A Tribute to the of

The notion of a patriotic superhero is hardly new, though they logically had their heyday in the Golden Age. You had, among others, Liberty Belle, U.S. Jones, the Star-Spangled Kid with Stripesy, The Fighting Yank, The Shield (who was actually the first back in Archie’s Pep Comics in 1940) and even Uncle Sam himself, but who out there remembers the Yankee Doodle Kid? I didn’t think so. Perhaps it’s because he occupied all of 5 pages in a single story in The House of Mystery, #166 in April of 1967. Well, he did also adorn the cover in all his red, white and blue splendor as depicted by artist Jim Mooney. Jim also did interior art for the Dave Wood written “The King of the Curses!” as Robby Reed uses his mysterious dial to become a pair of heroes, all under the editorial direction of Jack Schiff.

The gist of this story is that young Robby Reed is off on a field trip with his schoolmates where they’re being exposed to some local folklore in Cougar County. Their teacher explains that approximately 100 years prior the local town-folk had exiled Justine (Justine?) Mudd for being a low down thief. As he is driven away, he calls down a curse upon them, vowing that he’ll have his vengeance one day. So, many years later a strange Cougar Man (sporting the obligatory trunks) arrives, right where the field trip is currently in attendance and rips a tree out of the ground to disrupt a picnic. Then, wouldn’t you know, some sort of portal opens and the Cougar Man appears to the startled members of the class.

Robby slips away and since he has his dial with him, uses it to transform into the Yankee Doodle Kid. His first attempt to stop the Cougar Man isn’t as effective as he’d like. He uses his eyes to spray the creature with super skyrocket blasts, but they merely distract the Cougar Man. Next, the Kid hurls some cherry bombs at the uprooted trees, destroying the potential weapons. The Cougar Man, however, has taken a powder. The hero flies off into the forest to locate the fiend, but before he can engage, manages to get his ankle caught in a bear trap.

The Cougar Man advances on the Yankee Doodle Kid, who again tries some skyrocket missiles, this time emanating from his fingertips, but they are just as ineffective as the threat looms closer and closer to the trapped hero. Finally, the skyrocket blasts from his eyes are used to burn through the trap, freeing him.

The Kid now goes on the offensive, using sparkler missiles, flying pinwheels and even a fireworks picture of a menacing dragon to guide the Cougar Man back to the portal from which he came. He succeeds and thus neutralizes this particular threat, then returns to his normal form by reverse dialing the letters “H-E-R-O.”

Later, on the wrong side of the tracks, some underworld types are pondering their next scheme and wishing they’d been able to somehow use the Cougar Man they’re reading about in the news when someone nearby named Burke suggests that he can deliver other threatening legends to life to aid them in creating a diversion for their planned crimes.

Burke brings the criminals to the laboratory of his employer, Professor Morgan. Morgan has developed a device called a “Legend Computer” that displays the scenarios from folklore. What he doesn’t realize is that it also duplicates them in the real world and that was the genesis of the Cougar Man and now, a monstrous albatross from an ancient pirate vessel.

When Robby hears of this latest menace on the radio in his lab shack, it’s dial time again and he becomes Chief Mighty Arrow along with his winged steed “Wingy.” Soon an aerial battle is on with the Chief using gimmick arrows that would make Green Arrow even more green with envy, but he’s not having any luck grounding the monstrous bird. Finally he manages to chase it back to the source of the trouble, Professor Morgan’s lab. The puzzle pieces begin to fall into place when Mighty Arrow sees a fleeing vehicle. He stops them with a thrown tomahawk that grows to the size of a wall and gets to the bottom of things.

Later, the Chief arrives at the secluded mountaintop laboratory and seizes the other henchmen. He then explains to the perplexed professor what’s been going on. Morgan destroys his machine, declaring it unsafe and the story comes to a close.

I usually get a kick out of the imaginative scripts in the “Dial H for Hero” series, but this one left me cold. Both heroes seemed sort of silly. The Yankee Doodle Kid was basically a human fireworks display and I’m not one for political correctness, but the hokey “injun” dialogue for Chief Mighty Arrow was a distraction as well. Just a 4 for this story. Not every Silver Age tale was golden.

As per usual, this feature will be back with another review in about two weeks. There are plenty more stories to explore and as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions, so don’t hesitate to drop a line to professor_the@hotmail.com.

Long live the Silver Age!

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