I’ve long been a fan of China Miéville’s work. Not that it’s always easy to read, mind you. Long, convoluted plot lines, outlined in jagged paragraphs, with incredible characters in mind-blowing circumstances and made-up worlds. But there we are. He has been quoted as saying that he would like to write a novel in every genre; his children’s novel ‘Un Lun Dun’ had always been my favourite. Until now, that is, when ‘Dial H’ came to my attention.
I do love a good superhero story, especially in graphic novel format. Here, China teams up with Mateus Santolouco under the DC banner to create an amazing reboot of a Silver Age series. True to Miéville form, the first page opens in the middle of a conversation between Nelson and his friend; having read his dense prose I am used to this feeling of having unintentionally skipped a page (or ten) on first opening the book. But push on, because by page 5, lots of action is underway, and some of it even makes sense. By page 10, the dial is in full steam, and it’s all happening.
Our protagonist Nelson Jent is a fat, unfit, unemployed man, who in a moment of need finds a pay phone which lends him temporary superhero powers – if he dials the right number. Of course it would be too much to hope for to get Batman or Superman, right? However, the superheroes who do get dialed up are amazing, occasionally ridiculous, and always imaginative. Boy Chimney, Pelican Army, Captain Lachrymose; bless the minds who came up with these names and concepts. They’re just incredible. They must have had so much fun.
I’m reviewing the deluxe edition, which is hard backed and beautifully presented. It collects Dial H #0-15, plus an extra story, including all their weird wacky colourful covers. There are a few pages of character designs at the back, which is always fun, and a short outro by Miéville (in which you learn how much of a hopeless comic nerd he is).
I’m thoroughly enjoying this graphic novel. I think China Mieville’s style of writing (and thinking) really suits this medium. His prose admittedly can be an acquired taste, but his many-layered approach to creating a storyline means that in the graphic novel medium, the story flows and surges with glee, action, humour, humanity, and always echoes with the battle between good and evil. I think China Miéville wonderfully suited to writing graphic novels, and he’s done a fantastic job here. Mateus Santolouco has produced some of the most amazing art to go with it, and we couldn’t have a better pairing.
Thanks for reading, and may Open-Window Man be with you.