Drew: Last month, Shelby compared Detective Comics to a well-executed magic trick. Specifically, she was referring to the way Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul wield misdirection, but I think the similarities between magic and art are manifold. Both rely on deceptively simple techniques to create effects that are greater than the sum of their parts. For me, the only real difference is how we value being “fooled” by those effects. If we see the strings, a magic trick is ruined, but understanding exactly how a scene was painted or filmed or carved can enhance our appreciation of a work of art. I personally enjoy knowing how a magic trick is performed, too — I think it gives me a deeper appreciation for exactly how skillful the magician is — but then again, I’ve always liked knowing how the sausage is made. Many folks would rather never know how the lady gets sawed in half, or how a painter simulates sunlight peaking through the clouds, or how a composer strings harmonies into a coherent musical idea. It’s an attitude I can’t fully support, but I do understand it: a little magic is lost when you can spot every palmed card. Manapul and Buccellato have long been a team that rewards digging beneath those effects, but this issue found me wishing that I wasn’t so aware of what they were doing. Continue reading
Drew: I’m not a fan of origin stories, or really the starts of narratives in general. They often require large exposition dumps to make everyone’s personalities, means, and motivations clear to the audience. One of my favorite ways authors avoid cramming that much exposition into the beginning of a story is to start in medias res. Sure, the whys of the situation aren’t always clear — or even what exactly is going on — but that creates curiosity, a genuine interest in learning more, which almost never happens when we’re just given bare-faced facts with the understanding that this will be important later. Writer China Mieville has taken this tack to the limits of my curiosity in Dial H, delivering three months of questions without any real answers, leaving us floating uncomfortably in a confusing sea of possibilities. With this issue, we finally start getting some answers, helping the events of the previous three fall into place with surprising ease. Continue reading
Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Dial H 3, originally released July 4th, 2012.
Peter: Dial H is probably the weirdest book that I am currently reading. If you had told me a year ago that I would be reading a book about an overweight, chain smoking 30-year old man that uses a magic rotary dial to turn into obscure heroes, I probably would not have believed you. China Mieville has weaved an interesting world, full of lush characters and voices. The entire premise of this book is very interesting, but at this point, I am still unsure about the longevity of this series.
Today, Shelby and Peter are discussing Dial H 2, originally released June 6th, 2012.
Shelby: I didn’t know anything about Dial H when I started reading it last month. The characters were foreign, the setting new, even the physics of the Dial H universe were wholly unknown. After the first issue, I was excited. Things were mysterious and unique! This is a superhero process I’ve never seen before! I couldn’t wait to know more. Well, China Mieville must have heard me, and decided to cram as much new stuff as possible into the second issue.