Archive for Dial H for Hero

Zombie’s End

iZombie #28

So it’s time for the final issue of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s wonderful supernatural soap opera. Xitalu, an eldritch monster-god from between dimensions, is preparing to devour the entire world, starting with Eugene, Oregon. The treacherous mummy Amon has a plan to Xitalu away for a few centuries by having our heroine, intelligent zombie Gwen Dylan, absorb the souls of everyone in the city — including her friends and family — then he can then feed her to Xitalu so he’ll go away. Equally treacherous mad scientist/Frankenstein monster Galatea wants to download Xitalu into Frankenteen so she can gain all of Xitalu’s power for herself. As the seconds tick by and everyone gets closer to being eaten alive by Xitalu, is there any way for Gwen to save everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely-done ending, with lots of suspense and tension — and everyone in the cast gets at least a brief moment in the spotlight. I’m still not sure if this one got cancelled because it wasn’t selling well enough, because DC didn’t like Roberson talking smack about them, or just because DC is a bit dim (though I’d bet on that last one). But I’m glad it got 28 fun issues.

The Hypernaturals #2

In the distant future, the newest Hypernaturals superteam has just been wiped out by an unknown foe. The temporary replacement team — Bewilder, Thinkwell, Halfshell, and Shoal — finds themselves under assault by a flesh mob, a bunch of regenerating monsters made of all the debris around them. They’re able to escape — barely — but it leaves them with some serious problems: one of their greatest foes, Sublime, is apparently back, their current team is missing and presumed dead, and the replacements include two rookies, one who overthinks everything and another who’s too hotheaded. Bewilder and Thinkwell go out to recruit some former team members, including the down-on-his-luck Clone 45, who doesn’t even have his powers anymore.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I think I’m having quite a lot of fun meeting these characters. It’s very much a Legion-of-Super-Heroes thing with the serial numbers rubbed off, but it still comes off fresh, interesting, and a lot of fun. Looking forward to plenty more.

Dial H #4

Abyss, a creature of pure darkness, has appeared in the city, and Nelson Jent, Manteau, Squid, and Ex Nihilo are unable to stop it. Abyss disappears temporarily, Squid gets shot full of holes, Manteau is captured by Ex Nihilo, and Nelson gets left behind without powers. It turns out Ex Nihilo is a doctor at the local hospital, as well as a “nullomancer” — a sorceress who specializes in magically altering nothing — literally nothing. While she tortures Manteau for information, Abyss starts wrecking downtown, and Ex Nihilo, using Manteau’s dial, goes to try to capture him. Squid, meanwhile, goes to Nelson for help — he’s wounded, maybe dying, and he wants Nelson to help him rescue Manteau and then get back to his own homeworld. But what can Nelson do when he can’t get his dial to work anymore?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of stuff happening here, and it’s all wonderful fun. Scary, surreal, intense, even inspiring. China Mieville is a pretty dang good comic book writer, ain’t he?

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Dial H for Horror

Dial H #3

The local mobsters are after Nelson Jent — and without getting to his magical phone booth, he’s got no powers. He does have a protector — a woman who calls herself Manteau. She extracts him from the attacking gangsters, and he’s able to remove the dial from the old phone booth. Nelson learns that Manteau gets her own random surreal powers from her own version of the dial, but she’s able to keep her own memories and personality intact with her cloak and silver mask. In fact, Manteau has found evidence that nearly all early research into telephones and telegraphs was encouraged and assisted by someone known only as “O” — and O appears to have created the dials that Nelson and Manteau use. Meanwhile, Ex Nihilo and the Squid are after a man with a connection to other dials, and a dark figure from another dimension is stalking Nelson and Manteau. Will Nelson be able to help Manteau stop the bad guys? And will he be able to handle the shock when his dial turns him into a woman?

Verdict: Thumbs up. China Mieville’s superhero/horror series is all kinds of surreal. There’s still a lot of stuff here that confuses me — the bad guys’ motivations, for one, but I also trust that’ll be revealed eventually — but I’m also enjoying the revelations we’re getting. Manteau is a very interesting character, frequently changing form and yet remaining reliably constant as a person.

iZombie #27

We’re very near the end of this outstanding series. Gwen has found her long-lost brother — only minutes before she needs to kill everyone in the city to save the rest of the world from the monstrous god Xitalu. And she rapidly discovers her parents and all her friends and allies, all right where Amon has told her she needs to absorb every soul in the city — and then Amon plans to feed her to Xitalu to force it from our world for another few centuries. Will Gwen go along with the plan — or is it already too late for everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The tension gets cranked way, way up. The final issue comes out next month — and I really don’t know if this is going to have a happy ending or not. Still looking forward to seeing how Chris Roberson wraps up his work at DC…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Ron Perlman is THE BEST.
  • H&R Block, of all people, put together this infographic that compares the financial situations of Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. Entertaining? Yeah, but also enlightening in ways you might not have expected.
  • Here’s a short cartoon that works to explain what the Higgs boson is, and why it’s so important to physics.

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Gang of Freaks

Dial H #2

Nelson Jent is busy experimenting with the phone booth that turns him into different bizarre superheroes. The Human Virus, the Shamanticore, Pelican Army, Hole Punch, Double Bluff, Rancid Ninja, Skeet — but he always has to turn back into overweight schlub Nelson Jent, and Nelson Jent feels utterly powerless to protect his friend Darren, still stuck in the hospital. He raids one of the criminal syndicate’s targets after turning himself into the digital superhero Control-Alt-Delete, but gets ambushed by the meta who hurt him in the previous issue — he has trouble remembering which powers he possesses with each new body. Meanwhile, the syndicate’s boss, Ex Nihilo, plans to release his own Big Bad, never realizing until too late that his supposed minion was far smarter and more powerful than he was. Will Nelson’s newest persona, the Iron Snail, stand a chance against the deadly Squid?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very, very strange characters — and vast numbers of them, too, which makes it even more fun. Seriously, the great pleasure in this is how spectacularly surreal it all is. I need more comics like this in my life.

Morning Glories #19

Well, shallow, cynical Zoe is really an enthusiastic murderer, specializing in stabbing seemingly random classmates to death. But nerdy Hunter saw her last killing, so now he’s on the target list, and we get treated to Hunter running for his life, while flashing back on his own mother’s slow death from cancer. So what’s going to be the twist on Zoe’s murder spree? Or will there be one at all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Harrowing stuff — like a combination of the tensest parts of a slasher movie and the weirdest parts of a conspiracy thriller. Man, would I like to see some answers sometime soon, ya know?

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell

J.H. O’Donnell has been a background character in the BPRD books for a while — a brain-fried occult specialist who’s probably a bit crazier than anyone working for the organization should be. How’d he get that way? We get a flashback to O’Donnell’s trip to catalog the library of a recently-deceased necromancer in 1987. He had Hellboy along for protection, but once he finds the secret entrance to the necromancer’s real library, he finds himself being followed by the greatest occultists in history — all of them dead, all of them very dangerous. And he can’t even count on much help from Hellboy, who has to battle a bull-headed demon in the sub-basement. And once the occultists show O’Donnell their secret faces and whisper their secret spells in his ears, it’s pretty much all over for him…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully creepy and weird, with outstandingly moody art from Max Fiumara and colors by Dave Stewart. This is just a one-shot, but it’s the perfect kind of eerie horror that Mike Mignola does so well.

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Phone Home

Dial H #1

Man, they’re shoehorning this comic into the second wave of the DC Reboot, and it doesn’t belong there at all. This is a Vertigo Comic, born and bred.

Our main character is Nelson Jent, an overweight, depressed guy who’s gunning for an early grave until a bunch of thugs attack his only real friend, Darren. Nelson makes his way into an antique phone booth to call for help — but the help he gets isn’t what he expected. Instead he finds himself transformed into a spindly, indestructible, smoke-belching monstrosity that calls itself Boy Chimney. He routs the bad guys and gets Darren to the hospital before he reverts back to tubby Nelson Jent — and when he finds out that Darren works for the bad guys, and that they’ll keep coming after him, Nelson returns to the phone booth, trying to figure out what triggered his transformation. When he stumbles on the proper sequence, he ends up turning into a mopey goth called Captain Lachrymose, who can trigger traumatic sorrow in others and then becomes energized by their tears. He goes after the criminals targeting his friend — but he’s not the only person in town with weird superpowers…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantasy author China Mieville has apparently been wanting to write a comic book for a while, and I don’t know why DC put him off for so long. What he churns out here is grim and deeply bizarre pseudo-superheroics — Boy Chimney may be the scariest thing we’ve seen in any comic in months. And it’s got a great level of characterization, too. Nelson is a really interesting character — his desire to help his friend struggling to overcome his depression. And Mateus Santolouco’s artwork is a great complement for all of this — his jangly, shadow-drenched illustrations work perfectly for what we’ve got going on here. Go pick it up, folks.

The Amazing Spider-Man #685

It’s still Spider-Man, the Black Widow, and Silver Sable against the Sinister Six — and this time, the rest of the world is on the bad guys’ side. After narrowly avoiding getting arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D., the trio contact as many other superheroes as they can (and even a few villains, including the Titanium Man) to help turn the tide against Dr. Octopus. They finally track down Doc Ock’s largest satellite-manufacturing factory — just in time for Octavius to launch them all into orbit. But is Dr. Octopus really the villain this time, or is this going to be his biggest trick ever?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit slow-moving, but we are at the mid-point in the series. The best point is definitely the cliffhanger at the end — it hits all the drama, suspense, and action points it needs to keep the story running in high gear.

Oh, and hey, Free Comic Book Day was Saturday, and I got some pretty good stuff. Let’s check it out real quick.

Atomic Robo: Free Comic Book Day 2012

If there’s any serious guarantee on Free Comic Book Day, it’s the guarantee that the Atomic Robo comic is going to be one of the best things offered. And it’s so again! Atomic Robo and the Fighting Night-Shift Accountants of Tesladyne have learned there’s a serious problem with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland that could cause devastation across the space-time continuum. And he’s brought in a special consultant to help out — Dr. Dinosaur?! But aren’t he and Robo terrible enemies? Isn’t Dr. Dinosaur a lunatic? Isn’t Dr. Dinosaur only kind of a genius and mostly an idiot? Well, yes, but to save the space-time continuum, Robo is willing to work with him.

Except… Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal! It was all a ruse by Dr. Dinosaur to wreck the Collider using Futuresaurus Rex — an armored T-rex with missile launchers! And guns he carries in his teeny-tiny forelegs! So adorable and badass! But Futuresaurus Rex is just as great a danger to Dr. Dinosaur as he is to everyone else, because Dr. D is an idiot who didn’t design a proper remote control for it! Can Robo and Dr. D really work together to save the day?

On top of that, we’ve got stories from other Red 5 comics like “Neozoic” and “Bonnie Lass.” But listen, we all tuned in for Atomic Robo, and everyone knows it…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Huzzah! Dr. Dinosaur! The greatest character in comic book history!

Mouse Guard and Other Stories: A Free Comic Book Day Hardcover Anthology

Okay, I don’t mind telling you, there’s one thing about this that’s gonna blow your mind: it really is a hardcover book. It’s not a huge book — it’s just 48 pages long, and it’s dimensions are a bit smaller than a standard-sized comic book. But it’s an actual, fer-realz hardcover, and they gave them out for free. Archaia Entertainment just stepped up their game in a way that no other publisher could match, that alone should be enough to make them this year’s Free Comic Book Day champion.

Even better: It’s a really good comic book. We get a story of the Mouse Guard as told through a children’s puppet show. We get a story about the characters from the movie “Labyrinth.” We get a story about the Dapper Men, a hilarious story called “Cursed Pirate Girl: Ramblings from an Old Sea Dog Who Likes to Be Called Alice” which is every bit as mad and surreal as you’d expect, and a story by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos about the “Cow Boy,” a pint-sized bounty hunter who’s sworn to capture his own outlaw family members. And they’re all great stories. They’re all worth reading and enjoying.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Publishing this as a hardcover is a great way to get attention, but ultimately this is a winner because the stories and art are absolutely worth any gimmicks. This was an outstanding comic, possibly the best Free Comic Book Day comic ever.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I bet y’all have heard by now that MCA from the Beastie Boys died last week. I say the only real way to commemorate a great musician is to play their music. So here’s the best music video ever.
  • Here’s one of the Beasties’ classic goofy vids from the ’80s.
  • Here’s a more recent fave.
  • And if you got time to watch a 30-minute mini-movie, here’s a bunch of people pretending to be the Beasties.

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