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, 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, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Dial H 6, originally released November 7th, 2012.
Patrick: Fall of 2010, I went to a movie at Chicago’s Music Box theatre with Taylor and Shelby. The movie was Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void. If you haven’t seen Enter the Void, the reason we were attracted to it was because the log-line is aggressively surreal: a single-shot, first-person perspective trip through life and death of an American expatriot in the sleazy underbelly of Tokyo. Sounds promising — and super weird — right? All three of us tolerated the visual and audio assault for the film’s 3-hour run time, but it wasn’t until we stepped out of the theatre and Taylor said “So, that sucked, right?” that I was able to process what the hell just happened. The movie is so relentlessly strange, that I couldn’t even respond to it as I was experiencing it. That’s frequently how I feel about Dial H: especially given the conclusion of the previous story arc – I just couldn’t get a handle on it. But now, China Mieville is kind enough to show us the cold light of day, and seeing them plainly, these characters and this world is boundless and exciting, with a healthy sense of humor about its own absurdities.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Dial H 5, originally released October 3rd, 2012.
Taylor: Here’s the thing: metaphysical thought is messy, very messy. Thinking about where man came from, what he is made of, and where he is going yields no solid answers and often times leaves the thinker more confused than when he or she first began to ponder those ideas in the first place. When you add the outside world (and universe) to this equation things are obviously going to get even muddier. What is this something we see? What is this nothing we don’t see? If there’s nothing, doesn’t that mean there has to be a something to validate the nothing’s nothingness? It’s not easy to discuss these confounding and complex ideas in an artistic way given that you can’t ever really speak about them in a straight forward manner. To do that would feel somewhat dishonest and wouldn’t accurately reflect the feelings that come with this philosophical territory. In Dial-H 5 the reader is presented with some of these questions, but rather than falling back on stale mythologies or old tropes, the issue embraces the chaos of messy questions and does so with stylish story telling and complimentary artwork. Continue reading