HERO HOTLINEMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1989
Creators: Bob Rozakis (writer) and Stephen DeStefano (artist)
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As superheroes proliferate throughout a modern comics publisher's universe, there comes a point where they're regarded more-or-less as a public utility, available not merely for fending off Galactus and defeating The Joker, but for more mundane super tasks as well, such as getting cats out of trees and dealing with abusive husbands. Hero Hotline was manned by work-a-day superheroes, who earned a regular paycheck by pulling shifts, doing whatever super work was needed
to grease the wheels of normal society. The phone staff (dial 555-HERO) would refer inappropriate callers to whatever mundane service organizations they needed, and pass the superhero work on to the employees who did superhero work.
As the series opened, the day shift at Hero Hotline included Stretch (a rubber guy like Plastic Man), Private Eyes (equipped with lenses giving him telescopic, microscopic, X-ray and other types of super vision), Hotshot (a flame hurler like Wildfire), Diamondette (who could make her hands super-hard), Voice-Over (a super-ventriloquist like Centaur's The Voice), Mr. Muscle (a body builder whose strength may or may not quite have reached super levels) and Microwavabelle (aka Microwave Mom, who could heat people and things up just like a microwave oven) and The Coodinator (the mysterious boss, who evidently had a superhero career of his own in the '40s, but it wasn't mentioned in this context). The Coordinator worked through a personable office robot, or rather the "most most advanced robot monitor in the world", named 500-2Q (pronounced SOOZIE-Q, "Sooz" for short).
Tho it was never mentioned in the comics, it was no secret that The Coordinator was adventuring man Tex Thomson, who'd debuted alongside Superman himself in DC's Action Comics #1 in 1938, but it wasn't until three years later that he put on a superhero suit and started calling himself Mr. America. He'd remained an active superhero during most of World War II.
Other characterization was a little deeper than giving each a quirk, like was done with The Get-Along Gang. Stretch was an older guy, who knew The Coordinator from 'way back, a Gingold user before The Elongated Man isolated it, whose rebound muscles had weakened with age, leaving him overstretched like worn-out underwear. Mr. Muscles was always changing his superhero monicker, to things like "Brother Bicep" and "Flex" his real name was Sturgis Butterfield. Diamondette was working her way through medical school, and hoped to use her super power to be the first surgeon to operate with her bare hands. Hotshot was a young kid who'd probably have been flipping burgers if it hadn't been for his super power his mother thought he was president of The Justice League or something (or at least, should be). Microwave Mom was a recent widow raising grade-school kids, who used her super power to help make ends meet.
Hero Hotline was first seen in Action Comics Weekly #637 (January 31, 1989), the anthology title that included The Demon, a new version of Phantom Lady and several others. There was a four-part story ending in #640, followed by Hero Hotline #1, dated April, 1989. Both the Action preview and the regular first issue were written by Bob Rozakis (Air Wave) and drawn by Stephen DeStefano (Jingle Belle). Together, the two had been responsible for 'Mazing Man a few years earlier.
Hero Hotline had originally been planned as a six-issue mini-series. The Action Comics story was inserted before the already-done first issue, as an afterthought. The six issues ran their course by September, 1989. Rozakis and DeStefano handled them from beginning to end.
Since the series ended, the characters have been spotted with Wonder Woman, the new Superboy, and elsewhere in the DC Universe. They haven't exactly become superstars, but they haven't been forgotten, either.