China Mieville’s “Dial H” continues to be one of the most interesting and certainly the most creative books DC puts out and issue #8 is no exception. Mieville is joined by Alberto Ponticelli and Dan Green on art, and while it’s not quite up to standards of previous issues, it still gets the job done.
Nelson and Roxie are such an odd couple you never see in comics — a fat guy and an old lady paired up and fighting crime. Even before they don some of the bizarre “Dial H” personas, it’s one of the most creative books out there. Add in the different heroes they inhabit and you get this absurd but totally refreshing book.
It’s as if Mieville is doing everything in his power to think outside the box — the concept itself, the kinds of non-traditional (sometimes seemingly worthless) heroes the Dial brings up, the villains, our two protagonists — and yet it all feels effortless. All these disparate elements come together in a way that almost doesn’t work, or shouldn’t, but does. The concept for The Centipede alone is a superpower idea worth its weight in gold. Beyond the creativity, Mieville’s strength is surely in the relationship between Nelson and Roxie. They have a natural and wonderful chemistry in Mieville’s hands, whether they’re talking each other through a battle or joking about ’80s power ballads. Like everything else in the book they’re a strange combination that just works in Mieville’s strange world.
The art by Alberto Ponticelli and Dan Green is solid, but not quite as strong as previous issues have been. The characterizations of Nelson and Roxie are inconsistent and sometimes shift dramatically — Nelson at times looks like the chubby guy he is, and sometimes has the arms of any buff supe in a traditional cape story. Additionally, expressions are not quite precise and sometimes fall into legitimately muddy. While Ponticelli handles The Centipede very well overall, some of the storytelling is confusing and I really had to lean heavily on Mieville’s writing to understand everything going on.
This particular issue of “Dial H” has some artistic inconsistencies and a slightly confusing story as The Centipede puts the pieces together and meets up with our heroes, but it’s still a totally creative book that deserves as many readers as possible.