Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dial E For Eternity--Let's Make A List!

You know who doesn't get enough attention?

Kid Eternity, that's who doesn't get enough attention.

Insane origin, batshit crazy power set, a back story that literally anything can be projected onto...the Kid is literally the ur-example of comic book craziness, but nobody wants to do anything with him!!

It's almost as if some editor sat Otto Binder and Sheldon Moldoff down and said, "Give me a character who's similar to Fawcett's Captain Marvel, but also use the plot of that movie Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and throw in lots and lots of famous dead people." And boy, did they deliver. [Editor's note: It should be noted that there is disagreement whether or not the author was actually Otto Binder. Golden Age, you know? But here we'll go with Binder...]

We'll deal in depth with Kid's origin later, but you likely know the gist: orphan is mistakenly taken to heaven by an angel ("you were supposed to live another 75 years!"), as recompense he's revived and given powers, including the ability to summon anyone from the afterlife to help him in his adventures. And not just real people--he could summon up characters from mythology and folklore (Hercules! Paul Bunyan!), and on occasion he could summon up fictional characters, like Romeo. He also called up fellow Quality heroes Blackhawk and Plastic Man, for example. Were they fictional to him, or did he somehow someone the "real" people, can see how wacky this gets.

He could also turn invisible, fly, travel in time...pretty awesome power set for a child. But all was not easy street: his "guardian angel," Mr. Keeper, could withdraw those powers if Kid was misbehaving or being selfish--leaving him in quite a jam in the middle of an adventure!! And the people he summoned from the past had free will--sometimes they refused to help out, or even joined the bad guys!!

He had one of those "equal/opposite" arch enemies,  Master Man, who was given powers by Satan, so when he said "Stygia," he could summon evil people from history/mythology.

The comparisons to Captain Marvel are obvious--orphan child uses magic word to summon powers from myth to fight evil. Indeed, in a few of his earliest appearances, Kid didn't just summon heroes from the past, he actually transformed into them!! So it should be no surprise that when DC resurrected the Marvel Family in the 70s, they moved Kid Eternity to Earth-S and made him Freddy Freeman's long-lost brother, with powers also derived from the Rock Of Eternity.

But there are similarities to other heroes as well. I've long thought that Kid Eternity might be drawing from the same "source" as the bearer of the "Hero Dial"--just one used supernatural means, the other scientific. And so in the crossover...[Editor's note: This is why snell is not allowed to write comics.] That's where the title for this feature came from.

I'm just amazed that, during the post-Crisis/pre-nu52 era, DC didn't make more use of Kid Eternity in their regular universe, outside of a few Teen Titans appearances. He became retcon central for awhile--you were never in heaven! Keeper is evil! You work for the Lords Of Order now! He was killed at least twice more!! Sigh...

But look at the (better) story possibilities: this guy could bring back Thomas Wayne for a talk with Bruce. Could he summon alien dead, too? Well, there's your Jor-El story! Flash still weepy about his mom? Kid could arrange for them to have lunch together every week! He could go after fake mediums, by calling up the real dead relatives to show how full of shit the fakirs are. He could call up folks being tortured in Hell to beat the crap out of their torturer, Etrigan! [Editor's note: Again, snell is (fortunately) prohibited from writing comics...]

Anyway, trying to find out who Kid has and hasn't summoned is the inspiration for this recurring feature. Just as my friend Siskoid has a feature detailing all of the transformations from the various incarnations of Dial H For Hero, I've been wanting to compile a list of everyone Kid has summoned. As far as I can tell, there are a couple of terribly incomplete lists out there, but man, for someone as cool as the Kid, we need to be thorough, right? (Just watch, within 5 minutes of this post a reader will point out that someone else has already done a complete list and here it is and it's so much better than mine, and I suck for even having this idea. Well, tough. I'm committed, so full speed ahead!)

So, at irregular intervals, I'll be going through the Kid Eternity stories, one by one, compiling a list of the folks he's summoned from the afterlife, keeping a running total--there will be spreadsheets and everything! Of course, I won't be able to resist stopping to look at some of these stories and squawking about the insane theological implications, the incorrect history, the questionable ethics, the conveniently coming and going powers, and other Golden Age nuttiness. Plus, when we get far enough along, I will be forced to actually read the post-Morrison Vertigo series. Everybody wins!!

Then, when we're done and finally have my list, well, then I can begin my magnum opus Shazam/Dial H/Kid Eternity crossover that will rock the DC Universe to its core, and...

[Editor's note: The rest of the ranting have been deleted, as snell is still legally prohibited from writing comics, no matter how cool he thinks his ideas are.]


Siskoid said...

You've got my attention!

While I read the Morrison and post-Morrison book, the only classic story I've read is the Master Man one reprinted in Wanted. Watch out for the Kid's "heroes" not being so beloved today!

snell said...

That will certainly be on the agenda...