A Tribute to the of

Sporting the infamous Go-Go Checks and another three-paneled cover, House of Mystery #159 from June of 1966 gave us our fourth adventure with young Robby Reed in the "Dial H for Hero"¯ series of stories and his first encounter with "The Clay Creep Clan!" The story was, as usual, written by Dave Wood with art by the great Jim Mooney, both cover and interior. Editorial duties were carried out by Jack Schiff.

Things begin in a movie theater where Robby is viewing a newsreel along with his Littleville chums. The footage details a bizarre robbery in which the perpetrator, a known local criminal, has seemingly turned into clay, allowing him to stretch and maneuver into places impossible to reach by normal human bodies.

No sooner do Robby and his friends exit the theater when they spot yet another crook, also displaying the clay attributes helping himself to jewels from a second story window. Fortunately Robby had the presence of mind to bring his famed H-dial with him and he slips away in order to use it to dial the familiar letters H-E-R-O, literally spinning the dial of chance to see what new superhero he will transform into.

This time he is a human starfish, with four tentacle-like arms to aid him in pursuing the felon. Following the robber to a nearby rooftop, which he has accessed through the malleability of his limbs, the strange new superhero takes advantage of the suction cups on his arms and once on the rooftop does a cartwheel maneuver. The clay crook lowers himself swiftly down the other side of the building, so Robby leaps after him, relying on a flagpole to break his fall. Ultimately he captures the thief with his tentacles and turns him over to the authorities, but the suspect is uncooperative in divulging how he attained his fantastic clay abilities.

Robby slips away and reverses the process to return to his natural form, but remains vigilant for his next opportunity to tackle this new threat to his hometown. He also recalls that the thug dropped something during apprehension, so he returns to the scene to discover a clue in the form of a king of diamonds playing card. Deducing that it refers to the condemned King Theater on Diamond Street, Robby races to the location.

The youth has guessed correctly as he discovers a gangland hideout, so it's time for another spin of the dial and he is now Hypno-Man, sporting a large swirling disc on the chest of his costume to aid in overcoming his adversaries. It proves to be an effective device as he successfully incapacitates the gang members at the hideout, affording him the opportunity to search for clues. He comes across a note from the Clay King and some distinctive trace samples of soil that put him on the trail.

Elsewhere, at the secluded mountain cavern hideout of the Clay King, we learn that it is those distinctive minerals present that allow the clay abilities to those exposed to them. Soon one of the captured crooks arrive, but it is in reality Hypno-Man in disguise. Unfortunately he is quickly found out and during the fray the disc is shattered, leaving him powerless. Beating a hasty retreat, Robby restores himself to his natural form, then swiftly re-dials himself into...the Mighty Moppet. Essentially he's become a baby superhero complete with baby bottles on his uniform belt.

When he realizes his diminutive size and strength don't seem to be enough he deploys the bottles, which respectively shrink his foes down to his size, which allows him to handily tackle them, and later, after the effects of the cavern have worn off and their clay properties with it, he restores them with the other bottle, just in time for the authorities to haul them away. 

I've always enjoyed this series and even when the heroes get a little goofy (I thought King Kandy was over the top), it's still a fun read. 6 points on the 10-point rating scale and Jim Mooney, you left us too soon.

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Long live the Silver Age!

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