"Heap Big" Fun
Dial H has quickly risen to be my 4th favorite series in the New 52, jumping past Swamp Thing and Animal Man to sit just below the pretty much immovable Batwoman, Batman, and I, Vampire. Dial H just has so much insane energy, and China Mieville is perfect at balancing the ridiculously over the top creative nonsense with an incredibly in depth sense of very serious bigger implications and plotlines. This is a serious where we can get such a sense of sorrow from sentient nothingness from another universe; and then next issue have a robbery foiled by flying horse feces. And of course every issue begins with a gorgeous Brian Bolland cover, this one being one of my favorites because of the detail in the simple design, and what it represents.
Contrary to what the cover says, David Lapham does the interior art, not Mateus Santolouco. A lot of people had problems with the art from the zero issue, but I enjoyed it for being different from Santulouco, but a similar style; representing the different time period it was set in. Lapham's art somewhat resembles a more relaxed version of Santulouco for this side story. It doesn't have a lot of action, so where it mostly shines is in the facial expressions, and an equal ability to Santulouco for depicting the insane Dial Heroes Mieville can come up with.
The story here is a fairly simple one, which we needed after the deep, complex, and mind blowing conclusion to the opening arc. It's essentially the superhero comics' equivalent of a sitcom's locked room episode. Nelson dials up a politically incorrect hero, and is banned from active duty by Manteau unless it's an absolute emergency. One of the important things that comes from this issue is a good summary of what the current status quo is, with two dialers sharing one dial and Manteau attempting to track down more secrets of the dials, or the location of another. We also get to see more of the long term effects of continued dialing outside of the frantic context of the first arc.
The only problem I have is that we don't get any kind of look at the heroes in Manteau's Refusenik Dossier, relying only on our own imaginations to picture them from name alone.
In Conclusion: 5/5
The lack of action in this issue plays to it's benefit, developing the characters of Nelson and Manteau as individuals outside of their dialed heroes. Nelson is still on his dial high, while Manteau has developed very extensive measures to keep her sanity after dialing for so long. Who would've thought a comic would be so exciting when it's main characters are a fat wash up and an old woman?