The tears of Dial H #1

Posted by CB Droege

One of the ‘new wave’ of DC’s New 52 lines is the quirky Dial H.

In this first issue, we just barely get introduced to the concept: Nelse is down on his luck. Still a young man, he’s got few prospects and terrible health concerns.

He’s just recovered from a heart attack, when he learns that his best friend is in trouble, after helping him get treratment. Darren is being beaten by some thugs in an alley, and he seems to know them.

Nelse tries to fight back, but can only flee to a phone booth, where he dials a few random numbers, and changes form, becoming a man of smoke, aka Chimney Boy.

He uses the power of this form to smoke out the thugs, and bring his friend to safety, all the while trying to figure out what has happened to him. He seems to be sharing the odd body with another consciousness, with whom he has to converse and convince to allow him to control the actions of the body.

It’s not always Chimney Boy. When Nelse figures out how to reproduce what he did to bring the strange form into himslef, he gets a different ‘hero'. The clear contrast of the ‘secret identity’ of these anti-heroes is interesting, and that they all have the same secret identity makes it that much more compelling. This isn’t a man who, if caught off-guard could still defend himself, like most super heroes. He’s genuinely a weak and incapable person when he’s not dialed in. It's like a quirky Justice League who can only be there one at a time.

The book is well written so far. The story has not yet begun in earnest, so it’s difficult to tell what style the drama here will take, but it’s clear that writer China Mieville is on the ball in this issue, as it’s easy to find myself looking forward to #2. The art is nothing to write home about, but it’s also nothing to scoff at. The style is a bit gritty and sketchy, but the lines are clear, and the panels are never confusing.

Dial H is not like anything else that’s going on in the New 52, where many of the starting books are just now coming to a close.

It is, so far, a bit disconnected from the rest of the lines, which I appreciate, and shows some themes and style which could help balance out some of the righteous fluff of most of the rest of the New 52.

Dial H #1 is available now wherever you buy comics, including the Comixology store.