It’s the second round of DC’s New 52 second wave, and Dial H #2 is on the stands. Major Spoilers is dropping a dime and dialing R for Review.

DIAL H #2
Writer: China Miéville
Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Colorists: Tanya & Richard Horie
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover: Brian Bolland
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Previously, in Dial H: Chain-smoking sad sack Nelson Jent has little in his life other than the prospect of future heart attacks and his best friend Darren. Unfortunately, Darren is in a little trouble with his employer, which happens to be the local supervillain-run organized crime outfit. While trying to defend his friend from a beat-down, Jent discovers a rotary dial telephone booth that temporarily transforms him into various heroes, such as Boy Chimney and (the awesome) Captain Lachrymose. This just results in a delayed beating that puts Darren in the ICU and Nelson in a strange world of superheroes and villains.

DIAL M FOR MIÉVILLE (SORRY FOR REUSING A TERRIBLE JOKE)

When the second wave of New 52 books was announced, none excited me more than Dial H, and for one reason only: China Miéville. The novelist is a high-profile literary talent, a Nebula-nominated and Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning writer, and one of the best working in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. His strange, weird fiction-inspired style is perfectly suited to a concept like Dial H, which requires an imaginative power capable of coming up with a plethora of strange and wonderful heroes. Issue #1 was an a definite success.

The second issue does not reach the dizzying heights of the first, but second issues rarely stack up to their predecessors. There is a fair amount of table-setting going on this issue, including details of the limits of the Dial H phone booth (which includes a few heroes I hope aren’t throwaways, such as the amazingly wonderful Pelican Army). Some hints are dropped about the nature of the villainous threat, though the Squid and Ex Nihilo still remain mostly mysterious. The best parts delve into just how seductive dialing H for hero has become for Nelson; with a frightfully depressing outlook for his civilian future, Nelson enjoys the moments where the superhero identities obliterate his sense of self. This both intrigues and repels him, most heartbreakingly so when he wishes he could change into someone smarter. Miéville is doing expert character work on this book – two issues in, and I really feel for this protagonist.

One big hitch in the writing did rear its ugly head, however. The pace of the issue felt off, and I was confused at times by what precisely was meant to be happening. It was like a few panels of exposition were missing, or the action was happening too fast for me to track what was going on. I don’t think this is Miéville being mysterious, but rather a novelist adjusting to the very different requirements of a comic book script.

IRON SNAIL IS BASICALLY RIDICULOUS AND AWESOME

Mateus Santolouco is a great talent for this book – he is able to imbue ridiculous concepts like Iron Snail with a convincingly executed look, and his sketchy, jagged drawing style fits the overall grungy, urban tone. There’s some creative use of paneling going on, best seen in some POV shots for computer-themed hero Control-Alt-Delete. The art is all-around well done; dark, without being unreadable, and bursting with energy.

I WANT MORE PELICAN ARMY

Dial H #2 is not the slam dunk of the stunning first issue, but it is still a darn good read, building atmosphere and pathos better than most books on the stands. China Miéville is still finding his footing as a comic book writer, but growing pains notwithstanding, I feel very comfortable recommending this book to most any reader. This issue features eight heroes (although a ninth, Rancid Ninja, is unfortunately never seen), six broken windows, three attempted poisonings, two snailtrailed thugs, and one account of mollusk-on-mollusk violence. Dial H #2 earns a very respectable four out of five stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

George Chimples

George Chimples

George Chimples comes from the far future, where comics are outlawed and only outlaws read comics. In an effort to prevent that horrible dystopia from ever coming into being, he has bravely traveled to the past in an attempt to change the future by ensuring that comics are good. Please do not talk to him about grandfather paradoxes. He likes his comics to be witty, trashy fun with slightly less pulp than a freshly squeezed glass of OJ. George’s favorite comic writers are Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, while his preferred artists are Guy Davis and Chris Bachalo, He loves superheroes, but also enjoys horror, science fiction, and war comics. You can follow him @TheChimples on Twitter for his ramblings regarding comics, Cleveland sports, and nonsense.

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6 Comments

  1. June 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm — Reply

    I thought the issue featured some fantastic concepts, Shamanticore and Iron snail had me wanting more but boy does this series drag. I’m defiantly go to continue to pick this for more of these ridiculous Doom Patrol style hero’s but I’m really hoping that the series either picks up or that my level of investment spontaneously spikes.

  2. Armaan
    June 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm — Reply

    I actually loved this issue just as much as the first, and in this one is really seems like the comic book is moving along at the pace it ought to be, unlike some other comics like say, Earth 2, where I’m still waiting for the introductions to get out of the way and let things START.
    The dialogue was GREAT, Shamanticore made my entire week, and the fight scene was highly, highly enjoyable, I LOVE Squid. And it’s one of the few mysteries in comics that actually has me caring and wondering what will happen next, instead of feeling all, “It’s going to be explained soon enough anyway”.

    I did have some trouble with the comic at first, too.. it seemed a bit cluttered, but a few rereads and it all makes sense and you’re wondering how it ever could have seemed cluttered at all in the first place.

  3. Patrick
    June 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    Definitely keeping my attention and one series I look forward to reading. Intrigued enough to keep with the series.

  4. June 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm — Reply

    I too desire more Pelican Army.

    But as for the previous issue, I preferred Boy Chimney to Capt Lachrymose, which the following video I made can attest:
    http://youtu.be/zQ6C49sYHqg

    This is a book I want to succeed, just as I wanted OMAC to succeed. Here’s hoping DIAL H can survive longer than the aforementioned love letter to Jack Kirby.

  5. b003
    June 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm — Reply

    Never read it but it looks interesting.

  6. June 18, 2012 at 9:22 am — Reply

    There are definitely plans in the works to tie this in to the previous Dial H For Hero series. The Squid first appeared as a villain in the second Dial H series, in Adventure Comics #490; and DC’s website says that the Abyss (the Squid’s “partner”) will be returning in Dial H #4. As the creator of the Abyss, I’m tickled to hear that. Only two other characters from that Dial H run have made encore appearances, and that was because they were creations of Harlan Ellison and Stephan DeStefano. (For those who didn’t know: there have been three earlier Dial H series. The second one is noteworthy because all the heroes and villains came from reader submissions.)

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