded the dial and was restored to her human, albeit quite dazed, form.


Com­men­tary: The char­ac­ters in this series were simul­ta­ne­ous­ly both a study in super­hero stereo­types and an exer­cise for the writ­ers and edi­tor to explore new con­cepts, not exact­ly sur­pris­ing as the char­ac­ters were cre­at­ed by comics read­ers. The ratio of hyp­not­ic char­ac­ters to the total num­ber of char­ac­ters involved is a bit low (in my opin­ion) to the over­all ratio in comics but con­sid­er­ing the sam­ple size, not entire­ly invalid.

Ref­er­ences:

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