Saturday, May 5, 2012


STORY: China Miéville
ART: Mateus Santolouco

Dial H is officially one of my favorite series of DC's 'New 52'. Kelly Thompson over at ComicBookResources probably puts it the best when she explains how, "Miéville's writing reminds the reader (perhaps unfortunately) that there's no reason comics can't be written this well all the time."

Miéville is, by trade, a 'weird fiction' author whose off-kilter spin on fantasy and sci-fi can sometimes be a bit much even for entrenched fans of said genres. Dial H represents the best ideas of literature and the written narrative transferred to a graphic medium. Miéville treats his readers like the adult readers they are (at least these days). I've often cited my distaste for Scott Lobdell's work on Superboy and more recently Teen Titans, and Miéville's style is pretty much the exact opposite. Readers are made to actually work to understand a concept and story instead of it being shoved down their throat.

Dial H takes the classic Dial H for Hero concept and rewrites it for the 21st century, taking the cheeky style and turning into one of the darkest, most intricate tales in quite some time. Basically, there's this mystical phone booth that transforms normal people into superheroes for a short time when they dial H-E-R-O on the phone. In this first issue, our hero - an overweight slacker named Nelson - becomes the slender, skeleton-like Boy Chimney, The Child King of Emissions, then later, the emo Captain Lachrymose. If this sounds weird, it is, and reading through the first time might be completely confusing. Dial H definitely demands multiple reads to fully experience the events to their fullest.

But that's what comics should be! Why spend $3.99 for a single issue you'll read once then look at for the art? It seems absurd and Miéville is making an excellent case for a step up in the level of narrative quality among mainstream comic books.


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