Comic Club: The New 52 Second Wave – Dial H, G.I. Combat and Earth 2

Posted on May 6, 2012


Dial H #1:

When two friends have an argument that results in one of them getting beaten up, the other stumbles into a innocuous telephone kiosk. Accidentally dialling ‘hero’, he gains the ability to turn into a number of superheroes, each with unique powers.

Returning after a near decade absence, Dial H is a runaway success. The story quickly gathers momentum with believable characters and atmospheric artwork bringing Littleville to life. Mievelle has been wanting to get his hands on this particular property for some time now, and it’s a good job he did. Superbly written, atmospheric and with a colourful array of characters, the mystery and suspense are perfectly balanced in this opening instalment.

The first superhero to appear from the dial is Boy Chimney who might be the best new character introduced all year. This steampunk-esque rasping character could easily sustain the whole series by himself. With his very visual stove-pipe hat and the ability to shape and mold smoke, he is certainly a character I would like to return. The second hero, Captain Lachrymose uses his rather innovative power of evoking upsetting memories to disable opponents. His more restrained portrayal is a cool contrast to the manic Boy Chimney highlighting how polar opposite and varied the heroes are going to be. I’m all for keeping all of DC’s big and minor guns out to allow Mievelle to play in this tremendous toybox.

One of the successes of Dial H is to distinguish between the different superheroes through both the lettering and visual style. I hope this continues in future issues to give a distinct flavour of the Pandora’s box that has been opened.

With a lot of mystery about how the titular dial has come about and the growing danger that the main characters find themselves in, and already a villain who is able to repel the powers of the dial, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming issues. Easily the standout of the New 52’s second wave, if not the New 52 itself.

The Fiction Stroker gives Dial H #1 five strokes out of five:

G.I. Combat/The Unknown Soldier #1:

Two for the price of one with this comic. The first of this pair of stories modernises the G.I. Combat brand of war comics last seen in 1987. This particular tale ‘The War that Time Forgot’ sees the platoon come up against dinosaurs. Deployed in Korea, the troop’s helicopter is downed by pterodactyls. Moving through a hostile jungle, they are astonished to see dinosaurs tearing chunks out of tanks and men.

Unfortunately, that’s it for the first part. Beyond a initial videocall with one of the troop’s family at the beginning, there isn’t much in the way of character development. For this reason, it is very difficult to empathise or connect with the characters. They’re also a bit slow to catch onto the fact dinosaurs are attacking them.

That said, Ariel Olivetti’s artwork is simply divine. His photorealistic style perfectly suits the tone of the comic, and he is clearly at home with the sweeping double page spreads  depicting dinosaur attacks as he is with intimate moments.

The second strip sees the return of The Unknown Soldier in a new guise. A platoon in Afghanistan has one extra member in it that it should. The unknown soldier also seems to be pretty adept at getting rid of his enemies, but who is trying to recruit him and for what purpose?

Writers Palmiotti and Gray (Jonah Hex) discard some of the previous mystery associated with the character’s previous appearances in this opening instalment. But the net result is a solid first issue that leaves you wanting to find out more, unlike G.I. Combat‘s opening instalment.

The two tales couldn’t be more different if they tried and it’s difficult to tell what kind of audience will pick up the comic. It is also interesting to note the shift from anti-Communism to mentions of Korea, and the obvious Taliban demonising in Unknown Soldier. Certainly Unknown Soldier‘s stakes are consistently raised with each reboot. From a brother initially, to a wife and now a whole family to avenge, Unknown Solider at this stage is the more interesting of the two comics. It will be enough to get me to pick up issue #2, but beyond that, it’ll have be good considering other ranges out there.

The Fiction Stroker gives G.I. Combat one stroke, and The Unknown Soldier two strokes for a total of three strokes of out five for G.I. Combat #1:

Earth 2 #1:

Set on a parallel Earth, Earth 2 chronicles Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman’s fight against the Apokolips. Seemingly, all is lost. But this is Earth 2, where things are quite different indeed.

Earth 2’s first issue has a lot of work to do. Feeling like it has dropped you into the conclusion of a earlier story, all the threads are wrapped up fairly quickly with the death of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman and the disappearance of Supergirl and Robin (spinning off into their own series). The big three each have their chance to shine, and work together as a team very well.

The main problem with Earth 2 so far is that in going to great pains to explain what has happened to the main DC heroes, you don’t really get introduced to the new heroes of Earth 2. Whilst the death of our heroes, and the death of the Gods indicating that there is a strong force wiping out our only hopes, this initial issue feels a little divorced from what, presumably, will follow. Perhaps the fall of the big three would have been better told as flashback or mini-series further down the line?

Nicola Scott’s artwork is astonishing. Busy and intricate battles pave way to a more conventional landscape by the close of the issue, but the battle scenes are particularly standout.

Unfamiliar as I am with the Justice Society (and perhaps this is a major problem is you aren’t familiar with them) Earth 2 #1 feels more of a prologue than anything. Earth 2‘s first issue might be a victim of it’s own hype – my hope the story progresses and picks up substantially more in the next issue.

The Fiction Stroker gives Earth 2 #1 two strokes out of five:

Posted in: Comics, DC