Dial H: China Mieville, Mateus Santolouco, Tanya & Richard Horie, Steve Wands, Brian Bolland
Wow, this one almost lost me, folks. The first half of this book is a real tough read, full of super confusing dialog and unexplained story points. People speaking plainly, to themselves, but in riddles to us readers. And it doesn’t help that this Abyss guy speaks in a weird rearranged grammar that turns out to be a lot more annoying than Yoda.
Ex Nihilo and Squid take Manteau as they flee from the angry Abyss, but not before Squid takes hits from Abyss’s strange energy and squirting Nelson in the face without killing him. Nelson recognizes Ex Nihilo as Dr. Wald. So, is she the red-haired woman I thought she was last ish? That’s confusing.
Nelse wants to use the Dial to get Manteau back, but it’s still broken. Meanwhile, Abyss attacks jewelry stores and XN tortures Manteau for information. My first thought was why in the hell would an interdimensional being like Abyss be interested in thievery? Luckily, that’s explained.
Turns out Abyss is a part of a species that are treated like livestock by Squid’s people. These snake-like creatures are known as Null-Herders, or Void Wranglers. They have ranches and stuff where they rope these holes in space and train the strange beings found within as cattle or something. One in particular takes to Squid, and they become partners, roving the universe for light that Abyss can devour. It becomes hungrier and hungrier, until Dialers split them up, and tossed Squid into Abyss to tumble through nothingness forever.
So the shinies at the jewelry store glitter and glisten attractively to Abyss. Hence the robbing. Squid just hopes that Abyss doesn’t remember he can eat whole suns. Squid and Nelse team up to rescue Manteau so she can fix his dial, and Nelse dresses up as his own hero, which was a really cool moment. He truly shines as his own, self-made hero, and I thought that was a great moment of growth for the character.
Santolouco’s art, and the colors by the Hories, really stands out in this issue. I love the slight off-coloring, or high contrast we see in Squid’s memories, and Abyss and his energies look GREAT. I love that we finally get to see Manteau’s face, and XN’s evil really comes out to play here. Her final transformation form at the end of the ish is really scary looking, I love it. Fitting of her personality.
Dial H #4, the verdict: I found myself reading and rereading the first half of this issue like a bunch of times. I didn’t understand a thing anyone was saying, especially Abyss and XN. That was a real bummer, because I hate it when I can’t follow along. It’s never fun when characters talk about facts and situations and things that they know between each other, but to which we’re ignorant. I guess sometimes it works in holding on to realism. Because characters shouldn’t explain to each other what they already know just for the sake of bringing us in on it too. That’s why there’s usually and “outsider” character who’s not privy to everything so it can be believably explained. After that first half, though, it really picks up into a really great story.
(Photo Source: Calvin Pitt)