Wow! A new week of comics already! Perusing the shelf today, there were four books that caught my eye. They were Dial H (DC), G.I. Combat (DC), Spider (Dynamite), and X-O Manowar (Valiant).
I first experienced Dial H for Hero when it was part of Adventure Comics in the 1980's. The idea of being able to send in concepts to DC for them to use was pretty cool. The main story I remember is when one of the teens dialed "HORROR" instead of "HERO" and turned into a monster!
I didn't read G.I. Combat when it first came out but did win a huge batch of them at an auction a few years ago. My son has been reading them and he even picked up one of the Showcase Presents books. Besides, what could be better than soldiers fighting dinosaurs!? Add a gorilla on the cover and you have an instant hit, right Mort?
The Spider is an old pulp hero that I haven't had the pleasure of reading so I was really interested in learning more about this character. I think he is also Stan Lee's inspiration for Spider-Man (at least the name not the powers).
Finally, I remember when Valiant first came out with the Gold Key characters along with some new characters. My favorites were Archer & Armstrong but there is something about putting a barbarian into an Iron Man-type of battle suit that makes for fun reading!
With these choices before me, I turned to the scientific method on how to choose which one I would review. I asked my son. He ALMOST chose G.I. Combat until he saw...
He said I had to do this one because it was the worst name he had seen for a comic in quite a while. So there you go. Dial H #1
Writer: China Mieville
Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Cover Artist: Brian Bolland
Colorists: Tanya & Richard Horie
***SPOILER ALERT***SPOILER ALERT***SPOILER ALERT***SPOILER ALERT***
THE STORY: The story starts outside of an apartment building where you hear two people arguing. You soon find out that they are Darren and Nelse. Darren has recently picked up Nelse from the hospital after he had suffered a heart attack. Nelse is an washed out boxer who chain smokes and is overweight and doesn't really think that he had a "heart attack" heart attack. Darren gets mad and storms out of the apartment.
Following Darren, he is soon confronted by an obvious group of ne'r-do-wells who intend to do him harm via bats and other such blunt instruments. Meanwhile, Nelse feels bad for making light of his situation and goes to apologize to Darren (who at this point is smack in the middle of the ne'r-do-welling). Nelse finds him and rushes into help. After being soundly beaten back by a skinny ne'r-do-well, Nelse rushes to the nearby phone booth (with the requisite 21st century rotary dial) and randomly dials numbers.
A bright flash causes one of the ne'r-do-wells to ask if the fat guy just exploded (which I thought was pretty funny) when from the phone booth emerges...Boy Chimney! (believe me, I'm not making this up). Boy Chimney apparently has a body as strong as bricks and control over smoke and ash. Boy Chimney takes exception to the ne'r-do-welling he sees going on and decides to unleash his own version of it upon the perpetrators. All the while, Nelse's thoughts are made known to us that he is indeed the extremely skinny Boy Chimney.
Stopping short of killing Darren's attackers, he scoops up his friend and rides the smoke to the hospital. The next thing he knows, he can feel that Boy Chimney is about to go away so Nelse ends up stuck on a roof as the sun starts to rise. Interlude...the head ne'r-do-well is on the phone with a mysterious someone asking for help to go against Boy Chimney because his group isn't equipped to handle it. You can tell by his side of the conversation that someone will be sent in to help him against this new "hero"...end Interlude. Nelse heads back to the phone booth (after checking in with Darren at the hospital) to find out what happened. He dials various words, such as CHIMNEY, HELP, BACK, etc. Then he stumbles upon the magic word(s) and dials IF SO! There it is!
Anther bright flash and the story cuts back to the head ne'r-do-well in his office. He is just minding his own business (along with what looks like a dead body) when he hears a disturbance in the hallway. His group of ne'r-do-wells seem to be really sad about lost mothers and other such things. What brought on all this sadness is non other than Nelse's newest identity, Captain Lachrymose! (again, I can't make this stuff up!) He can bring great sadness from people's memories and use it to fly, have superhuman strength, etc. While causing the head ne'r-do-well to weep over receiving a cowboy hat instead of a viking hat for his seventh birthday (really, I'd cry too!) the dead body in the office rises because it really isn't that dead!
Captain Lachrymose (my new favorite captain by the way) turns to face this new threat when he realizes...that not so dead body doesn't have any thoughts that he can use against her! She can also spit some sort of black substance that isn't really explained. Not wanting to fight an old lady that wasn't quite dead yet and can spit black stuff Captain Lachrymose issues his ultimatum "Leave Darren Hirsch alone!" then rips a big hole in the wall and leaves.
Well the head ne'r-do-well is no dummy! If Captain Lachrymose wants Darren Hirsch left alone, the only thing to do is launch a plan to KILL Darren Hirsch! OK, maybe he isn't too smart. You see who his mysterious phone partner is but don't really get a good look at him, although he does have fingers that end in suction cups. The story ends with Nelse finally figuring out that the numbers don't just spell IF SO, they also spell HERO!
THE ART: I loved the art! I don't know if I have seen this artist's work before but I must say, I really did like it. Some of it was confusing with the effects of Boy Chimney (I can't believe there hasn't been a LOSH by that name yet!) but it never was a detriment to the story. He did a great job actually making people look different while giving the heroes (and one villain) more of an exaggerated appearance. The colors really worked at setting the moods.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: If I had to use one word to describe it, it'd be "Interesting". I know China is more of a novelist and that shows in some of the language used (lachrymose anyone?). I haven't read any of his work, except this book of course so I can't really say if it reminds me of him or not. It is a much different approach to the title than I remember but I like it a lot. The art is very nice to look at and I'd be interested to see where the story goes. I would recommend this for your pull list if you like your heroes a little bit on the eccentric side.