Reading Pile: Dial H For Hero TP Vol 1 & 2 (2019)
I've had a rough relationship with DC for the past ten years, both as a fan and as a former retailer. In general I've mostly taken my enjoyment from the publisher in the form of out of continuity bits and pieces, or just really solid runs where I can sort of ignore the overall problems with the brand and universe. I'm trying not to cut out too many things though because there are plenty of good stories to find and enjoy, and this particular run of Dial H gives me that sense of hope again where I can just sit back and enjoy a good fun story that makes the most out of the history of the universe and of the medium itself.
This run focuses on teenager Miguel Montez, an orphan inspired by Superman who comes across the H Dial and starts off an adventure with new friend/runaway Summer. While Miguel learns the secrets of the H Dial via the mysterious Operator, a group of former Dial users known as the Thunderbolt Club are tracking Miguel and Summer under the orders of the (also mysterious) Mister Thunderbolt.
One of the best aspects of the entire run is that main artists Joe Quinones does an utterly amazing job of paying tribute to tons of different styles of comic art as each use of the Dial summons a different hero. We start with the extreme 90's-esque Monster Truck:
And along the way we get some Sin City, some Moebius,
You get Daniel Clowes overlaying some Bruce Timm action,
Seriously, it's just a smorgasbord of styles and homages to so many great artists and it's beautiful to see.
Sam Humphries' scripts offer a nice blend of strong character development and a great sense of pacing, plus he heaps on plenty of strong themes around found family, finding your identity, and some great LGBTQ+ inclusion. Throw on top of that an inventive reimagining of the H Dial's role in the grander scheme of the multiversal mechanics of DC comics and this just hit a lot of enjoyable check boxes for me.
For added fun, issue #7 focused on an explosion of heroes in Metropolis from the previous issue, so it's broken up into short segments by guests artists. You get the likes of Colleen Doran, Michael Avon Oeming, Erica Henderson, Stacey Lee, and Paulina Ganucheau offering up a lot of fun tidbits and it was a great way to offer a short break from the main thrust of the series.
This was sort of a perfect series for me as it encapsulated a lot of the core themes of DC that I want to see, such as stories about legacy and hope. Toss on top of that a creative team that perfectly complimented each other and kept me engaged all the way throughout and it left me with a desire to read more DC comics, so it's safe to say it knocked it out of the park for me.
If you like superhero books that offer a new perspective on older ideas then please make it a point to pick this up. The series not only adds to the mythology of the H Dial but it also incorporates those new ideas into the grander scheme of the DCU via the concepts introduced in Grant Morrison's Multiversity and other continuity building titles afterwards. The best part about this though is that it never felt like necessary reading or homework. It's just a fun, solid piece of work that stands on its own but also offers a ton of potential for the future. And I've seriously missed comics like that, so it just felt good reading something like it again.