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House of Mystery 166
"The King of the Curses!"

Story by unknown
Art by Jim Mooney
Dial H for Hero in "The King of the Curses!" (No, it's not Garth Ennis).

The opening splash page shows our hero Robbie Reed in a terrible fix as he, in the guise of Chief Mighty Arrow, is wrapped in chains by a "giant awesome albatross" while Robbie is riding his flying horse. ("I can't get to my super-Indian weapons to battle the beast!") We'll see the Chief later in the story.

The story begins with Robbie, looking like a young Mark Waid, greeting his young friend Suzy, who he apparently knows from previous adventures. ("Sockamagee! Suzy and her folks...moving to Littleville! This is gonna be swell!") Their class goes on a field trip to a wooded area where their teacher tells them the legend of the Cougar Man, a mean fellow of a century ago who was driven out by the townspeople but returned in animal form to take his vengeance. Surprisingly, as soon as the story is told, the real Cougar Man appears out of a time warp and runs wild through the class. Robbie ducks into a convenient cave and cranks up his HERO dial and emerges as...

...The Yankee Doodle Kid! He has a red white and blue costume (of course) and what looks like a chicken roosting on his head. You can see this cover-featured costume in the photo section of this Yahoo group. The battle ensues with YDK tackling Cougar Man with...super skyrocket vision, cherry bombs, skyrocket missiles, sparkler missiles, flying pinwheels, a fireworks picture display, a firecracker fence, and finally, a super cherry bomb that herds the poor cat back into his time warp. Whew! YDK changes back and the kids head home. Suzy is all excited, but Robbie thinks "I wish Suzy would admire me as Robby Reed as much as she does those super-heroes I secretly become!" Don't we all?

Meanwhile, in the seedy side of nearby Capital City, a fellow named Burke convinces a gang of toughs led by a guy named Madden that he can help them capture a whole bunch of these legendary-type critters so they can train them to work for their gang. Seems his boss, Professor Morgan, has invented a machine that brings legends to life. Madden gets all excited ("I could station the gang right on the scene, and during the panic they could plunder at will! I can become King of the Curses!"). ???? OK, if he says so.

They visit the professor, who protests that his machine isn't perfected, but Burke convinces him that the thugs are really scholars (yeah, right). "Well, as long as they're here, the lab's this way..."

They test the machine with a book called "The Curse of the Awesome Albatross," about a pirate captains bird that he used to place a curse on a town. Say what? Anyway, the bird comes to life and starts hassling the locals, and Robbie hears about it on the radio. He dials and becomes Chief Mighty Arrow, partnered with "...a winged Injun pony! Hi....Wingy!" Off they go to fight the bird, which is attacking a passenger jet.

Another mighty battle ensues, this time involving such super powers as a flame arrow, an explosion arrow, and...get this... "It's a long shot - but maybe my jet propelled bonnet feathers will tickle his underbelly! And a good bird laugh might turn the trick..." And by golly, it works!

The bird goes back into the time warp, and Chief Mighty Arrow flies off after a suspicious looking sedan carrying "...a criminal pack if I ever saw one, Wingy!" He throws his tomahawk in front of them and the car crashes into it after the tomahawk enlarges to giant size. "Out of the car! I've got some heap big questions to fire at you!" The police arrive and arrest everyone except the professor, who has no clue about what's really been going on with his "scholars." He smashes his machine, and Robbie appears in the final panel, where Suzy reads the paper and remarks that the new superheroes are becoming legendary in themselves. "If she only knew the REAL truth behind them!" Robbie thinks.

This is the kind of story we cringe at while reading today, but during its time it must have been pretty popular. It inspired a couple of revivals, and DC has announce yet another with the new series called HERO, due out next year.

Mark Waid revived Robbie Reed, teamed with Martian Manhunter, for one of the best issues of the DC Silver Age event a couple of years ago.

It must have been hard for the writer, whoever he was, to come up with at least two new heroes with powers and costumes each issue.

--your pal, Hoy