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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
11
3.8 out of 5 stars


on 17 April 2015
Nelson Jent is an out-of-shape, unemployed schlub who discovers a mysterious phone booth with a rotary dial in an alley near his flat. When he dials a specific number – H-E-R-O (the letters are underneath the numbers) – he transforms into… well, any number of random whacky “superheroes” for a short time before reverting back to his normal self! With his new powers he’s going to get revenge on the bad guys who killed his buddy.

Dial H isn’t a very good comic but I didn’t hate it. One of my issues with DC’s New 52 has been a lack of variety in the cast and if there’s one thing Dial H has plenty to spare, it’s variety. I liked the gothic Boy Chimney, the ultimate emo Captain Lachrymose, the utterly brilliant Iron Snail, and Tugboat – a dude with tugboats for hands! Those are great characters – it’s just a shame they were poorly written so the only memorable thing about them were their appearances.

The Brian Bolland covers are amazing and I liked the David Lapham-drawn issue where casual racism in older comics is addressed after Nelse transforms into Chief Mighty Arrow, who looks and sounds heap big exactly as you’d expect (also I would’ve loved to have seen David Lapham script a New 52 book – missed a trick, DC, unless he turned you down).

China Mieville is also an award-winning sci-fi novelist whose stories are set in, and are about, the modern urban environment, which is where this comic takes place – the dingy, forgotten parts of cities – so it seems like a good fit. But here’s the thing I’ve noticed: novelists do not make good comics writers (and vice versa – I dare you to try and read some of Alan Moore’s prose!) with very rare exceptions – arguably Neil Gaiman is the best example of this though Warren Ellis’ novels are pretty good too.

Mieville just isn’t experienced enough to think like a comics writer – the two mediums of novels and comics aren’t interchangeable at all. And the irony is that a novelist known for producing imaginative fantasy stories is given a comic full of strange characters and then places them inside the most stereotypical comic book story you could have.

The variety in this comic doesn’t go beyond the surface level. Beneath the wild and crazy characters is a tediously generic revenge plot: main character vs gangsters. Then it’s main character vs super-powered villains: a lizard man, another forgettable baddie, and a giant formless void called Abyss; main character has to stop them.

It doesn’t help that the main character, Nelse, is just too broadly written. He’s a stand-in for the average comics reader to project upon, so much so that he doesn’t really have a character to get invested in. I like that he’s the total opposite of the cut dudes who usually star in superhero comics but really the only interesting thing about him is that he uses the phone to transform into these bizarre creations. Which doesn’t even make him interesting really; the object is instead what’s interesting – it could be anyone dialling! His story is almost non-existent and doesn’t go beyond avenging his friend. Afterwards he just decides to continue dialling and transforming into random “superheroes”. Nothing about this guy is compelling!

If, like me, you’re a new reader to the series and haven’t read the Silver Age Dial H for Hero series, you’re probably going to be wondering how the hell a dial can transform someone into a series of superheroes, where it comes from, and what it all means. But there’s no help here. That’s fine, I don’t need everything explained all at once, though holding back this information does keep the reader from understanding and engaging more fully with the comic – it’s like we’re being held back at arm’s length the entire time.

I enjoyed the quirkiness of the premise and the imaginative characters in this book but the writing is really lacking, heavily bringing down the overall quality of the comic. Dial U for Unimpressed!
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on 3 August 2013
This is a confusing story with spectacular artwork, or else a spectacular story with confusing artwork, which runs through issues #1-6 of the New 52's Dial H comic, which are collected along with issue #0 as Dial H Volume 1: Into You TP (New 52!). It reminded me in many ways of some of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol stories - which is a good thing, by the way - but with less-stylised artwork. I suppose I should say that the story itself is not confusing as such, but there are unanswered questions, such as why, how, who, where, what, and the like. The baddies do stuff for selfish reasons, the good guys to stuff for revenge on the baddies and for self-preservation and out of sheer curiosity, and forces of nature, easily mistaken for baddies, do stuff because it is in their nature to do such stuff, which makes them appear to be baddies because we are seeing things from our perspective and not theirs. It is all quite clear in the cold light of dawn, which is when I am writing this, having read the collected edition, courtesy of my local library, last night.

The artwork may appear confusing at times, because it is difficult to render three-or more dimensional images and ideas on a two-dimensional page, but the artist does a spectacular job of it.

The issue #0 at the end of the collection actually answers many of the how, what, why and where questions, though adds quite a few more.

This is definitely what, in the old days, we would have called a Vertigo title - or DC UK as it became known. Its roots are in those old comics such as Doom Patrol and Shade, though it is flowering in the 21st century.
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on 6 February 2014
Dial H is one weird comic book (in a very good way). It is a genre-bending tour de force that introduces many amazing concepts and ideas that only China Miéville could come up with. I started reading the book without knowing what it was about, and I think it made the experience even more thrilling.
I do not understand why people complain about the book's surrealism and non-linear plot - as it is in fact a very straight-forward, perfectly clear story that is very well told and beautifully drawn. The goofy hero characters give a nice comedic touch to the book, as well as a lot of originality.
The sad thing about all this is that Dial H has been cancelled a long while ago. The second trade paperback is coming out this month, thank god!
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on 14 May 2013
Collecting issues 0-6 this isn't really a reboot, mainly because it sort of follows on from the original 60's and 80's series.
The goofy characters created by the H dial are still present but they've been given a modern twist that points the series in a whole new direction; the creations of the dial already seem to exist in another reality and are overlaid onto the users personality.
Basically I don't want to give too much away but interesting ideas abound from the mind of China Mieville and the artwork perfectly suits the story, giving it a grimy almost 1970 British comic feel.
This is one the best of DC's dark "New 52" titles and is up there with Animal Man and Swamp Thing, it really does deserve better publicity ( sadly though,I've just heard its being cancelled with #15! Sigh...)
Anyway, it really is a cracker of a book and the covers by Brian Bolland just top it all off really, well worth a few quid and a couple of hours reading time.
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on 4 June 2015
Very interesting new take on the "Dial H for Hero" comics. Basic theme remains same, that is of ordinary guy using old rotary telephone dial to become different superheroes. But this new storyline takes off in more ambitious directions: Hero is overweight, unfit ex-boxer, links up with old women who discovered the dials years ago and is trying to penetrate their secrets. Weird super-heroes eg a chimney pot man gassing everyone with smoke fumes, and, very clever "cock-a-hoop" who has a cockerels head and a hoop for a body. Very entertaining if at times difficult to follow
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on 12 September 2013
Dial H is what modern comics should be; A homage to golden days gone by intelligently updated. The characters are an eclectic post modern mix and the story has it's roots in a classic golden age tale. The variety of vocal styles is particularly well done. Bringing a Sci-Fi author with an extensive edgy imagination is a great starting point and the concept beats the pants off the overly used classic superhero reshuffle/showdown which the new 52 seems to be all about (i'm looking at you Justice League Dark). I heartily recommend this book and look forward to vol. 2.
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on 26 June 2013
What a disapointment. I loved the 70's series, in fact still have them at home, but this was dire. The artwork was, for the most part, functional, but the storyline- what storyline? Okay, surrealism has its place, but it needs to be handled in a particularly empathetic manner for it to remain relevant to the readership. This was regrettably not the case. Having really looked forward to this revamp i shan't be picking up volume 2. What a great oppoprtunity lost. What's next, China- Herbie, the Fat Fury?
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on 9 September 2015
Weird but enjoyable I've seen other versions of this character and none have ever really made sense so this book is no different not grant morrison wierd but pretty close
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on 16 June 2013
very good - looking forward to seeing how the next comics continue the saga. Worth reading, a more 'real' take on being a superhero (isn)
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Springing from one of the most imaginative minds of the 21st century, I was expecting much more form this.

The idea is interesting and wacky - a random slob realizes he can tap into a range of zany surreal super-hero characters through an old phone. The problem is, that this premise is the only really interesting thing going on in this volume, as the narrativet jumps from personal story to weird and unmotivated dimension-jumping, re-introducing old and completely irrelevant antagonists from DC's past.

Mieville's skewed ideas sadly don't seem to translate well into the DC-universe or the comic book meduim. I'm not entirely sure where the problem lies, but likely somewhere in between. Perhaps Mieville's surrealism just doesn't work in this context, because weirdness is simply the order of the day in a range of comics like this. In the end, the story just isn't great, and it's not told in a compelling way.
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