Dial H For Hero #9

As former H Dial users greedily search for the strange devices that once gave them super powers, Miguel and Summer are on the downlow in Metropolis.

Yes, they’re at the Daily Planet, working as interns during the day, selling cheese toasties at night and just about getting by. Miguel has one of the four dials but Summer is wary of them using it, for fear of drawing attention to themselves. Eventually, though, Miguel can no longer resist, telling himself it would be wrong not to use the powers he can access for good.

And of course, Mr Thunderbolt – the other half of original H Dialler Robby Reed’s split persona – detects the energy surge and sends his agents to grab it. By the end of the issue, our heroes have a new assignment from the ‘other’ Robby, the Operator.

Dial H for Hero #9 is another impressive offering from writer Sam Humphries and artist Joe Quinones, with the art style changing every few pages, and not just when a new hero or villain appears. Colourist Jordan Gibson and letterer Dave Sharpe also make invaluable contributions. We learn something new about one of our leads in a nicely understated way, and the food truck Miguel nicked from his uncle – actually, that’s not cool – gets a magical makeover. All this, and a lovely cover from Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner.

There’s lots to enjoy, but I wish the overarching plot would end, it’s going on and on, over-explaining the H Dials. I’m past ready for Summer and Miguel to have adventures that reach beyond the latest take on the Dial’s mythology. Yes, it’s clever that the four dials correspond to the quartet of colours that combined to give comics their wider palette for decades, and it’s nice that the original House of Mystery series is remembered, but can’t Robby Reed just have a lovely retirement? He’s already been good and evil as the Wizard and the Master – hopefully Mr Thunderbolt and the Operator will recombine soon and Robbie can move to Florida. Miguel and Summer have an awesome new ride, it’s time for them to move on!

6 thoughts on “Dial H For Hero #9

  1. Finally got around to reading this one. Maybe this is indeed what happens when a 6-part story is stretched to 12 parts, and it might have been better to finish up the plot in the original six and call the second six a new volume.

    To me the book is all about the changing art style, and some goofy jokes by Sam Humphries.

    I had to check out the comments of others to learn which artists Quinones is channeling – people have suggested Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes and Kevin Eastman.

    I do wonder what DC considers a success – Dial H sells around 7,500 copies, and Wonder Twins sells fewer than 10,000. It’s true that lots of indie books sell no better, and those publishers find a way to stay in business, so who knows how this works. Maybe DC imprints like Wonder Comics have a smaller editorial staff assigned, or find some other ways to cut costs, or it’s part of the budget to just try throw some things against the wall and expect to be met with a degree of commercial failure.

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    1. I can usually make a guess at whose style we’re seeing, those names seem about right for this one. As an Old Fart Fan is love to see Quinones channel the great Kurt Schaffenberger.

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if digital sales were available?

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  2. It’s a book I’m buying digitally, for some reason; my comics buying habits are slowly creeping in that direction.

    The three featured art styles for this book are Chris Ware, Alex Toth — check the very Toth-like signature in the Early Adopter pages — and Kevin Eastman. With a little more Mike Allred (I assume) being reprised for Lo Lo Kick You.

    The overarching plot works more for me in some issues than others. I just read these last three issues in rapid succession, and 7 was my favorite of the bunch, with this issue being my second fave; issue 8, focusing on the Operator & Mister Thunderbolt, didn’t do as much for me. I want to see more of Miquel and Summer, not Robbie.

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  3. Me too, I like the kids, let’s get to know them. I’d be up for seeing a Robbie flashback story, though.

    I’m totally digital now for the weekly shop, but trades are treats and get bought for the bookshelf.

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  4. Maybe all of this was obvious, but issue #8 was kind of a formal exercise, maybe easier to play with when you can page easily back and forth with floppy comics. The book could be read forward or backward, or you could skip through every other page to read the first story in sequence, and then read the second story every other page starting from the back to follow it in sequence. (That is, following the page numbers that are drawn in a circle at the bottom of every page.)

    The last words on every physical page were echoed in the first words of the following page, even though the second page was actually the opposite end of the other story.

    I am not sure if the story makes sense if read straight through front to back, as I didn’t bother trying that, except to notice the echoing wordplay from one page to the next. Perhaps Humphries designed it so that there were even more parallels to be found, but I found it tiresome to work that hard on it.

    If the stories do make sense no matter what order you read the book in, then is it really a good story, or just a bunch of random ideas that work no matter how they are put together? Could you just rip out the pages, throw them up in the air, and read them in whatever order you pick them up?

    Maybe part of the reason the #8 story wasn’t as good as it might have been is because too much effort was put into making the eccentric structure work.

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    1. I always enjoy the idea of writers playing with the form but don’t always enjoy the executions. In this case, I don’t see what telling things from front to back etc added to the story.

      As ever, thanks for the excellent, thoughtful response.

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