Hey gang! I never thought I’d say this in the middle of summer, but I hope by the time you read this the weather has settled the hell down and isn’t alternating between 30 degree days and thunderstorms! Luckily for you lot, I have the luxury of being able to read comics no matter the weather, so there’s no sign of me slowing down. This week, I’ve picked up a book that flew under my radar early last year – volume one of DC’s revival of Dial H for Hero, Enter the Heroverse, written by Sam Humphries (Green Lanterns, Legendary Star-Lord) and drawn by Joe Quinones (Howard the Duck, America).
Miguel Montez is addicted to danger; he’s a thrill-seeker by nature, and has been since he was a young boy. Years ago, he hit his head diving into a swimming pool and had to be resuscitated – frantic, his parents screamed for help, and their cries were answered by Superman himself. Miguel awoke to find himself flying through the air, cradled in the arms of the Man of Steel, and has tried to recapture the thrill and adrenaline rush of that encounter ever since. After the tragic loss of his parents in a plane crash, Miguel focused more and more on dangerous stunts, desperate to feel that thrill again. Miguel’s luck only lasted so long, however; upon trying to jump a ravine on his bike, he tumbled into it. Terrified, Miguel plunged into the abyss, only for the H-Dial to appear and offer him the power to save himself – if he dials H for “Hero”. Miguel uses the H-Dial and transforms into a superhero – but everyone who’s used the H-Dial can feel it, and they’ll all do anything to use it again. Hijacking his uncle’s food truck with his friend Summer, Miguel sets out to hide the H-Dial from those who would steal it for themselves.
There’s a lot of setup in the above paragraph, but honestly, I think the story is worth it. Rather like recent takes on the Shazam mythos, Dial H for Hero revolves around the use and misuse of power, driven by the mysterious H-Dial, and I have to admit that I found myself quickly drawn into the story. I haven’t even mentioned several prominent characters like the Operator and Mr Thunderbolt, but if that explanation went on any longer this column would’ve been bordering on a rewrite of the story, and that’s no fun! This version of Dial H, while tying back to classic stories featuring Robbie Reed, leans fairly heavily on themes of personal responsibility and making the most of your abilities. Add in the craziness and unpredictability of what heroes will be summoned with the H-Dial, and Dial H becomes a really accessible adventure tale.
I have to make special mention of Quinones’ work here, too; the sheer number of character designs he had to pump out to account for the random nature of the H-Dial is nuts. While there are some clear homages to the likes of Sin City, Marvel (pretty sure I saw Squirrel Girl at one point) and even manga classic Dragon Ball, there are some seriously cool designs that I’d love to see pop up more.
All up, this version of Dial H is pretty freakin’ cool. It’s an exploration of an oft-overlooked corner of the DC universe, and unless you’re determined to have a bad time, just about anyone could pick it up and enjoy themselves.
Written by Alastair McGibbon