Dial “H” for Hero begins its run in Adventure Comics with issue 479 (March 1981). It retains the HERO dial from the earlier House of Mystery series from the 1960s, and the concept that the Dial temporarily transforms the dialer into a variety of different heroes, but not the characters from the original series.
Chrisopher King and Victoria Gratnt have a pair of dials, which they acquired in a preview story published in Legion of Super-Heroes, so no origin story is given in this issue, despite the fact that there are three tales in this comic, all by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino.
The heroes the two kids change into are not Wolfman creations, though. Instead, they are submitted by readers. The two Dials are attuned, so when one of the kids uses theirs, the other is alerted.
Even at 15 years old, this struck me as a cheap way of luring readers. Nor was I inclined to come up with a character, but have no control over the story it was in, or have it merely appear for a page or two before being consigned to oblivion.
The one thing I did notice, reading this issue again as an adult, was that the villain of the third and final story in the issue, Silver Fog, was created by Harlan Ellison, although he is credited as if he were one of the readers who sent in ideas. Cute.
The destruction caused by the Silver Fog means the family has to re-furnish their house, and readers are invited to design the furniture as well! Really? Let’s get real.
This comic completely turned me off, and I did not read another issue of it, until now, for this blog. Sacrifices must be made. As well as disliking the concept, Infantino’s art looked like an ugly parody of his classic work in the 50s and 60s, though I found that true for all of Infantino’s stuff from the 80s.