Taylor: The encore of a show is always a little awkward. With most shows you attend nowadays an encore is almost expected. Gone are the days of the earned encore, where and artist actually had to earn the audience’s appreciation and rewarded them with a few extra bits of music. This has been replaced with instances where artists look a trifle bored with an encore, seemingly wishing that they could just retire to their bus or greenroom. The situation has become so problematic that some artists have gone so far as to state they won’t be doing an encore no matter how much the audience claps or yells. It’s hard to determine precisely what brought us to this point, but the fact remains that the encore has become not the exception, but the expected. Given this state of affairs, I was curious to see how the issue 23.3 of the The Justice League:Dial E (part of the Villains month event)would be treated by writer China Mieville. Would this be an artist merely pandering to the crowd or an artist excited by the chance to once again share his art with his fans? Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Taylor are discussing Dial H 15, originally released August 7th, 2013.
Ethan: The week leading up to graduation from college can be a manic blur. You try to squeeze in all those conversations you never made time for before, you cram for those final exams, you put the finishing touches on that thesis paper hours before it needs to be bound and turned in, you book that flight home. Maybe your four-or-so years on campus jaded you a bit – the ceremony’s just going to be a fancier version of its high school equivalent; I’m going to have to smile at everyone’s parents; this place has grabbed me and changed me and turned me into someone new, but… I’m ready to leave. And then the day comes. You hear your name, you walk the walk, you manage to remember to shake with the right and take with the left, and then you wade into the sea of chaos as everyone tries to make that last connection before you never see each other ever again. The prospect of leaving China Mieville’s run of Dial H elicits a lot of the same emotions for me. There were highs and lows, and to be honest, I thought I was ready to set it down and move on, but the final issue goes out with a “shhhkaBOOM” and I’m wishing we didn’t have to say good-bye.
Today, Taylor and Ethan are discussing Dial H 14, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Taylor: Why do superheroes exist? Why do the worlds they inhabit even need them? Looking at our own world, it seems that superheroes aren’t necessarily needed for us to survive in relative peace. Sure, it would be nice if Superman could do something to stop global warming but we don’t need him exist to stop that. If humanity could get its collective shit together, then we could easily curb global warming along with the vast majority of other problems that plague our little planet. Of course we don’t live in a world with superheroes and it would seem that the reason they don’t exist is that we don’t need them. However, in other universes — especially those in comic books — superheroes are needed to face the incredible dangers that plague their homes. Killer comet heading towards your planet? Undead wizards? Malevolent aliens? Your local superhero has you covered. But why are certain worlds and universes subjected to these life threatening situations and others not? Is there a reason for that or is it blind luck? In typical self-exploratory fashion, issue 14 of Dial H explores these questions as Nelson Jent and company race to stop the Centipede from achieving his nefarious goals.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Dial H 13, originally released June 5th, 2013.
Patrick: The Retcon Punchers tend to get flowery in our language when we describe Dial H – we’ve called it “aggressively weird” and ” gleefully surreal.” When the pages are stuffed with goofy characters like Captain Lachrymose and Bumpler Carla, it’s hard to escape the fact that the weirdness of the title is kind of the point. In issue 13, China Mieville digs into the background of Open-Window Man — a character we had previously only known as a compatriot of Boy Chimney’s — and discovers a moving truth about superheroes, comic books and the value of repetitive storytelling. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Dial H 12, originally released May 1st, 2013.
Taylor: There comes a point in issue 12 of Dial H where after a series of very chaotic series the Fixer, who we were introduced to last month, is utterly confused. The cause of his (her, its?) confusion is the product of spell put on it by another character in the issue, as opposed to it actually just being confused by the events it’s undergoing. While this is a different type of confusion than readers of Dial H are used to experiencing, the reaction it elicits are basically the same.
What exactly does all this crazy shit mean? Dial H has always reveled in its own weirdness, an aspect of the series that has almost been aggressive in its persistence. At some point, however, all this weirdness has to go somewhere and actually mean something; weirdness for weirdness’ sake simply isn’t enough to carry an entire title. China Mieville seems to know this. Just as Dial H gets almost too weird for its own good, we are offered a glimpse behind the universe and what makes it tick, a process which maybe saves the title from going too far off the rails.
Today, Ethan and Taylor are discussing Dial H 11, originally released April 3rd, 2013.
Ethan: China Mieville has a gift with world-building. Whether you’re following quirks and characters of the world of Perdido Street Station or reading Dial H, he takes you somewhere original. Like with his novels, it’s so fun to immerse yourself in Dial H because of the terrific pacing as he gradually develops both the people and the universe. Every time he drops some new, fantastical aspect of the world onto his reader, there’s an equal portion of insight into the characters moving around in it. Dial H 11 is no exception: just as the growing partnership between Nelson and Roxie is coming to a head, it’s all taking place, not only in a world of dials and Operators, but also a more familiar world of DC heroes. This time around, Mieville matches a dramatic incorporation of known parts of the DC universe with new hints about the dial to keep this already engaging series pulling you to the edge of your seat.Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Dial H 10, originally released March 6th, 2013.
Taylor: Sidekicks are a staple of the superhero myth. Basically every superhero at one time or another has employed a trusty ally to help them battle evil and protect the innocent. The function of the sidekick can essentially be pared down to the idea that they help the titular hero off the comic pull of amazing stuff from week to week. And while it would be easy to think of this simply in terms of how a sidekick affects a storyline, they serve the dual purpose of making a comic more interesting to read. Just look at (SPOILER ALERT (kind of)) the recent death of Robin in Batman, Incorporated. This event came out of nowhere and shocked its readers, instantly making for a riveting issue. It can be argued that Batman, as a superhero, doesn’t really need a sidekick, he’s basically as tough as they get. But throw in the occasional sidekick (two of which who have died) and the story of Batman becomes instantly more interesting due to the wildcard that is a sidekick. However, in a comic entitled Dial H for Hero (my emphasis on hero) is it appropriate to explore the mythology of the sidekick? Dial H 10 answers that question with a resounding “YES.Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Taylor are discussing Dial H 9, originally released February 6th, 2013.
Ethan: Remember the last time you woke up? You know, that thing you did this morning. You do it every day, you’re completely familiar with the experience, you know it like the back of your hand. And yet… do you really remember the instant of waking? Or is what you remember actually the moments or minutes of awareness after you actually became fully conscious — when the blur of color and sound and smell that you’ve plunged into begins to make sense. In that hazy cloud of stimuli, it’s possible to exist in a half-state — you aren’t completely “you” yet, so much as a body, breathing and shifting. It’s a physical echo of the conceptual strangeness that comes from waking up each day, year, decade, in the exact same body, but not quite as the same person as you were before. Dial H #9 continues and deepens the series’ exploration of identity, of what it means to be yourself, and what happens when that question becomes more difficult to answer.
Today, Taylor and Mikyzptlk are discussing Dial H 8, originally released January 9th, 2013.
Taylor: Oh, Canada. For a slew of reasons our neighbors to the north are frequently at the butt end of a joke. Whether it’s their elongated “O’s”, that their national emblem is a leaf, or that it is Justin Bieber’s homeland, the country is seldom taken seriously. Making matters worse for the common maple leaf is the constant put downs the country is subjected to by such shows as South Park. This has caused an entire generation of TV viewers to see Canada less as a country and more as a subsidiary of the United States. That Canada is in fact a first world nation with its own aspirations and political motivations is a thought which seldom occurs to the average comic book reader. However, what would happen if Canada was treated with gravitas? Would that change our views on the country or would that itself serve as a sophisticated joke? Issue 8 of Dial H delves into the mythos of Canada and at the same time has us wondering what exactly the country’s relation to Dials is anyway.
Today, Taylor and Mikyzptlk are discussing Dial H 7, originally released December 5th, 2012.
Taylor: Imagination enjoys an awkward place in our modern day society. While most people and institutions are quick to praise the use of imagination it is far more rare to find those who actually appreciate it. Seldom are we, as an audience, treated to something that is truly unique – whether it be in a movie, music, a book, or any other medium. While the complexities of this relationship with creativity are of too much detail to go into here, it will be said that a fair amount of imaginative endeavors are rebuffed due to the general population’s resistance to anything that diverges too far from their expectations. Many inventive music artists aren’t signed to major labels because their music isn’t traditional pop; many writers have to rewrite parts of their book so they will appeal to a larger base audience; and many TV shows craft generic characters and plots so that they will be liked by many, but perhaps loved by few. However, the comic book industry has always managed to buck this trend in many ways since its very inception, which itself was a departure from accepted norms. Whether this is due to the type of reader the comic book attracts or the type of artist it employs for its creation, I can’t say, but it seems like comic books have always been more willing to take imaginative chances than their counterparts in other media. Dial H is a perfect example of this daring and the seventh issue of this title is an excellent example of its imaginative prowess.