Hellacious, hap-hazard, hackneyed, ham-fisted. "H" is for a lot of things. Unfortunately, those are the unhappy descriptors that come to mind after reading the first issue of "Dial H", a book that is part of the launch of the "second wave" of DC's New 52.
The premise is so absurd that it would make much more sense as satire, but this book is clearly trying to be serious, dark and gritty. Here's how absurd it is - an obese, down on his luck man who goes by the name Nelse finds himself in an old rotary style phone booth while his friend is getting gang beaten in a dark alley in front of him. He tries to call 911 but somehow instead ends up dialing 4376. Blame it on the chubby fingers. The phone booth glows brightly and within seconds Nelse busts out, fully transformed into a lanky freak named Boy Chimney who looks like a combination of the Red Skull and Jack Skellington. He proceeds to save his friend before changing back to himself. Later, ol' Nelse re-enters the phone booth and is this time bestowed the mighty powers of...Captain Lachrymose? A pathetic emo version of Superman who sports the same haircut as Gary Oldman in the Fifth Element and who's powers are derived from the deep sadness of those in his immediate vicinity? This must be a joke right? Well not intentionally.
The dialogue between characters isn't bad. The writing in general isn't bad. It's the characters and the situations that are unbelievably bad.
And that's a real shame too because Mateus Santolouco's pencils and inks are very nice to look at. He's got a strong sense of perspective and offers effective and varied page layouts with skill and swagger. There are a couple of collage type hallucinogenic ones that are a bit like Yanick Paquette's recent work in Swamp Thing and are pretty cool.
The choice of colors, however, is bland and dull. Sure, they are going for a dark and dreary atmosphere but it would have been nice to see more variety in the tones. The stale brownish yellow from Smokestack McQuack's magic exhaust hat seems to permeate every page, drifting through the whole book and tainting it with it's foulness. Mixing in some other nuances of color would've done much to enrich the pencil work, instead of poisoning it.
So with all things carefully balanced and weighed; this is a terrible comic book. DC and Marvel publish so much of this type of garbage so it must sell well enough to be worth it. But there's no way "Dial H" makes it passed the twelve issue mark. DC will let it bleed long enough to make two trades out of it before tying it off and amputating. In a word, "Dial H" is hopeless.
3 out of 10
(It should be mentioned that I've never read, and know nothing about the old series that this one is resurrecting, which no doubt contributes to my perspective on it.)