Sometimes resurrection can be a very good thing. A creative concept packed with potential, China Mieville and Mateus Santolouco’s “Dial H” #1 is already filled to the brim with good ideas.
Mieville’s writing reminds the reader (perhaps unfortunately) that there’s no reason comics can’t be written this well all the time. The concept (repurposing an idea that began in the ’60s), that a shlubby late twenties guy named Nelse stumbles into a “magic” phone booth while trying to help his friend and finds himself transformed into an unconventional hero, is odd. But it has limitless potential. The duality of a person transformed into a new hero every time and existing as both that hero and still themselves is fascinating. Mieville makes it work almost effortlessly. “Dial H” is simply a great concept that adds a nice dimension to the superhero yarn — hitting all the same beats that superhero fans know and love, but in innovative new ways. Plus, there’s a confidence in Mieville’s writing that leaves a reader similarly confident everything will pay off and the ride will be incredibly enjoyable in the process.
Santolouco’s artwork is expressive and kinetic. Unafraid to be alternately ugly and beautiful (and sometimes both at once), it’s bold and confident work. The panel layouts are traditional and expected, until they demand insanity, at which point they become appropriately insane. The colors by Tanya and Richard Horie are rich and dark as the book requires and they commit to the style and tone with the same fearless energy.
The sole complaint I have of the book is that there’s just so much going on, and so much of it is bizarre that there are places where it’s a little hard to follow. But it’s honestly so good and interesting, that I found myself not caring much that I had to do a little extra work to make sure I was getting everything. Certainly the layers, the creativity and the sheer quality make this book worth the extra effort.
Easily one of the better books to come out of DC in the last year, this is a great addition to the replacement books DC is rolling out and one I’d be delighted to see go the distance.