As part of the “Second Wave” of The New 52, DC Comics resurrects the quirky Dial H for Hero for a new generation.
Dial H #1
Nelse Jent is a fat man. Once upon a time he was so much more, but through self-loathing, bad luck, and just downright lethargy, he’s lost his esteem and body. Jent’s not even 30 and he’s had cardiac problems. When a friend just trying to look out for him get attacked by thugs who work for the same boss as the friend, Jent stumbles upon a special phone booth that whenever he dials 4376, he gains power enough to be a hero. Unfortunately, there are powers that be in the shadows that will make Jent’s life very difficult indeed.
Dial H for Hero dates back to a 1966 issue of House of Mystery and always had a peculiar premise. It literally is a telephone that can transform our protagonist into a multitude of heroes. In this first issue of the new series, we are introduced to Kid Chimney, a monstrously bony ghoul who can manipulate soot and smoke, and Captain Lachrymose, an emo character who brings out the saddest moments in peoples’ lives. These are two characters that couldn’t be any weirder if writer China Miéville tried. Kid Chimney speaks almost in riddles and Captain Lachrymose looks like a reject from a video by The Cure. Their powers are weird and their looks are weird, but it’s pretty darn entertaining. I found myself anxiously looking forward to what Nelse was going to turn into next. It reminded me of something like a Mad Lib or a game in which you pull out an adjective from one hat and a noun from another.
If there’s one thing that could potentially turn audiences off is that this isn’t a “safe” character for anyone to come into a comic shop off the street and immediately be drawn to. Those who like Miéville’s previous work in novels will be naturally curious about what he will do with a DC Comics character. However, it is a story that requires the reader to stick around a few more issues. There’s no back story here. There isn’t an origin of the mystical “H-Dial” or who these characters are outside the basics. You have two friends – one fat and down on his luck and the other a thug. Beyond that, we launch right into their world. No easing in, no additional information given… Yet.
Is that enough to bring people back? For me, yes. I’ve developed a serious love affair with DC’s “Dark” titles. They’re full of monsters and weirdness, but not the completely bonkers weird that Grant Morrison rapes your mind into submission with, but it’s fringe stuff. Either you’re a fan of that or not. All things considered, it’s a great compliment to that line of books as none of them were canceled in the first round of cuts and was actually added onto with the new wave. For me, I’m in. I’ve yet to drop one of the Dark books so far and the cover was all I needed to see to want to give this one a try. If quirky storylines and off beat plots aren’t really your thing, all I can say is buyer beware.
Mateus Santolouco provides well-matched art to the comic. He does a good job of mixing the darker scenes with the more straightforward which also mixes in well with the weird. It is the style of art that flows nicely and stays consistent but also seems to morph from one panel to the next to fit what it must show. All around, it was good stuff, but I particularly loved the design of Kid Chimney. Can heroes be that grotesque and scary looking? Apparently so, but despite his looks, Kid Chimney kinda stole the issue by being oddly charismatic at the same time.
I’m looking forward to seeing what issue 2 gives us and what Jent will turn into next!
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Weird, but the good kind. Good art with cool layouts and a very cool Kid Chimney. Just the right amount of weird to keep me wanting to come back to see what’s next, but…||The weird is something that you have to like to like this book. People looking for Batman and Superman type of stories are going to have a real hard time connecting to this book. If they can’t, oh well, more for me!|
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