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Review Group Week 325 - DIAL H #1

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Eli Katz

OMCTO

Postby Eli Katz » Wed May 02, 2012 6:01 pm

The art is great; Boy Chimney, not so much.
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Tintin Quarantino

Rain Partier

Postby Tintin Quarantino » Wed May 02, 2012 6:01 pm

Dial H for Ho-Hum #1

Are there many ideas more shop-worn in comics and speculative fiction both than the schlubby everyman turned extraordinary by some magical artifact? Maybe a few, but did I mention his best and only friend is in trouble over his head with some shadowy super-villain cabal too? Add to that the dial in Dial H being planted firmly in a mysterious old rotary phone booth down a dark alley, gone unnoticed since like 1982 or something and you've got a big ol' cliche sandwich, folks.

(Speaking of the '80s, I think the strongest iteration of the DHFH property was the interactive 1980s series where readers sent in their half-assed designs and sometimes the writers at DC made a story out of them. Of course DC owned all the rights to them from then on. Does Alan Moore fret over the rights to the likes of, say, Hasty Pudding or Blazerina, I wonder?)

Without that sense of reader participation, it's hard not to see the dial as an almost too powerful plot device, and one stumbled on and activated far too conveniently by a stereotypical protagonist the reader really isn't given much reason to care about here, and less reason to like. The dial avatars in #1, Boy Chimney and Cap't Lachrymose, seem to be manifestations of the dialer's own personality this time, in this case his tendency to chain-smoke more than one cigarette at a time and his depression. They aren't very heroic, in fact Chimney Boy is downright homicidal and a public health hazard, but I assume the writer will assign more heroic transformations to Nelson as his mundane character is reformed and redeemed.

The artwork grew on me just a little the second time I read through it, the coloring palette most certainly did not. All I can say is thanks digital coloring for giving us so many books now in unbalanced browns and grays, no sane colorist putting actual ink on bristol board would have ever mixed those drab hues all day long. It feels like the art is trying very hard to make up for the weak script, full of under-achieving henchmen and one shoeless old fright-witch. (She did her best with the black breath and all, but let's face it her most frightening days are probably behind her now.)

Sorry to say this book is probably not for me.

5/10
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guitarsmashley

Regular-Sized Poster

Postby guitarsmashley » Wed May 02, 2012 6:49 pm

Victorian Squid wrote:So, nine anonymous people here should be dope-smacked for voting for this.


Don't blame me, I voted for something else.
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bkthomson

Rain Partier

Postby bkthomson » Wed May 02, 2012 7:01 pm

Dial H

Nelse is fat, thirty and probably get's no booty. He just had not-a-heart-attack-heart-attack and is being nursemaid by his pal Darren whom is worried that Nelse is depressed and on the road to a full-blow-heart-attack. Though Darren should be more worried about himself than his overweight friend since his his boss is . . . well a thug was used in reference. . . but it is not clear exactly what Darren does for him as a living. Though it is something important enough when Darren skips his responsibilities to take care of friend his boss sends some ruffians to the remind him those skipped responsibilities are his only responsibilities and not to take them lightly by giving him a good beating.

Realizing that maybe Nelse has been a little too hard his one and only friend whom was only trying to show him that Nelse was not taking responsibility of his health he stumbles into Darren own lessons of responsibility. In attempting to save his friend schooling, Nelse stumbles into a phone booth and starts to dial for the police. Instead, SSSSHHHHHHCLICK, he becomes Boy Chimney, or by appearance the Shade with a bad skin condition. As Boy Chimney, Nelse, though not in control of the Boy, rescues Darren and delivers him to the hospital where his friend is attended to. Shortly after his escapade Boy Chimney disappears returning Nelse his fat and thirty body.

Now Nelse seems to be a bright guy, after learning who Darren works for he goes back to the phone booth and runs through the possible combinations to become what he assume to be Boy Chimney, but when dialing ‘I-F-S-O’, SSSSHHHHHHCLICK , he changes into a new hero and takes his anger of what happen to Darren’s boss as Captain Lachrymose, who looks more like Goth Superman and has the ability to relive your most painful memory. Though prepared the boss has his own super power underling to counter our dialed hero, think Aunt May but older with the Shade dark power. A fight breaks out but only long enough for Captain Lachrymose /Nelse to send the message ‘to leave Darren alone’ before he flees the scene.

The tale is close with two scenes. First, Darren’s boss is delivering the warning to his boss who in response is told ‘In the meantime, you know how we deal with threats. We’re going to kill Darren Hirsch.’ Second, Nelse goes back to the phone booth one last time and dials ‘H-E-R-O’ on the rotary. SSSSHHHHHHCLICK.

Story: While I did not find the first issue of this title overwhelming engaging I think there is some future potential to it at least it seems to be starting in the same way as the last Dial H series (H-E-R-O) started by taking a random joe and applying the super hero theme of the H Dial to his plight of life, and not going back to Robby Reed. Problem is that neither Nelse nor Darren are likeable and really are characters I cared not to know more about after the first few pages of the book. So I felt pretty much taken right out of the story from the get goes. The villains are pretty thin, they are one dimensional villains, you know they are the villains because they talk of doing bad things to somewhat good people- - though it is never really told why but I assume with hope those details are expanded upon in later issues. The heroes that emerge from the dial I’ve already commented on in the synopsis and I have nothing more to say other than they served their purpose for the story, and if I never see them again I would not be heartbroken.

Writing: This is my first exposure to fantasy novelist and not comic book writer China Mieville and I was not wowed by his writing in Dial H. The opening conversation between Nelse and Darren was hard to follow as if Mievelle was dropping certain context of the conversation out of the word balloons and just assume the readers will pick up the full scope of its meaning. At other times the writing seemed fragmented and it made it difficult to enjoy as I found myself in during the scenes with Boy Chimny fight and with Captain Lachrymose attack of Darren’s boss. I think there is some potential to Mieville’s writing as seeing how this is his first comic work I have to give him a not so critical expectations of this format. I believe he can improve his skills and having Vertigo’s Karen Berger as his editor to guide him is certainly a plus in the right direction. I think Mieville has the potential to be as good as Scott Snyder (Batman, American Vampire) in telling some dark tales he just needs a few more issues under his belt to get the experience needed to excel.

Art: Artist Mateus Santolouco, who’s pencials has a striking similarity to artist John McCrea (Hitman, Dicks) does a great job bringing Mieville written scenes to the page. Santolouco is a good fit for this type of story, though the story may not have been engaging, and the heroes not that interesting but the visuals throughout the issue is top notch.

When all is said and done, I feel there is more to Dial H then what the first issue gave us. I plan on sticking around at least for the opening storyline to see how everything plays out with that Mieville’s story will improve.

Rating 7 / 10
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bkthomson

Rain Partier

Postby bkthomson » Wed May 02, 2012 7:02 pm

I'm sorry. :oops:

Really, first time. I'll get better. :oops:
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Tintin Quarantino

Rain Partier

Postby Tintin Quarantino » Wed May 02, 2012 7:21 pm

bkthomson wrote:Nelse is fat, forty and...


Reading comprehension, Mr Thomson, Nelson's friend says on page 2, "You ain't even 30!"
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@dace1314

Whippersnapper

Postby @dace1314 » Wed May 02, 2012 7:30 pm

Alright, I'm dead new to posting a review here so be nice. Once I've written it where do I post it? In the body of one of these messages? Sorry for a question you've no doubt been asked a ton of times. Thanks.
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bkthomson

Rain Partier

Postby bkthomson » Wed May 02, 2012 7:38 pm

Victorian Squid wrote:
Reading comprehension, Mr Thomson, Nelson's friend says on page 2, "You ain't even 30!"


:oops: , could you have at least let the first sentence go. .

fixed, by the way.
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Tintin Quarantino

Rain Partier

Postby Tintin Quarantino » Wed May 02, 2012 7:43 pm

Sacred Mantle wrote:Alright, I'm dead new to posting a review here so be nice. Once I've written it where do I post it? In the body of one of these messages? Sorry for a question you've no doubt been asked a ton of times. Thanks.


Yep, just post it yourself here with at least a paragraph and a score on a scale up to 10. Welcome to The Outhouse Review Group!
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Tintin Quarantino

Rain Partier

Postby Tintin Quarantino » Wed May 02, 2012 7:53 pm

bkthomson wrote:
:oops: , could you have at least let the first sentence go. .

fixed, by the way.


Well it took me away from the story for a bit when they said he'd had a "non-ST elevation heart attack" before he was 30, because I had to go google it to see how likely that was (less than 10% of heart attacks occur pre-30). I think that's going to be Nelson's kryptonite, using the dial will give him chest pains.
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bkthomson

Rain Partier

Postby bkthomson » Wed May 02, 2012 8:05 pm

Victorian Squid wrote:
Well it took me away from the story for a bit when they said he'd had a "non-ST elevation heart attack" before he was 30, because I had to go google it to see how likely that was (less than 10% of heart attacks occur pre-30). I think that's going to be Nelson's kryptonite, using the dial will give him chest pains.


I have to agree. The fact that is was addressed so specific does tell me that it will be a problem later on, like he starts dailing and next thing we know he has the heart attack just before completing 'H-E-R-O'
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Tintin Quarantino

Rain Partier

Postby Tintin Quarantino » Wed May 02, 2012 8:12 pm

bkthomson wrote:
I have to agree. The fact that is was addressed so specific does tell me that it will be a problem later on, like he starts dailing and next thing we know he has the heart attack just before completing 'H-E-R-O'


Turns out he was actually just trying to dial Mr Hero, to get a half a dozen hot buttered cheese steaks delivered.

Image
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bkthomson

Rain Partier

Postby bkthomson » Wed May 02, 2012 8:19 pm

Victorian Squid wrote:
Turns out he was actually just trying to dial Mr Hero, to get a half a dozen hot buttered cheese steaks delivered.

Image

:lol:
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Beast A La Mode

Swedish Pinata of Death

Postby Beast A La Mode » Thu May 03, 2012 2:15 am

Victorian Squid wrote:So, nine anonymous people here should be dope-smacked for voting for this.


Well sockamagee, what can I say?

Sorry, I voted with my nostalgia goggles on.
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Zero

Zombie Guard

Postby Zero » Thu May 03, 2012 3:13 am

Well I liked HERO, I like China Mieville and I liked the comic so my vote was well placed.

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