Dial H #2
While Dial H‘s first issue was a twisting maze of nigh-incomprehensible narrative descriptors stuck between amazing artwork by Mateus Santolouco, this second issue sees China Mieville beginning the obviously slow and gradual process of piecing together an actual plot that gives the dial reason beyond a few hours of novelty superpowers. Nelson is a generally unlikable character who seems to be getting more benevolent with each appearance; while his initial reasons for using the dial made him seem selfish, more and more, Nelson is using it to keep people (albeit, ones of his choosing) safe. The latter half of the issue serves to introduce new characters, most notably the Squid- a metahuman who looks more like Killer Croc or the Lizard from the Marvel Universe – who kills Nelson’s friend Darren, “because you told us not to,” as the Squid tells Nelson (as Iron Snail) in a moment that begs the question how Nelson’s relationship with the dial will begin to affect his real life. Dial H has only increased it’s quality since last month and in on the path to being one of the most intricate and compelling comics in ages.
James Robinson is slowly – and beautifully, thanks to Nicola Scott’s art – weaving his own world together in the pages of Earth 2. This month we see the genesis of Jay Garrick’s super-speed, a gift from the dying god Hermes, as well as the oh-so-controversial revelation that Alan Scott is now a gay man! Robinson also brings Mister Terrific to Earth Two by way of quantum tunneling as seen in the final issue of Mister Terrific, a move that is both exciting and mysterious, considering he was attacked as soon as he arrived. Robinson has done a fantastic job – in two short issues – of really giving readers a sense that this Earth is different without being overtly unique, and it’s just going to get better next month with the birth of Green Lantern!
Grant Morrison’s deconstruction of Superman throughout the first arc of Action Comics is about to be rivaled by his second arc that looks to tell the tale of the ‘Death of Clark Kent’! While being tracked by a master hunter, Clark is dealing with the repercussions from his expose on Glen Glenmorgan, namely being offered work at the Daily Planet, a position Kent long held in the old-DCU. Morrison takes this chance to really shake things up and masterminds the martyrdom of Clark Kent to a bomb-carrying man at the end of his rope out for revenge against the Daily Star. The ‘New 52’ has given writers the chance to really change things up for a pantheon of characters, and while most are content to give them new origins and (somewhat) new villains, Morrison is looking to reinterpret every facet of Superman – from his origins and early years, to his alter ego(s?), and even to his personality and clout within the Justice League (an element that used to be untouchable).
As Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti’s Justice League International winds down to it’s announced cancellation after a twelfth issue and an Annual, it gives readers perspective on the events unfolding within the pages of this tenth issue. The villain Breakdown gathers his posse of super-thugs to unleash his righteous plan to destroy modern society in an effort to make civilization more equal for the poor people around the world. Jurgens takes half the issue – before the JLI faces off against Breakdown – to show the team members during their ‘off time’; Guy Gardner visits Ice in the hospital, while Batwing goes to Vixen’s bedside, and August General in Iron gives O.M.A.C. a much-needed moral boost concerning the blue dude’s irreversible condition to lead the rest of his life as a living weapon. It really is unfortunate that JLI is ending after September; with a sold roster of interesting characters that encounter more grounded problems than those of the Justice League proper, Justice League International could have been a launching platform for new characters, a home for those in limbo (like O.M.A.C.) and much, much more.
Paul Levitz has done a great job – not unlike James Robinson with Earth 2 – fleshing out both Karen Starr and Helena Wayne as best friends who developed a friendship deeper than most when they became the only two people from their dimension living in the Prime timeline. Their relationship is really the focal point of the series, and Levitz conveys that through their casualness with each other and how they protect one another, not only in battle, but also in life. This first arc’s villain, Hakkou, is obviously one of Darkseid’s parademons from Earth 2 that’s developed a higher intelligence, but Levitz is smartly letting this fact evolve naturally instead of forcing it like, say, Scott Lobdell. While World’s Finest #1 somewhat floundered a bit for me, this month’s issue is really turning the adventures of Power Girl and Huntress into one of my favorite titles.