Dial H #1

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks

Yeah, so I gave this comic three stars. But I kind of have mixed feelings about that rating. Because this isn't a bad comic by any means and it isn't a great comic by any means. At least, it's not terrible yet and it's not great yet and there's just not enough in this comic itself that merits my rating falling on one side or the other. 

It has a lot of interesting potential, I suppose. Unfortunately many of us comic fans can relate to the plight of massively overweight, chain-smoking Nelson. It seems that Nelson's life has gone downhill since he lost his job and his girlfriend. Nelson was apparently a bit of a jock and was doing well, but since school he's put on lots and lots of weight, taken up smoking and generally developed a completely shitty attitude about the world around him. As we meet the two main characters in this series, his best friend Darren has just brought Nelson home from the hospital after Nelse has had a heart attack. The pair bicker and we quickly learn that Darren has secrets of his own. Darren is attacked by some criminals, and in the midst of trying to call 911, Nelson finds a pay phone that somehow transforms Nelson into a superhero!

Now of course this is a giant WTF set-up that can lead all kinds of different directions, and that's why my rating for this comic is so mediocre. This first issue contains a lot of set-up that will likely be delivered upon in future issues, and therefore it seems to epitomize the idea of trade-waiting -- where this whole storyline will have some answers that will place this first issue into proper perspective, broaden the world of these lead characters, and hopefully bring in some supporting characters who will make the story more compelling.

That's not to say that there aren't some really fun scenes in this first issue. I absolutely loved how Nelson transformed into Captain Lachrymose, the emo superhero who brings to the surface everyone's sadness and mutters lines like "I could get drunk on their tears." He's a very funny satire of more emotionally naked heroes and offers a fun, post-modern reflexive satire of the comic while it's going.

And the art by Mateus Santolouco is gorgeous -- tremendously (almost overly) detailed, with a strong sense of character and a real eye for varying the camera angles in the book as a way of emphasizing the excitement of the scenes that he depicts. It is a very professional art job, vaguely reminiscent of Phil Winslade, and that world he depicts is complex and interesting.

Based on all this I'm pretty sure that this comic will end up rating more than three stars; take a look at the Wikipedia page for writer China MiƩville and tell me if this man has it in his bones to write a dull work. But I have to judge what is in front of me rather than what I hope it will be, and on that criteria this book just doesn't have quite enough on display to merit a higher rating.




Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at jason.sacks@comicsbulletin.com or friend him on Facebook.

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