Dial H for Hate and Love

Marv Wolfman has finally found his groove I think. Where a lot of his Dial H stories have been very disposable, "Games Villains Play!" feels more relevant. First, he integrates the villain into the DCU (doing my job for me), then he makes the story personal and important to the characters (when his dad is badly wounded, Chris becomes obsessive about catching the bad guy, and almost crosses the line), he finds time for the supporting cast (bully Brad's dad leaves his mom), and he chooses to use my very favorite Dial H character of all time, Zeep the Living Sponge! Ok, this is really personal, but I once played Zeep in a superhero PbeM RPG so I have a great fondness for the character.

However, the story does have its problems for submitting readers: Over the course of Chris' obsession, there's basically a montage of encounters with the villain in which the dialed heroes are pictured and credited, but not seen in action. That's gotta be a good news/bad news scenario for the characters' creators. I've included them as well to try and give them a little more love.

Case 28: Adventure Comics #483
Dial Holders: Chris and Vicki
Dial Type: Watch and Pendant Dials
Dialing: The Dials may not allow their users to kill, or else have a sense of irony. When Chris "dials angry", he is disappointed to be given the silly identity of Zeep the Living Sponge.
Name: Zeep the Living Sponge (great name, immediately charming, I love it)
Created by: Stephen DeStefano, Age 14, from S. Ozone Park, NY (the creator of 'mazing Man and more importantly, of Hero Hotline, see below)
Costume: Zeep is seemingly made of orange sponge and has simple alien-like features with big red eyes. Up close, there is a texture to his skin.
Powers: Though Zeep is made of spongy tissue, he appears to otherwise have an anatomical structure similar to normal humans (he can be choked, for example). His only real power is to jump and bounce at fearsome speeds.
Sighted: In Fairfax, he was involved in the Games-Master's first encounter with the city's superheroes.
Possibilities: DeStefano has already integrated Zeep into the DCU by way of Hero Hotline. Zeep served on the Hotline's night shift. He's still there, hoping to one day make it to the day shift.
Integration Quotient: 100% (already there, I just want to see more of him)
Name: Thumbelina (based on a fairy tale, it's as good a name as any for a diminutive heroine)
Created by: Stephen DeStefano, Age 14, from S. Ozone Park, NY (Dial H's best performer)
Costume: A tiny heroine with a mane of lush brown hair and a pleasant costume in shades of blue, Thumbelina wears high boots and gloves, and a spiky mask, and has a subtle diamond motif going. This harlequinizing plays on her looking like a ballerina, which may be a visual pun.
Powers: Thumbelina's height seems to vary from panel to panel, anywhere from that of a Barbie to perhaps 3 inches. Whatever the case, she is always in a miniaturized state, but has the strength of a full-grown human.
Sighted: In Fairfax, she was involved in the Games-Master's first encounter with the city's superheroes.
Possibilities: Any team that wants a miniature hero could do well with Thumbelina, also raising their male/female ratio. The possible ballerina connection gives her an interesting secret identity to play with.
Integration Quotient: 45% (DC's only other "female Atom" possibility is what, Doll Girl?)
Name: Lightmaster (already a Marvel supervillain)
Created by: Jeffrey Johnson, Age 13, from Newbean, TN
Costume: Lightmaster's stolen the Flash's mask and Captain Marvel's shirt and braccers. He adds yellow suspenders with diamond studs that make him look like the King in a pack of cards, and a yellow cape.
Powers: Unknown. Presumably, he can control light and/or laser beams.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting the Games-Master.
Possibilities: It could be amusing if Lightmaster were someone who accidentally found a way to tap into Shazam's magic thunderbolts. He's been stealing the Marvel Family's powers steadily without meaning to. Eventually, he relents and becomes a minor, occasional player in Fawcett City.
Integration Quotient: 10% (in reality, I don't think he'd ever see use, but I kinda like my idea)
Name: Tiarra Star (is that her real name, because it's spelled "tiara")
Created by: Jeanette Fuller, Age 14, from Lake City, GA
Costume: A green leotard, over which is thrown a blue bathing suit, gloves and mask, along with mousy brown hair... That's a terrible color scheme. No tiar(r)a?
Powers: Unknown. The name does not inspire any particular powers.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting the Games-Master.
Possibilities: It's likely Tiarra is either a super-strengthster or an energy blaster. I'd write her up as a beauty queen who decides to fight crime, but she just doesn't have the fashion sense for it.
Integration Quotient: 2% (needs a change of clothes, quick, before I use my idea on a character called Miss Congeniality)
Name: Matter Girl (sounds like a fit for the Legion of Super-Heroes)
Created by: Perry Rhone, Age 11, from Silsbee, TX
Costume: Looks like a purple bathing suit, but well supplemented by a choker with the letter M on it, and beautiful, Grecian black curls.
Powers: Unknown. Presumably, she creates matter out of thin air.
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting the Games-Master.
Possibilities: Despite the name, I don't see her in the Legion because she looks too mature and has non-Interlac lettering in her costume. Too bad she isn't called Material Girl, because that would actually inspire me. So... Legion reject?
Integration Quotient: 4% (looks pretty, but doesn't suggest anything interesting)
Name: Molecule Man (already a Marvel supervillain, and not an obscure one)
Created by: David Harris, Age 11, from Americus, GA
Costume: A blue suit with a helmet-like mask, a red cape, and ear pieces that send a wave form over her head to make an M and suggest a nose. There's probably more to it, but it's not visible.
Powers: Unknown. Presumably he can transmute matter (making him a good partner for Matter Girl).
Sighted: In Fairfax, fighting the Games-Master.
Possibilities: Perhaps we can save Molecule Man AND Matter Girl by making them a married couple with complementary powers. These days, a married couple working together would be positively unique.
Integration Quotient: 3% (unlikely to replace Firestorm as DC's primary transmuter, not with that name and costume)
Name: Echo (a good name, and indeed, it's been used for a Daredevil supporting character, a member of the Conglomerate, a Riddler henchman, a Terry Moore-penned series, and a variety of DC villains)
Created by: Jeffrey Albrecht, Age 23, from Rochester, MI
Costume: The red and yellow look good on a blond, and though the interior art makes her haircut a bit severe, the cover fluffs it up nicely. Good stick-on mask. The knotted X on her chest gives her a slightly preppy look, like a sweater thrown over her shoulders.
Powers: Echo can repel energy and send it back to its source.
Sighted: In Fairfax, part of the duo that finally apprehended the Games-Master.
Possibilities: Reactive powers like hers don't make her the best of superhero designs, even in a team book. Echo really needs a complementary partner, and I'm not coming up with the right pun to make him or her up.
Integration Quotient: 5% (ultimately too limited a design)
Name: Music Master (slightly villainous and unlikely to be a pun, but good alliteration)
Created by: David Austin Hunt, Age 13, from High Point, NC
Costume: In yellow and green, MM's chest notes and radio class in red, but he sports a nice twist on the Flash's ear pieces, a note instead of a bolt of lightning. Yellow bands run up the legs, invoking sheet music. Ahead of his time, the suit appears to be form-fitting armor just like Jim Lee's Justice League costume designs.
Powers: Music Master's radio turns sound into destructive energy which he channels through his suit to blast things and people. The wide green blast produced appears to have a distorted sonic component.
Sighted: In Fairfax, part of the duo that finally apprehended the Games-Master.
Possibilities: Music-related heroes, in a visual medium like comics, aren't all that engaging, and may even seem silly (no offense, Dazzler). Music Master seems to me like he could be related to another Dial H hero, Trouble Clef (a favorite from New Adventures of Superboy, I'll get to him eventually). Since I'd rather have Clef in the DCU, I'd have him start his career as Music Master.
Integration Quotient: 5% (the ridiculousness of the design would keep him from becoming the DCU's male equivalent of Dazzler)

Bonus Supervillain
Name: Games-Master (sounds strange with that plural on Games... I guess he doesn't tap into the RPG craze)
Created by: Robert A. Buethe, Age 21, from Elmont, NY
Costume: The harlequin costume speaks to his connection to the Joker (see below), and helps excuse its extreme clownishness. Mostly red and white, with a diamond-plad camp and shorts, a golden grown, a purple plastron with each suit of the pack of cards on it, and spade-shaped knee guards coming out of black boots. It works in a dated sort of way.
Powers: The Games-Master uses various game-related gimmicks to fight the forces of justice. His arsenal includes deadly gas-releasing dice, jacks that fire bullets, strangling horseshoes, a marble-firing gun, chess pieces that fire lasers, and razor-sharp checkers.
Sighted: Gary Ames used to be a hit man working for the Joker, but was captured by GCPD while playing a board game. Vowing to use games to HELP commit crimes, Ames becomes the Games-Master and embarks on a crime spree in Fairfax, stealing from game stores and companies and in the process injuring detective King. After getting away from three separate superhero duos, he is finally arrested by Echo and Music Master.
Possibilities: I think it's interesting that a former henchman would strike out on his own, much like superheroes' sidekicks do. The GM feels very DC too, as the universe is chock-full of gimmick villains obsessed with a certain theme. While he'd make a fair Flash or Batman opponent, thematically, he would work better as an opponent for one of the younger Batman Family members. A rivalry with Harley Quinn wouldn't be amiss.
Integration Quotient: 95% (already there, it's just a matter of giving him a reason to return)

But who is that guy with the trading cards on the cover? That's a story for... next time!


snell said...

Echo should be paired with The Bunnyman.

You're welcome.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

The new Dial H had several single panel Heros. I hope we get to see them again in some form.

Siskoid said...

Snell: Banished*.

Wayne: They probably won't... except on this blog one day!

*A fate reserved for punsters in my house. Ask around.

Martin Gray said...

I forget, was it explained how the dial could channel existing heroes? As with Robby and Plastic Man, so with Chris and Zeep.

Siskoid said...

I am unaware of any explanation (it may come), but you're right. There's no reason to treat Zeep any differently than Plastic Man.

Bob Buethe said...

Games-Master was inspired by the fact that I was just getting into RPGs at the time. Different games used different names for the referee: dungeon master, storyteller, game master, and I'm pretty sure that there was one rulebook (I forget which) that used gamesmaster.

In my original submission, Games-Master was a dial-created hero, not a villain. I wrote that when he captured a criminal, he should leave behind a card that said "Go to jail, go directly to jail." Marv Wolfman made him a villain instead, coming up with the Joker connection. I liked that story very much, and I would have liked to see him return.

Siskoid said...

Saw all three of your messages Bob... You got THREE characters published?! That's an embarrassment of riches! Belated congratulations!


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