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The History of DC’s H-Dial

 

This is a character that not many know about. He has only been featured in comics sporadically in the last 60 years of DC Comics history, and he has a small but loyal fanbase.  His name is Robby Reed, and he was the first to have access to the H Dial, which is one of the most powerful devices in the DC Universe. Robby Reed was created by Dave Wood and Jim Mooney in the pages of House of Mystery, more specifically House of Mystery #156, with his first appearance being in January of 1966. Robby Reed was a teenager from Littleville, Colorado, and he first discovered the H Dial when he was exploring an abandoned cave.

 

 The H Dial is a rotary phone that will transform the dialer into a random superhero when one dials H- E- R- O-. As of currently writing, there has never been reuse of superhumans that were changed into, which means that it is said that the H Dial does not ever transform you into the same superhero twice, which has been a reassuring point in the recent Dial H comic series. Dialing O- R- E- H- turns you back into your normal self while you are a superhero. It is unknown what happens when you dial H- E- R- O- while already a superhero or what happens when you type O- R- E- H- while normal. Robby Reed’s enemy one used it and turned into a villain by typing V- I- L- L- A- I- N, and Robby’s girlfriend once transformed into a hero by typing H- E- R- O- I- N- E-. Some versions have typing O- R- E- H- turn you into a monster. The extent of the power of the H-Dial is still unknown. 

 

The H Dial in House of Mystery #156. Credit: Jim Mooney.

 

After a while, Robby gained partial amnesia, and lost and forgot about the H Dial. When he found it and dialed it again, he broke the rule one time- he turned into a duplicate of Plastic Man again, but this time he was deranged. The real Plastic Man fought him and won, and he confiscated the H Dial from Robby Reed, although Robby gained it back somehow. 

 

Later, Robby Reed attempted to use the H Dial again but turned into two different people at the same time- The Master and the Wizard, with the Master being evil and the Wizard being good. The Wizard was killed, and the Master was around for a while and was restored back to Robby Reed by two people who were given H Dials by the Wizard. A long while later, Robby Reed found the H Dial again, and in the process, he absorbed the power into himself. 

 

Robby Reed, Christopher King, and Victoria Grant in Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #6. Credit: Howard Bender and Dennis Jensen

 

Robby Reed is mostly forgotten, but the H Dial is still used, with a mini-series titled Dial H for Hero, created by Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones. The next character with the H Dial is Miguel Montez, a boy from Devil’s Canyon, which is a small town in California. Miguel is a daredevil in search of adventure, and he idolizes Superman because Superman saved his life when Miguel was ten years. Miguel’s parents died sometime later, and he was adopted by his uncle Brant.

 

With his uncle Brant, he ran a moderately successful food truck. The problem was, Miguel was not paid for his hard work at the food truck, and his life was extremely boring and dull. This was exemplified by the fact that his uncle ran a mayo food truck, in which every menu item was made of mayonnaise, meaning every single one of Miguel’s meals was made of mayonnaise. Miguel was getting sick of that (both the life he had and the mayonnaise). 

 

Miguel in the food truck in Dial H for Hero #2. Credit: Joe Quinones

 

With this, Miguel looked out for some new adventure, so he went down to a canyon and attempted to jump it. Problem is, he missed. As he was falling down the canyon, a retro-style phone spoke to him and told him to dial “H” if he wanted to live. Miguel did, and he transformed into the superhero “Monster Truck.” In this form, he caused a lot of damage, so the police tracked him down and attempted to arrest him. Miguel went on the run, and he was picked up by Summer Pickins, who had just stolen his uncle’s food truck. 

 

Miguel and Summer try to find the origins of the H Dial, and in the process, they learn about the Heroverse, which is a dimension from which the power of the H Dial comes from. They find two men in the Heroverse- the Operator and Mr. Thunderbolt. It turns out that the Operator and Mr. Thunderbolt are actually both Robby Reed, and they act like the Master and the Wizard were, with the Operator being Robby’s good side and Mr. Thunderbolt being Robby’s bad side. 

 

Dial H for Hero #2. Credit: Joe Quinones

 

After the mini-series Dial H for Hero ended,  Miguel joined Young Justice after accidentally getting tangled up in one of their missions. He does not appear in any large sense after that because the book ended 4 issues after he joined with issue #20. 

 

The history of the H Dial is a long one indeed. It first was found by Robby Reed, who used it in adventures. He and his friends occasionally used it for different things. Robby then split into two different distinct personalities, the Wizard and the Master. Then, Chris King and Vicki Grant were given two copies of the H Dial by the Wizard. Then, someone named Hero Cruz used a version of the H Dial that relied on the multiverse. Finally, Miguel Montez gained the H Dial, and that is where it has been.


In the New 52 though, the H Dial was remade, even though Robby Reed was not affected by Crisis on Infinite Earths, meaning there are two different types of H Dials in the DC Universe at the moment. This H Dial was actually a series of telephones that all had different powers and different codes to unlock their powers. These include the G-E-A-R Dial, the J-U-M-P Dial, the Dial Tapper, the AutoDial, the S-I-D-E Dial, and the D-O-O-M Dial.

 

Dial H #1. Credit: Brian Boland.

 

Nelson Jent and Roxie Hodder find an H Dial, and this H Dial acts differently. This H Dial drains powers from alternate universe superheroes in order to give powers to the wielder of the H Dial. The two were later given another H Dial by the Canadian military, but it is actually a S-I-D-E Dial. The S-I-D-E Dial is a dial that when you type S- I- D- E-, you transform into a sidekick, who serves the nearest hero. The other dials all have powers completely different from each other. The G-E-A-R Dial summons machinery from other dimensions, the J-U-M-P Dial allows you to travel between dimensions, the D-O-O-M Dial summons an apocalypse on any world you choose, the Dial Tapper duplicates the effects of a near Dial, and the AutoDial that operates automatically. 

 

The H Dial is a machine within DC Comics that has immense power and limitless story potential, and it is a waste that it has not been used further. It is great to see it make a comeback, with Miguel Montez being the perfect character to have the H-Dial. 

Written by Donovan Reed