Who still uses Payphones?!
DC’s second wave is finally upon us and with it we get a revival of the 60’s classic, Dial-H written by fantasy novelist superstar and comic newcomer, China Mieville. How will this well respected author make the transition to visual storytelling with a comic renowned for its wackiness and obscurity?
Well, with mixed results. Mieville gives us a memorable introduction to the rather portly central character, Nelson, an obvious anti-hero with a string of unhealthy bad habits. With a somewhat convenient series of events, Nelson stumbles upon the phone booth which shocks him with these new powers which are odd to say the least. It is this rushed pacing that stops this from being a great opening issue.
As a number one issue you expect a solid introduction into the world, the characters and the premise of the comic. Mieville appears to do all this in about six pages! The famous phone booth around which this whole series will revolve is lazily brought into play and you feel further time should have been devoted into a more interesting origin story. The pacing also disrupts the narrative and monologue just a little, sometimes feeling a little forced and unnecessary.
Where this comic really excels is in the artwork. Mateus Santolouco’s sharp and detailed line work give the city of Littleville a dark and gritty atmosphere. He really makes the cityscape and all its streets and alleys come to life with his heavy shading, illuminated with faint patches of street lights and apartment blocks. It is however the ridiculous characters which emerge from the mysterious phone booth that really grabs your attention.
An articulate, gangly, well dressed monster with a chimney for a hat and a flamboyant, morbid superhero whose power is fed from the weeping tears of others are just two, of the sure to be many, wacky characters introduced in this series. Santolouco’s designs are incredibly imaginative and well thought out and I can’t wait to meet more of them.
I haven’t been this excited for a new title in quite some time and while this number one issue may not have met my full expectations, I left feeling casually optimistic for the future. The fast pacing could just reflect Mieville’s eagerness and inexperience to get into the meat of this story. Reading some of his interviews, Dial-H is a series he understands and is passionate about. This comic book stuff is tough business for new writers, here’s hoping he succeeds.
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